Watching your startup business gradually yet steadily grow is always a pleasure. But now that it’s gaining notoriety, how do you step it up a notch and take things further? How do you keep introducing your brand to a wider network of people?
When you’ve ventured into almost every marketing strategy you could possibly consider (SEO, social media, PPC ads on search engines, mainstream media promotion, etc.) and it’s still not enough, the sweet icing on your marketing cake just might be local influencer marketing.
- 30% of consumers are more likely to buy a product recommended by a non-celebrity blogger (Collective Bias survey).
- 60% of consumers shopping at a store are influenced by social media posts or blog reviews (Collective Bias survey).
- 49% of consumers rely on product recommendations shared by influencers (Twitter).
- 40% of Twitter users follow brands and 60% of them do it to know more about the products (Twitter).
- 70% of teenage YouTube audiences are influenced more by YouTubers than most big-name celebrities (Google).
- Favorite Instagrammers rank at #6 in influencing buying behavior for consumers.
- 81% of consumers are known to frequently buy the items they’ve seen being shared on social media.
- 67% of influencers are keen to work with brands that provide them with competitive compensation.
- 42% of micro-influencers in the survey said that they use Instagram for sponsored posts (Bloglovin).
- 51% of marketers admit that influencer-created content outperforms brand-created content.
- 81% of marketers leverage influencer-created content on other marketing channels.
As evident in these various research efforts, the extent to which influencers can reach their respective audiences is considerable.
Compared to global influencers — with millions of followers, local influencers may have a shorter reach, and fewer followers, but that doesn’t make them — in any way — inferior in terms of impact.
In the same manner that micro-influencers exhibit better effectivity for small to medium-sized businesses, local influencers are efficient at boosting your brand’s identity within your vicinity.
Who are the local influencers?
Local influencers — as suggested by their label — are a great fit for brands who have a regional focus. These people are social media personalities, product reviewers, bloggers, etc., who are based in the same area as your business.
For instance, a roundup of Iloilo City’s top 5 local influencers can include a bunch of photographers, a fashionista blogger, local beauty gurus, a mommy blogger, a fitness nut, and a food critic — among others.
These people have an account — or several of them — in the internet’s biggest social media sharing sites. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, maybe even YouTube — you name it, they’re most likely to have it.
Collaborating with these people will help your brand get the exposure it needs to stay on par with the rest of your competitors and attract qualified customers — perhaps even your ideal ones.
It’s just a matter of reaching out and forming genuine relationships that will foster a healthy environment for your business. At first glance, the task may appear daunting, but when you know where to look, and how to act, you may find that it’s not as imposing as you first thought.
Step 1: Find Your Local Influencers
Global influencers aren’t very difficult to find. That’s because they’re often at the forefront of the social media realm, and it’s no surprise to find them in a couple of popular blogs, YouTube videos, and popular podcasts now and then.
Local influencers, however, hold influence within a smaller sphere and encompassing a smaller region. As mentioned before, finding local influencers can be quite the challenge, but only if you don’t know where to look.
Social Media Listening
Before you begin your quest to find local influencers, it would be good to perform an initial search. Look for people who are already talking about your business on social media. In the process, track every positive and negative feedback.
The obvious reasoning behind this is that it’s ideal to find a local influencer who’s already familiar with your brand. Or even better, find an influencer who is already availing of your products or services. This way, marketing your brand to their own set of followers will be more genuine.
The idea behind social listening doesn’t mean you have to scour the internet rapidly for mentions of your brand. There are a bunch of good tools you can use to track these kinds of statistics.
These tools include:
- Mention: A combination of social monitoring, analytics, and competitor espionage.
- IFTTT (If This Then That): Sends emails whenever someone mentions your brand in a selected RSS feed for a specific industry.
- Hootsuite: Monitor social media mentions in real time. It’s made for responding right away to customer concerns.
- Google Alerts: Receive emails whenever Google tracks mentions of your business online.
Relevant Blogs on Your Niche
When it comes to finding things that are important, never think to underestimate the power of search engine results — particularly Google.
This applies to your search for local influencers too…
Not every local influencer is a blogger, but rest assured that a lot of them are. Consider searching for bloggers that belong in your niche. Specify your searches according to industry and location.
For instance, you’re a clothing retailer in New York City, you should look for “fashion bloggers New York city.”
Remember that the ones that show up on top are likely to be authentic ones, and carry considerable follower sizes. Check and make sure of everything as you keep your eyes open for new opportunities.
Hashtags serve to group relevant posts together. You can capitalize on that function by using them on social media to track down local influencers.
Once again, keep in mind to keep your searches local and niche-targeted. Do multiple location-specific hashtags to identify the authentic ones.
Keep an eye out for posts that encourage the most engagement. Visit user profiles, if you have to, and check their number of followers, the average rate of engagement, as well as how frequently they post.
Network at Big Local Events
The internet is a great way to find people — no doubt about that. But you can also do one better as you make the effort to engage and build relationships with local influencers in-person. There’s still a huge difference between interacting with people on the internet and speaking with them face-to-face.
Don’t belittle the importance of interpersonal communication.
Attend a special networking event designed to help brands get-in-touch with influencers. You can easily find these kinds of events on Google or through social media sites.
And if there aren’t any events, then you can try looking for big events that are centered around your niche.
You really have nothing to lose by participating in these kinds of events. Apart from networking, they are good for public relations too.
Influencer Marketing Tools
In addition to the several ways you can find local influencers, there are also influencer marketing tools available on the web to help you find the right people.
There are many more. Use it to help you compile the list of influencers you’d want to reach out to and do business with.
Step 2: Fix a Budget
In this world of gives and takes, you should know better than anyone that very few things come for free. As you operate on a startup budget, then you should understand the pain of asking someone to work for free. After all, you exact fees from your customers too, don’t you?
In a case like this, it’s difficult to pin down a solid number on how much your budget should be. Influencer price varies, after all.
From $5-$10 per 1000 followers to $25-$50 per a hundred thousand.
The point is, if you truly want your brand to make it big out there, then prepare to spend a portion of your startup company’s marketing budget.
Step 3: Build Meaningful Relationships
Understand that influencers — even the local ones — have a massive amount of messages piling up in their social media inbox or email.
Yes, sliding into an influencer’s DMs is not as simple as you think it is…
Instead of kicking-off your outreach with a cold-call, build a relationship with them first. Exude patience, because — as we all know — building relationships take time.
Become one of their followers, and form a genuine interest for what they do. Interact with their posts by commenting, “liking,” or retweeting. It does some good to share some of their posts on your own social media accounts too.
Just don’t do it too much, so you don’t rub them the wrong way.
It takes time, but after a few weeks of constant interaction with them, they’ll come to recognize your company name.
When an opportunity comes, don’t turn it down…
You can try sending them a personalized email now or directly message them. Explain what you like about their online presence, and what kind of business you’re proposing.
It’s true that positive responses from every influencer aren’t an absolute guarantee, but that’s alright. One affirmation from at least one influencer is enough to get you started on the real work.
Step 4: Check Your Influencers
After generating a list of local influencers, it’s advisable to evaluate them too. Choose the people who resonate the identity and the message of your brand well.
- Check for content authenticity
- Make sure their personality and manner of delivery align with your brand values and messaging
- Choose the local influencer who precisely falls underneath your product niche.
Step 5: Begin Collaborating
Work with local influencers to figure out what kind of content the both of you would like to produce together. And once again, expect to spend a considerable amount of time brainstorming.
In the process of content collaborating, you need to make sure that your brand is amply showcased, but not too sales pitch-y. Remember that local influencers’ followers trust them to bring them the best products; not pitch them, get paid, and be done with it.
Types of content you can create with your partnered local influencer range from simple blog post interviews to video blogs. You can try:
- Writing guest blogs: Write a relevant article for their site, and get a link back to your own site.
- Interviews: Conduct an interview with the local influencer and put it up on your blog.
- Producing videos: This is perhaps the best method of collaboration with any influencer. Your options range from demonstrations, reviews, and tutorials. You can also ask an influencer to feature one of your products or services in their own videos.
Advantages of Local Influencer Marketing
Connecting and finding local influencers can pose as a challenge at first, but when you finally arrive at reaping the benefits of what you have sown, you’ll find that it was all worth it.
Reasonably Priced Services
The difference between hiring a celebrity or a massive influencer is huge compared to a local one.
Micro-influencers and local influencers are 6.7 times more cost-efficient than large influencers.
Your city’s local influencers can charge between $75 to $3000 per post, depending on their number of followers.
Higher Follower Engagement Rates
A study from Markerly revealed that influencers with 10,000 to 100,000 followers have the best combination of reach and customer engagement.
People who follow these local influencers follow them because they talk about specific topics that they are interested in.
Better Brand Credibility
In addition to promoting your brand extensively on a local influencer platform, you can also build credibility. Encourage the influencers that your partner to give honest reviews of your products.
Give them free samples of your products or services, so they can get an honest feel and provide an in-depth review of their experience using your services or products.
Building quality backlinks are one of the best ways to increase your site’s domain authority. It also helps you rank on SERPs.
Local influencers posting links to your website on their various social media platforms is a definite bonus for your backlink profile. It’s more effective if they have their own blogs or website with high DA.
Another method is through guest blogging. Write a high-quality guest post for their site, and receive a link that leads back to your own site.
In this age of internet fame where anybody can get involved, influencer marketing emerged as one of the most competitive tools in a startup business’ marketing arsenal.
Doing it right can help you acquire a platform to sell your products with engaged customers who are aware of your brand’s message and identity.
And for startup businesses, it’s a good start that requires minimal investment, but yields high ROI.
Al Gomez is a digital marketing consultant. He is the President of Dlinkers, and he specializes in SEO, PPC & Web Development since 2008. Al has over 10 years’ client Digital Marketing experience and has helped businesses such as Dr. Berg, Patexia, Panel Wall Art, the Ritz Carlton, and countless others use the web to drive online visibility and generate leads. He has even started, developed, and managed an eCommerce website — Unlideals.com and an SEO website, alseoperth.com.