how to start influencer marketing 101

It can cost a fortune for a small business to start influencer marketing. So, learn how to find and work with micro-influencers to build a strong and effective influencer marketing strategy for your business.

While more than 80% of the marketers love influencer marketing as a highly productive modern marketing strategy, mostly the small business struggle adapting their marketing mix to include influencer marketing. There are many reasons for this problem. It can be the higher costs of hiring top influencers, getting caught up in frauds, or not knowing the steps to craft a good marketing campaign.

Therefore, in this guide, you can learn,

  • How to hire micro-influencers
  • How to translate your loyal customers to your brand ambassadors, and
  • How to build a perfect low-cost influencer marketing campaign for your business.

The influencer marketing landscape has shifted dramatically over the past few years. Now, micro-influencers and normal people with solid social media following do much better than celebrities, who are promoting polished ads. That is why you have to start working with micro-influencers and your loyal-customers to promote your brand’s message.

What is influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is the process of using endorsements and shout outs for your products from popular social media personalities. Those social media personalities, who are called as influencers, are considered as thought-leaders in their niches. So, by getting recommendations from the influencers, you can reach their followers with solid social proof.

Working with micro-influencers

Try to picture how you would feel when you see a celebrity posted a photo of some travel gear on their social media channels with a polished sales caption. When you see something like that, you would instantaneously get the feeling of them being salesy. Of course, you know that they might not even use that product by themselves.

But, if you see your favorite YouTube travel guy taking a couple of minutes in his video and explaining the benefits of the same stuff, you would get a lot more authentic feeling. And, this travel guy doesn’t even need hundreds of thousands of followers to build that trust. Even if he has only 1k to 10k very engaged followers, he could do a much better job promoting that piece of travel gear among that audience. That is the benefit of working with micro-influencers.

And, according to MuseFind, 92% of the consumers trust influencers promoting stuff, rather than the celebrities endorsing those products. Therefore, it makes sense to hire an influencer, if not micro-influencers, when starting an influencer marketing campaign for your business.

Translating your loyal customers to brand ambassadors

Regardless of the size of your business, you can launch an amazing influencer marketing strategy with your existing customers. According to Statista, the second top purchasing influence of consumers attributes to the recommendations from the people they know. So, if there is a way for you to translate your loyal consumers to influencers, you can build an authentic marketing outreach program for your products at relatively a lower cost.

There are different ways to start influencer marketing with your existing customers. The most popular way is to launch marketing campaigns to get user-generated content featuring your brand. For example, you can pick a handful of your customers, who have a good social media following, and ask them to create official content for your social media channels. So, you can reach new audience networks while offering your new partners an opportunity to improve their online exposure. We will talk about all these things in a bit.

Gopro is effectively leveraging the power of influencer marketing with consumer ambassadors.

How to start an influencer marketing campaign

Find how to start an effective influencer marketing campaign by working with micro-influencers and your existing customers. Here you can learn how to find influencers, how to start working with them, which tools and platforms to use, how to create content without being too salesy, and more.

Know your audience

Like any other social marketing strategy, the first step to start influencer marketing is to know your audience well. So, by identifying your target market, you can find the right influencers, social media channels, and perfect sales captions for your marketing strategy.

And, if you have different audience segments, it might be a good idea to plan different influencer marketing campaigns for each of those segments. For example, if you are selling to different age groups, you will have to pick different social channels like Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube based on the age group that you are targeting.

Find audience demographics

  • Use analytics tools – If you have already started building an audience for your business on social media channels, you have access to the audience demographics.
  • Do surveys – If you want to get more specific psychological data, like your consumers’ interests, you can send surveys to collect such data. Offer a discount coupon or a freebie for every completed survey to motivate them.
  • Start spying – Also, you can pick a handful of your top consumers within your audience segment and closely monitor them to identify their preferences as well.

Pick the right platform to start influencer marketing

Once you get to know your target audience, you can use their demographics to decide which platform is perfect for your marketing campaign. Needless to say, it should be where your target customers mostly hanging out on, and where you are also working on building an audience. For example, if your business doesn’t have an Instagram channel, or not even planning to create one, starting influencer marketing on Instagram would not be productive as you may plan.

Instagram influencer marketing

Lots of people use Instagram to make money as influencers. So, you would be able to find Instagram influencers easily. Also, more than 90% of the Insta users fall into the age category of under 35-year-olds. Unless your influencers got business accounts, they could not post links with their posts. So making sales or driving traffic to your website from Instagram is a bit tricky process. However, it is ideal for growing your brand’s following and building brand awareness with tags. Also, it works best if your products can be used in creating stunning visual content like photos and videos. For example, if you sell pet products, apparel, sports gear, food, or anything colorful and eye-catching, Instagram would be the best way to start influencer marketing.

YouTube influencer marketing

YouTube is ideal for starting an influencer marketing if you are targeting an age group between 25-year-olds and 45-year-olds. Also, it is perfect for making sales, driving traffic, brand awareness, getting the social following, and literally almost all parts of your sales funnel. Also, unlike other platforms, you can use YouTube for products or services that cannot create any engaging visual content. For example, if you are selling digital products, like courses or ebooks, YouTube would be the perfect marketing channel for you.

Twitter influencer marketing

Most Americans use twitter to get news. So, it could be your Swiss army knife when it comes to sharing something newsworthy, like a new product release. Also, you can drive traffic from twitter, but usually, twitter users won’t get out of the platform. So, unless you are sharing an extremely click-worthy link, it will be less effective to pick twitter to drive traffic and sales. However, it is perfect when it comes to building conversations. So, you can easily get an engaging following for your channel on twitter.

How to find and pay social media influencers

If you are active on the social media channels, which you are planning to start influencer marketing, you may already know which influencers are ideal for your campaign. And, if not, there are some tools and services that allows you to streamline your search for influencers.

Influencer marketplaces

Influencer marketplaces are online platforms that network influencers and marketers. So, you easily pick influencers to work with, according to your goals, budget, and campaign. There are many different influencer marketplaces, and below we are listing down only a few top picks. A quick Google search will get you more names.

Do a manual search with relevant hashtags

Sometimes, doing manual research on social media channels using hashtags will get you more insights about influencers. For example, it will help you to understand the current landscape of this industry, and you will get a lot of inspirations to run an influencer marketing campaign. So, if this is your first time, give it a try anyway.

Selecting your loyal customers as influencers

As we have explained in the very beginning, you can even start influencer marketing by collaborating with your existing customers. Since they are fans of your products, they would make ideal brand ambassadors of your business.

You can start this process by handpicking your top fans. Then manually research their social media presence to measure the amount of following they get. If it seems like they have a healthy following and have gained some respect among the followers, he or she could be the perfect influencer for your business.

Once you have shortlisted your fans, contact them and ask them to be a part of your marketing campaign. There are different ways to start influencer marketing with your existing customers. And, as we have explained, getting UGC (user-generated content) is the best way to get started. Check this great post from Hubspot with examples of UGC marketing on Instagram.

Shortlisting your selected influencers

  • Do not get lured by the number of followers – Anyone can get thousands of followers overnight by paying a few dollars to a click-farms. Those are just numbers. There is no real engagement from these kinds of followers. So, when shortlisting your finalists, measure the engagement from their following. See how many hearts, likes, or comments they get.
  • Those who are posting only the sponsored content – Do not pick influencers, whose social media channels look just like billboards. Find someone who posts more organic content than the paid content. They usually get the best engagement from their followers.

Influencermarketinghub has a tool to measure the engagement for Instagram influencers. Check it out.

Reach out and contact them

Start contacting your shortlisted influencers to check if they are interested in working with you and whether they would fall into your marketing budget.

You can contact most of the micro-influencers by sending a private message to them. Also, if you finding them through a marketplace, you will have to network with them via that platform. Also, some influencers might be working with agencies. If so, you will find contact details of the agency from their accounts. Finally, if you are planning to work with your existing customers to start influencer marketing, you can reach them by sending private messages and giving them your offer.

Paying influencers

While free products, discounts, and giving free exposure would work as good compensations for your existing customers, people who are working as influencers will ask you for money. You have to understand that it is their trade and they have spent an extensive amount of time and effort building their following. So, if they ask $80 per post (The average price per post for an influencer with 1000 engaging followers), do not get upset.

It is important to start building healthy relationships with your influencers. Make it a win-win situation for both you and the influencers. Then, they will be happy to work with you again and again, making your promotions look and feel more natural on their feeds.

Influencer marketing best practices

Do not forget to follow these best practices when starting an influencer marketing campaign. Some of these tips would help you to boost your achievements while the other are pure legal requirements.

Building partnerships with influencers

Once you have some experience working with influencers, you will identify some of them deliver better results than the others. Also, some of them will have perfect personas to match the look and feel of your business. So, it would make sense to start patterning with them and co-create a product or a service to boost your collaboration. For example, if you sell jewelry, you can partner with a fashion influencer and name a piece of jewelry after her. As soon as you start sharing profits with your influencers, they usually start doing more than you would expect.

Immerse your marketing message in a story

Nobody cares about a lifeless advertisement anymore. And, sometimes those polished-up sales captions in influencer marketing doesn’t create much ROI anyway. So, make sure to include your message inside a story that seamlessly matches the influencer’s content. For example, if you are selling t-shirts, rather than asking the influencer to post a photo, try to incorporate your product into the script of a video of them.

Clearly disclose promoted material

Deceptive marketing is a violation of the digital marketing guidelines of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This means, you have to clearly mention that it is a paid content when using influencer marketing. For example, your influencers will have to add #ad #sponsored tags along with their content. Otherwise, you will have to face legal actions. After all, it the consumer’s right to know that they are looking at a paid advertisement.

Don’t restrain the influencer’s creativity

Social media influencers have to put in a tremendous amount of effort and creativity to build an engaging following. That means, they are creative enough to talk to their audience in an engaging way. So, rather than writing alienated sales captions and forcing them to post them on their channels, ask them to handle the creative part. Then your promotional content would merge with their existing organic content seamlessly. Perhaps it might be a good idea to give them some inputs about your product and ask them to do the rest.


Start influencer marketing to boost your chances of reaching out to new audiences for your brand. Digital marketers love influencer marketing as a highly productive marketing strategy compare to other paid marketing channels. So, it makes sense to add influencer marketing to your marketing mix.

However, the most common problems of influencer marketing include the higher costs associated with hiring influencers, getting caught up in fraudulent accounts, and not knowing the steps to start influencer marketing. So, this guide suggests the best solutions for all the above problems and more. And, as you have read, hiring micro-influencers and translating your loyal-customers to brand ambassadors is the best way to achieve a higher ROI for a lower-cost. So, we have discussed the steps to start influencer marketing by leveraging the above tactics.

We hope that this guide will give you an overall idea about starting an influencer marketing campaign for your business with costing a fortune. If so, share this guide and help us spread the word.