It’s not hard to understand why influencer marketing is one of the most asked about services in the industry right now. It can be an extremely impactful way to get more exposure and validation for your brand. As we see marketing trends leaning towards authenticity, there’s no better better way to target your audience than through an influencer that they already know and trust.
However, there’s definitely a right way and a wrong way to facilitate an influencer campaign. How you go about choosing and contacting them can either make or break your campaign.
It can also be the difference between spending no money and completely blowing your budget.
We know that influencer marketing can get quite pricey. According to this AdWeek article, “Brands are forking out serious cash to access influencers’ audiences, who may otherwise be resistant to their advertising.”
So, let’s be clear. Kylie Jenner is not going to promote your brand on Instagram….unless you’re willing to shell out a couple hundred thousand dollars.
But don’t panic. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to have a successful influencer campaign. There are plenty of smart, and frugal, ways to promote your brand via social media channels of influencers.
How to Not Spend a Dime on an Influencer Campaign
Many brands want to reach for popular, well known influencers within their industry. But that isn’t always feasible, especially not for small companies and startups.
Having realistic expectations about who will influence for you is key. That said, the most popular, well known influencers aren’t always the most effective. More often than not, micro-influencers are the ones who will work best for your company.
Micro-influencers, those with an audience of 10-100K, can be a really efficient way to leverage your brand. Thanks to social media, there are so many out there who are happy to partner with brands in exchange for more exposure. They’re much more accessible than celebrities and have just as much, if not more, of a loyal following than celebrities. That’s because their following is more compact and targeted, so they’re more engaged with their fans and therefore better able to exude their influence.
I mean extensive research.
First, determine which social channels your audience is on and make the most sense to leverage influencers. Then identify what topics and categories fit in with your brand and search for key influencers in those areas. Follow them and keep note of how often they post, how many followers they have, and how much they engage with their followers.
Get to know your influencers. What do they like to share with their audience? What was the latest blog post they wrote? Like their stuff, retweet them, and reply to their posts. This let’s them know that you’re interested in their page.
Most importantly, find out what is the best way to contact them. It may be through email or it may be through a tweet. If an email address isn’t listed on their social channels or website, then the best way to contact them is probably through the social channel they use most often.
Personalize, Personalize, Personalize
This is the part that most marketers get wrong. If you’ve ever gotten an email that was so obviously sent to hundreds of people using merge tags, then you understand why.
Sending a mass email using merge tags will probably not get you many responses. That’s because people don’t like to be pitched. They like to think that you’re talking to them, and only them.
Therefore, you need to personalize your emails. Actually talk to them as if they are a friend of yours. You’ll sounds more sincere instead of like a robot marketer.
Tell them how much you loved a blog post they wrote or a picture they shared- anything to validate the fact that you actually looked into them and their social channels.
How often do you do something nice for a complete stranger? Probably not often.
Which is why you can’t just reach out to influencers and ask them for something (especially if you aren’t looking to pay them!). You first need to tell them why you think they’re awesome, as mentioned earlier, and make an offer that is valuable to them.
What do influencers want the most? More influence. So ask them for a quote to be featured in your content. Tell them that you want to do a spotlight on them. See if they’re willing to share a guest blog post. 99% of the time, no one will turn down free promotion.
Some of the most successful influencer partnerships stem from the value that you can provide to one another, aside from money.
Putting the emphasis on the influencers’ needs shows them that you genuinely care about building a relationship with them. They’ll also be more receptive of what you may ask of them for your influencer campaign.
Coddle Your Influencers
Many companies just think of influencers in terms of a campaign – a once and done type of deal.
But that’s not really what influencer marketing is about. Instead, companies should have the mindset of building a relationship. That way there’s room for more exciting work together in the future.
As with any relationship, you have to make sure to keep in touch with your influencers. After all, you just put all that work into gaining their trust, the last thing you want is for them to feel discarded. So coddle your influencers to show them that you value the relationship.
Continue to like and comment on their posts to show that you haven’t forgotten about them. Directly reach out to them to ask them what they’re working on and tell them what your upcoming projects are. Most importantly, always ask them about opportunities that you can work on together.