How SMBs Can Find Influencers for Free: Influencer Marketing on a Budget


Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) often struggle with influencer discovery—so much so that many view influencer marketing as inaccessible to them. Armed with the right tools and know-how, however, SMBs can easily find influencers for free, helping them reach their target audience and increase their Brand’s reach.

From do-it-yourself searches online to digging through influencer databases, finding influencers can be overwhelming and time-consuming, especially for SMBs with small budgets and teams. As a result, finding the perfect influencer remains a chief barrier for SMBS looking to launch influencer marketing campaigns.

Because the landscape has since evolved, there are now solutions that simplify the process of discovering and selecting influencers. Using the influencer marketing tools available today, SMBs on a budget can easily find influencers for free and just as easily execute successful campaigns.

Throughout this guide, we’ll demystify influencer marketing for SMBs by exploring ways to discover and collaborate with influencers without incurring unnecessary costs (both direct and indirect). By following these methods, you can ensure your influencer marketing efforts yield impressive results irrespective of your budget size.


Can Small Businesses Really Find Influencers for Free Effectively?

Certainly, small businesses can discover social media influencers without incurring any costs if they implement smart strategies and use free influencer marketing tools. For marketers, this involves a combination of organic approaches and digital platforms to pinpoint influencers who align with their Brand values and target audience.

In the following sections of this guide, we’ll delve into how to find influencers for free and explore steps small businesses can take to harness influencer marketing without breaking the bank. We’ll discuss how Google, social media platforms, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and Glewee’s all-in-one influencer marketing platform can maximize your search and optimize your marketing efforts.


The Benefits of Influencer Marketing for Small Businesses

Influencer marketing generates content, conversions, and awareness for Brands of every size. It is a dynamic and fruitful strategy that connects Brands with their target audience and authentically engages consumers. You may wonder why. Well, at its core, influencer marketing creates a tripartite (or three-way) connection between the Brand, the influencer, and the influencer’s followers. The resulting three-way engagement fosters credibility, trust, and loyalty for Brands big and small.

Moreover, influencer marketing offers small businesses viable Brand promotion, flexibility in collaboration, and sustained market visibility. For SMBs, it is an affordable and accessible way to stay competitive in today’s hyper-saturated landscape.


Find Influencers for Free: Identify Your Perfect Influencer

An illustration of four influencers dressed uniquely standing beneath four different spotlights. This image is used to enhance the reading experience when learning to find influencers for free.

Before you embark on a journey of influencer discovery, you must know who it is you’re looking for. Your perfect influencer will represent your target audience, embody your Brand values, and be instrumental in helping you reach your goals. Let’s start with a checklist so you can check this vital step off your list.


1. Determine Your Influencer Marketing Goals

Begin with your influencer marketing goals. What are you seeking from your influencer marketing campaign?


  • Content for your paid and organic marketing channels?
  • Conversions in the form of sales, sign-ups, or subscribers?
  • Awareness for your Brand that is widespread, targeted, or both?


Whether you choose one or all three, establishing your influencer marketing goals early on will help you identify the perfect influencer for your Brand and campaign.


2. Apply Audience Insights a.k.a. Audience Demographics: Who Are Your Influencers’ Followers?

Now that you’ve determined your goals, it’s time to define your audience. Knowing your audience is crucial in selecting the right influencer for your Brand and ensuring their followers align with your target audience. Who are you trying to reach through your influencer marketing collaboration? Where do they live? What languages do they speak? What are their interests? The demographics can be as narrow or broad as you choose. Equipped with the proper audience insights, you can make data-driven decisions when identifying your perfect influencer and assessing their follower insights.


3. Consider Your Brand Values

Let your values guide you when identifying your perfect influencer. Finding influencers who share your values is necessary for safeguarding your Brand’s reputation and co-creating authentic content. By prioritizing your Brand values, you can forge genuine relationships with influencers beyond one-off collaborations. This approach is essential for SMBs in influencer marketing, where forming long-term partnerships promotes long-term success.

Your values are intrinsic to your Brand identity and will influence your decisions, actions, and communication. If you’re a vegan food and beverage Brand, for example, you will most likely value sustainability, animal welfare, and clean living. When partnering with influencers as a vegan Brand, you want to ensure your partners uphold the same values. Otherwise, it may lead to inconsistencies in your messaging that negatively impact your Brand’s reputation.


4. Select an Influencer Tier

While every influencer is unique, all will fall under one of five tiers based on their follower count. The tiers break down as follows:


  1. Nano Influencers: 1K-10K followers
  2. Micro Influencers: 10K-50K followers
  3. Mid-tier Influencers: 50K-500K followers
  4. Macro Influencers: 500K-1M followers
  5. Mega Influencers: 1M+ followers


Every social media influencer comes with a distinct set of strengths and limitations. While macro and mega influencers may have greater reach, they often have lower engagement rates than their smaller counterparts (nano to mid-tier influencers).

Despite the mass visibility massive influencers provide, many marketers prefer collaborating with micro influencers for their targeted reach, niche expertise, and high levels of engagement. Micro influencers also have more affordable rates, which makes them perfect candidates for SMBs on a budget.


Verify Influencer Authenticity

Authenticity in influencer marketing is not just about real connections—it’s also about verifying your collaborators are real people. Fake influencers rely on manicured social media pages, purchased followers, and bot engagement to appear real. However, they have no actual influence over their audience, let alone an authentic audience.

Influencer fraud is a concern and potential risk for many Brands, especially when discovering influencers in the digital wild. Glewee recognizes this and, as such, prequalifies every single influencer on its platform by hand. Before we delve into Glewee’s all-in-one influencer marketing platform, here are a few tips for vetting influencers yourself:


  • Look for Rapid Follower Growth: A sudden spike in follower count on a new account could indicate influencer fraud, especially if the influencer has no press coverage or mentions online. Determine if their followers are authentic or purchased before reaching out.


  • Lower Engagement Rates Could be a Red Flag: While lower engagement rates can sometimes accompany big influencers, poor engagement can signal the presence of bot followers. Compare the influencer’s follower count to the number of likes and comments on each post for a clearer picture.


  • Assess Follower Quality: Tap the individual profiles of an influencer’s followers to verify they’re active users. Look for comments under the influencer’s posts that appear generic or misaligned with the content.


  • Compare the Number of Organic and Sponsored Posts: If an influencer posts more sponsored content than organic posts, it may indicate they need to be more authentic. This could hurt your Brand.


  • Check Their Post Cadence: Be mindful of how frequently the influencer posts. Is it regular enough to warrant the type of following and engagement they have?


  • Be Mindful of Impersonation: Some accounts impersonate real influencers. If you’re suspicious and no verification markers are present, do more research before proceeding with the influencer.


  • Artificial Intelligence Can Generate Virtual Influencers: AI-Generated influencers are growing in number and popularity. While some are as well known as the real thing, others are pretending to be the real thing. Make sure the influencer who grabbed your eye has not been generated by AI.



Using a Search Engine to Find Influencers for Free

A purple graphic of a generic search bar with a cursor surrounded by clouds. This image is used to enhance the reading experience when learning to find influencers for free.

Google is a versatile resource when finding influencers for free. Google has free tools that can aid the search for influencers in your industry. These free tools include Google search operators, Google Alerts for Brand mentions, and influencer marketing media sources.

Because Google is so vast, locating your perfect influencer through search results may be less than ideal. Aside from sifting through the many results, many influencers topping the search charts are highly in demand and outside most SMBs’ budgets. Still, here’s how to use Google to find Brand-fit influencers for free.


Track Brand Mentions

You can track Brand mentions manually and for free using Google search operators, also known as specialized search commands. Type “your Brand Name -:yourwebsite.com” into the search bar and press enter.

Google will list every third-party website that has mentioned your Brand. Comb through the results for relevant influencers, Creators, or customers who have mentioned your Brand.

A Google search bar that contains a Google search operator. This image is used to enhance the reading experience when learning to find influencers for free.


Create Google Alerts

Creating Google Alerts delivers Brand mentions to your inbox. You can create alerts for Brand name mentions and select how often you’d like to receive these alerts. Do note that these Google alerts are not limited to influencers mentioning your Brand, so you will have to sift through them every time. If your SMB is still budding, this method may not produce many influencer leads.


Follow Industry Blogs

A quick Google search can reveal some of the top blogs in your industry and the influencer marketing sector. If you’re in fashion, follow relevant blogs that feature fashion influencers regularly. For a more curated approach, you can subscribe to influencer marketing blogs like The Glewee Blog and receive updates about The Creator Economy and Creators in your industry. Industry blogs may not be the most direct means of connecting with influencers, but they certainly familiarize you with the space and introduce you to its leading players.


Using Social Media Platforms to Find Influencers for Free

An illustration of a social media post frame filled with a rainbow gradient and surrounded by pink cubes. This image is used to enhance the reading experience when learning to find influencers for free.

Discovering influencers on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and other social media platforms is labor intensive—particularly if you’re trying to find micro influencers for free. While it may cost nothing to scour these platforms for prospective Brand partners, it is an arduous process that requires staff and hours online. Challenges aside, using social media as a free tool for finding influencers may still be worth your while and efforts. Here’s a simple search strategy to lessen the load when finding influencers for free on social media.


Search by Platform

Select the social media platform(s) where your target audience is most active. While you may not find local influencers as easily, you can identify popular influencers in your niche with some manual maneuvering.


Instagram Influencer Search

There are over 2.4 billion active users on Instagram, so locating the perfect influencer for your Brand can be daunting. Look through your following first to see if any notable influencers stand out. You can also browse the Explore page for content that feels native to your Brand. Alternatively, if you have influencers in mind, go to their profiles and tap the “Suggested Accounts” icon to view similar profiles.

How to find the suggested accounts tab when finding influencers for free on Instagram


TikTok: Find Influencers for Free

TikTok’s interest-based algorithm may facilitate your search for influencers on that platform. By watching videos in your niche, TikTok will supply you with a steady stream of related content and Creators. Otherwise, you can manually search the For You Page for topics or influencers related to your Brand or industry.


YouTube: Find Influencers for Free

If you want to collaborate with popular YouTube Creators, explore the list of categories on the main menu on the platform. Search the Trending page for the app’s biggest influencers or specific categories, like Gaming or Learning, for popular influencers in your industry. Bear in mind that most influencers on these pages belong to higher tiers and may not be cost-effective choices for SMBs.


Use Relevant Hashtags

Most social media platforms are compatible with hashtag usage. Hashtags combine the pound symbol (#) with keywords to locate and spread content around a topic.

When using platforms to find influencers for free, enter hashtags related to your Brand or industry. While hashtags can help refine your search for influencers on social media, there is no guarantee that the influencers you identify are available for hire or suited to your Brand goals.


Recruit from Your Page

If your Brand is active on social media, try recruiting influencers from your page. Share stories or posts announcing you’re looking to collaborate with influencers. Add hashtags to your shares to ensure they are discoverable by non-followers on the platform. You can also ask your followers for recommendations or incentivize them to share your posts in exchange for a Brand shoutout or product giveaway.


Check Influencer Availability

After manually identifying and vetting influencers, it’s time to reach out to your chosen few (or many). Write a pitch ahead of time that’s short and friendly. Email them your pitch if their email address is publicly listed. If not, send them a direct message through social media. Emails can sometimes go to the influencer’s agent (or their spam folder). Direct messaging can sometimes go unnoticed, especially if the influencer has a large following and does not follow you back. Follow up if necessary.


Managing Outreach

Influencer outreach can get complicated when done manually. To manage outreach, create a spreadsheet and list all the influencers you discover on social media. Use the spreadsheet to track your outreach efforts and influencer availability.


Using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to Find Influencers for Free

A graphic with four white AI-labeled robots typing on laptops. This image is used to enhance the reading experience when learning to find influencers for free.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) can assist you when finding and vetting influencers manually. While some Brands rely on AI and ML for influencer discovery, they are not sustainable solutions.

AI and ML should not replace human eyes and touch. The effectiveness of influencer marketing lies within its ability to strike genuine human connections. Dependency on AI and ML can diminish Brand authenticity. Glewee pre-vets its Creators by hand to ensure human touch.

Here’s how you can integrate AI and ML in moderation when finding influencers for free.


Collect Data with AI

Artificial Intelligence can assist you when finding influencers for free, but you may risk ethical pitfalls. When used according to best practices, AI can be valuable. It can sift through large amounts of data to extract results relevant to your search.

However, it will often gather profiles without the influencers’ consent or awareness, an unethical practice. Even if you approach data scraping ethically, you must evaluate the results yourself. If you incorporate AI, use it mindfully and choose solutions that respect individuals’ privacy rights.


Enable ML Recommendations

Machine Learning is not an instant process, but it can provide personalized recommendations when finding influencers for free. By studying your search patterns, ML can produce results tailored to your interests, much like a social media algorithm.

While ML can complement your search efforts, it does not provide an all-encompassing solution. Trusting ML recommendations can lead to generic partnerships, undermining the hallmark of influencer marketing: authenticity. ML may help refine your search, but it is not a replacement for human intuition, judgment, and creativity.



The Easiest Way to Find Free Influencers—Glewee, Your All-in-One Influencer Marketing Platform

Image of a MacBook Pro displaying the inside of the Glewee platform.

Navigating the world of influencer marketing might seem intimidating. Still, there are specialized tools to find influencers that make this task more manageable and effective. For SMBs, these influencer search tools are a game-changer, providing a streamlined path to connecting with the right influencers at the right time without the traditional overhead costs.

Glewee, an all-in-one influencer marketing platform, is uniquely tailored for SMBs across various industries and accommodates a wide range of budgets. This platform stands out with its freemium version designed to provide smaller businesses with an accessible entry point into the world of influencer marketing.

Glewee’s freemium model allows SMBs to find pre-approved/human-vetted influencers for free in under two minutes. Once you register your account, you simply launch a campaign and watch qualified influencers come to you. There’s no searching, scouring, sifting, or screening required.

As these businesses grow and their marketing needs evolve, Glewee offers scalable solutions, making upgrading to more advanced features and tools easy. This approach ensures that businesses of all sizes can find influencers for free and experience the power of influencer marketing in minutes.


How to Set Up a Free Influencer Marketing Account on Glewee

Creating a free influencer marketing account on Glewee is as simple as signing up for its Starter tier. The Starter tier on Glewee gives Brands access to unlimited influencer marketing campaigns and pre-vetted influencers available for hire.

To set up your free influencer marketing account on Glewee:

  1. Go to https://app.glewee.io/signup.
  2. Enter your business email address.
  3. Create your password.
  4. Select Brand.
  5. Click Create Account.
  6. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete your Brand profile.

Your Starter account will be up and running in seconds. From there, you can launch influencer marketing campaigns that bring the perfect influencers to you in minutes.

How to create a free account on Glewee


How to Create a Customizable Campaign on Glewee

With Glewee, you can launch unlimited customizable campaigns for free. With built-in guidance for every stage, you can complete your campaign in four steps and under two minutes. Aside from being a fast and functional solution, customizable campaigns on Glewee are fun to build and the most effective way to find influencers for free.


Step 1: Enter Your Campaign Details

Click + Create a Campaign to begin. Then, enter your campaign details. Your campaign details will constitute your influencer marketing brief. These details will include your desired content type (sponsored posts or user-generated content), industry, Brand guidelines, and any media assets for inspiration.

A gif demonstrating the first step of creating an influencer marketing campaign on Glewee.


Step 2: Set Your Deliverables

Once you’ve entered your campaign details, you can set your deliverables. Think of deliverables as your content requirements. Your deliverables will outline your campaign’s social media channel, content title, content format, and content description.


A gif demonstrating the second step of creating an influencer marketing campaign on Glewee.


Step 3: Specify Creator Eligibility

Now for the penultimate step that brought you here in the first place: finding your perfect influencers for free. When specifying Creator eligibility for your campaign, Glewee will prompt you to select from the following influencer demographics:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Followers
  • Location
  • Creator Minimum Price

Pick your preferences and proceed to the final step.


A gif demonstrating the third step of creating an influencer marketing campaign on Glewee.


Step 4: Publish

During the fourth and final step, you can review your campaign summary. If all is what you intend it to be, press publish to launch your campaign. Within seconds, qualified, pre-vetted influencers will apply to your campaign. From there, it’s a matter of approving your favorite influencers. Now that you’ve selected your perfect influencers, you can start collaborating.


A gif demonstrating the fourth step of creating an influencer marketing campaign on Glewee.


Communicate Directly with Brand and Creator Chat

Brand and Creator Chat is another free Glewee feature that elevates and streamlines influencer collaborations for SMBs. It allows for file sharing, real-time communication, and free-flowing conversation. With Brand and Creator Chat, you can put tireless outreach to bed. Rather than weave through email threads and dig through DMs, you can chat with influencers one-on-one in one place.


Find Pre-Vetted Influencers for Free Now

Ready to find influencers for free and simplify your campaign management? Sign up for Glewee here.

By joining Glewee’s Starter tier, you can launch campaigns that do the heavy lifting for you—again and again and again. From connecting you with pre-vetted Creators for free to equipping you with influencer marketing tools for step-by-step success, Glewee is the only platform you need to find influencers who generate content, awareness, and conversions for your SMB.


Enhance Your Influencer Marketing

Glewee is not limited to unlimited campaigns that connect you with your perfect influencers for free. The platform contains advanced features that enhance influencer discovery and social media collaboration.


How Can I Determine the Effectiveness of an Influencer Marketing Collaboration with an Influencer?

For SMBs, measuring the return on investment (ROI) when working with influencers is crucial. Evaluating the success of these collaborations involves establishing goals and monitoring metrics. This section will guide you on how to assess your influencer marketing campaigns without an interactive dashboard.


1. Establish Clear Goals

As discussed earlier, before launching an influencer marketing campaign, defining what success means for your business is essential. Whether it’s increasing Brand awareness, driving website traffic, or boosting sales, having objectives will shape your campaign’s direction and determine which metrics to track.


2. Monitor Engagement Rates

Engagement rates-—such as likes, comments, shares, and overall interaction with the content—indicate how the influencer’s message resonates with your target audience. Higher engagement rates suggest an alignment between the influencers’ content and your audiences’ interests.


3. Track Website Traffic from Influencer Referrals

Utilize web analytics tools to monitor the volume of traffic redirected to your website from the influencer’s content. This metric is crucial in understanding how effectively the influencer motivates their followers to act.


4. Measure Increases in Sales or Leads

To gauge the success of your conversion-focused campaign, it’s important to keep an eye out for any increases in sales or leads that can be directly attributed to the influencer’s efforts. One effective way to measure this is using UTM codes or tracking links.


5. Assess Brand Awareness and Sentiment

Assessing how the influencer campaign impacts brand awareness and sentiment is crucial. Apart from metrics like sales and website traffic, you can utilize listening tools to monitor the rise in brand mentions and evaluate the sentiment behind these mentions across various social media platforms.


6. Analyze Long-term Effects

Sometimes, the effects of collaborating with an influencer may not be immediate but rather accumulate over time. It’s essential to analyze the long-term impact on factors such as brand loyalty, repeat customers, and sustained engagement on your social media channels.

By monitoring these metrics, SMBs can comprehensively understand the effectiveness of their influencer collaborations. This insight helps evaluate ongoing campaigns and shapes future influencer marketing strategies.


Closing Words

In conclusion, we’ve explored the intricacies of influencer marketing and discovered that SMBs can indeed find influencers without spending a fortune. It’s now easier than ever for SMBs to confidently execute influencer campaigns when faced with budget constraints.

This guide has shed light on how SMBs can identify, connect, and collaborate with influencers who represent their Brand values and directly engage their target audience. By using the resources available, such as social media platforms and helpful tools like Glewee, SMBs can now venture into influencer marketing without incurring significant expenses.

The landscape of influencer marketing is constantly evolving. Through this evolution, SMBs have opportunities to expand their Brand’s reach and genuinely connect with audiences. The strategies and insights shared above are intended to empower SMBs by transforming influencer marketing obstacles into sustainable social media partnerships.

Whether you’re new to influencer marketing or seeking to elevate your marketing strategy, it’s important to remember that Brands of all sizes can engage in influencer collaborations. Embrace the process. Establish relevant connections. Witness your Brand expand. See you on the platform!

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