You’ve probably heard about influencer marketing but you have also probably heard that influencer’s fees are getting higher. With all the attention that influencers are reaping, the budget that brands need to prepare is increasing. The influencer marketing industry is expected to be worth 9.7 billion dollars. Which presents a massive increase from 1.7 billion dollars in 2016.
The reason why the market and the fees are growing is that larger brands with higher budgets are reaching out to influencers. Logically, influencers will agree with cooperation which brings them a bigger profit. But does that mean that small businesses and startups have no chance in the influencer marketing world? No, it doesn't.
It is true that competition is rising among the brands but it's also raising among influencers. The more influencers surface in influencer marketing, the more chances you have to find a budget-friendly solution.
If you want to give influencer marketing a try and you don’t have sufficient funds, find free influencers. Yes, this is a possibility but it demands more work than simply hiring an influencer. Here’s how you can find influencers who will promote your brand for free.
Good Product is the Key
In order to get someone to agree to promote your product for free, you have to have a good product to offer. No one will spend their time posting on their social media about a brand they don’t like.
Having a business with good and usable products is essential for establishing a free collaboration with influencers. Therefore, start thinking about your products and which ones are the best for attracting influencers’ attention.
It is relevant that your brand has a good reputation and a strong online presence. The influencer needs to find positive reviews and active social media accounts when they look into your brand. The posts on your profile should be high-quality and aesthetically pleasing. Take a look at how 100 Acres cosmetics brand posts look like. Aim for that sort of polished Instagram look. If your products look good, so will your brand.
Why is this so important?
Well, the first thing that influencer will do is to look into your brand. That means that they'll head to your website, your social media accounts, and Google you. If they can't find anything about you or they come across the poor quality website and non-active (or non-existing) social media accounts, they won't think of you as trustworthy.
Earning someone’s trust in the digital world demands that you work on your online presence. It speaks on your behalf and ads onto your credibility. Therefore, if your brand's online presence isn't the strongest, start by working on that. Present your business and your product in the best possible light and you'll have a better chance of starting free cooperation with an influencer.
Where to Search for Free Influencers?
You need to know where to look for potential influencer marketing collaborators. What’s relevant is that you find influencers with at least 1,000 followers. They are called micro-influencers. Micro-influencers have from 1,000 to 100,000 followers. Considering that your goal is to spread brand awareness and increase sales, you can accomplish that only with a user that has at least 1,000 followers.
However, do keep in mind that some accounts have fake followers. Make sure that you look into the influencer's individual followers as well as their engagement (the comments and likes they have on the posts). This will indicate whether their followers are real or not.
There are several choices that can start off your search:
1. Brand hashtags
Type in your brand’s hashtag. Whether you have a specific hashtag that you encourage buyers to use or simply your brand's name, try it all. Your previous customers can be the best choice for your influencers. They have already tried your products and if they posted about it, they must like it. It won't be difficult to convince them to cooperate if they are a satisfied customer. This will demand the least effort on your side.
2. Your list of followers
Maybe they are customers or maybe they are just intrigued by your brand, but your followers must like something about your business if they follow your social media activities. Go through your list of followers and look for a user that can be a good match for collaboration. Even if they aren’t a customer, any follower of your account is interested in your brand. Users who are devoted to your products are more likely to accept a free collaboration.
3. Niche hashtags
Browse for hashtags in your niche to find influencers who like the products you are interested in. If you are using some popular hashtags within your posts, start with those. You'll be able to find numerous posts and single out the users who have a sufficient number of followers. For example, if you sell fitness equipment, use hashtags that are relevant in the fitness world.
How to Negotiate with Influencers to Get Free Offers
The chances that someone will promote your brand for absolutely nothing in return are practically nonexistent. You may not need to spend your budget on the collaboration but you have to provide an influencer with some sort of reward. Here are some options that you can consider:
1. A Post for a Post
Any influencer who has a smaller number of followers aims to increase that number. Just as you are trying to increase sales or brand awareness. You might see where this is going – your brand and influencer can help each other get more attention. Propose the influencer that you will post about them if they return the favor and post about your brand. The influencer will get the attention of your followers and you will get the attention of theirs. Post about influencer as one of your happy customers, for example.
2. Free Products
Who would say no to a free product? You can agree with an influencer that you'll send them a free product in return for a post on their profile. This is a pretty good bargain, especially if the influencer already uses your products. That is why it is helpful if you browse for influencers in your follower's list or user-generated content. No one will reject collaborating with their favorite brand even if they don't get paid.
3. Review New Products
This can be an attractive proposition – offer the influencer novelty products that haven’t yet hit the shelves in return for a review of the existing product. Or, ask them if they would like to have an exclusive opportunity to be the first to try out and review your new product. If the influencer is a fan of your brand, they would love this. The best part is that you won't have to spend any money.
In case your products are on the pricier side or you aren’t ready to give any away, you can offer influencer a good discount. Let them know that they can get 50% off if they post about your product after the purchase. Make sure that the discount is worthy of their time and effort. Since you won’t pay them for your collaboration, you have to interest them with an attractive offer.
5. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is when an affiliate partner posts about your product along with the link for purchasing the product. For each purchase that comes through that link, the affiliate partner gets a small percentage. Make an influencer your affiliate partner. What's beneficial to this type of work arrangement is that you won't be able to lose any money. You'll only give away a small percentage of purchases but only after the link on the influencer's account brings you new sales.
Influencers Need to Step up for Content Creation
Finding an influencer who is willing to cooperate is one part of the process. The other part is getting the influencer to be involved in content creation.
Social media users are used to sponsored ads. Meaning, that they easily see through a paid post whose truthfulness is questionable. The most common cause of this is because brands are the ones who create the content and influencers just repost it. The influencer’s genuine impression of the product gets lost in that way.
What users want is authenticity. The only way to achieve authenticity is if influencers take part in content creation. If an influencer simply reposts an image from your profile, the effect won't be satisfactory. Even sponsored posts should stay true to the theme on their profile and the type of posts they usually publish.
An influencer is the only one who knows how to create a post that will show their true appreciation of your products. Some of the examples are:
- Posting a casual picture where they are using your product
- Sharing their order confirmation to announce how excited they are about their purchase of your product
- Unboxing video when the product arrives
- Creating Instagram Stories about your brand
Instagram Stories are very praised in the marketing world. Possibly the fact that 500 million users daily use Instagram Stories has some influence on that. The viewership of Instagram Stories mostly consists of Millennials and Gen Z. That is, 59% of Millennials and 70% of Gen Z users watch Instagram Stories. Therefore, if they are your target audience, Stories might be the perfect content for your brand.
Even though they last for 24 hours, Stories have a notable impact on influencers’ followers. They are usually more natural than published posts which is why they seem more genuine.
Propose your influencer to post an Instagram Story about your product. Since they are doing it for free, they are more likely to accept to create content for a Story. Emphasize that they should add a link to your website on the post.
Are Micro-Influencers Worth It?
As your goal is to achieve collaboration that won't affect your budget, your best bet are micro-influencers. What can surface as doubt is whether their outreach can have the desired effect?
When you think about collaborating with someone who might even have fewer followers than you, you can question the effectiveness of cooperation. On the other side, you are realistic about your possibilities and you know that no macro-influencer will collaborate with you for free.
So, the main question that arises is are micro-influencers worth the trouble?
Before we get to the explanation, let’s just give you a straightforward answer – yes, they are. Micro-influencers can be an amazing asset for your brand. Believe it or not, they can be even more effective than macro-influencers.
What lies behind this fact is their relationship with the followers. Famous influencers don't have the time to like, comment, and interact with their followers. Consequently, followers can't establish a close relationship with them.
On the other hand, micro-influencers dedicate their time and effort to have a friendly relationship with their followers. They won't ignore their comments, likes, questions, and appreciation. As they give attention to the followers, the followers will trust their word and their recommendation just as if a friend suggested it.
The engagement rate plays a huge role in influencer marketing and micro-influencers position on the engagement ladder is much better. Just take Samantha Helt as an example. She is a micro-influencer with 10.3k followers and the engagement rate of her Instagram is around 5.5%. Micro-influencers simply know what really counts – the relationship they build with the users.
How to Find Free Influencers with a Handy Tool
Finding and choosing an influencer that will work best for your brand isn’t an easy task. There are numerous aspects that you have to consider such as their engagement, interaction with the users, previous collaborations, and similar.
Not to mention the tiring process of reaching out to each one of the possible collaborators. The more influencers you reach out to, the higher are the chances that you’ll find someone who agrees with free cooperation.
This is where SocialBook steps onto the scene. This useful platform can help you search for micro-influencers and contact them with bulk email. On the influencer's page, you can have an insight into their engagement, costs, sponsored links, and other aspects that will help you determine if they are the right pick for your free collaboration.
SocialBook eliminates repetitive tasks and speeds up your research process. What more can you ask for?
Now that you know that free influencers aren’t a myth, you can start with the research and make such collaboration a reality. Make sure that influencers you find are beneficial for your brand. Opt for a tempting reward that influencers won’t be able to resist and you’ll be good to go.