As a small business owner, you need outstanding products and services, but you also need a distinct presence to compete with other companies in your industry. Because if you can’t communicate the qualities that make your business different, why would you expect customers to choose you over the company down the street?
And one of the most effective ways to express what makes your business special is influencer marketing, a strategy that uses well known personalities with strong social media presences to drive brand awareness.
Influencer marketing is quickly becoming one of the hottest marketing trends, and nearly 60% of marketers plan on increasing their spending on it this year.
But what if your business has a limited budget?
The answer is that you develop an influencer marketing plan that skips the big names and focuses on other avenues of influence, such as social media. By reaching potential customers on social media platforms, you can start to earn their trust and build credibility.
Here are three strategies you can use to drive recognition and brand loyalty through social influencer marketing campaigns.
Facebook has two billion monthly users, Instagram has more than 700 million monthly users, Twitter has 300 million active monthly users, and Snapchat has more than 255 million monthly users. That is major influence.
You can leverage the power of these platforms by creating a hashtag specifically to market your business. The right hashtag can go viral and instantly create recognition for your brand.
Hasthtags are only one piece of an overall marketing strategy, but they can be highly effective at generating the kind of attention you need so that audiences pay attention to your other marketing efforts.
And the reason is simple: If hashtags are clever, they stick in a reader’s mind.
So as you start creating hashtags, here are a few things to keep in mind:
⦁ Brand hashtags should be unique to your company. Use your brand name, but add a little flair to bring it to life. For example, Charmin created the hashtag #tweetfromtheseat. It’s clever, funny and memorable.
⦁ Create an event or contest. This will automatically create more engagement.
⦁ Create timely and relevant posts on Twitter and Instagram using your branded hashtag. Oreo did just that when they took advantage of the first power outage in Super Bowl history on February 4, 2013. As the big game was delayed for more than 30 minutes, Oreo sent out a tweet that read: “Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.” And the image accompanying the tweet was a single Oreo cookie in a spotlight, with the rest of the picture in darkness. The tweet went viral during the Super Bowl blackout and generated tons of positive responses across all social media platforms.
Get Company Buy-In
You might not have access to big name celebrities, but you do have access to some pretty big names in your industry, and you interact with them every day.
Drawing a blank as to whom I’m talking about?
If so, you’re not alone. Most small business owners do.
I’m talking about your employees.
Each member of your team has their own circle of influence; their own audience that listens to them and respects them.
Most companies don’t like their employees posting about business on their personal social media accounts because they don’t want to be presented in a negative light.
But… what if you give your workers the benefit of the doubt and actually trust them to do the right thing?
Now, all of a sudden, you have a small army of people who are spreading the love about your company.
Employees who feel trusted and respected are more likely to talk favorably about your company than those who don’t.
Yes, it can be scary to give up control like this. But when done properly, wonderful things can happen.
Start by training your team on best social media practices for your business. Help them identify how to create positive, brand-influential posts. But it’s also important to solicit their ideas about how they can effectively communicate the company’s vision in creative ways.
You’re likely to be surprised by how many good ideas you hear from your employees, and by making them a vital part of the process, you are creating the kind of goodwill and motivation that is necessary for them to buy in to your social media marketing strategy.
And you can build on that goodwill by throwing monthly contests to incentivize your employees and to make it fun for them to come up with more fantastic ideas that you can implement on social media.
Ignite Your Community
As a small business, there is a good chance that your primary target base is your local community.
So why not use community involvement and motivation to influence and drive business…. without investing a dime in marketing?
With an estimated 89% of people believing that small businesses contribute positively to local economies, you’re already a major influential force in your community. You probably just didn’t realize it until right now.
Tap into this power to further boost brand support through conscious community interaction.
This answer to this question is going to vary. It’s up to you to discover what motivates and drives your neighbors.
But here are a few quick ideas to help get the creative juices flowing:
⦁ Host a live meet-and-greet with a significant local figure. This could be a governmental figure or local celebrity, for example. This person might not have the star power of Beyoncé, but to your community, they are still important.
⦁ Get involved with – or better yet, host a local event. Your community can only work for you if you make the effort to get your name out there. Your presence in community-building events can – and will – positively influence your neighbors buying decisions.
⦁ Build relationships with powerful and influential people. Keep in mind that “powerful and influential” might be someone well known, or it could be the elderly couple in the house at the end of the block that has done a lot of charitable work over the course of the past 60 years.
⦁ Sponsor Charitable Events. Being part of your local community means getting involved with charitable organizations that you believe in. And when people see that your company is socially conscious and supports worthwhile organizations, they are more likely to have a positive view of your business, which helps earn their trust.
Seize the Opportunity
As a small business, you may often be hampered by a limited marketing budget, but that shouldn’t limit the ways in which you try to draw the attention of your target audience. While marketing is never a one-size-fits all proposition, influencer marketing can be effective for just about every type of business, big or small, because it builds credibility in a short amount of time.
And you don’t need big names to influence potential customers, you just need names that are relevant and impactful in your industry. People crave confirmation by others they respect, and small-business influencer marketing is all about getting that all-important stamp of approval from authority figures that appeal to your customers at the local level.
Tabitha Jean Naylor is the proud owner of TabithaNaylor.com, a marketing firm that delivers ‘big agency’ quality at rates that are affordable for startups and small businesses. Her intimate knowledge of how sales and marketing go hand-in-hand has resulted in a variety of successful campaigns for start-ups through NASDAQ traded companies.