In the past 2 years, there has been a major shift away from traditional advertising methods and towards social media marketing. More specifically, brands have begun turning to influencers to act as their mouthpieces instead of relaying their marketing messages themselves. Though the cost-benefit is much better with this new and improved direction, smaller or start-up brands are usually tight with their money and often think they can’t take part. Unlike the big guys whose bankroll allows them to try anything and everything to market their businesses, most small brands need to stay thrifty.

A popular misconception about influencer marketing is that it’s too expensive for the little guys. They also worry that they won’t be able to properly measure their ROI and thus render it unmanageable. The reality though is that these aren’t truths, they’re excuses. Anyone who hasn’t participated in this growing trend have greatly underestimated the flexibility and capabilities of influencer marketing. If you’re interested in jumping on the train but don’t think your bank account will agree, keep reading to learn how to be a killer influencer marketer on a budget.

Work with micro-influencers

Many brands focus solely on follower counts when scouting for potential influencers to work with. While the size of the audience is certainly important, it’s nowhere near as important as the influencer’s engagement rate. This is where the hugely underestimated micro-influencer comes in.

Micro-influencers are social media users who often specialize in a particular niche and use their feeds to share these interests. Unlike traditional influencers, micro-influencers have a humbler number of followers ranging from about 1-100k. The thing with these baby influencers, though, is that their followings are ultra engaged compared to their more popular counterparts.

Benefits of working with micro-influencers include:

  • Low cost
  • Authentic
  • Popular (but not too popular)
  • Create their own content
  • Trusted among their followers

Just about anyone can be a micro-influencer. They can include super fans of your brand, satisfied customers, employees, and influential bloggers. To learn more about the power of micro-influencers, check out our article here.

Lure influencers to your brand

PSA: This is meant in a totally non-creepy, non-illegal way. The best way to attract the right type of influencers to want to work with you is to offer them value in a collaboration. Identifying and attracting the attention of influencers using existing tools and resources will not only save you a lot of time cold-DM’ing but will save you a lot of coin too.

A good way to lure influencers into advocating for your brand is to @mention them. This can be in posts related to them or content of theirs that you’re sharing. Most brands that don’t have the budget to pay influencers will just go out on a limb and ask them for a mention. This typically won’t work since they have no incentive and no prior relationship to the brand. A better way to go about this is to get on their radar by sharing their content and mentioning them often. If your brand’s values and personality aligns with theirs, this should have them warming up to you in no time.

Co-create and co-promote content

One of the best ways to participate in influencer marketing is to get micro-influencers to co-create and co-promote content with you. To do this, you’ll have to motivate them by offering purpose and value for their work.

One motivator is to offer to share their content. Most people, influencer or not, like being recognized and enjoy being seen. Word of caution: make sure the people you collaborate with intrinsically align with your brand. There’s nothing worse than seeing a collaboration between two parties that share nothing in common. It’s painfully inauthentic and disingenuous. Doing this can hurt both the brand and the influencer.

By promoting and thus supporting others, they’ll be much more likely to support you. Benefits of co-creating and co-promoting is that you each gain the reach and audience of the other. This is not only beneficial to growing your audience but to establishing a solid, engaged online community.

Run campaigns that’ll activate brand advocates

Influencer marketing is expensive when you’re partnering with the celeb-status players. Unless you’re Amazon or Coca-Cola, this shouldn’t be your strategy. Instead of just paying people with a large following to post about your brand, you can design advocacy campaigns that allow you to reach wider audiences.

Easy-to-do campaign ideas include:

  • Offering an affiliate program where influencers make a small commission on all sales originated from their affiliate link
  • Requesting “fan art” or user-generated content with the incentive that the best/most creative will be shared via your social media channels (think Revolve or Zara Style). By them sharing it to their feeds, you’ll be gaining brand awareness and new potential followers.


Influencer marketing is such a versatile strategy that it really can be molded into working for just about anyone. No matter what your size, budget, industry, or goals, this new and improved marketing strategy can work for anyone. With the right tools and a creative mind, you can be a killer influencer marketer without breaking the bank.