5 Ways for Small Businesses & Influencers to Work Together

Social media influencers can be solid GOLD for a growing business.

Think about it this way…

If you read what a company says about their product, will it make you buy it? Maybe… but you likely aren’t sure because of course they only say good things about their product. But what if a friend recommends that product to you? You’re probably way more likely to buy. This is what review sites like Yelp have been capitalizing on for years, and what social influence is all about.

For a business, nothing beats having the right approach and relationships with social media’s most popular (or even up-and-coming) social stars. For social influencers, nothing beats the reputation boost (and paycheck) from working with a well respected brand.

Here are 5 great ways you can get started working with influencers (or companies):

1. Give/ask for freebies.

The easiest and most common way businesses work with influencers is giving them free products or services in exchange for promotion. HOWEVER when giving and accepting freebies you aren't guaranteeing a glowing review, or even a social post at all . Businesses, this means product should be given away carefully to influencers who are bound to really like your product and fit well into your target audience. Also, make sure to see if they've promoted items in the past and seem likely to respond well, and then reach out to them with a message before sending anything. Influencers, this means you should not sign a contract to provide a glowing review ONLY in return for free product. All reviews should be honest and honest brands will want you to try the product before recommending. The idea with the freebie method is for a lesser-known brand to get the chance to be tested out by someone who they think is their target audience, without having to buy 800 billboards to make them aware the business exists, and get them to buy the product. It’s like targeting user-testing (like those monthly boxes with sample sizes of makeup).

2. Offer/ask for a contest or giveaway to host.

WAY BETTER than just giving an influencer a freebie is giving them a freebie PLUS a way to share it with their followers. Let them host a contest or giveaway where your product is the prize. The influencer’s audience will grow from no-nonsense giveaways, and the business’ audience will grow as well. Everybody ends up happy, especially the people that win the giveaway! This again only works if the audience of the influencer is a really good match with the audience of the business - so both need to do their research. Influencers should have media kits that explain who their audience represents, and businesses should have a very targeted audience in mind.

3. Use an affiliate program.

If the business has the bandwidth, it's a great idea to launch an affiliate program so influencers can make money by promoting your product. All you have to do is provide each individual person with a coupon code and schedule payouts for their commission! Affiliate programs are very valuable to many influencers because they can get recurring, regular income from them! Influencers- always ask if there is an affiliate program for products you love and recommend over and over again!

4. Become friends forever - or at least a year or two.

This can be expensive for the business, and time consuming for the influencer, but it's probably the most effective route to take for guaranteed growth on both sides. Just think of it this way - celebrity endorsements aren't just for the T-Swifts of the world. Influencers exist at every level of following, for every niche audience. A continued relationship means the business becomes an extension of the influencer’s brand, and that their followers will start to associate them with the business. Businesses - let them be your brand's celebrity endorsement and you'll both grow together! Host events that they can attend, let them be the first to try out any new product or service, or even create a group of traveling influencers like L’Oréal (only without the FTC violations... be sure they are legally disclosing the partnership in their social posts every time). Influencers - DISCLOSE PARTNERSHIPS. Even if the brand doesn’t give you directions or do so, make sure you are properly disclosing the sponsorship every time you recommend the brand or product. And no, #ad is not good enough.

5. Research

Businesses - If you're really not ready to take the leap with an influencer relationship yet you can still learn a lot from researching influencers' followers. If you have similar audiences you can look at what kinds of posts their followers like, and what followers are asking for in the comments. Engage with the followers directly and earn loyal customers through continuous social interaction.

Influencers - If you don’t feel like your audience is targeted enough to work with brands yet, start researching the brands you love and what their customers and followers have in common. See if you can use the same hashtags and content types to grow your community into what those brands would be looking for in a partner.

Remember, public social media profiles and businesses are MADE for each other. Don’t fight the trend and instead use your influence, and your product to help your social media community.