How to find influencers for a small business: 9 tips

Thanks to digital marketing, many successful companies are finding a wider audience online. An increasingly prevalent part of digital marketing is the use of influencers. Using content creators for online small business marketing can bring your product to a more engaged audience than with conventional methods. The tips below can help you find and work with influencers for your small business.

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What is an influencer?

Technically, anyone who has influence over a large portion of your targeted audience can be considered an influencer. Athletes and celebrities can be influencers, but the word refers more commonly to social media influencers who make it their job to attract, retain, and regularly engage as many followers as possible.

Typically, major influencers have hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of followers and can reach a huge audience with one post. This audience likely has at least some overlap with yours. That said, an influencer marketing campaign involving the biggest names on social media could result in growth so rapid you can’t keep up. Micro-influencers can be more effective for smaller companies – they usually reach an audience of 1,000 to 10,000 people.

9 tips on how to find an influencer for a small business

Finding influencers isn’t the hard part – every social media website has millions to choose from. The issue is finding the right influencers to represent your business. Each influencer has developed their brand voice to appeal to their audience, and it’s crucial their voice aligns with your marketing strategy. Below are a few tips on how to find the right influencers for you.

1. Look to your own social media following

If you’ve been cultivating your social media presence, you may have already attracted someone with a strong following. Identifying them is among the easiest ways to find influencers for your small business. Simply browse your business’ followers and find micro-influencers. Then, check their profiles to determine if their voice and interests align with your brand. If they do, you can ask them to be part of your influencer marketing campaign.

2. Find the right type of influencer for you

Before you reach out to influencers, you should determine which types of influences could be right for your brand. Choosing the right people - those who align with your values and mission - to promote your business is money well-spent. On the flipside,  choosing the wrong influencer – someone who’s controversial, or whose values don’t align with your brand – could potentially harm your company’s reputation.

Remember that influencers are social media personalities. Before you begin your search, it’s helpful to decide if you want someone funny, serious, calm, or something else. Also, try to identify how many followers you’d ideally like the influencer to reach. Some speak to an audience of over 1 million, while others can have as few as 1,000 followers while still creating engaging content. It all comes down to how many people you’d like your influencer campaign to engage.

3. Use third-party tools to help the search

If your social media presence has not been a priority, or you don’t have any followers with the right-sized audience, there are  tools that can help you. Services like Buzzsumo® or Followerwonk® can browse through profiles on any social media site and find ones that match your business. They can also sort results by follower count, engagement rate, and other metrics to help you refine your search and find the best influencers for your business goals.

4. Search for bloggers using keywords in your niche

While many businesses focus on social media, blogs shouldn’t be overlooked as a marketing source. Blog posts can achieve long-lasting results if you prioritize search engine optimization (SEO) as you write them. Sponsored content, or paying an influencer to write about your brand on their blog, can reach more people over time because Google® can pick up on certain keywords and identify the post as authoritative.

Getting your company name on Google’s first search results page for a keyword related to your offerings may increase your website traffic exponentially. But the first step is finding the right influencer’s blog through a similar process to finding an influencer: simply search for keywords related to your business and find blogs that match. Then, you can assess which blogs have enough followers to maximize your marketing expenditure.

5. Search YouTube for video creators in your industry

Youtube® is another big hub for influencers, though YouTubers aren’t quite the same as influencers on social media platforms. For one, their content is primarily video-based, which can create a more engaged audience. Additionally, YouTube’s user base is only smaller than Google and Facebook® - in other words, enormous. If you reach out to influencers on YouTube, you may be able to gain access to an especially large audience. If that works for you, search for keywords related to your business and click through the results to find an influencer that fits your brand.

6. Find influencers on LinkedIn and other professional networks

Many businesses overlook LinkedIn® as a source for influencers because of its professional focus. But it’s still a social network, and there are many influencers there who can likely attract a wide audience.

Finding a suitable influencer on LinkedIn is similar to finding one on any other site, except that they might not call themselves influencers. If you find you’re not finding the right person, you’ll likely want to expand your search to include content creators, YouTubers, and bloggers.

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7. Leave a good first impression

Many business owners are looking for influencers to promote their brand. To make sure your request doesn’t get lost in an influencer’s inbox, familiarize yourself with their content so you can personalize your initial message and include a detailed description of how your business could appeal to the influencer's audience.

8. Look for influencers through relevant hashtags

Hashtags can serve as an easy sorting system to find the right people to promote your business by helping uncover the highest-rated content in a category relevant to you. They can give you a broad user base from which to identify influencers with the right follower count and content.

9. Meet with influencers in real-life

Even influencers like to get away from their computer screens. There are generally plenty of real-life events where you can meet the most notable names in your industry and potentially strike a brand deal. Often, convincing someone to promote your product is easier face-to-face.

Benefits of working with an influencer

There are several unique benefits of an influencer campaign compared to other types of marketing. The outcomes below aren’t sure or exhaustive, but can give you a good idea of what you can expect.

Increased brand awareness

Influencers can sometimes reach millions of people with just one post, which means a large audience will likely see your sponsored content. Casting a wide net may help increase the chances of finding people interested in your service or product.

Direct engagement with a highly specific audience

In marketing, a lot of money generally goes into finding the right audience before you start actually marketing. That’s because going after the wrong customers likely won’t lead to enough engagement to justify the spend. Finding an influencer within your industry often means that an engaged, relevant audience is built in from the get-go.

Boost audience engagement

Your audience likely sees sponsored content or ads from many different companies every day. Using an influencer can generally help you cut through that noise and lead to better audience engagement. Since there’s a personality behind influencer content, people may feel like they’re interacting with someone they know and trust instead of just an ad.

Build brand authenticity

Influencers tend to have strong relationships with their audiences, and their followers typically listen to their product recommendations. As a result, when they start to promote your brand, you’ll likely seem more credible in the eyes of their followers. It’s up to you to keep that trust after the initial purchase, but an influencer can often help get your foot in the door.

Reap a return on marketing investment

Influencer marketing can save you money by helping to connect you with an attentive audience immediately, and often without any formal market research. Plus, if an influencer’s followers are people already interested in your industry, sponsored content may have a tremendous impact. You’ll generally attract new customers more efficiently, and at a potentially lower cost, if you use the right influencers in your marketing strategy.

Fund your influencer marketing campaigns with SmartBiz®

Influencer marketing done right may help boost your sales and grow your company. But how will you fund your influencer marketing campaign? Depending on the type of influencer you hire and the content they make, a sponsorship could cost anywhere from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars. It can be challenging for a small business to meet that expense, but there may be loan options that can help.

SmartBiz can help you find these loans. Check now to see whether you pre-qualify* for a loan to help find an influencer to help take your business to the next level.

*We conduct a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, in processing your loan application, the lenders with whom we work will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and happens after your application is in the funding process and matched with a lender who is likely to fund your loan.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The SmartBiz® Small Business Blog and other related communications from SmartBiz Loans® are intended to provide general information on relevant topics for managing small businesses. Be aware that this is not a comprehensive analysis of the subject matter covered and is not intended to provide specific recommendations to you or your business with respect to the matters addressed. Please consult legal and financial processionals for further information.

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