Working with influencers can be incredibly beneficial for a brand. As a business owner and influencer, I’ve been on both sides of the coin. Over the last decade, through a lot of trial and error, I’ve learned the hard way how to get the most out of an influencer relationship with your company.
“I think influencer marketing is going to have a golden era of a decade. I think we’re at the beginning of it and I’m very fond of it.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
Here is the seven-step process I use when working with Influencers.
Get clear on who your ideal customer is.
This is something preached day in and day out in the world of marketing, but that’s because it is crucial to the success of a marketing campaign. If you’re going to work with someone else to promote your company, you want to make sure you really know who your audience is and who they know, like, and trust.
You’ll want to find an influencer who has the same or similar ideal customer as your company. The more crossover you and your dream influencer’s avatar have in common, the better the collaboration will perform.
Know what your goals are for the campaign.
Are you looking for a one-and-done deal to get the word out about your company? Or are you looking for a continued relationship?
Most of the time as a small business, you’ll be able to see better conversion rates when you focus on building relationships versus sending out a bunch of free products.
A blast campaign is better for bigger businesses with deeper pockets and large advertising budgets. If you’re smaller, it will make more sense to find people to work with on your own. This will cut out a lot of fees that you would have to pay an agency, and the relationship is more personal.
Don’t focus on follower numbers.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when looking for an influencer to partner with is only looking at a high follower count. Many people assume the more followers an influencer has, the more successful the collaboration will be. In my experience, the opposite is usually true.
There are plenty of accounts out there with a large following that has very little engagement and interaction.
Instead of focusing on how many followers an influencer has, look at how often their following comments, shares, or interacts with their account. Do they have a low amount of likes or interaction for how many followers they have?
An account with fewer followers that are dedicated is worth more than an account full of bots and people who are just there to watch from the sidelines.
For small businesses, the sweet spot is most likely partnering with micro-influencers: those with 10k-100k followers. Micro-influencers tend to have better engagement and a more active following than the internet-famous influencers you see everywhere.
If you’re just getting started, don’t discount nano influencers either. Nano influencers are categorized as those with under 10k followers. Everyone on Instagram has access to links now, so follower count is not as important as a dedicated audience.
Research, research, research.
Next, start looking at varied accounts to narrow down your search.
If you’re not sure where to start, ask your customers who they like to follow. One question I love to ask that usually sparks some great responses: “Who is an account you love to follow that you feel is underrated?” This will help you locate influencers that your audience loves (who are in that nano or micro-influencer range) who may be looking for opportunities to work with brands.
You can also search niche-specific hashtags that relate to your company to find additional potential influencers.
When you find an account, look at what their content style is, how often they have sponsored content, and the voice they use. Does the general feel of their page match your brand values?
Make sure who you choose to work with is a good fit for your business.
Start building relationships.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when working with influencers is to start cold-emailing or cold-messaging someone you want to work with.
As an influencer myself, I get anywhere from 5-10 of these pitches a day and I can tell you firsthand, they are immediately deleted.
Pick three to five influencers that you think would be a great fit and start following them. Leave thoughtful comments on their posts, share their content that your customers will relate to, and get to know them online.
Then, after a few weeks, if those comments and shares have warmed that relationship up a little, send them an email saying that you would love to work with them to gauge their interest.
It can literally be something as simple as “Hi _________, my name is ________ from _________. I’ve been following along with your Instagram account, and I think your account would be a great fit for my brand. I’d love to discuss how we can work together if you’re open to it.”
If your comments, shares, or interactions don’t get any response, it’s a good sign not to pursue that relationship.
Sweeten the deal.
Influencer marketing is a 10-billion-dollar industry as of 2021*, and it’s only going to continue to grow.
If you’re not looking to pay for posting in 2022 because you don’t have a budget, you’re not going to get very far. Even micro and nano influencers usually expect some form or payment to work together, and very few will work for a product exchange.
In addition to allocating a budget for influencer marketing, think of ways you can draw them in to work with you. Affiliate or incentive programs can go a long way in building continued relationships.
Don’t be afraid to try again.
You may be shocked when you reach out to someone and they ghost you or never respond. Maybe they’ll come back with a rate that’s not in your budget, or maybe their editorial calendar is full. This happens all the time. Don’t take it personally.
Don’t rush into an influencer relationship just because you feel like you need to. Wait until you find the right influencers to pair with.
Honestly, working with influencers is like dating – it’s going to take a while until you find the right one, but with each “date” or collab, you’ll learn something that you can take with you moving forward.
There is no “quick fix” to finding an influencer that will fit well with your brand. It takes time, research, and persistence. At the end of the day, influencer marketing can be very beneficial for your business – if you do it the right way.