What is influencer marketing (and should I be using it for my small business)

According to research in 2019, 67% of consumers will stop buying from a business that doesn’t inspire trust.  Marketing is one way in which we build rapport with our target audience and inspire that trust to encourage them to buy from us.

Marketing, particularly in the B2C industries, is highly competitive. When you consider that every other business owner in your niche is also trying to use marketing tactics to develop that trust, things can get very competitive very quickly.

Influencer marketing is often considered to be a good way to get ahead of your competition, but what is it and can it work for small businesses?

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing that uses endorsements and product mentions from influencers – individuals who have a dedicated social following and are viewed as experts within their niche.

Influencers are anyone with a large social media following where their followers frequently engage with their content and trust their opinions. Celebrities, public figures, YouTubers, and those with a large Instagram or Tik Tok following tend to be considered “influencers”.

The opinions of influencers are trusted, even when their audience know it’s a sponsored opinion or advert, because the influencers have developed a strong rapport with their audience over a long period of time. The research from 2019 also found that 63% of consumers trust influencers’ opinions over what the brand being advertised puts out in their own marketing – good or bad.


 Influencer marketing is an excellent form of social proof

A social influencer filming herself for an influencer marketing campaign

It works well because social influencers have built up with their following, and recommendations from them serve as a form of social proof to your brand’s potential customers. Influencers can also reach a wider audience that you may be struggling to get your brand in front of through traditional marketing methods.

But how can you make it work for your small business?

Do your research

Watch some social influencer videos, Tik Toks, Instagram reels and social media posts to see how they interact with a product or service and talk about it with their audience. This gives you the chance to see the different ways you might want an influencer to promote your product.

Set a budget

Posts and videos aren’t done for free, and you will be charged by the influencers promoting your products. Costs may vary according to what you want them to do, the size of their following, the post type (written post, blog, short video, etc), number of posts, whether you want exclusivity, etc.

Have a clear goal in mind

Know what you want to achieve through your influencer marketing campaign is key to its success. But be prepared to be flexible, influencers know their target audience best and how to get results so do listen to their suggestions and work with them to get the best campaign.

Also discuss their previous successes, ask to see data from their analytics to see how well these posts perform for them and how to get similar or better results for you.

Prepare some brand/product guidelines for the influencer

If you want your chosen influencer to talk about particular features, benefits, research and development, backstory or customer feedback then you need to provide them with this information.

Creating some guidelines of what you want them to say, your target audience demographics, what you don’t want them to say, and any other pertinent info is a good idea.

Contact them in the right way

For micro-influencers, you could reach out directly in a private message on the same platform. For more established ones, click around their profile and they may list contact information for business inquiries in their bio. They may also link a website that denotes brand partnerships.

Being patient is a good idea while waiting for their response. Influencers often get a lot of businesses asking to work with them, and they may only review these emails or DMs once a week or even less. Sometimes using an agency is the better way to go if you’re wanting to get started quickly and get a fast response.

Can influencer marketing work for small businesses?

I think it can be an excellent form of marketing as it provides that much needed social proof that can be hard to achieve elsewhere. However, you do need a good budget, a product or service that an influencer and their target audience are interested in, and a clear strategy and guidelines for them to follow.

I do think your business needs to be in a relatively strong position in terms of branding, marketing and a good website for those seeing the posts to be directed to. For that reason, I think influencer marketing is best for more established businesses looking to take their marketing strategy to the next level.



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