The Quick Guide to Influencer Marketing for your Small Business

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If you’re looking for extra ways to drive traffic to your website in the coming year, there might be one important marketing tool you’re not considering. You’ve likely tried pay-per-click advertising with Google, social media advertising and perhaps content marketing through blogging and guest posting.

But, have you considered influencer marketing?

This is one channel that can offer a big bang of traffic to your site. People trust word-of-mouth recommendations more than brands — 92 percent of people actually, according to Nielsen. Here’s how you can leverage influencers to grow your small business this year.

WHAT IS INFLUENCER MARKETING?

Influencer marketing is the act of connecting your brand with online influencers. An online influencer is anyone who has a big social following — usually concentrated to one or two platforms, and usually in a niche market.

For example, there are a number of nutrition influencers who connect online with people who want to be more fit. Kayla ItsinesNatalie Jill and Cody Sattler are three examples of nutrition experts and trainers utilizing Instagram to build an influential audience.

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Influencers can also be mommy bloggers such as Dooce or The Pioneer Woman, YouTube celebrities catering to millennials such as Jenna Marbles, or even celebrities such as the Kardashians, catering to those obsessed with their clan.

Influencer marketing is the reason we see celebrities posting photos of themselves drinking fit tea and using teeth whitening services that come in the mail. While that approach might work for business-to-consumer products, B2B companies can leverage a different strategy to build influencer relationships.

Here’s how to pull off an effective influencer marketing strategy to build your website traffic:

BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH INFLUENCERS THROUGH FIVE STAGES

You would not just walk into your next door neighbor’s apartment and ask to borrow a hammer without introducing yourself first. The same goes for online influencers — you must engage in a “song and dance” with them that provides value to their personal brand before you begin to see value for your brand.

Focus on establishing a friendship and relationship with the influencer and moving them through the five stages of influencer marketing:

1. Unaware – Assert Your Presence: Follow & subscribe to their content. Share their content with your community. Connect with those who influence the influencers. Get your influencers to respond or follow you back.

2. Aware – Establish Rapport: Curate useful content. Link back to their content, comment on their posts and get your influencers to acknowledge your content. And maybe even send them a unique gift that will keep your brand top of mind.

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3. Interested – Create Value: Offer access to people & insights, and feature them in your content. Build personal rapport through conversation. Get your influencers to mention you spontaneously.

4. Engaged – Activate with Initiatives: Invite participation with your brand, co-create content together, sponsor their initiatives and get your influencers to activate awareness of your brand with others.

5. Advocate – Formalize Relationship: Send them business. Let them impact your company. Promote them on your channels.

FIGURE OUT YOUR SUBCATEGORIES & HOW TO CONNECT WITH EACH INFLUENCER

Your influencers could be hiding out in a number of different corners of the web, and could be engaged in a number of different types of mediums. Create a map of the influencers you want to connect with, and how you’re going to connect with each.

There are plenty of ways to connect with influencers — from creating content with them to offering them to participate in an affiliate program. Don’t forget your micro-influencer either. They usually have a smaller audience than the big guns, but chances are they’d be more willing to work with you because they’re not inundated with requests. And if it comes to a paying relationship, they’re cheaper too.

As an example, here are eight different types of influencers we might reach out to at Hatchbuck and how we would work with each of them:

  1. Traditional Media: Social Listening, News & PR – Pitches, Invite to Exclusive Events, Content Co-creation, Give Exclusive Content & Data

  2. Small Business Owners Nationwide: Social Listening, Connect, Comment & Share, Invite to Exclusive Events (panel invites), Content Interviews

  3. Hatchbuck Customers: Small Business Brands: Social Listening, Invite to Exclusive Events, Content Interviews, Custom Program such as user-generated content campaigns

  4. Small Business Brands: Social Listening, Connect, Comment & Share, Invite to Exclusive Events (co-host), Content Co-creation, Affiliate Programs (Backlinks)

  5. Social Influencers & Content Creators: Social Listening, Connect, Comment & Share, Invite to Exclusive Events (co-host), Content Co-creation, Interviews, Give Exclusive Content & Data, Product Sneak Peeks, Custom Program, Paid Opps (Case by Case basis)

  6. Associations & Nonprofits: Social Listening, Connect, Comment & Share, Invite to Exclusive Events (co-host), Content Co-creation, Affiliate Programs (Backlinks)

  7. Bloggers: Social Listening, Connect, Comment & Share, Invite to Exclusive Events (co-host), Content Co-creation, Give Exclusive Content & Data, Product Sneak Peeks, Paid Opps (Case by Case basis)

  8. Competitor Influencers: Social Listening

Still confused how you might leverage influencers to work with your brand and build your small business? Here’s a roundup of seven “best” influencer campaigns of 2016, which might help spark some inspiration for your business.

This post originally appeared as a guest contribution on Hatchbuck.com — a great resource for small business owners looking for a marketing automation tool!