For many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), using independent content creators to push your messaging may feel beyond the knowledge, expertise and budget. But thanks to its high return on investment, many SMEs are willing to devote time and money to it. Getting started is the tricky part, though. To help, here are some tips for leveraging influencer marketing for SMEs:
1. Determine your target audience for each campaign
While influencer marketing for SMEs might offer different challenges and constraints than it does for, say, large corporations with international franchise locations, that can work to your advantage.
If your company’s products, services or brick-and-mortar stores are geared toward baby boomers in one city, for example, your target market may be limited to those within driving distance. This limitation, in turn, can help narrow down influencers for your small business that are close to your store.
Coupling geographic location with an understanding of social media platform demographics will prevent you from wasting time. Rather than sorting through generic pools of small business influencers who reach younger consumers Instagram or TikTok, you can instead funnel your search to local influencers on Facebook.
2. Connect with local influencers
As you search for your first partnering content creator, cut out the leg work by using an influencer marketing agency for small business or an influencer marketing platform. Although both tools can help you discover social media influencers to reduce research and vetting time, they are slightly different.
An influencer marketing agency serves as a service provider to your SME, hand-picking potential content creators and helping to execute the campaign from concept to measuring results.
By contrast, influencer marketing platforms are typically DIY software programs that use algorithms to help you find potential influencers in a database of prospects. Some, like Flex, also offer all-in-one creator management programs to organize campaigns, content, contacts and real-time listening across platforms.
Either tool will allow you to filter your search by many factors, including niche, audience, engagement, location, gender, and experience.
3. Share your campaign goals and how you’ll measure them
Once you find an influencer for your first campaign, take the time to share your well-defined campaign goals. Will you aim for brand awareness, app downloads, sales through a unique landing page or to gather emails through a sign-up form?
Knowing which KPIs you’ll use to measure your results will also help your team — and the influencer — know if the campaign was a success. This might include calculating shared Twitter followers before and after a campaign to see if you’ve attracted any of the influencer’s fans. Or it may count click-throughs (vs. actual sales) to your product page. Perhaps it will be engagement with the campaign, including likes, shares and comments.
4. Cover the fine print
Cover logistics. Discuss when and how frequently the influencer will be posting, the type of content you’re seeking, and who will respond to questions and put it all in a contract.
Likewise, the legalities of the partnership should ensure that everyone knows what to expect before, during, and after the campaign. Will your SME own the content that’s created? Do you maintain rights to all user-generated content from the campaign to use it in future promotions or on your website or printed materials? What are the consequences if one side of the partnership fails to uphold its end of the deal?
Legalities should also include payment terms. Will the influencer get a flat fee, a commission on sales, or a per-click payment regardless of whether the clickthrough leads to a sale? Put it in writing, so there’s no ambiguity.
Most professional influencers are familiar with at least the basics of campaign contracts. By offering parameters, you’ll allow the influencer some creative freedom to lend an authentic voice, style, and design to the campaign.
5. Monitor your campaign
Plan to monitor the campaign from start to finish to ensure that things are running smoothly with public-facing messaging, responses to questions and comments, landing pages, website load times, data-gathering services, and customer service.
The only thing worse than a lackluster influencer marketing campaign is a successful campaign that falls short on the back end due to a lack of preparation or slow response to obstacles.
6. Compare expectations and goals with results
Did the reality of your campaign’s results fall short, meet, or beat your expectations? Revisit your KPIs.
These results are beneficial not only for this campaign but also for future campaigns, as well as the influencer’s track record.
Be sure to send a personal thank you on behalf of the company and provide a clearly defined summary of the campaign’s results that the influencer can use in their marketing.
With such an effective tool at your disposal, it would be detrimental for your SME to ignore or delay influencer marketing as a tool to reach new audiences. Start by exploring an influencer marketing platform to see just how easy it is to find a content creator who aligns with your brand’s niche, goals and values.