One of the biggest challenges companies face in their infancy is how to effectively market and advertise their products and services. More often than not, start-ups simply don’t have the budget to execute traditional advertising initiatives.
Luckily, however, there are influencers you can consider turning to — big names maybe, yes, but also ordinary people hanging out online, whose “like” or outright endorsement of your brand can move it to the next level.
Working with influencers is a safe, straightforward and effective strategy for generating conversions. Here are some best practices and notes for doing just that.
1. Produce Consistent Quality Content
Before approaching the influencer market, new businesses should first focus on their own social media infrastructure. Social media is like a stock market where users are constantly trading content in exchange for other users’ attention. And there, as in any market, the laws of supply and demand rule. As a brand marketer, know what the demand is that you want to satisfy, and incorporate that knowledge into the content you produce. Make sure that content is consistent and in line with your product, brand and brand DNA. I consistently encourage new companies to utilize social media as a living, breathing portfolio/lookbook. The better your social profiles are, the better the conversion rates you’ll realize from your influencer efforts.
2. Forget The Big Names
It’s All About Engagement. Once your social media foundation has been laid, you should forget the big names and focus on those influencers with the highest engagement (measured by the number of likes or comments generated by an influencer’s content). Growing your audience in the early stages is not nearly as important as growing your engagement. It’s important to remember that an engaged audience will grow itself, but an unengaged audience will not grow much at all.
3. Be Consistent As You Work With Influencers
You are working with influencers to get your brand out there. But once it is out there, make sure that your messaging is “sticky” so that it, well, sticks. To accomplish that, make sure consumers recognize your brand messaging when they see it. And the best way to do that is simply to be consistent. It’s tempting as a startup or small business to change on the fly, but fight to remain consistent and resist changing how you communicate your brand.
4. Don’t Try To Reach Too Many “Unique” Followers
It’s tempting to focus on growing your unique reach (meaning viewers of your content who are counted just once). However, overlap is also good. Selecting influencers with overlapping audiences is a powerful way to increase the stickiness of your message. Think of a billboard campaign from the recent Avengers film. Because the ads blanketed the city of Los Angeles, it was hard not to notice the film.
5. Be Early To The Party
For small businesses, new social media platforms are a promising avenue to reach potential customers. The advantage of these platforms in marketing is their lack of competition for consumer attention. By utilizing influencers in an under-saturated but fast-growing platform, brands can often benefit by getting a larger market share of the platform early, and growing with the platform.
6. Be Data Driven, But Have Fun
Finally, be data-driven, but have fun. Implementing a social media campaign without analytics is like trying to find a house party in the boonies without Waze. Track the number of followers before and after an influencer posts on your behalf, but also make sure to give that influencer plenty of room for creativity. Creativity is the secret ingredient to good content, so make sure that you’re not inhibiting it.
The article originally appeared in Entrepreneur .