We understand that not all brands and businesses have the budget needed to run large-scale influencer marketing campaigns.
As a small business, if you’re paying influencers to post about your products, you probably don’t have budget for an influencer platform or tool on top of this. Even if you’re just running a product gifting campaign, you might not have the budget available to pay for an influencer marketing platform, either, especially if you’re a start-up.
This doesn’t mean influencer marketing isn’t for you. After all, 78% of consumers will buy when recommended by someone they feel they know and trust. So, not getting involved in influencer marketing is leaving serious money on the table.
In this post, we’ve listed free tools you can use to find, source and manage your influencer marketing campaigns. Stick around until the end as we’ve got an end-to-end solution that allows you to do it all (for free).
Free ways to find and source influencers
When it comes to finding and sourcing influencers, you have a number of options. There are paid options available which allow you to get really specific when looking for the kind of influencers you want to work with. They can drill into the influencers audience to start looking at their demographics to ensure they match your target market. Alternatively, the free option is to make use of the data available from the social platforms themselves.
Instagram has a great in-built search functionality. They encourage people to use hashtags on their photos in order for users to discover content they might enjoy.
For example, suppose your brand offered false tan products. Type your keyword into the search bar to view related posts.
Now, you could go for the first option, #faketan, but if you look a little further down you can see the #faketantips is much more likely to feature influencers offering their advice on how to get a better tan.
Above you can see how the hashtag selected shows influencers offering their tips using different fake tan products.
Now all you need to do is click through each profile and reach out to them via their social networks.
But what if you find an influencer away from Instagram and need a way to get in touch with them? You’ll need a tool that gives you their contact information. One effective way to do this is Hunter.io.
Hunter.io uses public sources to find and verify email addresses dependent on domains. All you need to do is go onto the website and type the domain you want to search for.
The tool will then populate a list of the email addresses it can find publicly online.
Free ways to run and manager influencer marketing campaigns
Once you’ve sourced all the influencers you’d like to work with and sent out engaging introductory emails, you’ll be at the stage where it’s time to start working out how you can effectively manage your influencer marketing campaign.
Naturally, you’re much more likely to run into issues with your influencer marketing campaigns running them manually like this, but with that said, there are free tools to help you manage the process more efficiently. Staying on top of your influencer marketing campaigns is useful to ensure you have a clear idea of what works well and what doesn’t so you can optimize and improve in the future.
Use a spreadsheet to keep track of the influencers you’re working with
One common approach to influencer marketing is to use a spreadsheet to handle all aspects of managing campaigns. Luckily, the rise in the Google Suite means spreadsheets can be edited in real-time and you can avoid the back-and-forth spreadsheet messaging that often led to loss of data or poor version control.
Although it’s not as sophisticated as a full suite platform, or even a free influencer marketing platform, a spreadsheet can be an effective way to keep track of which influencers you’re working with and how their content is currently performing.
We’ve created a template for you to copy. Note: the spreadsheet is read-only. So make a copy and edit to suit your own needs.
You can easily make use of the conditional formatting options as well. For example you might want to highlight the influencers in your spreadsheet with an engagement rate of over 4% and an estimated cost per post of less than $400.
When you only have a handful of influencers in your spreadsheet, this can be done visually. However once you start to populate your spreadsheet with more influencers, it will become more difficult to keep track of who’s in your database and what they offer.
Once you start to scale your influencer marketing campaigns, we recommend testing out a full influencer marketing platform as, at this point, you’re at the stage where your business will benefit from it.
Trello is a free Kanban style productivity tool that allows users to organise any data they want. We’ve created a template for you to copy if you decide to use this method of influencer management.
You can adjust and modify your own Trello board in anyway you see fit. As you can see, we’ve added five columns that cover your main basis. As you’ll be adding the data manually, you don’t want to overcomplicated your board - it quickly becomes difficult to understand and navigate.
If you do create your Trello board and find your needs are more advanced than what Trello offers, it’s probably an indication that you’re ready to look at a paid influencer marketing platform.
You’ll see in the first column, we’ve created a card for each influencer we’re working with and then used the label function to assign a specific campaign to each influencer. This works well for now, as we only have three campaigns, but could become confusing if we start to scale and end up with 10 or more campaigns running concurrently.
Once you’ve got a list of all the influencers you’re going to be working with, it’s time to organise them by stage. Again, if you have a different way to organise your influencers that works well for your organisation, feel free to modify the template.
Our next two columns are “Sent Brief” and “Received Creative”. Setting the board out like this helps you easily see which influencers have and haven’t sent you content. This is comparable to email management - you’d have to manually go into each email thread to work out which stage each influencer was at with their campaign.
From there, there are columns for “Signed Off” and “Results”. You might also want to add a column for payments too (if you’re running paid campaigns). This view will help you see which influencers have been signed off for their creative and posted their content about your product.
The results column is there to show the results of each influencer campaign. As you’re doing this manually, you might decide to collect and record how many likes the post received. Or, if you’ve given your influencer a specific discount code, you might record how many sales their code generated.
The only issue with running your influencer campaign analysis in this way is that it's easy to see a granular view for how each influencer performed individually, but a lot harder to get a quick idea of how an entire campaign performed.
Free influencer marketing platform (end-to-end)
But what if you want to find, source, manage and analyse your influencer marketing campaigns from one platform, without having to change screens between Instagram, Trello and your Email?
You’d need to use an end-to-end platform. However, most end-to-end platforms cost money, which is where the ZINE Brand Catalogue comes in.
ZINE’s Brand Catalogue not only allows you to work with up to five influencers for free, but it lets influencers find you. As you discovered earlier, finding the right influencers isn’t easy, so take the leg work away from your time-strapped team and let influencer applications come straight to your inbox.
You can get started with the Brand Catalogue in 3 easy steps.
First, sign up for your free account using the following link. You’ll then get the opportunity to publish your first free campaign for influencers to apply to. From there, you will be able to set your requirements for the types of influencers you’d like to work with.
The brand catalogue uses our database of over 200,000 influencers, so they’ll be plenty for you to choose from.
Second, once you start receiving influencer applications, you’ll be able to check out their profiles, stats and demographics and make a decision about which influencers you want to work with and if they're right for your brand.
Within just a few short days, you could have influencer content in your inbox and all it took was uploading your campaign to ZINE’s Brand Catalogue.
If you’re looking for a free influencer marketing platform and want to get started with ZINE’s Brand Catalogue, click here.