Finding the right social media influencers for your small business

4 min read
Mar Andras

I’ll let you in on a little secret — traditional marketing alone is dead. Gone are the days of solely relying on TV ads to showcase your business. Now, your brand is up for debate. Blog posts, product reviews, insider tips, social media sharing and more. Consumers can take to the streets and share their opinion, even if it’s different from yours. So how do you spread a positive message in this type of environment? You find social media influencers who are passionate about you, your brand or your business.

When starting a business, relationships are everything. There’s a reason word of mouth is still the best form of marketing. If you use large, impersonal channels, your results will be sterile and disappointing.

Small businesses that put love, care and quality into their products should put love, care and quality into their marketing.

Social media influencers are a great way to get your clear, personal message out there.

Social media influencer evolution

If you think back to the early days of social media, which wasn’t all that long ago. It was typical for businesses, brands and peddlers of products to virtually shout at people to buy their wares. Sadly, some still continue to do this and then wonder why their sales aren’t going up.

Think of it like this: Would you run up to a stranger on the street and scream in their face about your product? Probably not. It’s ineffective, not to mention annoying, and it causes people to tune out, or run away if you're standing on a sidewalk.

Since those early days, it’s been realized that consumers still want to be treated like humans (surprise!) and not invisible beings on the interwebs. Businesses and brands have leveraged brand advocates to serve and influencers to attract more people  authentically to their products.

What is a social media influencer?

Social media influencers are a marketing channel just like TV or radio marketing. This type of marketing leverages the captive audience of “influencers” (people with large, passionate followings) on social media platforms. For example, when one of the Kardashians posts about the product of the moment on their social media channels, their followers listen, subscribe and purchase.

You’re probably thinking, “Well, I can’t get one of the Kardashians. Now what?” You don’t need someone with millions of followers.

If you can find a social media influencer to promote your business in an authentic way, with even 5,000 highly engaged people as their core audience, that’s 5,000 people who likely haven’t heard of your business or product before.

And they’ll be more likely to buy because they trust their “friend.”

Why are social media influencers hot right now?

Customers are more likely to purchase  something based on a friend’s recommendation than an ad. Social media influencers have become people you look up to and view as friends. People always trust their friends more than brands.

Social Media Influencers Friends

Influencer marketing is hot because traditional advertising can’t meet all the demands of today’s consumers. Many use a second screen, like a smartphone or tablet, while watching television, causing traditional advertising to miss the mark.

It doesn’t make sense to pay for TV time when no one is paying attention.

People don’t want to be disrupted — meaning, they don’t want to watch a beer ad during their favorite TV show or sniff a cologne leaflet while reading a magazine. They want a seamless experience. Social media influencer marketing intertwines “ads” (sponsored content) within that influencer’s life.

Finding the right social media influencer

Now what? How do you find the right people to represent your business? Here are some tips:

  • Determine what your brand stands for. What is your business or brand really about?
  • Find social media influencers who share your values and already use your product. Search on social media channels like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
  • Make your messaging as authentic as possible. In other words, find or create brand advocates and give them a megaphone.
  • Empower them by giving them free products, politely asking or offering payment. Just remember that if they receive something from you in exchange for their review, they’ll likely disclaim that.

Social media influencers are not a magic pill or a cure all. They’re simply a magnifying glass.

Find the right people who are already loyal to your brand or niche and empower them to spread your message. Authenticity is the way of the future. Consumers have the power. People have the power — brands and businesses don’t. When you make a great product and have the right people shout about it from the rooftops, you really can’t lose.