Big brands love influencer marketing. But did you know influencer marketing works for small businesses too? Influencer marketing is one of the most cost effective ways brands both big and small (that’s where you come in) get closer to their audiences, particularly in the social media space.

And businesses are investing in influencer marketing for way less cash than they used to spend on paid spokespersons and celebrity endorsements.


Influencer marketing is different. Instead of employing big name endorsers, it relies largely on local individuals to promote products and services to very specific, niche audiences. We call these people influencers.

What makes someone a social media influencer?

What does it take to become a social media influencer? A strong social media presence.

But what exactly goes into “a strong social media presence”? A few things:

  • Followers – The number of people opted in, who actively follow their posts and activity
  • Engagement – The volume of likes, clicks, shares, comments and other interactions
  • Reach – The size of their potential network is in addition to committed followers

Find someone with noteworthy social metrics in all of these areas, who also gels with your brand’s identity and values, and you may have found yourself an influencer.

Influencer Marketing Not Just for Big Business

While it can be more cost effective than many advertising endeavors, influencer marketing isn’t free.

Though engagement and reach are important metrics, most influencers charge businesses based on their number of followers. And when we talk about the cost of influencer marketing, it’s typically quantified by post.

Since influencer marketing is still evolving, the cost of doing so still varies pretty broadly as well.

The original rule of thumb was “a penny a person,” or around $.01 per follower. That equates to around $100 per post for influencers with 10,000 followers. But back then, influencer marketing was just gaining popularity. It’s gotten a tad pricier since.

Average cost of influencer marketing:
  • Micro influencers (1,000 – 10,000 followers) – About $100 to 500 per post
  • Power influencers (10,000 – 100,000 followers) – Anywhere from $500 to $1,000 per post
  • Macro influencers (100,000+ followers) – Anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000 per post based on frequency of posting and celebrity status

Any larger of a following, and they’ve likely reached celebrity status (think 250,000 followers or more). These guys — the Kardashians and Jenners of the world — make up the top 2% of influencers. And they bring in a startling average of $250,000 per sponsored post.

Big brands typically target social media influencers with more than 100,000 followers for the sheer fact that they can afford to do so. After all, get a celebrity to drink your coconut water, and you’re likely to sell a boatload of coconut water.

What’s great about influencer marketing is you can find relevant, worthwhile influencers to fit your small business budget.

For example, if you only have a couple thousand dollars to spend, you’ll target newer, more up-and-coming influencers (think those folks with fewer than 10,000 followers, the micro influencers of the world). Perhaps they have fewer followers because they’re just getting started. But, they may have better engagement rates with their followers, which would offer you a reach and voice you wouldn’t otherwise have had access to online.

The Not-so-secret Secret: Instagram, Instagram, Instagram

Here’s what you really came for. The mind-blowing secret to influencer marketing for small business…is Instagram.

Instagram blew up as a top social media channel for influencer marketing in 2018, and it’s showing no signs of slowing in popularity. It’s ranked in the top 15 most influential and popular sites in the world, and it boasts nearly 1 billion active users.

Better yet, Instagram delivers incredible results for businesses. Brands who use instagram as part of their small business social media marketing strategy experience engagement rates 10 times higher than they get from Facebook.

Coincidence? Definitely not.

Let’s look at a small business that found its niche on Instagram.

Example of Small Business Influencer Marketing on Instagram

One of the most popular types of content on Instagram, aside from food and fitness, shouldn’t come as a big surprise. It’s pets.

Not just pets. Dogs.

Bad Tags is a great example of a small business that really knows what they’re doing when it comes to influencer marketing in the social media space. They shine particularly brightly on Instagram.

Here’s a quick look at Bad Tags’ @badtags Instagram account, specifically their recently tagged posts. Notice anything (aside from lots of cute pups)?

Example small business Instagram page Bad Tags
Professional caveat: Thryv does not have any relation to the above-mentioned Instagram account aside from pure admiration!

If you scroll through their tagged posts, you’ll notice something many have in common. They’re not all original content. In fact, most aren’t.

Bad Tags has built relationships with Instagram micro influencers who are popular among dog lovers for their adorable pet pooches. Many of the Instagram accounts that tag @badtags in their posts have just under 10,000 followers.

You could easily apply this use case to other animal product and services businesses. But Instagram influencers aren’t just for pet businesses.

  • Run a gym? Look for local trainers or health coaches.
  • Own a salon? Consider approaching local, smaller-name celebrities in your area who could use your services for a special event.
  • Are you a restaurateur? It’s incredibly easy to find local foodies craving sponsorship opportunities.

You get the point.

Pro tip: If I were trying to find potential micro influencers in my city, I’d search for them using hashtags. If I ran a gym for example, I’d start by looking at accounts that regularly use the hashtags #dallastrainer or #dallasfit.

Getting Started on Social Media

While finding and employing influencers is an important piece of a good small business social media strategy, it really is just one piece of the puzzle.

Before you can build relationships with social media influencers, you have to build your brand with regular posts and engagement. But what if the reason you want to pay influencers is because you don’t have the time to stare at your phone and create original content all day?

Software like Thryv helps you push content to sites like Instagram (and your other social media pages), all from one dashboard. You can even schedule posts in advance. With the basics covered, you’ll have more time to spend finding influencers who could help you go viral.