Word-of-mouth marketing is powerful.
We trust people we know more than strangers who try to sell us things. It’s just common sense.
But, in today’s bizarre digital world, a new type of “people we know” has emerged.
Let me show you what I mean…
In about a month, I’m going to a yoga event led by my friend Adriene. Though I’ve never met Adriene – so maybe “friend” is too strong a word.
But I’ve spent hours doing yoga with her online. So, she sure as heck feels like a friend.
Adriene Mishler of Yoga with Adriene is a yoga instructor, Youtube celebrity, and influencer. And if she recommended a yoga or health-related product to me, I’d seriously consider buying it because Adriene has earned my trust.
These new “in-between” people – people like Adriene that we’ve never met but feel like we know so well – are powerful forces. They’re the face of the newest form of word-of-mouth marketing. And small businesses can really benefit from their endorsement.
It’s all about authenticity.
When a friend gives a product or service recommendation, it’s not because they’re getting a cut. It’s because they had a really positive interaction with that business. And, they want you to have positive experiences, too.
We trust our friends’ recommendations because our friends have earned our trust.
Similarly, we trust the influencers in our lives because we’ve invested a comparable amount of time – and participated in a similar amount of positive experiences – as we would with a friend.
And, as an influencer and social marketing guru Jeff Bullas explains (emphasis added):
When an influencer promotes your goods, it has to be done naturally and sincerely because influencers are usually people who have built their credibility by being credible.
Repeated positive exposure and repeated exchanges of genuine value enable influencers to earn our respect and our trust.
Credibility and authenticity are vital to the influencer/influencee relationship.
This is true for all businesses but especially true for startup businesses. As we emphasized in our guide on how to start a business, early customers who become zealous advocates and write rave reviews play a vital role in helping you grow your business.
We just emailed the resources to you.
But not just any influencer will do.
Just like our friends, influencers have certain spheres of expertise.
We wouldn’t follow advice on fixing our car from our friend who knows nothing about cars.
And, we wouldn’t embrace endorsements from influencers who have nothing to do with the product or service they’re endorsing.
For influencer endorsement to have any real impact, your product or service must align with both the influencer’s area of expertise and their audience’s areas of interest.
And the influencers must align well with your brand and brand identity.
It’s not enough to state in your business plan that you’ll grow your business through influencers. You need to find the right influencers who can help you.
Therein lies the rub. How do you find the right influencers to endorse your brand? And how do you connect with them once you’ve found them?
Luckily, you’re not on your own. Or, at least, you don’t have to be.
Here are the top 3 influencer platforms for small businesses:
Just as influencers have grown in number – and influence – influencer marketing platforms have appeared. These services (and there are many) connect brands to influencers who align with their niche.
But, many of these platforms are priced too steeply for most small business budgets. For some, the monthly subscription fees are so expensive that they don’t leave any room in your marketing budget to pay the influencers.
And many of these platforms won’t even share prices with you – guarding them as fiercely as nuclear detonation codes until you’re already trapped in a call with their sales team. But that’s why we’ve done the legwork for you.
The following 3 influencer platforms are our top picks for helping small businesses like yours find the right influencer voices to advocate for their brands.
In our selection process, we looked for platforms that adhered to the following guidelines:
- Our top influencer marketing platforms must be reputable and well-respected.
- The platforms must connect with a wide range of the most relevant social networks.
- The platforms must offer reliable data for identifying and analyzing influencers who are a good fit for your business.
- The platform must offer its service in an SMB-friendly budget range.
That’s what you can expect to find in the three picks we’ve listed below.
So, without further ado – and in no particular order – here’s the list…
BuzzSumo is a well-respected content marketing platform.
But, in addition to tracking content performance all over the web, BuzzSumo also offers a tool for researching influencers across multiple social media platforms and the web.
As BuzzSumo explains, you can:
Boost your campaigns by enrolling the support of influencers who have genuine connections, reach and authority. BuzzSumo helps you identify influencers, evaluate their strengths and assess their value.
BuzzSumo’s vast pool of content and influencer data helps you find influencers who are truly aligned with your niche audience and producing content that will resonate.
However, unlike some of the influencer platforms on our list, BuzzSumo does not offer payment and ROI tracking, CRM, or campaign management for your influencer campaigns. This may help explain why BuzzSumo can offer its service at such a competitive price.
Plans start at just $79/month when paid annually. And, that plan will get you access to more than just BuzzSumo’s influencer service. You’ll be able to use their content research and brand monitoring tools as well.
If you already have your own CRM for managing relationships, then BuzzSumo may be the perfect platform for inviting influencers into your marketing strategy.
Bonus tip: Keep an eye on SparkToro. SparkToro doesn’t offer payment, ROI tracking, CRM, or campaign management. But they’re building a terrific search engine for audience intelligence that could help you quickly find influencers as well as websites, blogs, podcasts, and publications that influence your audience. They’re running a closed beta (we’ve been testing their service and like it).
Inzpire Me is a full-service influencer marketing platform with an affordable price tag and a compelling set of features.
On Inzpire Me, you can search for influencers that align with your brand, manage your collaborations, pay your influencer collaborators, track campaign performance, and analyze the results.
You can even download the content your influencers have created from your content library so that you can repurpose it for other social platforms, ads, and email campaigns. The folks at Inzpire Me are clearly thinking like marketers as well as data-crunching techies.
The platform’s data provides insights into each influencer’s standard social media metrics and audience data and reviews from past brand collaborators. This gives you a well-rounded view of your potential influencer collaborators before you work with them.
And, if your goals extend beyond brand awareness from your influencer marketing efforts, then Inzpire Me can help with that, too. Influencer Marketing Hub explains:
Creating a campaign is much easier here than on other marketplace platforms, thanks to the inclusion of several customisable templates depending on what your goal is: raising brand awareness, generating sales, driving app downloads, and product reviews are some examples.
These customizable templates will come in handy when you’re seeking sales, downloads, or other more tangible conversions from your campaigns.
And, offering an entry-level plan at just $69 per month and a free 14-day trial, Inzpire Me is decidedly SMB-friendly.
3. Post for Rent
Post for Rent brings an impressive set of features to the table for the lowest monthly price on our list. Their Standard plan starts at just $59 per month.
But, an affordable price point definitely isn’t the only thing Post for Rent has going for it.
The platform boasts over 90 thousand influencers from all of the major social media platforms. They’re an all-in-one service offering influencer search, communication tools, analytics, and an influencer payment tool.
Influencer Marketing Hub praises the platform for its clean user interface, saying:
If you’ve already got a brief written for a campaign you want to do, it would take roughly 10 minutes from the point of signup to publishing your campaign. Post for Rent accomplishes this by having an exceptionally clean interface for creating campaigns. The process is broken up into discrete steps, and the platform saves the brief as a draft every time you move on to the next page.
To get a more complete run-down of the user-friendly features offered with their Standard plan, check out this video tour.
And, if you’re still not sure if Post for Rent is a good fit for your business, you can take their platform for a spin for a free 7-day trial.
Enlisting the aid of an influencer marketing platform has the power to give your small business a major boost.
And though the price of entry can be steep, we’ve identified 3 influencer platforms priced to keep small businesses in the game.
BuzzSumo, Inzpire Me, and Post for Rent are all robust influencer platforms that will both fit your budget and allow your small business or start-up to embrace the power of social influencers.
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