If you’re trying to market your startup, you’re probably trying to get your name out there without spending a fortune. There are many strategies you can use to do this, but if you haven’t already looked into influencer marketing, you should.
This strategy can provide various benefits, as long as you find influencers that align well with your startup’s brand and who connect you to your target audience. Keep reading to discover some of the benefits of influencer marketing, how to find influencers, and what to look for when choosing who to collaborate with.
Influencer marketing’s benefits
In a survey of marketers, 90% of respondents said that influencer marketing is an effective form of marketing. And it’s not rocket science to see why. Influencer campaigns can provide a variety of benefits to startups and small businesses, like:
Boost brand awareness
One of influencer marketing’s greatest benefits is the opportunity to raise brand awareness. By working with several nano and micro influencers (influencers who have fewer than 50K followers), startups can get their name out to a variety of niches, locations or demographics.
Increase content creation
As a startup, your employees are probably juggling a lot. You might not have a dedicated content team, or even a dedicated content creator. Influencer marketing can help you out with this, as influencers who collaborate with you will be producing content that you can then republish elsewhere. Just remember to get their OK to repost their work.
Reach a wider audience of people interested in your brand
Another benefit of influencer campaigns is that they connect you to a larger audience, and to people who may not find your brand or products otherwise. To reap this benefit, you have to understand your buyer personas well, so that you can prioritize finding influencers who will help connect you to people who fit them.
Build trust and loyalty
Working with influencers builds brand loyalty and trust. In fact, research shows that 61% of consumers are likely to trust recommendations from a friend, family member or influencer on social media, while only 38% trust recommendations from brands. So, when an influencer promotes your products, people are more likely to believe them.
With respect to loyalty, long-term partnerships are particularly good for this, as followers see their favorite influencers consistently promoting your brand. This reinforces the idea that the influencer likes your products. It also helps followers get familiar with your company.
As we mentioned above, working with nano and micro influencers is a great way to raise awareness of your brand. And the best part? With nano influencers, you can usually collaborate in exchange for free products alone. With micro influencers, some may request a fee for their services, although this should max out at a few hundred dollars.
With influencer marketing, you get to choose how much to invest in each influencer. Just remember that as a startup, you’re not going to be able to pay for Kim Kardashian to promote your brand. But as long as you’re realistic about what you can and can’t offer, you can find influencers to work with, which brings us to the next section.
How your startup can find influencers
When you’re ready to start searching for influencers, you have three options of how to do this:
- Search for influencers on social media
- Use an influencer marketing platform
- Hire an agency to find influencers for you
As a startup, realistically, you probably won’t be able to afford to hire an agency. Their rates are very expensive, and if you’re running small campaigns with just a few influencers, it might not even be worth it.
If you choose to search directly on social media, you won’t have to pay anything extra. However, finding the right collaborators will be more labor-intensive, as you’ll have to search manually and you won’t be able to see all the details about their profiles unless you request their internal performance data.
An influencer marketing platform is the middle road. You have to pay a subscription to access this software, but it lets you tailor your search with filters and provides analytics about influencer profiles. This means you don’t have to waste time requesting metrics from individual influencers before making the decision about who to recruit for your campaign.
What to look out for when choosing influencers
When analyzing influencer profiles, there are a few important things to watch out for. This is why it’s so important to either use an influencer marketing platform or request performance metrics from influencers before signing them on to your campaign.
Follower count isn’t the most important thing here. Instead, pay attention to other metrics like growth, engagement rates, and audience metrics.
Look to see how an influencer has accumulated their followers throughout time. Is their growth slow and steady, with new followers appearing bit by bit? Or is it spiky and uneven, with lots of dips and peaks?
The former shows healthy, organic growth. This takes time, but these followers are more likely to stick around. The latter option could potentially show fake followers.
First check if the influencer has recently gone viral or hosted a giveaway, both of which are logical explanations for sudden bumps in follower count. But in the absence of a rational explanation, dig deeper to see if the influencer’s audience looks authentic.
Engagement rate is a formula that can show you the level of interaction between an influencer and their followers. When followers are interested in content, they’re more likely to like or comment on it.
Extreme engagement can also show you instances of influencer fraud. Very low engagement tells us that either people aren’t interested, or the influencer bought fake followers (who don’t actually interact with content). On the flip side, suspiciously high engagement probably means that the influencer bought fake likes, comments or other interactions.
Don’t assume that an influencer is a match because they just fit within your target audience. This doesn’t necessarily mean that their followers do too. Check the demographics of their followers, like age, gender, country, language and interests. A California-based influencer may only really have one third of their audience located in the United States.
In addition to audience demographics, look into the authenticity of the influencer’s audience. Do they look like real people, or bots? As influencers can easily buy followers nowadays, you could end up wasting your limited marketing budget on bots if you’re not careful.
Influencer marketing is a strategy that can offer many benefits and can be adapted to your business and budget. The only caveat is to approach influencer discovery in a thorough and analytical way, searching for influencers who can help you work toward your startup’s goal. Finally, don’t forget to analyze influencer profiles so you don’t end up with unpleas
Hopefully, by getting this far, a few of your initial queries about influencer marketing have been answered. It’s pretty simple, really. However, to ensure that you are creating the most effective campaign, you need to spend time understanding your goals and doing a little bit of research. Social media usage is only going to increase over the coming years, and with that comes the rise in influencer marketing. So, we would suggest that you get started on your first campaign sooner than later!