For savvy business owners staying up to date on social media tactics, it may seem like ‘influencers’ are all anyone’s talking about in 2017 — and with good reason. Influencer marketing is economical, highly targeted and effective, so it’s little wonder businesses both big and small are scrambling to work with influencers to market their products.

Every niche audience has its own niche influencers, so no matter the size of your business, influencer marketing can work for you. We’ve listed a few tips to help get you started.

1. Find the right influencers. You might be hoping to nab a well-known celebrity or public figure as your influencer but let’s get real – it’s very unlikely for a local bakery to land a social media promotion deal with Adriano Zumbo anytime soon. Rather than aiming for the most popular celebrities out there, build a clear picture of the type of person your target audience is likely to connect with. You need to know your target market inside out and that includes knowing who are the biggest influencers in that market.

Once you have a pool of potential influencers, narrow them down by relevance and reach. Do they have a substantial following or readership? Are they trusted resources for your customers? Do they carry influence? Tools like Followerwonk, LinkedInBuzzSumo, and SocialMention can help you pinpoint which influencers are best for your business.

 

2. Get noticed. Follow a three-stage formula to build a meaningful relationship with an influencer: connect, engage, then activate. Your ideal influencer is someone who already knows about (and ideally uses and loves) your product. But if you aren’t already on their radar, there are a couple of different methods you can take to establish an initial connection with the influencer. Follow them on social media, subscribe to their blogs and interact with their posts. Send an email to introduce yourself - what you do and why - and the story behind your business. If you have a product or experience you can offer, consider sharing it with the influencer with no strings attached.

 

3. Form a partnership. Once you’ve touched base with the influencer and made your proposition, it’s important to work towards a partnership agreement. Influencers aren’t going to promote your products for free but the costs can be worthwhile, considering the highly targeted nature of influencer marketing. You want your influencers to feel valued and rewarded. This may come in the form of a financial incentive, outright payments or commissions, free samples of your products or even their image on your website. Make it easy for the influencers to promote your products, and soon enough you’ll see an increase in engagement.

 

4. Track results. Use online tools and keep track of metrics such as follower growth, mentions, website visits, sales, and content engagement such as retweets, favourites and likes. Evaluate these regularly to look for patterns and spikes caused by influencer engagement. It also helps to create a coupon code specific to that influencer, allowing you to evaluate the effectiveness of the influencer marketing campaign.

 

5. Start small. It can be difficult to separate the things you could do with influencer marketing from the things that will actually work. As with most things, the best way to start is small. With one or two 'wins' under your belt, you'll soon find it easier to build and activate relationships with more and more influencers.