By Laura Fitch

If you’re on social media, chances are you’ve come across a number of influencers. Social media influencers are people who have amassed large followings on their social media channels and in turn are sought after for endorsements by companies and brands who are looking to access the attention of their followers.

One of the reasons brands love social media influencers is because their followers are often very highly engaged – meaning that they are interested in the content the influencer produces and have a level of trust in the influencer. This translates into an opportunity for a more authentic introduction to a target market base and an instant rapport with them because of the trusted influencer’s endorsement.

Because of this, working with influencers can get expensive, fast. Many work with agencies who dictate prices for endorsements, and these prices can start in the low thousands for a single post.

So how is a small business with limited funds supposed to access the power of social influencers? It’s as simple as reframing what an influencer is, and how you want to work with them.

Don’t be swayed by large numbers

When it comes to working with social influencers, it’s easy to be swayed by huge followings. But while this could be a benefit, it’s likely not necessary for the purposes of promoting a small business.

Look to people active on social media in your community first. Try to find people that curate their social media feed with content that aligns with your brand. For example, if you make luxury body lotions, look for someone who advocates for health and self-care. If you sell artisanal roast coffee, search for a local foodie.

Look for someone who posts regularly, and has a following that is actively engaged in commenting on posts and to whom the influencer responds. Having a highly engaged community of 500 followers in a specific location can generate fantastic buzz for a local business.

Find Creative Ways to Work Together

Remember, social media influencers are businesspeople, too. If you don’t have the cash to buy posts or endorsements, offer free product, services or trades instead. Giving an influencer a month of roast coffee beans delivered every week, a gift set of handmade soaps or some low-cost branded swag like stickers or magnets are great ways to get them talking about your product without spending out your budget.

Think of different ways you can collaborate with the influencer, after all they are after great content as well. Giveaways are a solid way to get people engaged and excited about your products. Or invite an influencer to a class or tutorial on your product to learn more about what you make and how it’s made. This makes for great content to post about after.

Scale Up with Affordable Platforms

If your business is expanding and you have the funds to put into marketing initiatives, consider reaching out to influencers on affordable marketing platforms. Online platforms like Klear, Scrunch, FameBit and Shoutcart connect businesses with influencers and provide information on which influencers would be best to work with for what businesses, as well as asking prices and what the influencers can offer brands.