As a small business owner, you want to use all of the strategies and tools at your disposal when it comes to marketing. One of the strategies that you should not overlook is influencer marketing.
You may not realize it, but influencer marketing isn’t just for big companies. While major multinational companies can afford to use A-list celebrities that aren’t within reach for most of us, small businesses can get excellent results from using local influencers instead.
1. Understand Why Local Influencers Are a Good Choice
Before tapping local influencers in your marketing strategy, make sure you understand why this is a good decision. Think of this as the first step for a successful influencer marketing strategy.
Simply put, you get similar benefits with local or micro-influencers as you would with big stars, plus a few extras. These include:
- They seem more authentic and relatable to your audience.
- Their engagement rates tend to be higher.
- They have a more targeted audience.
- Their audience is local, so they can visit your store.
- They cost a lot less, easily fitting into your marketing budget.
- They are much more accessible. (You can just send a message instead of having to work through representatives.)
2. Find Potential Influencers Within Your Current Customers
Once you know why you want to use local influencer marketing, it is time to start doing so. The first step is to begin looking for influencers, and a great starting point is your existing customers or subscribers.
Remember that you just want local influencers; they don’t need to have hundreds of thousands of followers. Start by looking at your social media pages and see who follows you there.
Specifically, look for anyone who has at least 1,000 followers and posts about topics related to your brand. It’s even better if they have shown outright interest in your brand on their page before.
3. Find Influencers Using Hashtags
Another great strategy for finding potential influencers is to search with hashtags. Look at the hashtags relevant to your business, and be sure to include a location-based hashtag in your search. Remember, the goal is to get local influencers. For example, if you run a restaurant, you could search for #[City]foodblogger and see what shows up.
4. Find Local Bloggers
You can also look for local people who run blogs in your area. They will likely already have a strong following on social media.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Use Search Tools, Even If They Are Paid
While it is not ideal for every business, you may want to consider using an influencer search tool. Of course, doing this will likely take up a bit more of your marketing budget. On the other hand, it will save you time so you can focus on other aspects of your business.
The important caveat here is that if you use a tool, especially a paid one, make sure it will give you relevant results. In other words, make sure that it will include micro-influencers in your area. If it doesn’t, it will just be a waste of money. Because of this requirement, your options for influencer tools may be somewhat limited.
6. Choose Your Influencers With Care
As you browse for influencers, don’t just contact and start working with everyone that you find. Instead, work to narrow down your list of influencers to only include those that make sense for your business and brand.
Start by ensuring that their style and overall personality fit in with your brand. You want your chosen influencers to have similar values to your brand.
One of the most important things is to ensure that the influencers you choose post content relevant to your company. So, if you are a gym, you may want to look for local fitness influencers. Or, if you are a bakery, you would look for influencers who focus on baked goods, desserts, or food in general. How specific you choose to be will depend on the options available and the audience size. The most important part is to ensure they are relevant.
Finally, take a look at the content the influencer posts. Try to avoid influencers who tend to go over to promote brands or only post sponsored content. If your brand appears as just one of many sponsored posts, it won’t seem authentic. Ideally, you should look for influencers who have non-sponsored posts mixed in, and whose sponsored content has a more natural feel.
7. Negotiate Payment
Most larger influencers will want to receive financial compensation for their posts, but some smaller local influencers may be happy with freebies. This will depend entirely on the influencer, your product, and your preference. You should expect to have to pay some influencers, but you can also see if candidates are open to free products or services in exchange for posts.
8. Sponsor Influencer Posts
The most obvious type of content you will have influencers post is your sponsored posts. Those are the ones that you pay the influencer to share. They typically promote a product or service. An example would be a close-up photo of your product either alone or with the influencer using it.
9. Have Influencers Mention You in Posts
You can also compensate influencers for mentioning your company in posts that aren’t clearly sponsored content. For example, if the influencer regularly goes on picnics and posts photos of the spread, have them include your food product in it and mention you. Or if you sell clothes, have them wear something and mention where they got it from in the description.
10. Give Influencers Some Creativity
Most influencers are fairly creative people by nature. Take advantage of this when figuring out what type of content you want them to post.
For example, if you sell accessories, ask them to incorporate them into an outfit. If you sell a food product or drink, have them incorporate it in a recipe or meal and share that. If you sell exercise equipment, encourage them to share how they would use it in their workouts.
11. Schedule Social Media Takeovers
Another great option is to have influencers take over your social media page for a day or a few hours. This can be a great way to make them more relatable or to highlight how your products or services fit into their daily lives.