Influencer marketing for small business: gaining a competitive edge

Here we run through how to leverage influencers for small business growth
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It can be tricky to get to grips with influencer marketing for small businesses, but no company can afford to ignore it.

Influencer marketing is one of the fastest growing forms of advertising and when you look at the statistics, you can see why. 

50% of Millennials say that they trust product recommendations from their favourite influencers and 33% of Gen Zs admit that they’ve bought items promoted by influencers in the past three months. In 2023, any small business that’s serious about digital marketing needs to allocate some of their budget to influencers.

If you feel out of your depth, don’t worry. We’re going to run through the key factors you need to consider, including how to choose the right influencers for your small business.

Understanding influencer marketing for small business

Influencer marketing is the process of collaborating with people who’ve made a name for themselves on social media, i.e. they have a loyal and engaged audience. They can be well-known celebrities, but equally, ordinary people have managed to find fame on the likes of Instagram, TikTok and Facebook. 

The influencer promotes your brand to their audience in a way that excites and engages them, giving you a unique pipeline to your target customers. You pay the influencer per post and rates can vary from a few hundred pounds to tens of thousands for a big name.

Don’t fret if you haven’t got the budget for a social media superstar, because there’s a trend towards working with smaller influencers with 1,000 to 10,000 followers. This is because their audiences are often very engaged, meaning they actively participate with posts, by liking, commenting, sharing, and often, making purchases.

You can expect to pay anywhere between £400 to £1650 per post when working with a nano/micro-influencer, but sometimes, they’ll work for free in exchange for products. 

But, before you rush off to find your influencers, you need to sit down and work out your goals. What are you hoping to achieve from your influencer campaign? Some of the metrics you might consider are:

  • Increasing your social media following
  • Driving sales
  • Generating leads
  • Getting newsletter sign-ups
  • Boosting engagement on social media


And then, when you’ve outlined your goals, think about how much you want to spend. Last year, 39% of marketers spent 10–20% of their budget on influencers. 

Influencers are not just for big businesses

Influencer marketing isn’t just for big brands with mega budgets. Studies show that some of the smaller (and therefore cheaper) influencers have much higher engagement rates than big hitters like Kendall Jenner, who has more than 131 million followers.

Because they have smaller niche-specific audiences, the lesser-known influencers can more easily engage with followers, which makes those followers more receptive to branded content. 

These influencers are also more likely to create original content for the brands they work with, meaning you’ll be paying for something that stands out from the multitude of homogeneous branded posts that dominate social media. 

Studies show that businesses can earn five times more from influencer marketing than they spend, providing a good return on investment (ROI) when compared to traditional advertising.

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Finding the right influencers for your business

Finding the perfect influencer can be tricky, especially if you’re looking for micro-influencers. However, there are platforms that can help, and most influencers work in a particular niche and favour certain social media platforms, each of which appeals to a unique demographic.

Instagram is the most used social media platform for influencer marketing, with lifestyle and beauty being the most popular topics for branded content. TikTok is also becoming increasingly popular, particularly with people aged 16–24.

If you’re planning to search for influencers manually, you could try the following:

  • Find influencers who already follow your brand and are actively engaged
  • Search hashtags related to your business to find influencers in your niche who are already working with brands similar to yours
  • Research your competition to see who they’re collaborating with


Find out more about social media analytics.

Influencer checklist 

Once you have a list of potential influencers, use the following checklist to make sure they’re the right fit:

  • Audience demographics – do they appeal to the same slice of the population that you’re targeting in terms of age, sex, location, and interests, etc?
  • Engagement – do their posts get a high number of likes, shares, comments, etc?
  • Content – does their content align with your brand values?

Utilising influencer marketing platforms for small businesses

Rather than doing the research yourself, you can save hours of time and let an influencer marketing platform like Vamp do the hard work for you. Vamp allows you to source, brief, and activate creator collaborations globally. You can also approve all content through the platform.

Vamp is an official partner of Meta, TikTok, and YouTube, so we’re able to provide real-time data. All of our creators have been vetted, so you instantly know you’re working with bona fide influencers. We also offer a host of other tools to provide greater transparency around fees, allow for precise planning with campaign budgets, and speed up admin processes. With everything in one place, your influencer marketing will be streamlined and headache-free.

If you want to see how the platform works, you can trial it with the Self Service experience before committing to one of the monthly plans. Find out more on the Vamp for Business page. 

Working with influencers – best practices

Working with influencers is a unique experience. They’re not organisations, but individuals who already have their own way of doing things. Before you start working together, you should always do the following:

  • Communicate clearly
  • Give them a timeline and set out expectations
  • Outline your goals
  • Make sure they have access to your brand’s style guidelines


Then, once the campaign has kicked-off, you should:


If you’re happy with the results, make sure you forge a good relationship, so that you can collaborate on further campaigns.

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Maintaining legal compliance

There are legal requirements that must be followed when working with influencers. The main one is that it should be made clear when posts are sponsored. Authenticity has become increasingly important among younger social media users, so they won’t react well if it’s found that your marketing is unethical or has broken legal mandates. 

The 5 most important factors small businesses should keep in mind when working with influencers 

Here are the five most important things to remember when collaborating with influencers. 

  1. Relevance – make sure that the influencer you use is aligned with your brand values and target audience. It’s important that any influencer you collaborate with is genuinely interested in your brand. It doesn’t take social media followers long to call out a fake!
  2. Niche reach – work with smaller influencers with niche audiences rather than just bigger names with large followings. Smaller or micro-influencers generally have highly engaged audiences with shared interests. They’re also more cost-effective than social media stars. You can always collaborate with more than one micro-influencer if you have the budget.
  3. Set clear expectations and goals – before you get going, it’s important that the influencer knows exactly what’s expected of them and what your goals are. Outline all the deliverables, including timeline, content guidelines, payment, etc.
  4. Compliance and transparency – influencers must disclose any partnerships with businesses. It’s your responsibility as a small business owner to make sure they do this. Only work with influencers who fully understand compliance, and ensure they use the appropriate disclosure language, such as #ad or #sponsored in their posts.
  5. Build relationships – you can get great one-off results when working with influencers, but the impact will be far greater if you foster a relationship and enter into a long-term partnership. 

For more information, take a look at our guide to influencer marketing strategy.

Frequently asked questions 

What are the different types of influencer?

Influencers come in all sizes. According to, nano-influencers have fewer than 10,000 followers and cost from £400 per post. Micro-influencers have 10,000 to 100,000 followers and cost from £1,650 per post. Macro-influencers have up to 1 million followers and charge from £6,500 per post, and a mega-influencer with millions of followers will set you back £37,000+.

Can I engage with influencers on a tight budget?

Absolutely! Influencer marketing is ideal for small businesses with a tight budget as some people will even work for free in exchange for products, (although these influencers do tend to have smaller audiences). Plus, influencers with small followings often have a highly engaged audience.

What should I be cautious of when working with influencers?

Do your research to make sure they’re truly aligned with your brand values and are speaking to your target audience. Don’t use bots for outreach and make sure you personalise your messages when you reach out to influencers. Always be clear in your communications with an influencer.

What is the expected return on investment when working with influencers?

Studies show that, on average, for every £1 you spend, you’ll earn almost £5. That’s a pretty good ROI compared to normal advertising.

Get started with influencer marketing

Are you ready to begin your influencer marketing campaign? Get started with Vamp where you’ll have everything you need at your fingertips to find influencers and run successful campaigns within budget.

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