Influencer marketing is hot right now. Businesses are constantly searching for Instagramers and Youtubers with a great following in their niche.

Right now, over 40% of the world's population uses social media, and you need a way to reach this audience. 71% of US businesses use Instagram, and many of these businesses also use Influencer marketing.

According to the Influencer Marketing hub, Businesses were making $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing in 2019, with 63% of marketers intending to increase their influencer marketing budget in 2020.

With this style of marketing being on-trend and potentially very lucrative, it seems like only a fool would skip out. But what if you don't have the budget to pay for one yet?

Influencers don't come cheap, usually charging hundreds to thousands of dollars per post. But as the title suggests, that doesn't mean you should throw in the towel.

Every customer has influencer potential.

Terry D'Arcy, Founder of D'Arcy Apparel Co, credits influencers and his customers to his business' success.

"I have somewhat of a cult following. It's not a huge following, but they're passionate about the brand.  I think 90% of my customers who buy anything share on their Instagram stories," Terry said.

"Having that connection helps incentivize people to share your brand more and more. Everyone who shares my brand and shares, it's like working with small influencers."

You can read more about how Terry leverages social media and his customers to drive success in this interview.

Let's look at the goal of hiring an influencer:

An influencer should...

  • Share your brand on their social media account
  • Discuss or review your product
  • Use, wear and/or purchase your product
  • Refer new customers

Your customers have already purchased from you, and especially if they are repeat customers probably love your products.

The trick is, how do you get your customers to discuss, share and refer your product to their friends and followers?

  1. Co-create products with your customers

Do Q&A's, polls and AMA's in your stories or comments section to have customers help you design or name your products. Customers love to feel like they are part of the process, and are more likely to engage when you ask for their ideas.

  1. Engage and encourage user-generated content

Many times, users will wear or share a new purchase when they get it, but to help you find the posts or to encourage them, you can offer a discount or exclusive reward to those who take a picture of your product and share it on social media. I'd recommend also having them tag you in those posts.  You can add a note to your delivery notifications or review sections, then share the posts on your own socials as they roll in!

  1. Have a Highly engaged social media following yourself

This means creating beautiful products and eye-catching posts. It also means regular posting and engagement with follower's comments. It can definitely be a time investment, but part of being a sharable brand is investing that time.

As a tip, the best times to post on Instagram are Wednesday at 11 am and Friday at 10 am. Generally, you should avoid posting on Sundays.

You need to ensure you have a product, customer service and a brand worth sharing and raving about.  What you really want to provide is exceptional customer experience.

71% of consumers who've had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others.

Buyers are willing to pay more for your products and share your brand on social media in exchange for great customer experience. This study revealed by the end of 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

With this strategy, you can potentially have thousands of Nano-influencers in place of the one big one, with none of the cost. If you can inspire a community around your products, you can create a cycle of purchasing, sharing, and referring throughout your business' lifetime.