Small Businesses Try To Grow Their Online Audience
Let’s say you are a small company, and you want to achieve these three things:
- Sell a product online
- Expand your audiences
- Make a large amount of people know your product
But you don’t know how to do it because just promoting your product or expanding your audience won’t be easy these days. More and more people, especially millennials, tend to put their trust into people who actually use and review the product, they won’t buy the product, script unseen. So, the easiest way to make people buy your product or even just promote it, is to use an influencer.
Influencers are the new advertiser, they have a platform where they can share the product and say to their trustworthy followers: “Yes, we use it and it is great” or just “Click the link in bio to eat this wonderful vegan cookie. You can also find a discount on the post” or even “This company is amazing, they do amazing things for the environment. Check them out”. Simple phrases like this can gain you trust and new audiences very quickly. With a good campaign, they generate brand awareness and even increase sales in a very short period.
How To Start Your Influencer Campaign
Starting an influencer campaign by directly contacting the influencer is not the right way to start. The first things you need are:
- A plan
- A goal
- A budget
A very good plan determines that you know what you want from the influencer and from the campaign itself; a final goal helps you define where the campaign is going to go, if it’s to increase sales or just spreading brand awareness. Without both of them, you cannot measure results and the influencer won’t be able to understand what you are trying to achieve with your campaign. Next, based on your plan and goal, set a budget. However, before you start scouting in depth, remember these things:
- Which platform do you want to direct the campaign (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter)
- Do you want to work with a micro or macro influencer?
- Do you want to work with a celebrity influencer?
- Do they fit the type of brand you are going to promote?
- Do you want to reach a smaller audience or big audience?
- Do you want to spread brand awareness?
- Do you want to secure the selling of your product?
Make your company ask these types of questions so you can understand what kind of campaign you are building up. Then set a budget for the promotion, remembering that the cost of an influencer depends on followers: the more followers he or she has, the more money you are going to spend. The cost can go from $10 to $10,000 and more per post, furthermore, start the campaign by contacting the influencer 2 or 3 weeks before the launch of the product, so you have them secured for the promotion. We know there are more categories for arrange influencers, but to simplify the topic we go with micro/macro/celebrity.
When you hire an influencer, the first thing you need to remember is how to structure a campaign. The structure is really important because it helps you create one. Also, if you have a good structure, it is easier that the influencer you choose, chooses you right back. Structure = professionalism.
Now let’s see how to create the right campaign structure
1. Choose your Social Media Channel
Starting the campaign is not that easy, you need to have your plan and goals very clear in your head and then find the right social media platform. Try to find someone who has an audience like yours and Instagram is the easiest social media to use because of its broad followers. In the past years Instagram has become very effective on brand advertising and sponsored content. According to Instagram Business, 90% of the users follow a company and 2 to 3 people follow and brand. 50% of the people are interested in brands that they see sponsored on social media platforms. By now the Instagram influencer market is valued at $1.7 Billion, so as we can see, Instagram sounds like the safer choice.
2. Do Your Research
Research can be long and very stressful so you will need to start from somewhere. Remember that Influencers are more likely to promote products that they already know, and they want to partner with someone who shares their values and authenticity.
You research can start from:
- Followers → Based on the product you want the influencer to promote, you need to start research from your followers. Start from age, gender, location, then see what products they share and from who they share and then start digging into the influencers they follow.
- Hashtags → You can also research from hashtags. Go into the search bar and enter #+brandname or #+trends and see what kind of posts are made. Do they post only them with the product, or do they make creative posts about the product? it is important to know what you want to value: creativity or just a simple post?
- Location → try to type your company location related to influencers and see who the most active influencer around you is. Then ask yourself: does he or she match your brand value? Does he or she post with frequency or not? The frequency of how much an influencer posts is important because if he or she doesn’t post with a good frequency, your campaign can fail quickly. It must be someone who posts regularly if you want your brand to become well known by a large number of people.
- Google → Google search can help you find the right person. Try to type location + something, for example location + restaurants or location + shop and doing so, you are most likely to find people who went to that place and maybe he or she is also an influencer. So, you can contact them and he or she can become the right choice for your campaign.
While doing the research, try to answer these type of question
- What kind of content does he/she create?
- How many followers do they have?
- How many of the followers interact with the influencer?
- Does he/she answer the followers’ comments?
The best thing about the preliminary research is to make a list of 5 to 10 different influencers and then choose 2 or 3 of them to connect with. It is also good to find someone with a similar audience, or one that at least meets most of the characteristics and requirements you are looking for.
Lastly, remember to create a profile of your candidates with:
- The influencers’ names
- Links to their Instagram profiles
- How many followers do they have?
- How is their engagement rate?
- Notes you want to remember
- Deadline of when you make contact
- Deadline of your follow up
Start following the influencer channels, start liking and commenting on his or her posts, but always be vague, don’t say too much. You need to gain his or her trust, make them know who you are before sending them the plan. Find also their other social media and try to understand with what frequency do they post, if they like brands like yours or if they worked with your competitors. You don’t have to be afraid because as a company you will always know who worked with who because it is always explained in the description section. The company is always mentioned so you know everything. Furthermore, the influencer has always to be transparent on the brands he or she worked with, so there is a short percentage that you are going to work with somebody that worked with your competitor. While you are engaging, try to understand their social media behavior because this will make them see that you have done your research and you are interested in what they create.
After you have engaged with them, make sure to do it with the chosen 2 or 3 influencers, you can connect with them through:
Instagram DMs → Instagram DMs are a casual way to reach out to influencers. So, make sure to send them a brief plan of your campaign. You need to say to them the crucial points because you will have a 1.000-character limit. The shorter you’ll be, the easier they’ll be going through it.
Emails → emails are a formal way to contact the influencer. You can often find the email of the influencer under the “link in bio”. With the emails you need to consider what subject lines to use because it has to intrigue the influencer and pique their curiosity, without being too vague about what the campaign is going to be
PR agency → Sometimes the easiest way to contact an influencer is going through their or a PR agency. Sometimes you find them in the “link in bio” or the influencer will send you directly to the agency. Moreover, you can ask the agency about the private data of their previous partnership and see if they are the right matches for you and your product. You can also ask for their portfolio so you can see with whom they have collaborate and have a clear profile about
To create a more effective message, you should:
- Address the influencers by name and not by their nicknames or instagram name
- Explain who you are and why you think their content resonated with you – avoid any generic comments
- Explain why the influencer would be a great fit for your brand
- Say what your expectation from this collaboration is and how they’ll benefit from this partnership
- End the message with some greetings and your name
- Use a call-to action at the end so they will know what to do next
- Keep the message brief
- Personalize the message, try to be creative but not vague
At this point you should talk about contracts. From both sides you will also need to sign a paper where everything is explained in detail: how both parties will benefit from this collaboration, you will need to determine what happens if expectation won’t be respected.
Set a price and you need to remember that prices rise proportionally depending on the number of followers until you go into celebrity influencers, the celebrity or the PR agency that set the price. If you don’t know the right price to ask, use a price model by talking to a professional figure to have an idea of the amount to ask.
In terms of format: remember that stories are the cheapest and a video costs 50% more than a post. It is not easy to determine the actual price because it is determined by followers and engagement rate, and they always change. Nevertheless, we can say that can go from 10$ per post till $10.000 per post and more for celebrity influencers. Remember that influencers promote content to their audience in exchange for cross-promotion, cash payment or a free sample of the product.
6. Be Professional
Always be professional and not put too much pressure on the influencer. If he or she doesn’t answer right away, wait. Create a deadline for the follow up message, remember to create at least 2 follow ups before risk to go into the spam section. Our recommendation is to send 2 follow ups messages apart from each other, maybe 2 days from one and another, because the brand will stay top of mind, otherwise if you wait too long, the influencer won’t remember the initial message. Always remember to keep the message short but fill it with the essential information that would make the influencer say yes to the partnership.
Influencer marketing is regulated by laws. The brand and the influencer have to remember that every post has got a cost. If the post has the brand in it or the influencer has been paid for this advertisement or has received any gift or hotel reservation or paid trips in exchange of their efforts, the influencer has to specify this in the post description. You have to be transparent to everyone and everything need to be specified in the post description with the #+word like:
- Advertisement Feature Sponsorship
- Sponsored content
- Sale discount
- Discount codes
- Paid partnership
Otherwise, you will risk complaints and potentially have to pay a fee. In the ASA website you can find all the regulations. As said in the Influencer Guide of making clear that ads are ads, you can find that the specific laws that regulate the influencer marketing are:
- The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the UK’s advertising regulator. The ASA makes sure ads across UK media stick to the advertising rules (the Ad Codes).
- The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), whose members represent advertisers, media owners and agencies, is responsible for writing the Ad Codes.
- The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is the UK’s primary competition and consumer authority. They are an independent non-ministerial government department with responsibility for carrying out investigations into mergers, markets and the regulated industries and enforcing competition and consumer law.
Tools You Can Use to Make Your Campaign Better
Imagine you are a small company, and you want to partner with an influencer but you don’t know where to start. You don’t want to contact the influencer directly because you think that is too risky or you don’t think they are going to answer, here are some PR Agencies you can contact in order to partner with an influencer:
- Influencer Marketing Agency: they have been active since 2010 and their job is to connect brands with world’s most influential bloggers, vloggers and social media influencers.
- The Booking Project: the provide influencers for social media endorsement, events, television, branded online content
- Influencer Matchmaker: they have been active for 15 years and their job is to connect the brand with the influencer or vice versa.
- M&C Saatchi Social: the agency provides media influencer talent management and campaign activation.
In conclusion, the success of the campaign is determined by reach and engagement from the partnership. Instagram should be the perfect channel because it has an easy way to connect with people. In order to create the right campaign, the company has to remember a few things:
- Set a goal
- Create the perfect plan
- Do a lot of research to find the right person for the campaign
- Create a folder with all the information about the influencer
- Find at least from 2 to 3 influencer to contact
- Use pr agencies or DMs or emails to contact the influencer
- Set a budget
- Make the connection
- Give the influencer creativity space to create the post
- See of the post respects all the criteria determinate by the law (remember to clarify what kind of campaign is it and use the # like sponsored, ad, and so on)
- Always be professional
A good campaign is not measured by quantity but by quality. Thus, not think of this collaboration as a short term relationship but also try to create a strategy that gives you the opportunity to create a partnership that lasts in time, let’s say as a long-term relationship. Always have a clear strategy in mind.