Every year seems to bring a new marketing buzzword—some of which turn out to be mere fads and others which turn out to be lasting additions to the marketing toolbox.

This year’s most buzzworthy term is influencer marketing—and if you haven’t heard anyone bandying it about yet, just you wait. You’ll be hearing about it soon enough.

For small business owners who are focused on growing their companies and serving their customers, of course, keeping up with these new tools of the trade can be taxing—but don’t worry: We’ve got you covered. Below are four bite-sized morsels of influencer marketing knowledge—enough for you to get a sense of what it is and whether you need to learn more.

  1. What is influencer marketing?

For starters, a definition: Influencer marketing hinges on the idea that, within any industry or field, there are certain people who just wield more influence than others—especially on social media. Influencer marketing is all about connecting with these movers and shakers. This may be as simple as finding an influential person in your field, mentioning him or her in some tweets, and getting those tweets retweeted by the influencer to a vast and interested audience.

In short, influencer marketing is all about leveraging your connections with authoritative people—and allowing some of that authority to rub off on you.

  1. How popular is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is not new, but it is gaining in popularity—to the extent that, according to Adweek, 84 percent of marketers plan to implement influencer marketing this year, with nearly half calling it a “very effective strategy” and an additional 34 percent calling it “somewhat effective.” About 81 percent of marketers say they have gotten positive results with influencer marketing!

  1. What are the problems with influencer marketing?

Of course, with any marketing tool or technique, there are challenges to be overcome. The biggest challenge that small business owners face with influencer marketing is, frankly, finding the influencers—discovering who the most influential people in their field really are, and establishing meaningful rapports with those people.

Another challenge: Defining metrics. Business owners who embrace this strategy will need to get a good sense of what they wish to accomplish, and how they are going to measure it. The clearest benefit to influencer marketing is increased reach, but still, defining goals and reporting methods is key.

  1. How do small business owners get started with influencer marketing?

So for small business owners, what’s the best way to get started with influencer marketing? The best way is likely to contact a content marketing firm like Grammar Chic and work out a full, robust marketing plan. Some alternate, DIY steps include:

  • Do some social media research to construct a list of influential people in your industry, perhaps dividing them into different tiers of authority and reach.
  • Clearly define your goals and what you hope to accomplish.
  • Start building an amiable, professional relationship before soliciting the help of an influencer.
  • Make sure that you personalize your outreach efforts, rather than using canned or spammy messaging.
  • Regularly track your metrics and appraise your progress.