Influencer marketing on a budget

Angie Hempel
Angie Hempel

Director, Strategic Services

Influencer marketing has gone beyond buzz word to proven tactic. If your organization wasn’t on the cutting edge of this movement, and you’re looking to refresh your marketing plan, here’s how you can dip your toe into influencer marketing.


What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is the attempt to replicate and scale up word-of-mouth marketing between friends. If we as consumers get a recommendation from a trusted friend, we’re more likely to take action than if that same recommendation comes from a celebrity in an advertisement, which is why word-of-mouth is the holy grail of marketing.

Influencers occupy that space between friend and celebrity. To consumers, they’re not usually personal friends, but they feel like it. They are people who have gained a significant following on social media in a variety of categories (like sports, family, food, beauty, etc.) and often represent lifestyles that their followers aspire to. So when they make a recommendation about a product or service, the idea is that their followers will trust it and take action.

Brands, companies and small businesses will hire influencers to recommend products – but there are rules around these business relationships and the ways the influencers present these recommendations. It’s important for marketers and businesses to be well-versed in the legality of the relationships.

Tell me about influencers…

There are four different levels of influencers:

How to start small and on a budget.

An easy way for organizations to dip their toes into influencer marketing is to look at your current customer base:

  • Are there any current loyal customers who have a large following on social media or a popular blog?
  • If your business gets testimonials or reviews, that’s a great place to look for nano-influencers.
  • Do you have an established relationship with any of your customers who may have a local influence?

Reach out to them to see if they’ll promote your business – send them images of your products that are social-media ready (images should be appropriately sized for each channel), give them ideas on different ways to use your product, or ask them to share your social media posts. If you already have a positive relationship with your customers, they’ll be glad to help your business – you just need to make it easy for them.

If your business is new, don’t worry.

Another idea is to send free samples to influencers and ask them to post about their experience using your products.

Examine who your true audience is, and do some searching on social media to find the influencers in that space. Reach out one by one and ask if you can send them a package of free samples – no strings attached. The risk with this method is that they might post something negative. But if your product is solid and your approach is respectful and authentic, this could yield some great engagement with your business.

If you’re not paying them to promote you, it’s not an ad and you’re not subject to the FTC rules. But transparency is always important – influencers should always actually use the product they’re promoting.

One more thing.

A key to successful influencer marketing is to keep up with it.

If an influencer posts about your product, be sure to thank them in a comment, to share their posts, to tag them and credit them if you re-post their content.

Take advantage of all the channels that reach your audience and cross-post the influencer content in multiple places. For example, if an influencer on Instagram posts about an amazing experience with your product, be sure to repost it on your Instagram feed, in Instagram Stories, and on Twitter and Facebook.

Just like any marketing tactic, persistency, consistency and creativity are critical with influencer marketing. Keep at it, and you’ll start to see results!