What is a social media influencer, and how can you find the right one to boost your business?

Editorial Team

4 min read
People standing against wall on smartphones

Social media influencers didn’t exist 20 years ago. Now, they get paid big bucks by companies large and small to film their lives and promote different products and services.

So, what is a social media influencer? How can working with one help grow your small business?

Social media influencers: defined

A social media influencer is someone who builds an online following using social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube before showcasing new products or trends on behalf of businesses.

There are obviously celebrity social media influencers with tens of millions of followers. Cristiano Ronaldo, Taylor Swift, and Ariana Grande all come to mind. Given the sheer number of platforms, interests, and audiences out there, you’ll find social media influencers across nearly all niches and industries.

The trick lies in finding the right brand ambassador for your business needs. Why should you partner with a social media influencer in the first place?

The benefits of working with a social media influencer

There are several reasons why businesses pay to work with social media influencers.

  • Expand your following: A product plug or shout out can help you reach a much larger audience. This benefit is especially pronounced if you find the right social media influencer for your ideal target market.
  • Establish more trust: It’s one thing to toot your own horn. When someone else is singing your praises, the impact is much greater. Here again, choosing the right influencer for the job can go a long way in building credibility.
  • Generate more sales: This point follows from the previous two. Using a trusted messenger to expand your reach will help you build relationships with and convert more customers.

How to find social media influencers

Working with a social media influencer can help create brand awareness and generate revenue, but how do you find the right candidate? Follow the formula below.

1. Define your target audience

The most important step involves determining whom you want to influence. Identifying and understanding your target market is essential for any successful social media campaign. If you don’t know the needs, wants, values, demographics, and locations of your ideal customers yet, our guide on how to write marketing plans has a section on creating customer personas.

2. Search for influencers

The next step is to see if influencers are already talking about your brand. Below are some free and paid tools that allow you to quickly search major social media platforms for conversations about your company:

  • Awario
  • Buzzstream
  • Buzzsumo
  • Followerwonk
  • Heepsy
  • Klear
  • NinjaOutreach
  • Tweetdeck
  • Upfluence

If your brand hasn’t been mentioned yet, expand your search to include your niche or industry. It’s also a good idea to search for indirectly-related interests that might resonate with your target audience. Someone who owns a plant nursery, for example, might connect with a mommy vlogger who occasionally creates videos about gardening.

3. Stay connected

Once you have a list of candidates, it’s time to start following, sharing, and contributing to the conversation. If you play your cards right, you might even be able to promote your brand without paying someone to promote it for you. Not every mention on social media is a paid advertising spot. Your unique offerings could go viral.

However, most businesses aren’t that fortunate. That’s why you may need to budget some resources for the next step.

4. Be prepared to pay

Some social media influencers promote products out of the kindness of their hearts. Most charge a fee for their services, with:

  • Nano influencers earning up to $100 per post for every 10,000 Instagram followers
  • Micro influencers charging $100 to $500 per post for up to 100,000 followers
  • Mega influencers making $10,000+ for advertising to their millions of followers

Plus, there are price adjustments if you’re buying shout outs versus giveaways versus product reviews – or even a brand ambassadorship. Videos, simple photos, or live streams all carry different prices.

Wisdom says that all things being equal, you should go with whichever influencer has the largest audience – but rarely are all things equal. Remember that a hyper-niche social media influencer with a small audience may yield better results than working with an alternative influencer with a much larger following. This is why understanding customer personas is so essential to the process.

There is almost certainly some Twitter account, YouTube channel, or Instagram stream that you personally follow. You’re more likely to research and potentially buy products that are featured across these channels. After all, you follow these people and trust their insights.

Working with a social media influencer can help you to create those same types of connections with your target audience.

Do you want to learn more about influencer marketing?

For additional resources on how to run a successful social media campaign for your growing business, be sure to check out the following:

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