As a small business owner, you might not think that influencer marketing is a viable marketing strategy for you. You might be picturing big-time celebs promoting products to gigantic follower counts, something that is likely to cost a lot of money.
We’re happy to tell you that you are mistaken and that influencer marketing for Instagram is something you should actively consider adding to your marketing strategy this year.
Small businesses typically work on the same ingredients, which also means you don’t have as much time or resources to dedicate to new “untested” marketing ventures. So why should you consider influencer marketing now?
The power of influencer marketing for Instagram is the ability to get top results without doing as much effort. It helps you get the word out about your unique offering, grow your brand awareness and if done right it can be replicated on platforms outside of Instagram too! This method of marketing gets your brand closest to where people spend the majority of their time but goes much further than a simple in-line ad or sponsored post.
In fact, statistics show that as many as 80% of consumers have purchased something based on an influencer recommendation in the past year.
Keep reading as we break down everything there is to know about influencer marketing for small businesses and how you can easily adopt it as a marketing approach:
Here To Make It Clear: Influencer Marketing Explained
Take everything you thought you knew about influencer marketing and throw it straight out the window. It’s not about contracting the biggest celebrity you can think of - instead, it’s about finding real, authentic creators online with followings you could realistically tap into.
This means looking for everyday people that can be thought of as influencers within the niche your small business falls into. You’re not trying to bag a sponsored ad with Kylie Jenner here! You are looking for individuals who have a decent Instagram following and an audience that is already interested in something similar to what you offer.
Many professional marketers have taken to using a new term to describe this type of online influence, namely ‘micro-influencers’. You can think of micro-influencers as anyone that has between 3000 and 100,000 followers on Instagram. This should be your guideline for choosing potential people you want to work with going forward.
Choosing The Right Micro-Influencers
Just like all things in life, no two micro-influencers will be the same. One micro-influencer could have a serious impact on your business and bring a ton of attention, and another could take your money without bringing you real results.
Research indicates that the number of businesses struggling to identify the right influencers for marketing purposes is as high as 22%. So how can you be sure that you are working with one that will have tangible benefits for your business?
The best micro-influencers on Instagram to work with:
Create quality content online that gets good engagement
Know their audience and only do sponsored posts that make sense to their followers
Are responsive and deliver posts on time
The reason why these characteristics are so essential is that people online are more likely to connect with genuine creators. They trust their judgment and recommendations over other methods of advertising. Micro-influencers that don’t fall into this criteria are likely to advertise a bunch of disjointed products or services to their audience that is unlikely to bring any true brand awareness.
If the micro-influencer you choose has worked in your niche in the past, you can be assured that their audience is likely to be interested in your brand too.
But what makes influencer marketing on Instagram better than a boosted post?
Why We Trust Influencers The Most
When researching influencers on Instagram and their impact on consumer trust, the results might surprise you.
Nowadays, we live in a world full of ads. They’re on our phones, social platforms, emails, and every other online presence you can think of. In a lot of ways, this has dulled our likeliness to respond to them. The same cannot be said of influencers, however.
When a business or product recommendation is coming from another consumer (here referring to the influencer), we’re more likely to be open to their message. Combine this fact with the following of a dedicated micro-influencer who is more likely to receive high rates of engagement and you have a winning marketing strategy on your hands.
It’s for this reason that as many as 92% of surveyed customers have indicated that they trust online word-of-mouth type recommendations over typical digital ads.
At present, Instagram is the biggest platform for influencer marketing and the visual nature of the platform makes it a great fit for brand messaging. The right influencer on Instagram can be a great fit for your brand and help grow your reach.
As a small business, the rate of engagement these influencers get can be a great way to push new leads towards your unique offering. By driving individuals to your own social profile or website, influencers can ultimately help you expand your audience and customer base.
Tips For Using Influencer Marketing For Instagram
Now that you know how powerful influencer marketing can be for your small business, it’s time we talk about how you can get started. It’s not as easy as sending your favorite online influencer a quick direct message. Luckily we have a few great tips on how to set your expectations and get the ball rolling:
The first thing you’ll need to do is decide what you want to achieve by working with an influencer. Try to ask yourself some of the following questions:
-What timeframe do you have in mind for this campaign?
-What would you like to achieve with an influencer partnership?
-What budget do you have for this campaign?
Some of the goals you might be looking to achieve with this could include growing your followers online, increasing engagement on branded hashtags, or driving more leads towards your website. When you have a clear idea of what you want, you can go to the next step: shortlisting influencers for your small business.
The easiest way to start locating potential influencers is to pay attention to your own business’s Instagram comments. The goal is to locate someone that has commented on one of your branded posts and shown prior interest. If they have a big enough following, you may have just identified your first potential influencer partnership. A micro-influencer may have already been engaging with your brand under your nose!
But what if this isn’t necessarily an option for you? Your business Instagram account might be newer and have not reached this level of engagement yet. In this case, you have a few different options:
-You can spend time researching the top influencers in your niche using a search engine
-You can look into the influencers that your competitors have used
-You can work with an influencer marketing agency
Let’s take a look at these options in more depth.
Finding Influencers Via Google Search
Your friendly search engine is packed with useful information about which influencer is the biggest in your niche, and it’s a good place to start.
You’ll likely need to put together a spreadsheet or some other tracking/monitoring system where you list these influencers, their social following, and some way to contact them. From there it’s just a steady job of figuring out where and when to pitch. That’s the part that will take the most time to solidify.
The benefit of this method is how easy it is to put together these results, but that’s where the ease ends. Actually getting someone to accept your pitch is the hard part and this can prove to be time-intensive.
Using Competing Business Influencers
As a business owner, you are always going to be weighing up your competitors, and this is also true when it comes to marketing. If you’re looking to identify micro-influencers in your niche, it’s a good idea to hop on over to your biggest competitor’s Instagram and check out their tagged posts or branded hashtag.
Which influencer have they worked with and what was the reaction like? This is a great way to get an idea of not only which influencer to approach but also of the kind of results that are possible to get from working with them.
The biggest caveat here is not to go for an influencer that has a long-term partnership with one of your competitors unless you are sure you can make a better offer. It’s better to target micro-influencers that have done one-off sponsored posts or stories.
Working With An Influencer Marketing Agency
One of the simplest and most convenient ways to start working with micro-influencers is by working with a marketing agency that covers this niche. For a cost, you can outsource all of the efforts of tracking down and managing relevant influencers and simply reap the benefits instead. This method is highly recommended if you’ve never worked with influencer marketing before or if you have limited time and resources to pour into this strategy.
At The Hive Marketing Collective, we're a small business marketing agency developing digital marketing solutions that are creative, intuitive, and completely custom to your business and your goals - and that includes helping you get the best out of influencer marketing for your small business on Instagram and beyond.
Let us take the reins on managing your brand reputation online and exposure with a boost in followers and in your consumer base with strategic social media content, paid ads, and influencer promotions via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
At the end of the day, it’s clear that even as a small business there can be an enormous benefit in working with the right micro-influencer and marketing strategy for Instagram.