influencer showing makeup to a camera
Finding an influencer is a versatile business — you can set your budget, research the best influencer platform and also choose which social media platforms to use. — Getty Images/Kritchanut

Influencer marketing has become a great form of marketing in today’s digital age. Essentially, an influencer uses their authority to affect their audience’s purchase decisions. Influencers are paid by businesses to promote a specific product or service, most commonly on their own personal social media channels on platforms like Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.

Influencers work with businesses of all sizes, including small businesses. If you’re interested in engaging an influencer to promote your brand, here’s what you need to know.

What is an influencer?

An influencer is a public figure, usually with a niche following, who has the ability to affect the behavior of their audience. Contrary to popular belief, an influencer does not need to have a large following to make an impact. In fact, many influencers have a small community of people who trust and respect their opinions and endorsements. These “microinfluencers” usually have fewer than 100,000 followers.

Influencers are often paid by brands to sway their audience’s buying decisions. When an influencer backs a specific product or company, their followers typically value their input and are more likely to invest in it themselves.

Benefits of influencer marketing

There are many benefits of investing in influencer marketing for your brand. Here are some specific pros of working with an influencer:

  • Building trust: Since influencers tend to have a committed following, they can build their audience’s trust in your brand by endorsing your products and/or services. By working with an influencer, you’ll gain access to a niche and actively engaged audience.
  • Cultivating brand awareness: Since influencer marketing can help you expand your reach, it also helps cultivate awareness around your brand. Consumers may have never heard of your brand until the influencer they follow endorsed your products. This exposure allows you to establish a reputation for your company that will keep buyers coming back for more.
  • Adding to your content strategy: When an influencer endorses your products on social media, you can share their posts and fill the gaps in your own content by posting theirs. This will also diversify your content.
  • Helping you reach your target audience: Most likely, the influencer you decide to work with will share the same audience you’re trying to target. By utilizing their connections, you’ll increase your reach and market to the right people.
  • Providing value to your audience: Influencers understand their audience’s interests and needs, which will be helpful in determining what will provide value to them. If an influencer decides to work with your brand, they most likely believe your product will help their followers.
  • Building partnerships: Working with an influencer can open a lot of doors and provide many opportunities for more partnerships in the future.

[Read more: 5 Companies Built on Influencer Marketing]

Contrary to popular belief, an influencer does not need to have a large following to make an impact.

Where to find an influencer

There are a plethora of apps and websites that connect influencers with brands. Many sites specialize in one particular channel (YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat or another). Here are a few popular platforms that connect companies and influencers:

  • Aspire. This platform works with a ton of big brands, including Calvin Klein, GrubHub and more. Not only will it connect you with an influencer, but it will also track the influencer’s performance (with stats like sales, followers driven and engagement).
  • Heepsy. This platform comes with a free trial — a great option, if you’re just dipping your toes into the world of influencer marketing. It offers location targeting as well as microinfluencers.
  • Klear. This platform is also trusted by a number of big brands, including IBM, Nike and Microsoft. It also offers a unique tool that helps measure Instagram Stories.
  • Tapfluence. This software specializes in food, beauty, lifestyle and fashion influencers, which are some verticals where word of mouth makes all the difference.
  • SocialBook. If user acquisition is your goal, consider SocialBook. It can help you increase brand awareness and follower count.
  • Upfluence: Upfluence offers a full set of features like its influencer search and discovery engine. The platform has a database of over three million influencer profiles.
  • Post for Rent: This influencer tool allows both brands and influencers to leave reviews for each other so other users can browse ratings and understand whether the partnership would be a good fit.
  • Dovetale: Dovetale, which can be used by any brand, is specifically geared toward e-commerce stores and small businesses looking to match with influencers. The platform also offers tools to help streamline influencer marketing campaigns.

If you’re not interested in working with an official influencer platform, try using a free tool like Skorr or BuzzSumo to find users in your industry that have a high follower count. Reach out to them to indicate you’d like to work with them and see what their rates are.

How much should you pay for an influencer?

Influencers charge different rates based on a few factors. Usually, an influencer will charge on a per-post basis and take into consideration:

  • The number of posts you want.
  • The type of post (i.e., image, video, story, etc.).
  • Their personal stats: fans, followers and engagement.
  • The effort required of them (i.e., whether they will be creating the post, or if you will be).

Costs can vary widely, but expect to pay within the following ranges:

  • Facebook: $25 per 1,000 followers.
  • Instagram: $10 per 1,000 followers.
  • Twitter: $2 per 1,000 followers.
  • Snapchat: $10 per 10,000 followers or views.
  • YouTube: $20 per 1,000 subscribers.
  • Blog: $60 per 1,000 views.

Some platforms, like Tribe, Aspire or Tapfluence, will set rates for the influencer. That can be a good way to make sure your budget is going to the right people and you’re getting the best ROI.

[Read more: 3 Key Facts About Influencer Marketing]

Tips for finding the right influencer

If those prices seem a little high, don’t worry. Small businesses can still capture the power of influencer marketing without paying celebrity-level fees. Here are some inexpensive ways to find the right influencer to market your business:

  • Turn to micro-influencers. Micro-influencers are those with 1,000-10,000 followers. These influencers have been proven to deliver strong marketing results. If the goal of your campaign is to convert a post into sales, then a micro-influencer may be your ideal partner.
  • Define your marketing goals. Start by identifying experts in your industry or local community, and then hashing out the details of their post promotions. From there, you can increase your word-of-mouth marketing and boost sales for your small business.
  • Consider your audience. Before you choose an influencer to work with, you’ll want to define your audience as clearly as possible. Understand who they are, where they hang out, their demographics, etc. This information will help you select an influencer who is relevant to your target audience rather than one with a following who won’t be interested in your products and/or services.
  • Research your competitors and who they work with. If you notice influencers working with your competitors, you might consider reaching out to them to forge a brand deal. You can find these influencers by searching relevant hashtags on social media and browsing your competitors’ pages to see who they’re partnering with.
  • Understand your prospective influencer’s authority: When vetting a potential influencer, you’ll want to determine whether their following, engagement rates, content quality and depth of their niche suit your business’s needs.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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