Thanks to social media, influencer marketing has become a juggernaut for increasing leads, brand awareness, sales, and just about any other business goal you can think of. PeerIndex CEO, Azeem Azhar states that, “Influence marketing is going to be huge – and will become an essential part of the marketing mix over the coming years. In essence, influence marketing recognizes that buyers trust other buyers, their friends and experts they know.” To help support this claim, SimplyMeasured.com revealed that 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations, while 33% of consumer trust is placed in ads.
It is clear that influencer marketing can be extremely rewarding, but how can startup companies get a piece of the action as an unknown brand?
What Are You Trying to Accomplish?
Before anything can be executed, you must know what the desired outcome is. Are you looking to expand your mailing list, launch a product, or increase brand awareness? All of these are valid goals, but it is best to select one or two and focus on those so as not to spread yourself (or your message) too thin.
Understand Your Audience
Without knowing who you are marketing to, you will never reach the right screens. It is critical to have an intimate understanding of an audience’s pain-points, attributes, wants, needs, interests and so on. Establish who these folks are by sending out surveys and get to the core of your target audience. Ask questions through social and email. Without this vital information, your campaign cannot proceed.
Set a Strict Budget
Startups are almost always operating off rather slim budgets and ROI is critical. This is why a strict budget is an absolute necessity. Two factors that you must monitor closely are:
- Cost of Production: Any content, graphic designs, or other marketing materials that will cost money to produce.
- Cost of Technology: Any campaign performance tracking software that will be require to measure the campaign.
- Cost of Influencers: While many relationships can be fostered without a cash exchange, top tier folks will require monetary compensation.
Pinpoint and Engage Influencers
This will be the most arduous and lengthy portion of a campaign; especially for startups. Since hiring big-name influencers is likely out of the question, seek out micro-influencers. Micro-influencers are the everyday social media authorities with passion for their post topics. These folks will have 10,000 or less followers. The reason you are after these people is they will not cost nearly as much most well-known influencers and will likely be willing to participate for a free-sample product and/or exposure.
The best free to low-cost tools for identifying micro-influencers are BuzzSumo, Klout, and Klear. But do keep in mind that these tools are no replacement for manual research; comb social media for relevant personalities that have great engagement with their audience.
Once you have established the influencers, begin to engage them on social media. Comment, like, share, and re-tweet their posts; try to contribute dialogue that provides insights into the current narrative and will engage audience members.
Once you have gained an influencer’s attention and are ready to pitch your campaign, it is important to show what you can do for the influencer first. This could be exposure, content, products your company produces that could be beneficial to them; basically anything that will provide value to the influencer’s life or career.
Right before your campaign kick-off, it’s a good idea to alert all your influencers. Let them know any relevant parameters, goals, deadlines, requirements, and asks. Above all else, remind them of the benefits they will receive by actively participating. And be genuine and gracious in all interactions; that alone goes a long way.
Support Influencer Efforts
Once your campaign is in full effect, ramp up your company’s social presence through social posts and influencer support. Assist influencers through regular, genuine interactions. As influencers begin to generate buzz, others in the community will join in. Engage these people as they are a vital part of the campaign. By interacting with social media users you’ll create more credibility and positive impact for your brand.
Monitor, Adjust, and Evaluate the Results
While the campaign is underway, you must keep a close eye on social engagement, conversions, new leads, and conduct keyword searches for terms relevant to your efforts so that the sails can be adjusted when needed.
Once the campaign is over, evaluate the results to better understand what aspects worked well, why it worked, and what areas flopped. This information is critical to have for the next campaign so that the results can be even more prosperous.
Still need help launching an influencer campaign for your startup? Let us know and we will walk you through it.