Influencer marketing is quickly emerging as the most popular and effective form of digital advertising, yet it may still seem inaccessible to many small and medium-sized business (SMBs) owners.
And who could blame them? After seeing global superstars with millions of followers promoting multinational consumer brands, you can understand why the small mom-and-pop shop or neighborhood bakery or local salon owner might feel a little intimidated.
Reaching an audience through trusted online personalities, however, is by no means limited to global behemoths. In fact, SMBs can often find equal or greater value at a much lower cost by engaging with local influencers that are popular amongst a small but highly targeted community.
Influencer marketing, at its core, is all about engaging with online communities that share relevant interests through trusted content creators. Though that community could number in the millions for some, it may only count in the thousands or even hundreds for others, yet still provide the same amount of value.
Instead of paying through the nose to engage with a costly online celebrity who has a following in the millions—referred to as “macro influencers”—SMBs can often find success by engaging with “micro influencers,” who typically have an online following of fewer than 100,000. While they don’t have the same reach as macro influencers, most SMBs aren’t looking to cast such a wide net, and can typically find more targeted and more affordable online personalities in the micro influencer space.
Instead of trying to engage with a celebrity chef, for example, a restaurant owner would have more success engaging with influencers in the local foodie community, and at a much more accessible price point. A salon owner similarly is unlikely to be able to afford to have a movie star promote their services, but can probably find an affordable price point with a beauty blogger that is highly respected in the local community.
Micro-influencers aren’t only more affordable, but often more effective than macro influencers. In fact, a recent study conducted by HelloSociety—which has since been acquired by the New York Times—found that influencers with 30,000 followers or less deliver 60 percent higher engagement rates, and are 6.7 times more cost efficient than influencers with a larger following. The HelloSociety study also found that when compared to the average consumer, micro influencers drive an average of 22.2 times more weekly conversations.
Finding relevant micro influencers with highly targeted audiences may too seem daunting for the not-so-social-media-savvy small business owner, but you don’t need to be a social media addict to find valuable partnerships online.
Furthermore, some of the bigger clients provide opportunities for small businesses to dip their toe into the influencer marketing waters. A recent campaign promoting tourism in Prince Edward Island, for example, included posts promoting affiliated local small businesses, like posts featuring a local café. Another similar engagement with Destination New Brunswick featured a delectable display of scallops served up by The Bay of Fundy’s local hotspot The Caves Restaurant.
Whether individually or as part of a wider campaign, there is ample opportunity for SMBs to engage in influencer marketing without an enterprise-sized marketing budget.