We’ve all heard (and possibly cringed at) the word “influencer” before. It’s safe to say that the term has become somewhat taboo in most professional settings.
What comes to your mind when you hear that word? Shiny young adults posting edited photos on Instagram? Celebrities engaging in product placement and sponsored advertising? While these may be the most popular images of influencers portrayed on social media, influencer marketing has grown into a legitimate strategy for marketing small businesses and building a valuable network.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Before we dive into the many facets of influencer marketing, it’s important to understand what is meant by the term “influencer.”
Influencer: One who exerts influence, a person who inspires or guides the actions of others.Merriam-Webster
The title isn’t confined to any one industry or field. According to the definition, anyone with a large reach and considerable impact can be considered an influencer. The trick is to align yourself with people who already have a large, loyal following.
So, how can you start to build this large following if you’re a new business owner with minimal connections, or if you live in a rural area? Here are a couple different ways to start making connections and building relationships with influencers in your field.
Start a Blog
When most people hear about endorsements, they think about teaming up with celebrities or notable public figures to advertise a product. This approach may be helpful for some, but if you own a small local business partnering with a celebrity isn’t a very viable option. Instead, one of the best steps you should take is to start a blog on your website.
You’ve probably heard similar advice before, and maybe you feel like writing isn’t your strong suit. However, every business-owner has a lot of unique knowledge to offer. Like they say, knowledge is power.
When you take the time to write informed blog posts and optimize them so that they are easily found through search engines, a great deal more traffic will be drawn to your website. One of the best methods of increasing traffic and broadening your reach is to connect with other influencers in your field by creating a guest blogging network.
How to Form a Guest Blogging Network
Guest blogging is a manageable first step to expand your industry contacts and start gaining some notoriety in your field. Here are a few quick steps on how to get started:
- Reach out to someone you respect and want to be a guest blogger on your site. Is there another blogger you enjoy who has more followers than you? Do you see a space where you could share your expertise on their website? Do your homework first and make sure that the guest blogger can benefit from the collaboration just as much as you can.
- Assuming that they agree to write a piece for you, allow them to self-promote by adding links back to their own website. This not only allows the guest blogger to feel as though they have important information to share, but it connects both of your blogs through the internet.
- Follow through. Ask your guest blogger if you could also write a piece on their blog. Assuming they say yes, a whole new door of opportunity will be open to you. You will have full exposure to their followers, and you can (tastefully) promote your own business and website. Essentially, it’s a win-win!
It’s important that you find influencers naturally.
Don’t try to force relationships, because it will start to seem obvious that you’re only seeking some kind of personal gain. Instead, comment on people’s blogs, communicate on social media, and be open to helping others. Over time, you will start to stand out and become an approachable, recognizable name.
Get to know your guest bloggers personally by showing genuine interest in their work before reaching out. If you build a rapport through social media first, it will feel much more natural to suggest a collaboration. Cold emails aren’t always the best way to go when it comes to forming an effective support system.
Engage With the Community
The business world is all about relationships. Apart from guest blogging, another way to use influencer marketing to your advantage is to go out into your community. Serving other small businesses is a great way to prove you’re engagement. You may not gain any monetary value from it at first, but forming valuable relationships can pay off ten-fold in the long-run.
For example, let’s say you own a sign-making business downtown and you see that a new ice cream shop is opening next door. You could introduce yourself to the new owner and offer to create a sign for them at a steep discount. This interaction not only promotes the service you provide, but benefits another business owner who will most likely recommend your product to others.
You don’t have to be a celebrity to be an influencer – it’s all about surrounding yourself with positive relationships and making those initial connections. Here are a few other ways to meet business-owners in the community who might be interested in your product:
- Attend charity events or volunteer
- Consider setting up a booth at a local fair, market, or festival
- Visit other small businesses, introduce yourself, and hand out business cards or coupons
- Sponsor a local school’s sports team
What Are the Benefits of Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing strategies such as guest blogging increase your reach as well as the impact of your brand. In search engines, the index is the complete archive of all existing web pages. To find your page, a search engine sends out crawlers (or bots), which jump from page to page using links. Simply, the more links you have traveling to your website, the more chances search engines have to index your site.
If links constantly point to your site, search engines will recognize it as a valuable resource and rank you higher than the competition. Guest blogging is a win-win situation because it will provide you with a larger network of bloggers and business-owners, increase your website traffic, and also benefit the guest blogger.
Much of the same can be said for other forms of influencer marketing. Reaching out to forge beneficial relationships solidifies your passion for your business and opens the door to new opportunities. It’s not just a clever way to gain more Instagram followers, but the future of marketing itself.
- Do you want to start building a brand that influencers would love to promote? PivotPath is here to help!
Cammie Conn is a Theatre & Performance Studies major at Kennesaw State University, and she also studies through the Joel A. Katz Music and Entertainment Business Program. When she’s not practicing creative writing, she can be found playing guitar, reading voraciously, or jamming to her vinyl collection. Check out her LinkedIn profile here to connect.