Multi-award-winning social media expert & influencer. Co-Founder of BusinessOwnerSociety.com and CEO of Brand Branding PR LLC.
The new world we find ourselves living in now requires us to pivot our business models and adapt our marketing strategies. In my experience, influencer marketing remains one of the most time- and cost-effective ways to reach your target consumers. The biggest challenge many business owners are currently facing is the urgent necessity to massively increase brand awareness online while playing with a limited-to-none budget.
What if I told you that there are ways to partner with influencers with millions of followers without a budget? Based on my expertise in this space, here are my top recommendations.
You already know by now that the influencers you reach out to should reflect your niche to ensure you are targeting a following of potential customers for your business. Google is your new best friend. Let’s say you are an e-commerce fashion brand; you would search “top fashion influencers” and within seconds have a list of the most prominent fashion influencers.
You can nail it down further by adding a geographical keyword location (i.e., “top fashion influencers in Philadelphia”). Trying researching the influencer market to identify potential influencers to partner with.
Observe your prospective influencers (online, obviously) and find out as much as you can online about each influencer to ensure they’re a good fit for your brand. What kind of language do they use in their social media captions? What are they passionate about? Which brands and societies are they members of? What type of brands are they following?
Simonetta Lein is one of the Top 5 fashion influencers in the world and has over 2.3 million followers. If you run Lein’s account through the Influencer Marketing Hub calculator, you’ll see Lein’s following puts her in the position to charge thousands of dollars per post. In situations where you’re targetting an influencer similar to Lein’s prominence, you need to think outside of the box.
How can you collaborate with that influencer without a thousand-dollar-budget? You can discover a lot about who an influencer is and what they stand for by reading their Instagram bio. When researching potential partners, look for your “way in” by reviewing their social media.
As an influencer myself, I get inundated with spam-like messages from brands where it is obvious they have copied and pasted the same message to multiple influencers without taking the time to research who I am. Don’t do this; it reflects very poorly on your brand. You will be blocked faster than you can copy and paste the message to the next uninvited inbox. Here are some strategies to attract an influencer with higher probabilities of success:
• Personalize your message. Use their first name (not their username) so that you grab their attention immediately and they don’t mistake your message for spam.
• Illustrate why you like their content, and why you think they are a good fit for your products or services.
• Keep the message as short as possible, and please do not be one of those brands that invite influencers to be “brand ambassadors” in exchange for discounts on overpriced unknown labels. In my opinion, these messages are like the kiss of death to your reputation.
• Offer value. Using Lein as an example, you could pitch the idea of inviting Lein to host an event you are organizing, awarding any funds raised from a fashion auction to Lein’s charity. Another option is inviting the influencer to participate in a major giveaway of high value. Giveaways help influencers build followers and hack social media algorithms for higher post visibility. It’s a win-win.
• If you can not offer value to a mega-influencer, don’t hit send. It’s a sign that this influencer isn’t a good fit for your brand.
Influencers are very aware of the financial difficulties businesses are facing due to the ongoing pandemic, so many are open to the idea of partnering on mutually beneficial projects. I waived my posting feeds during the pandemic, which saw me win two awards recently.
Now is the time to get inventive and offer more than money if you want to build long-term partnerships with influencers, and ensure your business survives this storm without breaking the bank.
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Author: Sophie Bowman, Forbes Councils Member