How to Use Influencer Marketing to Grow Your Small Business

May 31, 2017 ・ 6 min read

Influencer marketing has been one of the biggest buzz-words in digital marketing in this past year. Influencers of all shapes and sizes are popping up left and right, presenting businesses with an amazing opportunity to promote themselves and grow in such a cutthroat business environment.
Small businesses, in particular, can find themselves having a difficult time standing out online and getting their audiences to notice them amongst their competitors. With a good influencer marketing strategy, though, you can reach and promote your products and services to a larger audience – in this blog post, I’m going to show you how you can use influencer marketing to grow your small business.

The Different Types of Social Influencers

Social media influencers, as I mentioned earlier, come in all shapes and sizes. The first ones that come to mind are the ones with millions of followers on their respective social network, who become celebrities in their own right, with real, very passionate fans.
But, there are many more types of social influencers, across all kinds of niches. The ‘celebrity’ influencers – think PewDiePie or the biggest Instagram models – aren’t the best option for small businesses. They tend to be very pricey, which makes perfect sense considering the huge demand.

Then there are all the smaller influencers, but who still have a huge audience – usually under 1 million, but in the hundreds of thousands. And finally, there are the micro-influencers: influencers with about 10k to 100k followers.
Of course, there are many different ways that you can break down the different types of influencers, not just based on the size of their audience, but also by the type of content they share, the way they are seen in their niche (an authority in the industry, or journalist, etc.) and so on.

What Makes a Good Social Influencer?

Before you can start researching social influencers to use for your business, it’s good to know the do’s and don’ts of identifying a “good” social influencer.

Here, there are two important things to keep in mind: one, is the type of content they share with their audience and how it relates to your business and two, how engaged they are with their audience and vice-versa.

In order to find and connect with the right influencers, you need to make sure that their online persona, the things they share with their audience and even their views, complement your own business. But most importantly, you need to share a similar target audience.

After all, the main purpose of using social influencers to promote a business is to reach an audience that you can actually sell to – if they’re not interested in what you have to say and in your product or service, what’s the point in using that influencer? You might get more people to hear about your business, but at the end of the day, it won’t help you grow your business.

Next, you also need to consider their engagement. You need to look beyond the number of their fans or followers, to how much they engage with their followers and how much their followers engage with them in return. This is what ultimately gives an influencer power, because just having lots of followers means nothing – those can be bought, or they could just be following for the sake of it. When they engage with the influencer, it shows a deeper, more meaningful relationship.

That’s why so many marketers now tend to gravitate towards micro-influencers. Studies have shown that the bigger an audience an influencer has, the less engaged they are. Sure, they get lots of likes and shares on their posts, but that’s not enough to be real influence.
Smaller influencers, on the other hand, tend to engage more with their followers. The reason for this is that they simply have more time; it’s one thing to handle 100k followers and completely another story to constantly respond to mentions from 1 million followers, for example.
Another reason why micro-influencers can be more impactful is that their followers are much more targeted. The biggest celebrity influencers in the world most likely started out with very loyal, very targeted fans but as they grow, they start attracting followers with all kinds of interests and passions – ones that might not be relevant at all to your business. They are followed simply because they are famous, not because people necessarily care that much about what they have to say.

As a small business in particular, it’s best, in my opinion to start your influencer marketing campaign with micro-influencers; they’re cheaper to use and when you have the right influencers on your side, they can be much more effective than using one big influencer.

How to Find Social Media Influencers

Now that we’ve gone through what social influencers are and, most importantly, what to look for in a social influencer and what makes for a great one, let’s look into all the different ways that you can find them.

The first step should be to look in your own backyard: your fans and followers. You never know, but you might already have some influencers following you, which is great news as they are already familiar with your business, or maybe even a fan.

To quickly research your followers, you can use a tool like Agorapulse, which has a social CRM tool that automatically tags any influencers and brand ambassadors in your list:

How to Use Influencer Marketing to Grow Your Small Business

Don’t forget to check your brand ambassadors as well – even though they are most likely ‘regular’ people, they can still hold a lot of influence over their own, albeit small, following. Think word of mouth marketing; only, it’s on steroids.

This video does a really good job of explaining how to find the right influencer to work with your brand, step-by-step:

Another useful tool for influencer research is Buzzsumo. It’s probably more well-known for its content search tool, but it also has very capable influencer research tools. You can search by entering a few keywords:

How to Use Influencer Marketing to Grow Your Small Business

Next, you can filter them by type, as you can see in the top left corner, or you can sort them by their website’s domain authority, their follower numbers, as well as their retweet and reply ratio, which is very useful for making an idea on how engaged they are.

You can also see the links they share for each influencer, so that you can see at a glance whether the content they tend to share is in line with your own business values.

I’ve found the influencers – now, what?

Depending on what type of influencers you’re using, you will need to adjust the number of influencers you contact. If you’re using a celebrity influencer, you won’t need more than 1-2 at a time; but if you’re planning on using micro-influencers, then you should put together a more extensive list, of at least 20-30 influencers to contact.

It can get quite time-consuming, but with a time-saving outreach tool (Buzzstream, Ninja Outreach, just to name a few) you can make your life much easier.

Before you start reaching out to them, though, you also need to be clear on what your goal is with using social influencers and what you want to achieve, for example:

  • Guest posting gigs for increased brand awareness and link building
  • Product reviews for increased brand awareness and sales
  • Product or service promotion on social media for increased brand awareness and sales

Now onto how to reach out to influencers; you have two main options here: either reach out directly with your proposal – for example, a product review in exchange for a free gift (generally, the actual product) or swapping guest posts – or, start building relationships with them via social media and start seeing the results later on.

As a small business, the best course of action is to use micro-influencers. It’s cheaper, it’s highly effective and it is great as a long-term strategy.


Influencer marketing has proven itself time and time again as one of the most effective ways of improving brand awareness. Not only that, but it can help you build your audience’s trust and it can also mean more sales for your business.

Are you using influencers to promote your small business? And if so, what types of influencers are you using and why?

Author bio:
Highly regarded on the world speaker circuit, Lilach has graced Forbes and Number 10 Downing Street. She’s a hugely connected and highly influential entrepreneur. Listed in Forbes as one of the top 20 women social media power influencers and was crowned the Social Influencer of Europe by Oracle. She is listed as the number one Influencer in the UK by Career Experts and is a recipient for a Global Women Champions Award for her outstanding contribution and leadership in business.