Small Business | How To Work With Influencers
We all know about influencer marketing, right? The concept is relatively simple, brands work with people who have an engaged audience (usually on Instagram) and get them to share the benefits of their product or service in the hope that some of that person's audience will buy the brand's product or service.
I've talked about influencer marketing before (you can read the blog here) and shared some top tips;
- Expect to pay
- Check the engagement
- Make sure your audiences align
- Be aware of other brands the influencer is working with
- Find a way to capture the ROI
Three years later, influencer marketing is still very much a thing and it's a thing that you should be incorporating into your marketing plan. It's also a thing that causes a lot of confusion (and even stress) for small (and not so small) business owners and marketing managers.
How do I find influencers to work with?
Just start looking. Sounds simple, right? But that's kind of all there is to it. Just start scrolling the gram. Start with the follow list of your friends, check who they are following, see if there are any influencers in there and start following them.
Once you follow an influencer the Instagram algorithm will serve you up a "Suggested for You" list that you can scroll to find some more influencers. When you follow the next influencer you will get another list and so on.
So now you're following some influencers, and I know it's tempting to just start sliding straight into DM's, but, coming from someone who has an engaged audience on Instagram and is not an influencer, please resist the urge...
TL;DR: Click "Follow" on Instagram, then scroll the list "Suggested for You" and click "Follow" on them too
What do I do next?
You engage with the influencer. Read their bio, watch their stories (heck, reply to their stories if you're feeling super bold!), read their posts, like and comment on their posts (genuine, authentic comments), see who else is commenting on their pics (is it a whole lot of other influencers - and if so are there some that you can follow?), also take note of other things, like;
- How often they post in general
- How often they post sponsored content
- How many followers they have and how much engagement they get
- What they talk about on their stories
- How many stories are #ad or #sponsored and how many are just yarns
- How engaged you feel by their stories or posts (especially if you're your own target market)
- What their values and interests seem to be
Coming from someone who is approached from time to time by brands wanting me to share their product with my audience, there are a few things I wish they would notice;
- I don't post pictures of my toddler's face on Instagram (and my baby is about to turn one which is when her face will stop appearing also)
- I don't share a lot about my children on my stories
- I don't work with brands or do sponsored content at all
TL;DR: Make sure the person you are following is actually a legit influencer before you slide into their DM's
How do I contact an influencer? What do I say?
Communication is hard, because different people communicate in different ways, but I think it's important to be clear about expectations from the start and let the influencer know exactly what you are asking them to do.
After following the influencer for a while, watching their stories and reading their posts, and even engaging with their content (and making extra sure they are actually an influencer), you might decide that their values and voice align with your brand's value and voice and you can make contact.
Usually in the bio it will say "Email firstname.lastname@example.org for sponsored content" or "DM for collabs", and so, you either email or DM, introducing yourself and your product or service and letting them know that you would like to work together.
Practise your elevator pitch - the influencer no doubt gets dozens of DMs or emails about collabs and sponsored content. Because you've been watching their stories and engaging with their posts for a while now, what is it about your products or services that you think will appeal to the influencer?
Try not to be too cliché and look for common ground. Maybe they're a busy mum and you have a product for busy mums. Maybe they are passionate about gut health and make their own sauerkraut and you have a new probiotic drink.
Maybe they've been sharing that they are joining the gym or looking at reformer pilates as a form of self care - you could mention how excited you are for their journey, congratulate them on prioritising their health and introduce your activewear brand.
TL;DR: Contact them via the preferred channel in their bio, use the info you've picked up from actually watching their content to build rapport
Be Objective About Your Expectations
If you're a business owner or working on a marketing team, you will have an idea of how much time is involved in creating content - especially if you're someone who likes to make an effort and use presets or filters.
Most influencers are paid. There are some micro influencers who will create content in exchange for product or service, but assess the value of your product or service to the influencer.
To be on the safe side, it's best to ask for a media kit and a rate card. The media kit will outline the influencer's audience stats and their engagement (make sure this audience is your target market and the follower account actually results in engagement) and assess whether their rate for static posts, stories or reels is worth the investment for your business.
If you don't have the budget to pay and your product or service is of value to the influencer you could offer an affiliate code - essentially encouraging their audience to purchase using a discount code and the influencer earns commission on these sales.
If you can't (or won't) pay and you are not in the position to offer an affiliate code, you can offer product in exchange for content, but you're not really in the best bargaining position - it's not really fair to expect a large investment of time creating content.
If the influencer uses your product or service, genuinely loves it and shares their experience that's the best case scenario for you and your brand, but you should adjust your expectations accordingly.
TL;DR: Expect to pay for an influencer's time creating content and access to their audience, alternatively offer an affiliate code (essentially commission on sales), otherwise offer product and hope for the best
Ensure It's Easy To Buy From You Online
If you're driving traffic to your store, either via a swipe up from the influencer's story or via your own Instagram bio make sure you've got your ducks in a row. If you're offering an affiliate code give the influencer a link that includes their code so it will be added automatically at the checkout.
A code that shows up automatically at the checkout lowers the risk that a potential customer who has arrived in your store via the influencer doesn't then have to exit your store to go back and check the influencer's story, post or reel for the code.
Make sure the product the influencer is promoting is in stock and easy to find, consider your strategy for capturing the address details of your website visitors (do you have a tasty opt in available) and your abandoned cart strategy as well as your retargeting strategy.
If you're using a micro influencer with less than 10k followers, they won't have the swipe up functionality in their story so will be tagging your Instagram handle in their content instead - how easy is it to find your online store from your Instagram bio? I know that sounds like common sense but you would be surprised!
TL;DR: Make sure visitors to your Instagram profile can find their way to your website and make sure that website visitors can find the products in your online store
If you have some questions about implementing an influencer campaign, ask away in the Running In Heels Facebook Group. If you need extra help executing your ecommerce strategy (or you need an ecommerce strategy), get in touch and we can lock in a session.