We all know the benefit of influencers when it comes to marketing. It manages to bridge the gap between useful review and direct advertising. Plus, there’s the benefit of an automatic audience ready for genuine content. People are less likely to feel ‘marketed’ to, making the brand experience a positive one.
But if you’re a new brand, is influencer engagement out of reach? Not at all. There are definitely ways to engage influencers on a budget if you do it cleverly.
This sounds obvious...but they’re never going to be able to showcase your goods if they don’t have them. Work out the right influencers for your target audience and then send your product with a note. The benefit is that if they love what they see, it’s a genuine post which will shine through and be more effective.
Will every influencer you post your goods to necessarily post on their socials? Nope. So be strategic. Send your products on their way with the expectation that they may disappear into thin air. If this is the worst case scenario, can you afford this loss? Alternatively, you may get some or all posting to their insta stories or a direct review on a post.
Maximise your chances of this happening by ensuring you’ve done your research. If you’re sending a pair of bikinis to someone known for their kitchen hacks, there’s probably a mismatch of interests. And don’t forget to send your brand or personal story with your products to maximise your chance of connection with the influencer. Why did you choose them, specifically? Why should they feel connected to your brand? What will make them want to take a cute snap and share it with their audience?
Aim for a small influencer with good engagement. Do the math. If they have millions of followers but seemingly limited comments or likes, there’s no ROI for you. If you have a local influencer who is positioned in your space with a few thousand passionate followers, you can see the return immediately. Anyone that owns their audience will do well. They have worked hard to earn the respect their loyal followers show them. Smaller influencers with good engagement are a reflection of their impact. Their audience is real and not bought.
Low engagement is a red flag warning. Any of those follow for follow techniques that were popular in the last few years will not yield you any results. These are not true followers interested in your products.
Understand that you may not see a direct purchase straight after they post. It may be more about brand awareness or establishing your credibility. Influencers are often at the top of the funnel, so think of engagement with them as part of a holistic overall approach to marketing. In marketing, it used to be the rule of seven, (that the prospective buyer should hear or see your message at least seven times before they decide to purchase). Yet this is now closer to the rule of 30. Consumers are being bombarded with messages from every platform. This means that you need to be everywhere too.
Influencers are content experts. Maximise their skills, whether it’s via shout outs, photos or video. You may not think that an unedited shot of them using your products necessarily puts it in the best light, but they know what their audience wants. Whether it’s filters on or off, a late night post, a story, a laugh….authenticity is key.
If you do engage an influencer in a more formal capacity, make sure your expectations are clear. Are they allowed to work with your competition? Are they expected to post within a certain timeframe? At a certain time of day? With a certain word used or link to your website? Are they meant to tag you? How many times per week / month would you like them to post about your product? Is there a specific hashtag you want used?
Many of these seem obvious but you’d be surprised how easily this can go wrong. Put it in writing in an express agreement. This is business, after all.
The key is to experiment. Research. Have fun. See what works. Don’t expect instant results. This is all part of a much broader marketing picture. Think big on a small scale (to save those $$) and see what happens! There is no reason that you can’t leverage the power of influencers on a startup budget. It’s just about ensuring you have a strategy in place to get the greatest bang for your buck.