Generate Buzz for Your Small Business with a Killer Influencer Marketing Strategy

  •    Law graduate and journalist who specializes in helping entrepreneurs market and grow their businesses.

When you start a business, you want to get the word out to as many people as possible. Social media influencers are a powerful way to attract the right kind of attention. But where do you find them and how do you get them to promote your small business? Here's exactly how to create a buzz with and air tight influencer marketing strategy.

Why Do You Need Influencers?

Don't underestimate the appeal of influencers. People really do enjoy seeing the product recommendations of their favorite social media "stars." The term "influencer" can refer to a wide range of people: from friends who are popular on social media to celebrities with Instagram accounts. Whichever bucket they fall into, people trust their opinions and see them as a gatekeeper in a fast-paced, information-heavy environment. If influencers like something, their readers are more likely to pay attention to it.

For today's marketers, influencers are essential. Many social media sites are limiting users' organic reach so they'll be more compelled to buy ads and promotions. And although ads can certainly help your business, this limited organic reach also means that you need more people talking about your business online than ever before. In addition, posts from influencers that link back to your website can provide valuable SEO juice that will help your website rank higher in Google search results.

Where to Find Influencers

You can find influencers in a variety of places. Start with your own social media fans. Do any of them have a lot of followers? Do their posts consistently get a high volume of shares and comments?

Search for bloggers whose topics overlap your own, and then review the interactions their posts receive. Make sure to look at hashtags that match your topics and the people participating who get the most reactions. You can also find influencers through paid services like Buzzsumo. Simply enter your search term and decide if you want to look at influencers, bloggers, journalists, etc. The results will be ranked by domain authority, followers, retweets, reply ratios, and more.

Before approaching an influencer, double check the following:

  • Do they have genuine interactions or just a lot of followers who are mostly silent?
  • Do their interests overlap enough with your business that their followers would be intrigued by what you're offering?
  • Is their feed saturated with promotional posts? If they're already advertising a lot of products, yours might just get lost in the mix.

Remember: when it comes to influencers, you might need to start out small and work your way up. After working with a smaller influencer, you can ask for referrals to other influencers in the same field.

How to Approach Influencers

A number of approaches can grab an influencer's attention. It all depends on what you have to offer. Here are a few ideas:

  • Develop a relationship first. This can take months and might start out by simply complimenting the person or genuinely seeking advice.

  • Pay for their help. This might be the simplest and quickest method. Many influencers are willing to promote your product or service in exchange for compensation. The price will vary depending on their popularity.

  • Ask for a review in exchange for a free product. This is another quick method that works well if you have a product your influencer might like.

  • Offer a valuable exchange. This works best if you already have a lot of followers yourself. The influencer might be interested in getting exposure to your followers. Or perhaps you have some great experts or a few key celebrities who follow you. The potential exposure might be payment enough.

Once you've decided who you're approaching and how, send them a direct, private message either through social media or via email. Make sure your messages are personal and talk about why you like the influencer in particular. And be clear and concise about what you want, whether it's a video or a post, and what you're offering in exchange.

Don't forget to make sure you're familiar with the FTC's rules on disclosing relationships and sponsored posts.

Try an Influencer Platform

If all of this sounds a little overwhelming, you might want to try reaching out to influencers through an influencer platform instead. These subscription platforms already have influencers who have signed up and are looking for opportunities. Consider these platforms for getting started: TapInfluence, Revfluence, Webfluential, IZEA, Obviously, Grapevine, Upfluence, Famebit and Shoutcart.

Use Influencers in a Well-Designed Campaign

If you're going through all the trouble of finding an influencer, you want to make sure you're doing everything right. This means creating more than just one social media post without any follow-up. Instead, build an entire campaign around your influencer efforts.

What is your end goal? Maybe you're promoting a new product or a how-to book. Maybe you're building an email list or giving away products. Have a clear goal for your influencer campaign, with dates set up for each step along the way. Your tasks might include guest blogs, sponsored posts, product reviews or giveaways.

Influencers can play a vital role in building a buzz for your business. The Pitch to Influencers worksheet in Weebly's Business Starter Guide includes a step-by-step guide to help you find the right influencers and keep you on task. If you signup for Weebly's Pre-Launch Membership, you'll get a Business Starter Guide with this worksheet, a custom domain, a seller network, thank-you cards and other worksheets covering everything from time management to cost tracking. It's all designed to help you launch your business successfully.

Ready to find your audience? Get guidance on common hurdles with the Pre-Launch Membership: