By Laura Cole

In today’s business world, everyone is a potential customer. Which makes it even more important as a small business owner to know who your customer is, rather than deciding who you think your customer is — which can inadvertently leave potential customers out of your marketing strategy.

Knowing that everyone is a potential customer means that you need to think about how to authentically reach a diverse customer pool. One way to do this is through influencer marketing.

When brands first started embracing influencer marketing, it was all about celebrities. The thinking was that if you could find the right high-profile celebrity to endorse your product through a well-timed Instagram or Facebook post, customers would flock to your business. But as the Internet has leveled the playing field for everyday people to self-publish, and customers realize that celebrities are being paid big bucks to endorse products they may or may not actually use, the tide in influencer marketing is shifting towards micro-influencers.

Micro-influencers may not have celebrity-level followings (think 10,000 to 10 million social followers, or even less than 10,000 followers), but they do have something that big-name influencers don’t always have: trust and authenticity.

If marketing today is all about making authentic connections with potential customers, think of micro-influencers as friendly neighbors making a true recommendation. Studies have shown that customers put as much trust in the recommendation from a micro-influencer than a recommendation from friends and family. And that’s huge. The right mix of micro-influencers can help your business reach a diverse pool of customers in a way that feels real.

If you’re not sold yet on micro-influencers, consider that micro-influencers consistently show higher engagements and are four times more likely to get comments on posts than their celebrity counterparts, largely because followers consider them to be peers.

In short, micro-influencers can be a great way to get your small business in front of the right potential customers. If you’re looking to partner with micro-influencers, here are a few tips to get started.

Do Your Research

Think about the interests, locations and social media habits of your customers. There are many micro-influencers with blogs or social media accounts based around a certain topic (parenting, lifestyle, food/beverage, etc.) or region/city. Additionally, your customers may “live” on one social media platform more than another, so consider whether Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube or some combination of social media channels may be the best to target.

Look for Natural Synergies

Does the influencer talk about products/brands that are similar to yours? Does he/she have high-quality, regular content (including text, photos and video) that aligns with your brand?

Have a Budget in Mind

Most (if not all) influencers, including micro-influencers, will require some form of compensation for posting about your brand. This could be a monetary fee, or in some cases could be in exchange for complimentary products or services. As you reach out to potential micro-influencers to partner with, make sure to be prepared to ask about their compensation policies or negotiate the appropriate fee/product exchange.

Pay Attention to Disclosures

The FTC regularly updates their policies regarding how influencers are required to disclose sponsored posts. Make sure the influencers you choose to work with are up-to-date and adhering to disclosing brand partnerships and sponsored post

While micro-influencers may have smaller followings, engaging with them can lead to macro results for small businesses. A micro-influencer strategy is also a great way to integrate other important digital marketing trends, like content marketing and videos. Through the right micro-influencers, you can connect with a wide net of potential customers in an authentic, engaging way.