Ian Blackburn, MD of ecommerce platform, Hidepark Leather
You’re wondering though, is it relevant to a small business? The short answer is yes, but this guide aims to show you how you can fully make the most out of an influencer relationship.
What is an influencer?
An influencer is an individual who has a following whether that be a blog, instagram, facebook typically in high numbers. Vogue describes influencers as jet-setting social media addicts who can create trends straight from their phones. However, micro influencers are the ones small businesses should be more focused on. These types of influencers have niche audiences in specific circles of interest or geographical locations. They therefore have a relevant audience that you can tap into, usually for a price or promotional agreement.
Should my business work with influencers?
Working with influencers is definitely not applicable to every small business. If you’re a small accountancy firm in a secluded village, influencer marketing probably isn’t going to help you hit the right market. Unless you’ve found niche local bloggers for example, there would sadly be no opportunity for you. In this respect, your business needs to have a national reach or a grasp that could touch multiple communities and interest groups. For example, if I sold gardening supplies in the Midlands only, working with Midlands bloggers and gardening groups may be a way to target niche groups and make the most of your limits.
How can I work with influencers?
The most common way small businesses can work with influencers is by letting them review products. This obviously works better for ecommerce businesses and then allows exposure of a genuine review which people will take on board. Influencers have engaged audiences that trust their words, if they speak highly of your product, it could lead to sales, or indirect sales. Word-of-mouth is as powerful offline as it is in the ‘bloggersphere’.
If your business is service-based, you can still work with influencers. It’s all about targeting the right audience, which requires a fair bit of research into relevant influencers.
How can I research influencers?
Googling is your best bet to start with. Search for bloggers with a relevant keyword related to your industry. You then might find bloggers who concentrate on this area or those who have previously discussed this.
Another way you can see who’s going to be relevant for you is to research who your competitors, or aspirational competitors, have worked with. If no one, you could be making the most of an opportunity others haven’t.
How can you measure influencer success?
It’s naive to think that as soon as the influencer’s post goes live you’ll be getting traffic and conversions, but you should monitor this. If your goal is to drive traffic to your website, check the Google Analytics statistics for referral traffic specifically coming from their site. If you want to track this to the fullest extent you can create UTM tagged URLs which will then show you what traffic is coming from which influencer, you could even break it down by social channel for example.
In the same vein, check out social engagement. Are people sharing content about your business? Even if it doesn’t get huge amounts of social engagement this is a great opportunity to see how people react to your business, see it as a bit of a focus group.
I would also advocate to monitor brand traffic. If you have Google’s Search Console plugged in to your site, you can monitor the amount of brand search you’re getting every month (for free). If after some influencer work, your brand search has increased and you haven’t done any offline or other PR activity, you can safely attribute this success to your influencer work.
Influencers, bloggers and SEO
Some people are under the impression that working with bloggers will drastically increase their search rankings, because links have ‘search power’. Google is smart enough to know that if a blogger received a product to review that this ‘link’ is now worthless. Don’t think you should be doing influencer marketing to boost your search rankings, as most of the time bloggers will mark the link ‘nofollow’ which means it will not affecting your rankings at all as it basically tells Google “ignore me”.
Working with influencers isn’t for everyone or every business. If you are looking into this avenue for this right reasons, however, it can be a powerful channel for growth, exposure and hopefully conversions.