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Alla Elfimova May 9, 2024

Influencer Marketing Strategies for Startups

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Everything You Need to Know About Influencer Marketing

When it comes to marketing spend, startups often get creative. If you want to make a big splash with a small budget, you need to make the most of your resources. Fortunately, startups today are immersed in a vast environment of digital opportunities to advertise and reach audiences with a very flexible spend requirement.

One of the most useful strategies a startup can explore is influencer marketing - the practice of partnering with an online personality who already has an audience and is willing to share the love for a slice of the profits. Influencers can be anything from affiliates to business partners depending on their following and the unique campaign you devise together.

If you're ready to explore influencer marketing for your startup business, here is everything you need to know.

What is an Influencer?

An influencer is someone with an online audience. They can be an e-celeb or a micro-influencer. They can run a cooking show, share makeup tips, or repair bicycles. It doesn't matter, as long as they have a steady and growing audience that might be interested in your project.

Influencers tend to rise up through social media, video, and streaming platforms where they broadcast their content to people who vibe with their personalities, message, and enjoy what they share. Through the influencer-audience relationship, a trust is built so that if an influencer genuinely promotes a product or brand, their audience is likely to check it out.

The key to influencer merketing for any brand is to find influencers with a perfect overlap of interests with your brand and products.

Types of Influencer

When looking for influencers to partner with, it can help to understand just how many different types of influencers there really are. Influencers tend to fall into one of several categories depending on their content focus, audience size, personal style, and how they share their media.

Further Reading:

Lifestyle Influencers

Lifestyle influencers share clips of their day, emphasizing certain aspects of their lifestyle that their audience enjoys. Some are health and fitness lifestyle streamer. Some are fashion and shopping influencers. Some are even parenting influencers. For every lifestyle, there is an influencer niche.

Lifestyle influencers can be brand ambassadors if they vibe with your company values and find your products to promote their favored lifestyle.

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Hobby/Activity Influencers

Many influencers feature a primary hobby or activity in their content. Cooking, makeup, home improvement, demolitions, drone flight - you name it, there's probably an influencer with a following.

Hobby influencers are great product partners because they often explore different products and review them for their audiences.

Review Influencers

Review influencers are extremely valuable, but they must also be dealt with carefully. They will give an honest and extremely thorough review of your product because that is what their audience likes to see. Review influencers tend to be trusted and often also fit into the lifestyle or hobby/activity category.

Profession/Industry Influencers

A smaller portion of influencers specialize in an industry or profession. They tend to have a more serious audience looking to learn a skill or who enjoy the content of a fellow professional. These are high-value but often lower-exposure influencers - with a few rare yet prominent exceptions.

E-Celebrities

E-celebs are influencers that have become virally popular. They might be looking for celebrity status or perhaps their content simply blew up and now has a massive online audience.

E-celebs may be harder to partner with because they are in high-demand, but their audiences provide great exposure.

Travel Influencers

Travel influencers are the new travel journalist. They broadcast their travels, often featuring their hotel, the sites they visit, and review local attractions as they go along.

Travel influencers are a special niche that may be valuable to the right brand partnership.

Game Streamers

Streamers play video games online, often for a live virtual audience. Streamers feature products far less often than other types of influencers, but also tend to be highly responsive to their live audiences and engage directly with the chat.

Live streamers will accept donations and often announce and thank their donor/sponsors.

Game Streamers

Streamers play video games online, often for a live virtual audience. Streamers feature products far less often than other types of influencers, but also tend to be highly responsive to their live audiences and engage directly with the chat.

Live streamers will accept donations and often announce and thank their donor/sponsors.

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B2B Influencers

Most influencers provide a connection for a B2C (business to consumer) marketing. However, B2B brands can also make use of influencer marketing by finding the right B2B influencers.

This concept is easier to grasp than you might realize. There are many guiding voices in any inudstry: People whose personal blogs, professional content, industry podcasts, and other output can influence businesses in their industry.

B2B influencers are community voices who have mastered multi-channel marketing and personal branding so that their own considerable expertise is highly influential. Partnering with the right B2B influencer can give your startup a powerful boost both in visibility and in B2B client connections because your target audience listens to the influencers you chose.

Tip: A Connection of Mutual Respect

Unlike B2C influencing, which can be lighthearted and casual, B2B influencers are staking their hard-earned reputation on those brands they represent.

Your B2B influencers will need "the pitch" before you get started. In a way, they are more like investors than typical influencers because they need to understand, believe in, and then vouch for your product before they represent it.

Types of Influencer Marketing

What are the types of influencer marketing that a startup can try? The most important thing to consider about influencer marketing is that every audience has different tastes. Some audiences enjoy when an influencer holds up a product and openly advertises. Some only respond to casual, well-integrated inclusion of your products in an influencer's normal flow of content.

You will need to work with your influencer to determine the best way to reach their audience. That said, there are several common influencer marketing strategies that you can choose from when you find an influencer to partner with.

Affiliate Marketing

An affiliate is someone who shares your product link and gets compensation when customers click through their link to buy your product. Influencers can become affiliate marketers if you give them an affiliate link and their audience makes purchases. This is the most free-form type of influencer marketing, because the influencer decides how to use the link and how to promote the link to their audience.

Product Sponsors

Influencers can opt to become product sponsors, in which they become the personal advocate for one or more of your products that they personally love. A common way to get this started is to send an influencer a product that fits with their content style (Ex: Sending cooking pans or a kitchen appliance to a cooking show influencer) and getting an enthusiastic response.

Influencers who genuinely love your products become great sponsors because their audience trusts their enthusiasm and wants to experience the same joy.

Show Sponsoring

Alternatively, you can become an official "show sponsor" of your influencer's content. This is a different approach in which your influencer may show your brand name and thank you for sponsoring their show during specific episodes.

Brand Ambassadors

A brand ambassador is an influencer who agrees to become an advocate for your brand. This is often a more involved role where the influencer becomes an external employee or contractor with the company and provides dedicated representation for your brand.

Sponsored Reviews

A sponsored review is when you send an influencer your product and they spend an entire episode unpackaging, testing, and reviewing it for their audience. This can create powerful and long-term-useful lead funnel content, providing an in-depth look from an otherwise neutral third party whose expert opinion on your type of product is trusted by a wide audience.

Product sponsors, show sponsors, brand ambassadorship, and in-depth reviews are also tactics commonly used for B2B influencer marketing.

Product Giveaways

Some influencers have an audience that loves giveaways, and product giveaways of your brand items are greeted with equal enthusiasm. Giveaways, raffles, and prize-winning contests are always a hit, and influencer marketing provides a ready audience for such an event.

Podcast Features

Podcasts provide a unique type of influencer marketing in which the podcast host provides a tailored advertisement for your product into their spoken-word content. For the right audience, a podcast feature or sponsoring a podcast can be very effective. But make sure you do it right or risk annoying a finicky audio audience.

Podcasts are also more common for B2B audiences, as many business decision-makers listen to professional podcasts to stay up on industry news even when they don't have time for social media scrolling.

Define Your Influencer Marketing Budget

The first step in startup influencer marketing is defining your budget. You can find micro-influencers who will sponsor your projects for pocket change (metaphorically) and e-celebs who cost as much as a television spot for a few seconds of air time. Like any advertisement style, you'll need to know your spend before you begin approaching influencers to propose a partnership.

Consider that many influencers will ask for a free sample (or a discount) to review or feature your product. Alternatively, you can offer affiliate bonuses for every audience member who becomes a customer. There are many ways to budget the compensation of your influencers, and they don't all pull directly from your marketing budget.

How to Identify Influencers for Your Startup

The next step is to find a list of influencers who are a good fit for your brand. After all, not all influencer content overlaps with your products, and not all influencer audiences would have any interest in what you have to offer. The key is to find the perfect venn-diagram overlap of interest and content value.

The key to influencer merketing for any brand is to find influencers with a perfect overlap of interests with your brand and products.

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Influencers Who Use Products Like Yours in Their Content

Start by looking for influencers with video content that includes products like yours. Cooking show influencers try out a lot of recipes, gadgets, and cookware. If they love your products, they can casually mention the quality and results in a natural way that even picky audiences will respond to.

Sell camping products to travel and outdoor influencers. Sell cosmetics to makeup and beauty influencers. This is a natural and easy way to search for influencers that can feature your products in a natural way and still share their genuine support of your brand with their audience.

Influencers Who Review Products Like Yours

Review influencers are a great resource, especially if you're trying to raise awareness for a new product design or stand out in an industry where people see all products as the same. Look for influencers who often release reviews in a category where your products fit. They will have an in-depth understanding of how to show off the quality and features of your product, and are often on the hunt for new products to review.

Influencers In Your Industry or Niche

Look for influencers who share your industry or special interest niche. Sell organic food or clothing? Look for natural lifestyle influencers. Sell GPS navigation that clips on bicycles? Look for bike trail travel influencers. Sell computer parts? Look for influencers who hand-build custom computers and gadgets. The partnership is a natural one.

Influencers Whose Audiences Align With Your Target Audience

Lastly, look for any influencer whose audience profile matches your target audience. This can widen your scope, especially if your product, software, or service is a little harder to match to the existing influencer categories. For example, a startup selling business software might sponsor a professional podcast instead of partnering with a lifestyle influencer because your audiences overlap and the influencer might have genuine appreciation for your features, even if their content doesn't directly address your brand focus.

Collaborating for the Right Influencer Marketing Strategy

Once you have put together a list of possible influencers, reach out and see who is interested. There are millions of influencers, and many will gladly respond to a brand offering to compensate them for featured content. Especially if you are flexible about how your product or brand is featured to suit their audience and content style

When influencer marketing is adapted to the audience, it's win-win for both the influencer and the brand. The influencer maintains the trust and enjoyment of their audience, and the brand is more accepted by the audience as a result.

This means you will need to collaborate with each individual influencer to find the best way to cost-effectively get your products sponsored in a way that their audience will respond to. Larger brands often fall back on simple affiliate marketing - and you can too - but a custom-tailored strategy will typically lend the best results - whether it's product integration, a featured review, or a glitzy giveaway.

Build Your Influencer Marketing Network

With your first influencer or three starting to produce sponsored content, you will gain the experience and perspective to grow your network. Continue reaching out to influencers with an idea of how your product can blend with their content and appeal to your audience. The wider net of influencer marketing you create, the greater visibility your brand will achieve with access to multiple related niche audiences.

In this way, influencer marketing is a great way to diversify your marketing strategy, get to know niches within your audience, and rapidly grow the visibility of your startup without the traditional slog through SEO and high-priced publishers.

Conclusion

If you are a startup considering the potential of influencer marketing, Transcend Digital can help you prepare for the vast world of influencers and their audiences. Our marketing experts can help you find the right influencers and develop valuable partnerships. Contact us today to explore the possibilities of influencer marketing strategy for your startup business.


Topics: digital transformation, data & technology

Alla Elfimova

By Alla Elfimova

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