Influencer Marketing for Startups: Top 5 Tips Before Investing

Avoid the common pitfalls brands experience when navigating this new territory.


Influencer marketing is quickly becoming one of the most powerful marketing tools around. In fact, 63% of marketers intend to increase their influencer marketing budget in the next year. If you’re not already allocating a chunk of your budget to influencer marketing, now is the time. 

Creator marketing can help drive brand growth across the entire purchasing funnel, especially since video-heavy platforms like TikTok make recommendations from influencers feel personal, relatable, and trusted. Influencers make ads that don’t feel like ads — making it easier than ever to target high-interest consumers.

Get our top five tips to build a strong foundation for your influencer marketing plan avoid the common pitfalls brands experience when navigating this new territory.

1. Understand The 5 Types of Influencers (Plus Pros & Cons of Each)

The first thing to consider before investing is your ideal influencer profile. For Startups, it’s best to stay in the micro-influencer or nano-influencer range (more on that in a bit).

It is essential to consider their niche, values, and engagement rate to ensure that they align with your brand's message and resonate with your target audience. Take the time to research and select the right influencer who can add value to your campaign and help you achieve your marketing goals.

  • Mega-influencers with more than a million followers (think celebrities)
  • Macro-influencers with 500K to 1 million followers.
  • Mid-tier influencers with 50K to 500K followers.
  • Micro-influencers with 10K to 50K followers.
  • Nano-influencers with 1K to 10K followers.

We’ll explore the pros and cons of each influencer so you can weigh your options to make your investment go the extra mile. 

Mega-influencers with more than a million followers (think celebrities)


  • Large audience reach with the potential for viral content
  • Strong credibility due to their popularity and fame
  • Can have a significant impact on brand awareness


  • Expensive to work with due to high demand
  • Engagement rates may be lower due to a more passive audience
  • Risk of association with a negative event that could harm the brand's reputation

Macro-influencers with 500K to 1 million followers.


  • High engagement rates due to a more loyal and engaged audience
  • More cost-effective than mega-influencers
  • Still has a large enough following to reach a wide audience


  • Competition can be high for macro-influencers
  • May have less credibility compared to mega-influencers
  • Not always targeted enough for niche marketing campaigns

Mid-tier influencers with 50K to 500K followers.


  • Highly targeted and engaged audience within a specific niche
  • Often have strong personal relationships with their followers, creating more trust
  • Lower costs compared to macro- and mega-influencers


  • Smaller audience size can limit overall reach
  • May not have the same level of credibility as larger influencers
  • Can be harder to find and vet due to a smaller pool of mid-tier influencers

Micro-influencers with 10K to 50K followers.


  • Strong engagement rates with a highly targeted audience
  • Authenticity and credibility due to their smaller size and more personal relationships with followers
  • Cost-effective option for smaller brands or niche marketing campaigns


  • Limited audience size may not reach a wide enough audience
  • May not have the same level of reach as larger influencers
  • Limited experience working with brands and may require more guidance and support

Nano-influencers with 1K to 10K followers.


  • Highly targeted audience within a very specific niche
  • High engagement rates due to a very personal and loyal following
  • Cost-effective option for hyper-targeted marketing


  • Limited audience size may not reach a wide enough audience
  • May not have the same level of credibility as larger influencers
  • May require more guidance and support due to limited experience working with brands

2. Quality Over Quantity—Choosing Engagement over Follower Count

When it comes to influencer marketing, there are some common mistakes that e-commerce brands tend to make—first is choosing the wrong influencer for their brand. Startups need to select influencers who have a genuine interest in their products or services. Clear goals and expectations need to be set from the get go.

This ties closely to the second biggest mistake—focusing solely on follower count instead of engagement rates. Many brands miss the mark by only working with an influencer because of their number of followers and end up overlooking what really matters—a content fit and engagement rates.

Startups should be looking for influencers who have a high level of engagement with their followers, as this indicates a more loyal and active audience. That’s where the power of Nano and Micro-Influencers comes into play.

3. The Riches Are in the Niches: Tap Into Nano & Micro-Influencers

Sometimes less is more. Rather than shooting for one celebrity partnership, it’s becoming a smarter marketing strategy to partner with several smaller-scale micro-influencers.

These smaller influencers are generally incredibly connected to their online communities, engaging with followers 1:1— giving them loads of influencing power. 

Since there’s no try-before-you-buy in e-commerce, consumers often rely on word-of-mouth to justify online purchases. In fact, 88% of consumers placed the highest level of trust in word-of-mouth recommendations from people they know.

To make sure you are partnered with the best micro-influencers for your brand, you can use apps like Whym to capture intent-to-buy data and get granular about your influencer marketing campaigns. By using the first-party data collected through widgets like Whym’s Text Me This Item Button, you are able to partner with influencers who appeal to people with a particular purchase intent — increasing the chances of converting those browsers into buyers.

4. Your Shoppers Are Your Best Sellers—Harness the Power of UGC 

61% of consumers trust influencers’ recommendations — more than branded social media content.

UGC is especially influential because it's coming from something other than the brand itself. People are more likely to trust a referral from a real person they know or relate to over a brand's message about how great they are and why you should buy their products. Getting products into the hands of their audience and letting them try and talk about them, brands can tap into the power of consumer-based marketing.

One way that you can make it easier than ever for consumers and brand affiliates to share UGC about your brand is through Whym’s shoppable collections. With Whym, your shoppers can create custom, shareable collections filled with products they bought, tried, and loved — including yours. They can share their custom collections via links with their friends, family, and followers alike — boosting conversions for you while generating organic social proof for your brand. 

5. Boost Your Brand Partnership Game with Shareable Storefronts

Let’s talk about stories. 

2.35 billion people are actively using Instagram. 70% of those people watch Instagram stories daily, and 40% of Instagrammers post stories daily. Pretty much every social media platform is following suit, with TikTok launching a story feature in 2022. What does this mean for your brand? People are now shopping directly from those stories, and it makes sense — they’re already there.

Having an influencer shout out your brand in a story post is great exposure, but if the story isn’t actionable, it’s not going to lead to conversion. One way to make it easier for your brand partners to share your products to their stories is via Minishops — shoppable storefronts that can be linked to any story. It’s like a landing page, but buyable. 

Minishops not only make it seamless to shop via social media stories, but they also give shoppers the ability to save items they want to remember via text message — allowing you to capitalize on shopper intent. 

Whym Makes it Easy to Hop on Influencer Trends 

Now is the time to leverage brand partners and influencer marketing strategies to boost conversions, increase ROAS, and ultimately, help your brand thrive. 

However, to stand out from the crowd, it's important to stay on top of social trends and adjust your strategies accordingly. Additionally, utilizing tools that capture intent data and power shareable storefronts like Whym can help you optimize your influencer marketing campaigns for success. 

By staying up-to-date on the latest influencer marketing trends and providing your brand partners with the right tools, you can take your marketing game to the next level and drive outstanding results for your brand in 2023.

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