influencer marketing for startups

Influencer Marketing for Startups 101: A Step-By-Step Guide


This article will teach you everything you need to know on how to use influencer marketing for startups and the best strategies to maximize your results with little to no budget.

Startups often face the challenge of building brand awareness and securing their first sales. It can be scary to start from zero, with zero followers and sales. I have been there, and I know exactly how it feels.

Luckily, there is a quick way to increase awareness (and conversion) for your startup, and that is through an influencer campaign for startups.

We will cover the below topics. If you want to learn about a specific part of this article, click on one of the links, and you’ll be taken to that section.

Ready to learn all you need to know about startup influencer marketing? Let’s go and increase those sales!

And remember, if you like what I wrote, please share this article with your friends and colleagues.

What is Influencer Marketing for Startups?

Influencer marketing is the process of partnering with social media influencers who have a large following in your target market.

Influencers share content with their followers based on agreements with brands. Followers are more likely to believe and interact with content from influencers they trust.

Influencer marketing can help startups reach new audiences and build brand awareness.

A Few Statistics About Influencer Marketing

Quick stats about influencer marketing for startups

How Influencer Marketing for Startups Works

When you partner with an influencer, you’ll typically work with them to create content that promotes your brand.

This content can be in the form of blog posts, social media posts, videos, or even live events.

The influencer will share the content with their followers, who are more likely to believe and interact with it because it is from someone they trust.

The good news is that you don’t have to create promotional videos or pictures yourself. Influencers will take care of that for you.

The Benefits of Influencer Marketing for Startups

There are many benefits to influencer marketing for startups, including:

Building Brand Awareness and Authority

Creating brand awareness means getting people to know your brand. Influencers have a lot of followers, and they have built concrete relationships with their fans, establishing trust and credibility.

28% of consumers discover new products and brands through influencers.

Build a relationship with your target audience

When influencers share your content and promote your brand, it shows that they approve of your products or services.

This can help you gain the trust of your target audience. Trust is important because it can lead to more followers, sales, and brand loyalty in the long run.

Increase Traffic to your Site and improve your SEO

When influencers share content about your brand, it can help your website rank higher in search engine results. This is because Google takes into account the number of backlinks a website has when ranking it.

And, what we all really care about: Generating leads and sales

What types of influencers exist? Nano, Mid-Tier, Top-Tier, and Macro

Influencers can be categorized into five groups based on the size of their follower base.

Nano-influencers have the smallest following, followed by micro-influencers, mid-tier influencers, macro-influencers, and mega-influencers.

Influencers with smaller follower bases typically have higher engagement rates, while influencers with larger follower bases typically have lower engagement rates. A high engagement rate is a signal of trust, loyalty, and closeness.

However, bigger influencers have the reach to spread awareness of your brand to a larger audience.

In the table below, I have outlined the general pros and cons of working with different types of influencers.

size of influencers for influencer campaigns for startups

Influencers with smaller follower bases typically don’t charge as much for sponsored posts. They may even be willing to promote your product or service for free if you can build a relationship with them.

That’s why, for startups that are just starting out, it’s best to focus on smaller influencers (nano and micro).

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule.

Top-tier influencers may promote your product or service for free if you can build a strong relationship with them. But this is not usually the case.

Set your basic planning parameters: Target Audience, Platforms, and Goal

Influencer marketing is a powerful tool, but it’s important to use it strategically.

“The success of your campaign is in the planning”
I just made up this quote, but I think it’s great.

What do you have to have super clear in mind before launching any influencer marketing campaigns for a startup? Two things:

Who is your Target Audience?

Now, this can be a bit of a tricky question for a startup. You may not have a clear picture of who your target audience is.

These three levels of segmentation can help you define your business’s primary target audience for a startup influencer marketing campaign.

  • Geo refers to the location of your target audience. This could be a specific country, state, city, or even neighborhood.
  • Demo refers to the demographic information of your target audience. This could include their age, gender, income, education level, profession, and marital status.
  • Psychographics refers to the psychological profile of your target audience. This could include their interests, values, and opinions.

For instance, let’s say you’re selling a product that’s only available in the United States. Then, you should partner with influencers who have a large following in the U.S.

What are your Targeted Social Media Platforms?

Different platforms attract different types of people.

Depending on your target audience, you may choose to target influencers on just a couple of platforms. For example, if you are a B2B business and are looking to target lawyers, you should focus on LinkedIn.

To make your life easier, I created an Infographic showing basic demographics by platforms. You are welcome.

demographics and other relevant info by social media platforms for influencer marketing for startups

You should research what your competitors or bigger brands in your vertical are doing.

What is your Goal with Influencer Marketing for Startups?

  • Specific: Your goal should be specific, so instead of saying “increase ROI,” you might say “double ROI within 7 days.”
  • Measurable: Your goal should be measurable, so you can track your progress and see how effective your campaign is. You could measure your ROI by tracking the number of sales generated from your influencer marketing for startups.
  • Achievable: Your goal should be achievable but also challenging. In this case, doubling your ROI within 7 days is a challenging but achievable goal.

A ROI Goal is generally the most complicated to set. Let me give an example to make it easier for you. Let’s say you want to double your ROI by working with 5 nano influencers who will promote your product for free. You can calculate your revenue goal by following this example:

ROI Calculation for startups influencer marketing

How to Choose the Right Influencers


Let me start by giving you an overview of what you should consider to leverage influencer marketing for startups. Then, I will discuss how to find influencers on social media and which tools to use if you need help.


Overview of Factors to Consider for Influencer Marketing for Startups

For any platform, when choosing influencers to partner with, it’s important to consider the following factors:

Target audience

Engagement rate


The influencer’s content should be relevant to your brand. This means that the influencer should be talking about topics that are related to your products or services.

For example, let’s say you are selling video games. Then you should be focusing on influencers who talk about video game news, reviews, or gameplay.


The cost of working with an influencer will vary depending on their size and reach. It’s important to set a budget before you start reaching out to influencers so that you don’t overspend.

However, influencers may be willing to promote your product or service in exchange for free products, access to exclusive content, or a commission on sales. Check this section for more details.

Growth Potential

Smart teams that look for influencers to partner with know that up-and-coming influencers are a great choice.

They are typically cheaper than established influencers, have less sponsored content, and get more engagement from their followers.

Check out my article on how to Predict an Influencer’s Growth.


It’s always a good idea to check what your competitors are doing.  Take inspiration from them.

How to find influencers manually for all platforms except Tiktok

Here are some ways to find highly engaged influencers for your startup’s influencer campaign. Keep in mind this step is going to take some time.








How to find influencers on TikTok

  • Performance trends: How many views and shares their content gets.
  • Video completion rate: How many people watch their videos all the way through?
  • Average shares and comments: How many people share and comment on their posts?
  • Followers’ growth rate: How quickly their following is growing.
  • Brands they’ve partnered with: What other brands they’ve worked with?



Pricing: Free and Paid Collaboration of Influencer Marketing for Startups

Are you ready to dive into the different pricing models for influencer marketing campaigns for startups? I trust that you said yes because I am about to go on.

Free Collaboration

Let’s address the elephant in the room: You don’t have to pay for your influencer campaign for startups. In fact, if you’re a startup that is just starting out, I would recommend not paying for influencers at all.

Nano-influencers are usually new to the influencer marketing game and are eager to gain experience.

Thus, to gain experience, they are often willing to promote your product or service in exchange for free products or services.

They know that nailing partnerships is essential for getting more deals (and earning money). Micro-influencers may also be open to promoting your product or service without compensation.

It is important to note that mid-tier influencers may promote your product or service for free if you build strong relationships with them.

We will cover how to approach influencers in this section.

Paid Collaboration for Influencer Marketing for Startups

Flat Fee

Size of Influencer for startups influencer marketing

I know what you’re thinking: “I should have become an influencer on YouTube.” Same, my friend!

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a type of marketing where a company partners with a creator to promote their products or services. The content creator earns a commission for every sale they generate.

Let’s be honest: if you have zero sales, it is unlikely that you will find an influencer who is willing to promote your product via a commission-based deal.

Affiliate Marketing and Influencer Marketing are similar, but not the same. This epic dissertation on influencer marketing for startups is long enough. So, I will write a separate blog post about Affiliate – I promise!

Types of Content for Influencer Marketing for Startups

There are countless ways to collaborate with influencers. In this article, I will outline the tactics that I believe are most appropriate for a startup influencer marketing campaign.

Types of collaboration influencer campaign for startups

Sponsored posts

These are the most common type of influencer collaboration. In a sponsored post, an influencer promotes your product or service in exchange for a fee or a free product. Sponsored posts can be in the form of social media posts, stories, or videos.


These are a great way to generate excitement and engagement around your brand. In a giveaway, you give away free or discounted products or services to followers of the influencer. Giveaways are a great way to start to grow your audience when you are starting from zero.


Through Livestreams you can connect with your audience in real-time. In a livestream, an influencer broadcasts themselves talking about your product or service. This can be a great way to answer questions and build relationships with your customers.

Product reviews

These are a way to get honest feedback about your products or services. In a product review, an influencer tries out your product or service and shares their thoughts with their followers. This can be a great way to build trust and credibility with potential customers.

Unboxing videos

This is a popular type of content on social media. But in my opinion, this type of collaboration has become outdated, and I would not recommend it for your startup’s influencer campaign.


Bonus: User-generated content (UGC)

User-generated content (UGC) is content that is created by customers or social media users.

UGC is a very effective way to connect with customers and build trust. In fact, this type of content shows that real people are using and enjoying your products or services. And other people may relate to this.

How to reach out, what to say, and how to strike a deal with Influencers?

Once you’ve chosen the right influencers to partner with, it’s time to act and launch your influencer campaign for startups.

Before you reach out, have clear in mind the following:

We covered all the above in previous sections of this article.

For all platforms except Tiktok

You can send a Direct Message to the influencer. Some influencers include their email address in their profiles – if that’s the case, I would start by sending an email.

Keep your message short and sweet. In your first interaction with an influencer, you want to make them excited about the project. The more they like your product, the more authentic they will be when speaking about it on social media.

And remember, this is a numbers game. Some influencers won’t even reply to you. Don’t take it personally. Move on and find the right match for your brand.

Here is an email template that you can use.

template of email to influencer for startup influencer marketing campaign

Once an influencer replies to your initial inquiry, you can provide more information about your startup’s influencer campaign. Additional information includes the campaign’s goals and the launch timeframe.

It is also a good idea to ask the influencer if you can have a quick chat over the phone. This can be a more efficient way to communicate and get to know each other better. I encourage you to pick up their brain on which collaboration type (Giveaway, Sponsored post etc.) they think might work best for you.

When communicating with influencers, ask them to send you screenshots of their analytics. Don’t be shy; this is a perfectly normal request. This data can help you determine if the influencer’s audience is a good fit for your product or service.

Here are some of the things you can look for in the screenshots:

  • Demographics: This includes the age, gender, and location of the influencer’s followers.
  • Engagement: This includes the number of likes, comments, and shares that the influencer’s posts receive.
  • Reach: This includes the number of people who see the influencer’s posts.
  • Growth: This includes how quickly the influencer’s following base is growing.

To finalize a collaboration, be sure to confirm and recap all the details in an email or message.

I suggest sending a reminder message a couple of days before and on the day of your influencer campaign launch. This will help to ensure that the influencer remembers to post about your product or service on time.

For TikTok

As covered before in this article, TikTok has its own Creator Marketplace where you can find influencers. Within the platform, you can view metrics and reach out to influencers and finalize the collaboration.

How to Measure the Effectiveness of Influencer Marketing for Startups

Tracking the effectiveness of your campaign is an important part of any influencer marketing campaign for startups. This will help you improve your campaigns in the future.

You can track your results in a variety of ways, depending on your goals.

Increase in follower count

If you’re looking to increase your follower base on social media, check your follower count before and after your campaign. You should see a noticeable increase in followers if your campaign was successful.

Website Traffic

To measure the success of your influencer marketing campaign, you can check the increase in traffic to your website before and after the campaign.


This part is a bit more complicated, but it’s still doable. There are a couple of ways to go about it.


Create a Promo Code (easiest)

Create a promo code that is exclusive to your influencer campaign for startups. This will help you track the success of your influencer campaign for startups.

Influencers often prefer to post promo codes that give their followers discounts on products or services from your business.

Promo codes are easy to create on most of the template platforms we use.

Create a UTM Code

Example of URL with UTM Code:
No, it’s not a quote, but whatever.

Conclusion – Influencer Marketing for Startups

You made it! Congratulations on making it to the end of this epic dissertation on how to leverage influencer marketing for startups. If you click on the content list and got here, you are a cheater.

Jokes aside, Influencer marketing, is a powerful and efficient way for startups to build brand awareness, establish credibility, and drive sales.

If you’ve found this article helpful, please share it with your friends and colleagues. And if you have any questions or suggestions for my next article, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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Patrizia Ranzi

@Patrizia Ranzi

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