How to master influencer marketing on a budget

How to master influencer marketing on a budget

Hannah Williams
25 October 2017
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Not everyone has thousands of pounds to spend on a single influencer post… how do you do influencer marketing on a budget?

Influencer marketing is one of the biggest trends in marketing right now. Everyone wants a slice of the pie…but what if you haven’t got the budget to shell out thousands for an influencer? Luckily there are ways to do influencer marketing on a budget.

Knowing that this challenge is present amongst many of our clients, we invited Gabi Cox to spill her juicy influencer marketing tips on our latest webinar. Having founded Chroma Stationery in 2014 using only £300, Instagram and a savvy influencer marketing strategy, Gabi is an expert in boosting brand awareness and visibility on a limited budget. In the short space of time since Chroma established, the brand has featured in the likes of The Telegraph, is supplied to Boots Ltd. and a go-to favourite of big-time influencer Zoella!

 influencer marketing on a budget

In this blog post, we’ll be summarising what was discussed in the influencer marketing on a budget webinar, you can listen to the full on-demand version here too!

Why social media and influencer marketing?

Did you know that 47% of 18-24-year-olds use ad blockers? (digibay 2016). Even outside of this age group, many are using similar tools to banish brand messages from appearing on their devices. We live in an age where advertising has less chance of reaching our audience, and even if it does, the sheer amount of messages our audience is bombarded with every day means we have little chance of our message being recalled.

On a more positive note for comms pros, 92% of customers trust recommendations from strangers (Julius works, 2016). See where we’re going with this? Influencer marketing is a great way to 1) deal with the adblock issue 2) move away from traditional online advertising 3) create trustworthy recommendations around our products or services.

How to choose influencers

It may be tempting to choose influencers based on how many followers they have, however, this is not advisable. Followers can be artificially increased. We should instead look at engagement – are people commenting? Are people sharing their content?

Meltwater’s media intelligence platform is a great tool to help users track the level of engagement around influencers. For example, in the last week (12th to 19th October 2017), Zoella was mentioned over 10,000 times on Twitter! We can simply pop the influencers name into the search bar and discover how many mentions and engagements the influencer has received. This is a really easy way to discover whether the influencer has a community surrounding them. 

If you need a more in-depth guide to choosing influencers, check out this blog post. 

 influencer marketing on a budget

Consider their audience

It’s also extremely important to ensure the influencer has a similar audience to us. Zoella may have a huge following and number of engagements, but she may not be the right influencer for your brand. Use an influencer database to look for influencers discussing a topic area that we want our brand to be a part of. For example, if our product is aimed at those with a marketing background, it would make sense to choose an influencer who regularly discusses marketing.

Micro vs major influencers

Major influencers have huge followings, they may be YouTube or Instagram famous, like Zoella or Tanya Burr. However, these major influencers often charge a huge amount of money for third-party endorsements. Even if we’re lucky enough not to have to pay to be mentioned, chances are – like our audience- they’re overwhelmed with messages from brands asking to be featured. This only adds to the challenge of getting ours noticed.

Micro influencers have a smaller number of followers, the upshot of this is they have very engaged communities. If we want to do influencer marketing on a budget, focusing on micro influencers might be our best bet. Since micro influencers aren’t approached by as many third parties as major influencers, micro influencers are usually seen as more trustworthy, authentic and credible.

Plan 2-3 months ahead

Plan ahead, don’t expect to have an influencer onside overnight. We need to build relationships before asking for something from them. Even if we’re paying them, we need to get in there early. Gabi recommends nurturing influencers 2-3 months prior to reaching out.

Overall, do your research.

Building relationships

Paid vs Unpaid collaboration

There are a couple of ways to approach collaborating with an influencer. The first way is to send them a free product and hope they’ll love it so much that they’ll post about it. Gabi explains that personalising the product to the particular influencer can really increase the chance of the product being featured. For Chroma stationery, Gabi states that there is no obligation for the influencer to post the product, sometimes resulting in a hit and miss approach. Furthermore, they’re promoting us for free, so we can’t dictate how they ‘sell’ our product too.

Note: not all brands are able to send over their product – for example, a charity may not be able to ‘give’ anything to an influencer. However, we can still offer our time through engagement and add further value by engaging intelligently with the influencer’s community. We’ll get back onto this in a second.  

The alternative is to pay the influencer. This will give us a quicker result and a bit more control over how the influencer discusses the content. However, be aware that this may not lead to an authentic and sustainable relationship. Plus from a ‘influencer marketing on a budget’ perspective, blowing budget on one influencer may not be sustainable! 

Engage

Expanding on our blog, why you should care about vlogmas, here are some additional tips from Gabi about how to build relationships.

  1. Be authentic – stay true to your brands’ values and culture. We should take a genuine interest in the influencer and let our personality shine.
  2. Engage with the influencer/ brands corporate wider team. Many influencers have assistants, managers or a whole team around them. We should be following and interacting with their team too, no matter how junior or senior the employee is
  3. Share, like and promote their content
  4. Send out freebies (if possible)
  5. Send out personalised goodies- give them something unique and tailored to the influencer
  6. Remember, that this influencer could be a long lasting relationship
  7. Engage with their followers
  8. Nurture the relationship, even if they’ve promoted the product

Measure

Whether we’ve paid the influencer or not, nurturing the relationship takes up time and resources and we must understand whether it has been worth it by measuring ROI. There are a few things we can do to measure the success of our influencer marketing strategy.

UTM or personalised discount codes

One way of tracking the success of an influencer campaign is to add a UTM code to the end of the URL that they’re sending people to. This way we can track exactly how many people have been on our website off the back of their promotion. Alternatively, we can provide them with a personalised discount code, that will allow us to track how many people have bought our product.

Media intelligence

By using widgets such as media exposure, we can measure whether we’ve had an increase in engagement since working with an influencer. Meltwater’s latest update integrates google analytics with media exposure, so we can track whether a particular post has led to an increase in traffic on our website.

By blending data types such as trending themes, sentiment, reach and media exposure we can understand whether the influencer has had an impact on 1) website traffic 2) media exposure 3) brand perceptions 4) brand awareness.

There it is: influencer marketing on a budget – You can listen to the whole webinar here:

If you’d like to find out more about how Meltwater can help you find influencers and track their impact, email us at hello@meltwater.com