5 tips to pull off influencer marketing on a tight budget

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Across Southeast Asia, almost nine in 10 consumers place the highest level of trust in word-of-mouth recommendations by people they know, according to the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey. That is why influencer marketing has grown in popularity. How can you make it work for your small business?

We all know how annoying it is to want to watch a video online but are forced to sit through an advertisement before that. According to a survey by anti-ad-blocking firm PageFair, mobile ad-block usage increased 40% in the Asia-Pacific region in 2016, and three in 10 Internet users use ad-block software.

With more people tuning out from online ads, influencer marketing is a game changer. It is essentially word-of-mouth marketing brought to a whole new level. Social media influencers have a significant following, and consumers are more likely to buy something that a person they like and look up to uses, as compared to seeing a product ad.

While small businesses may not have the budget to work with top-tier influencers with a large fan base, it doesn’t mean closing the door on influencer marketing. Here’s how you can pull it off:

1. Find the right influencer

Once you narrow down your target audience, the next step is finding an influencer who connects with them.

One way is searching relevant hashtags related to your business, zooming in on posts that have lots of likes and comments. Another way is trawling through the social media accounts of brands similar to yours. Look for posts where they tag someone else as the content creator. Chances are, these influencers and their followers will be interested in your product as well.

For instance, if you run a website selling baby products, you should be looking for influencers who are parents sharing their parenting journey on their social media platforms.

Once you have found a few candidates, assess their social media branding, tone and style of engagement. Ask yourself if you would like your brand to be associated with them, and if the partnership would look natural.

2. Make sure it fits your budget

It goes without saying that the more followers an influencer has, the higher they can command for each social media post or video.

According to Mumbrella Asia, an influencer in Singapore with a 300,000-plus following on Instagram charges $1,800 per post, $500 for an ‘Instagram Moment’ and $3,200 for a blog post.

This may be too expensive for small businesses, but there are more affordable alternatives. What is growing in popularity are micro-influencers – someone with a small yet dedicated following, and deemed to be more approachable and relatable. Due to their smaller fan base, they charge a reasonable price to create content for brands.

And they could also be more effective. In fact, micro influencers are 6 times more efficient per engagement compared to their counterparts with a wider reach, says US-based influencer marketing agency HelloSociety.

Earlier this year, Singapore’s Ministry of Environment and Water Resources engaged 28 micro-influencers with a total reach of 100,000 followers for a three-month marketing campaign. The influencers posted photographs of themselves practising eco-friendly habits, such as cycling to places, to ramp up awareness for a photo contest.

Each post costs up to $35, and the ministry spent about $1,500 on the campaign.

3. Consider offering freebies instead of paying for a post

Everyone likes presents. A post on Instagram can set you back anywhere from a few hundreds to a few thousand dollars. So instead of paying for a post, try sending the influencer a sample of your product, or offer a free trial of your service. They might help to promote your product if they find it worth recommending.

But remember to be polite, and do not pressure them to promote your product. You might get a post out of it in the end. If you don’t, at least you would have made contact with the influencer.

4. Turn regular customers into brand ambassadors

Big brands like Nike, Apple and H&M have a huge marketing budget, but they get lots of free publicity from their customers as well. I’m sure you know of friends who swear by certain brands, even taking it upon themselves to promote them to you.

The trick to turning your customers into brand ambassadors is making sure your customer service is top-notch. For example, how you react to a missing delivery would make a world of a difference to your customer.

It is also important to engage your customers regularly. Reply to any reviews or posts made about your products. When you have an event or a giveaway, be sure to invite them or send them a free sample too.

Before you know it, these satisfied customers will be raving about your products on social media without your prompting.

5. Set clear collaboration guidelines

The beauty of influencer marketing is how subtle it can be, but that does not mean you should just go with the flow.

Be clear about the deadline, what you want them to produce, how much you are paying for the post as well as the rights for the content. The content is owned by the influencer, but you can negotiate for content usage rights for a set duration.

Avoid situations like the controversy that a local jewellery brand got into with an influencer on Instagram earlier this year. It not only reflects badly on the influencer but on the brand as well.

Lastly, don’t forget to get your influencer to include a sponsored hashtag. This could be #sp, #ad, #sponsoredpost, #advertorial and so on. The Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore requires that disclosures of sponsored content should convey and clearly show that the content has been paid for.

Influencer marketing can raise your company’s marketing by a notch, complementing online advertising in the form of Google, Facebook and Instagram ads that are co-ordinated through easy-to-use platform Adtiq.

It can however be tricky navigating the world of influencer marketing, especially if you are new to ecommerce. But Shoptiq is here to help. The fuss-free platform helps you sell online easier, by connecting your store with local logistic partners and marketplaces.

Get your free 15-day trial with Shoptiq today.

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