Posts Taged small-business

Influencer Marketing for Small Businesses

influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is a priority for brands in 2017. In 2016, influencers emerged as a powerhouse for brands looking to reach millennials in the personalized, authentic way that they desire. Celebrity endorsements have always been a tool for marketers with the right budget, but influencer marketing takes this concept to the next level. It combines star power with the more casual endorsement you get from word of mouth – social media influencers are typically much more connected to and familiar with their fans than A-list celebrities are. While some social media stars command big pay checks from the huge brands they work with, there are thousands of micro-influencers that are more easily accessible to small businesses with limited budgets.

Influencers with millions of followers aren’t right for every brand. Micro-influencers in specific industries are not only more affordable for smaller businesses, they’re more likely to reach the people who will become actual customers. Micro-influencers are often cheaper for businesses to work with, and may even do partnerships for free products or services. In exchange, they can offer direct, personal connections with consumers businesses may struggle to reach efficiently otherwise. Their reviews of products are much more authentic than major influencers with millions of followers that they definitely can’t connect with individually.

How to Find Micro-Influencers

You can find influencers who would be a great fit for your business in a variety of ways, ranging from free options to purchasing tools built for this purpose.

  • Start with your own followers: Take a look through your own fans on social media. For followers who have a few thousand followers of their own, and are already fans of your business, a partnership with your brand could be a natural choice for them.
  • Connect with local bloggers: Google is your friend here – search for popular local bloggers in your area. If their content is a fit, check out how they prefer to connect.
  • Hashtags: On Instagram and Twitter, browse popular hashtags related to your brand’s products. Chances are, some of the top tweets come from influencers in these topics.
  • Buy a tool to help: Buy a subscription to a service like Klear to get a more in-depth look at who holds influence in your industry.

 

What to Expect

When working with influencers, it’s important to pursue an authentic, mutually beneficial relationship. Treat influencers with respect, and they’ll be more open to working with you. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Research how the influencer prefers to be contacted, and respect what types of partnerships they’re willing to do.
  • Do your due diligence and research the influencer’s history and past brand sponsorships. This can help avoid a crisis for your brand later.
  • Plan to build a relationship over time. Influencers may not be open to a partnership right away, even if you’re willing to pay. They need to get to know your business first, and understand if it works with their brand.
  • Make sure all posts from your influencer clearly state their relationship to your brand – transparency pays off with your audience and avoids legal issues.
  • Ideally, plan for a long-term relationship and not a one-off sponsorship.

Choosing the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business

Social media platforms have solidified their place in any business’ public relations and marketing strategy. You know you have to include social media as part of your brand’s image no matter what business sector you fall in, but it can be overwhelming when you look at all the options available. How are you supposed to find the time to manage five orsocial media more different accounts on social media? Add in the fact that copying and pasting the same posts across all your platforms is not a best practice, and panic about how to not only do something with all these accounts but do it well sets in. Where do you begin?

Particularly with smaller business, the answer is to start by recognizing that you don’t have utilize everything that’s out there. Large corporations may have more time, man power, and funds to take advantage of everything on the social media buffet, but this isn’t always the best choice. Not every platform plays into a specific business’ needs and strengths. Choosing what will work for your business should be based on where your audience is and what benefits each platform is capable of. Here’s a brief guide to knowing if four of the most popular social networks are right for your business:

 

  • Facebook – If you use only one social media platform, this should be it. Facebook boasts over 1 billion users, meaning the majority of your audience probably has one. Many consumers see an active Facebook account as a sign that a company is legitimate and trustworthy. With over 900 million daily users, the majority of people on Facebook are checking in daily, which provides a ton of opportunities to get your brand in front of them.
  • Twitter – If you have the ability to dedicate a staff member to monitoring social media, Twitter may be a good choice for a customer service outlet. Users on Twitter tend to expect very quick responses, and conversations change fast. This is also a good medium to participate in professional discussions by following hashtags related to your business and engaging in scheduled Twitter chats on regular topics.
  • Pinterest – Does your brand fall in the lifestyle, food, fashion, or craft categories? You should be on Pinterest. The platform relies heavily on visuals, so anything you post featuring your business or products needs to be well-shot, edited, and eye catching. The key to gaining followers on Pinterest is to post and share photos and links from other related organizations in addition to your own, to build boards that users want to keep up with. Pinterest can also work well as a private “file cabinet” to store resources, photos and more in an easy to access location.
  • LinkedIn – The network for professionals, LinkedIn can work well to legitimize your business in the eyes of the public. A business page is relatively easy to set up, and users don’t expect frequent updates on LinkedIn. LinkedIn requires less maintenance, and comes in handy during hiring periods, and functions as a way to connect your employees and grow your own professional contact list.

 

The most important thing for any business on social media to remember is that these platforms require time and dedication. They need to be monitored and maintained. Don’t overload yourself by giving in to the urge to try everything; choose what makes sense, give it the TLC it needs, and you will see a great return on investment in time.

Why Small Business Needs PR

Small business

For many small business owners, hiring a public relations agency might be the last thing on their minds. Maybe it’s the tight budget that puts PR and marketing efforts on the back burner – but what many of these small business owners don’t realize is how PR can be one of the most effective ways of communicating their value in the marketplace.

Traditionally, one may think PR is only focused on creating social media accounts, publicity events and press releases. Although PR does encompass those methods, it requires patience, strategy and consistency. Often public relations professionals hear, “We don’t need PR, we have a stable clientele.” Even if this is true, your business should be generating a consistent buzz in your industry that current or prospective clients want to hear about.

The power of PR

So there’s still the issue of cost, which for many small businesses the budget for marketing efforts is miniscule or nonexistent. That’s okay because PR helps you “get the most bang for your buck.” Unlike advertising, where you pay for ads on channels or outlets that your target audience may never see or notice, PR efforts like a press release distributed to the proper channels can receive cost-free exposure that is relevant to your client and customers. Editorial coverage is the best way for a company or person to be featured at no cost and creates awareness for your business.

Bill Gates

Ever thought about crisis management? An unprepared, misinformed, or ill-at-ease company spokesperson or employee can have the potential of doing damage to your business with their remarks to the media. Having a crisis management plan written by a PR professional can prepare your company or business for less than favorable situations that arise by creating clear and effective strategies for appropriate messaging to the public.

Credibility and control

One of the great things about PR is that is provides value and adds credibility through third-party validation. New clients are less likely to believe an advertisement that is designed to show off how great your business is, while an article presented by a trusted news source highlights the current happenings and or/quotes you as an expert source on a topic pertaining to your industry. You cannot put a dollar amount on the value of being featured in a local or national paper.

Unlike traditional advertising, PR allows you to tell compelling stories about your business through a third-party endorsement, enhancing credibility. For example, if your business serves the elderly, you can target media outlets that are tailored towards that specific population. You know you will be reaching your target audience effectively if research is done on the reporter, outlet and its demographic.

The bottom line is that PR efforts can greatly aid in helping your small business – whether it is generating that constant buzz in the industry or preparing you for a crisis. It’s worth the investment and creates measurable results in the long run.

Small Businesses Benefit from Small Size, Authenticity

benefits enjoyed by small businesses

Living in Oregon, we are fortunate to be able to identify the provenance of many of the products we use and the produce and meats we consume. More so than anywhere else I’ve lived, there’s the ability to shop locally, with any number of locally owned and run businesses and services complementing the offerings of the larger nationwide chains. By and large, these are small businesses. In fact, small businesses make up more than 97% of all employers in the state and account for more than half of the private sector of the labor force, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

That’s why I found a recent article in DailyFinance particularly interesting. The article interviews Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact, who lays out the benefits enjoyed by small businesses and why they often have a marketing edge over their larger counterparts, even with much smaller marketing budgets.

Among the benefits enjoyed by small businesses: the ability to develop a unique personality for their business and build meaningful relationships with customers, relationships that can be leveraged for inexpensive market research. Read more….