Tips for executing influencer marketing on a tight budget

Partnering with connected fans and followers doesn’t have to be expensive. Here’s how to expand your audience without heavy investment.

When planning your influencer campaign, remember that there are different types of influencers and compensation.

Payment can come in the form of a cash fee, or goods, services or cross-promotion. To reduce costs, you can work with lesser-known influencers rather than online celebrities.

Micro-influencers—those with 1,000 to 10,000 followers—are more likely to collaborate in exchange for products or promotion than major social stars who already have hundreds of thousands of followers and won’t rush to work on campaigns that don’t provide a fee.

However, working with micro-influencers doesn’t mean micro results. The smaller names actually achieve dramatically higher engagement rates on their posts than actual celebrities and big-time influencers, averaging almost 11 percent engagement per post. In comparison, those with 50,000 followers or higher tend to get no more than 2.6 percent engagement on their updates.

This is in part due to perceptions of trust. Someone with only 3,000 followers is often deemed to be more trustworthy than someone with 30,000. Followers know influencers wth big followings are profiting from promotions and may not be giving genuine reviews. Another factor is relevance: A travel influencer who doesn’t have a key focus area will get a few likes and comments just for sharing appealing photos, but he or she isn’t necessarily meeting a need.

A travel influencer who specialises in a particular niche, such as backpacking with kids or foodie guides to Europe, will garner engagement from users looking for specific information and inspiration, who feel that their needs are being met. The more relevant your collaboration, the readier the new audience will be to engage with what’s on offer and the less it will feel like advertising.

Don’t shy away from micro-influencers with niche audiences when considering this kind of marketing campaign. Collaborating with someone who will promote you in exchange for a free product, or the promise that they will be promoted in a newsletter or on-site article, is cost-effective and can create a great return on a small investment.

Where to start

The more in-tune you are with your audience, the easier it is to find suitable influencers. When you’re scouting for the right person or people to work with, there are a few things to consider:

  • Does this influencer cater to the same audience as you, or a very similar audience?
  • Do their values align with your brand’s values?
  • Does their audience engage well with their posts?

Using Instagram’s search and explore function as well as Twitter’s hashtag search, you should be able to start digging up suitable targets who are posting about your niche and trending within it. Dedicated tools like Buzzsumo and Followerwonk are also a real help when pulling together lists of well-shared and well-followed influencers on major social media sites.

While you’re creating lists of possible targets, remember to check their engagement levels as well as their audience size. Someone who has 20,000 followers and only 1 percent engagement may well have bought fake followers to try and attract brands. Regardless, your preferred targets should be those who are getting the most interaction from their subscribers.

To check engagement without doing too many sums, look at free tools like the Instagram Engagement Calculator and SparkToro’s Twitter True Influence score. If you’re planning to work with bloggers, don’t be afraid to request a media kit or a screenshot of their traffic stats to show you how many views their articles are getting.

Managing creation

Once you’ve identified your key influencers and negotiated a collaboration, the next thing to keep an eye on is the content creation.

While one of the perks of influencer marketing is that they essentially do the hard part— creating a video, writing a blog post or creating and editing a series of photos—it’s important to lay out guidelines so that the end result is not just a good fit, but also a success.

For smaller businesses who don’t have experience in working with influencers, trying to guide their work can be daunting. The fear of laying down too many rules—or not enough—can lead to muddled communications or not enough oversight. While in some instances this can have positive results, it’s best to offer a few caveats and specifics to ensure you get what you need as a brand.

Put together a briefing document, and use it as a template to send for any and all collaborations. This should outline things like:

  • Social handles and hashtags to include in posts
  • Any information to link to for further reading
  • Any information you’ll need post-campaign to measure success against your KPIs, like impressions, engagements or page visits
  • Deliverables and deadlines
  • Any do’s or don’ts for the content itself—such as not mentioning anything contentious or being sure to reference a certain point of inspiration
  • Details of tracking links or affiliate codes to help you measure success

Measuring success

The key ways to measure influencer impact are through traffic generated, social reach, content views and overall engagement. If your KPIs include increased sales of a particular product, then figures for conversions made through tracked referral links or using specific discount codes will help measure this.

A great-looking influencer campaign can be brilliant for giving you original imagery and video content, as well as authentic write-ups about what you offer. But unless you keep tabs on the impact the campaign has, you could be wasting cash.

Tabby Farrar is an outreach specialist for Further Digital Marketing.

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