If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you probably know the value in influencer marketing. Consumers today check in with friends and family before making purchases. Social media has turned into a recommendation engine. Review sites are consulted, blogs are read, and posts are scanned before credit cards are handed over.
According to research done by influencer marketing software TapInfluence, influencer marketing content provides a return on investment that is 11 times higher than other forms of digital marketing. At least half of people use influencer recommendations when deciding what to buy. Influencer outreach is crucial to get your new product or service seen, used and talked about by people consumers trust and will take action because of.
But when your budget is limited, and you want to market resourcefully, it may be impossible to pay the tens of thousands (or even millions) of dollars some influencers command to showcase your products. The great news is that non-celebrity influencers are just as, if not more than, influential than celebrities. A study by Collective Bias found 70 percent of millennials prefer peer endorsements when shopping.
Use these five tips to find better influencers for your startup, without having to pay astronomical fees.
1. Ask Friends and Co-workers for Influencer Recommendations
Starting with your own network to find influencers is a way to convey an established relationship when you’re approaching potential new influencers. It might also be possible to ask whomever is the follower of the influencer to approach them or provide an introduction for you.
Bloggers and social media users with high engagement (not just followers) are great accounts to start following. You’ll want to learn more about their content and their interactions, so when you pitch them to check out your product or service, it is relevant to what they are consistently producing.
2. Search Forums and Reddit
The website Reddit boasts 330 million users and has more than 50,000 passionate communities that post articles, ask questions and debate about rather focused topics. While it’s not a traditional social media site, Reddit’s content reaches far beyond its website users, as its posts get shared and distributed after showing up on the site. Subscribe to communities that relate to your business, connect with other Reddit users, and see whose content they’re posting to get a better idea of potential influencers so you can ultimately build your business.
Forums are another good place to find influencers. Check out posts related to your brand that generate high-volume discussions. The more niche the topic is, the more value sites like forums and Reddit may provide.
3. Form Relationships on Social Media
Social media provides your start-up with the opportunity to directly and deeply connect with leads and customers. Don’t neglect your interactions on these sites and use them as direct pathways to find influencers.
Pay attention to those who emerge as your biggest brand advocates on social sites and examine their potential to promote your brand to their followers. At the very least, ask your most fervent social media users for influencer recommendations, and for accounts they enjoy following. There are bound to be some potential common connections.
4. Reach Out to Journalists
Businesses should know that journalists are hungry for story ideas. In a fast-paced news world, any coverage that can be given to the next giant product or service is huge for a journalist. Most newspapers, TV stations, magazines and other traditional news outlets feature “tips” sections, where media consumers can submit story ideas. Don’t be afraid to use them, since whoever covers your brand may become an advocate who can influence on your behalf in the future.
Most journalists are also easily accessible on Twitter. Journalists make up the largest category of Twitter verified users, according to Poynter. The same report states that journalists and news organizations are the most active group on the social network. Make sure to follow journalists in your industry and interact with them regularly to increase the likelihood of coverage for your brand.
5. Browse Influencer Tools
While forming organic relationships is often the best way to create steady and meaningful influencer marketing coverage, influencer tools are also a great starting-off point for entrepreneurs. Klout and BuzzSumo are two tools that will show you who notable influencers are based on topics you submit.
When you find influencers through wide-reaching tools like this, the best way to get noticed by influencers and form a connection is to follow them on social media, subscribe to their blogs, and consume their content. By paying attention and citing specific examples of why a partnership with your business would benefit the influencer, they’ll be more likely to consider your business in their content coverage.
Develop Connections for Better Influencer Marketing
Effective influencer marketing is a result of building a strong rapport with those you want as influencers. This form of getting publicity can be a viable marketing channel for your venture. Researching influencers and their work and conveying how that relates to your brand and benefits their followers is key.
Once you know who great potential influencers are, make your influencer marketing strategy successful by providing influencers with information that helps them create better content. Share their content with your own followers to keep the relationship progressing.