In our first post on local marketing, we explored how micro businesses can expand their audience reach through social media discoverability. Here, we’re tackling another important piece of the small business puzzle: influencer marketing. From product reviews on YouTube to co-created blog content, influencer marketing provides endless opportunities for brand growth and development. If you’ve been curious about influencer marketing, here’s how to find and leverage local influencers to boost your brand’s bottom line.

Why Influencer Marketing?

If you’re new to influencer marketing, you may be wondering why it’s important and how it can benefit your small business. Put simply, influencer marketing is a powerful way for brands to reach new audiences. It puts marketing into the hands of real people, who share their (positive) brand experiences with peers to influence purchasing action.

If you’re skeptical about how influencer marketing relates to your sales goals, consider this statistic from a recent study by HubSpot: consumers who are referred to a brand by social media are 71% more likely to make a purchase. This proves that influencer marketing isn’t just about getting more followers – it’s actually one of the most effective ways to drive sales in the digital age.

Who is an influencer?

To the average person, the term influencer usually connotes images of celebrities and globetrotters who’ve garnered hundreds of thousands of followers. This comprises some influencers, but not all of them. In fact, influencers come in many forms. At a local scale, the ideal influencer may only have a few thousand followers. They could be a mom, a teacher, or even a teenager. Who the influencer is doesn’t really matter – what’s most important is that they’re followed by an engaged local audience that aligns with your target market.

How Can I Find Local Influencers?

Finding well-aligned local influencers is key to influencer marketing success. So where can you find influencers that fit the bill?

A great tool to start with is Klout, which helps you identify and engage with influencers in your market. After logging in with Facebook or Twitter, Klout will prompt you to select topics and interests. If you focus on themes related to your industry, along with the city and state you live in, you’ll be exposed to influencers near you who write about your topic.

NinjaOutreach is another popular tool that can help you find engaging local influencers on Instagram. Simply type in a keyword and discover the most influential people writing about your industry. You might test out different keywords related to your locale, which can ensure that you’re finding people locally. You could also search for reviewers and travel bloggers across a larger scope, as its possible they would visit your town and write a review.

Influencer Marketing can assume many different forms depending on your marketing goals. It’s also important to consider which platforms your audience uses most for interacting with brands. To get started, here’s a few ideas for influencer marketing.

Blogging Influencers

Blogging is the original form of influencer marketing, and still proves to be an effective strategy for reaching new audiences. There are two key ways you can leverage blogging as an influencer marketing strategy, as defined below.

Influencer Reviews

The first and most popular method is to ask an influencer to share your product or service on their blog. Influencers are much more likely to respond to these requests when they get to use or keep your product for free. Consider travel and style bloggers, people who review local eateries, and other individuals who’ve carved out a name for themselves writing about your city or region.

Content Partnerships

Another influencer blogging strategy is to partner with an influencer on a piece of content. This co-created content could be a local guide, a blog post, or even a video or downloadable resource. The co-created content will reach both your audience and their audience, so its a smart option for brands that already have a solid following, yet want to expand their reach even more.

It’s also best to partner with someone who’s in your industry and closely related to your brand, yet isn’t a competitor. For example, a fitness studio might co-create a healthy living locals guide with a nearby smoothie shop.

Influencer Marketing on YouTube

In a world where video dominates all forms of content, YouTube is a great way to garner authentic engagement with your brand. Once you have a video created, it can be repurposed across Facebook, spliced into segments for Instagram, and promoted via email.

Product Reviews

If a local blogger or YouTube influencer has a channel related to your industry, you might consider asking them to review your product. Maybe they’ll talk about why they love it and how it benefits their life. This works best for consumer goods in the retail space, as influencers can talk about the benefits of the product in the comfort of their own home. However, it can also work for a restaurant or a business in the hospitality industry, under certain circumstances.

FAQ Videos

Another idea for an influencer video is having them respond to FAQs with their own original answers. If it’s a new shoe, for example, people might be wondering whether it’s true to size or if it has a narrow fit. When an influencer conducts a FAQ video, it helps answer audience questions in a way that feels honest and trustworthy.

Customer Interviews

YouTube is also a great channel for showcasing customer ideas and opinions. For example, a local yoga studio might create a video where customers talk about the benefits of yoga, and why they love going to that studio. Asking the right questions is key, as you’ll want customers to explain the positive benefits of your business in a way that feels authentic and relatable. Therefore, you might start by asking about what your product/service means to them, how they found out about it, and why it plays an important role in their life.  

Influencer Marketing on Instagram

Last but not least, influencers on instagram have immense power and reach that give your brand a serious boost. It’s also relatively easy to find and engage with local influencers all within the Instagram app, thanks to features that allow people to tag their location.

Brand Involvement

Simply sending a free product to an Instagram star isn’t going to guarantee anything. Plus, it feels gimmicky – even when coming from a small business. That’s why it’s important to put meaning behind your share request. Make influencers feel more valued and important by involving them in the creation of your brand. For example, you might ask for their opinion on a new product, or get their ideas for an upcoming flavor. Building an authentic relationship with the influencers will ensure that they want to work with you in the future, and it’ll also make their shares and posts feel more true to your audience.

Instagram Takeover

If you’re on instagram, you’ve probably seen a number of “takeovers,” where an influencer manages a brand’s social media for the day. The influencer usually posts about the takeover on their own account before it happens, telling followers to tune into the story. On one hand, this helps you gain followers directly from the influencer’s audience base. Even more importantly, instagram takeovers provide a fresh perspective on your brand and product. Seeing how the influencer photographs, discusses, and engages with your brand helps local prospects see it in a new light. In turn, this boosts your credibility and can potentially increase sales in a short amount of time.

To learn more about local marketing, check out the rest of our series on social media discoverability and building a local customer base.