When you first hear the word ‘influencer,’ what comes to mind? The Kardashians? Fashion bloggers with their own mini-empires? You’re not alone. When we think of influencers, we often think of well-known celebrities with millions of followers on every social account.
By now, most people are familiar with those high-profile people or ‘influencers’ posting sponsored content in partnership with major brands. And now, it’s more accessible to brands than ever – making it a marketing strategy that is here to stay.
While most people tend to go for the big names in their industry, and the millions of followers that come with them, there’s opportunity in marketing with smaller influencers too.
Welcome to the world of micro-influencer marketing.
What is a micro-influencer?
There’s no denying the power and influence of a macro-influencer with a large audience of loyal followers. Micro-influencers, however, are much more accessible, and when done right, can get you similar (and sometimes even better) results.
While a micro-influencer’s follower base is significantly smaller than that of a mega-celebrity, it doesn’t affect the influence over those followers. These micro-influencers are still trusted thought leaders in a respective category or ‘niche,’ resulting in a highly-targeted audience—an alluring asset to anyone looking to utilize said audience to promote a product or service.
In fact, their smaller audiences are one of the main reasons they are often the better choice when it comes to influencer marketing. It allows them to build stronger relationships with their followers through direct engagement. As a result, their followers tend to be more loyal, more active and ultimately more invested in their success.
Why use micro-influencers?
To some, using a micro-influencer might seem counterintuitive.
“Wait. You want me to seek out someone with a smaller following to promote my brand?”
Actually, yes. While numbers may matter to some extent, it is influence and the impact it has that matters so much more.
Micro-influencers deliver higher engagement rates
Believe it or not, there’s such a thing as being too popular. As an influencer’s popularity grows, they start getting more and more followers, and it continues to grow exponentially. Now, instead of a small, targeted audience, you have people (and bots) from all walks of life.
According to a study by influencer marketing platform Markerly, as a social media influencer’s audience increases, their audience engagement begins to decrease. From their survey of 2 million social media influencers on Instagram, they found that those with 10, 000 to 100,000 followers boast a 4 percent ‘like’ ratio, whereas that ratio drops to 1.7 percent for influencers with 1 to 10 million followers.
Markerly CEO and co-founder Sarah Ware told Digiday that partnering with the Kardashian and Jenner sisters to promote a weight-loss tea on Instagram led to a significant number of conversions. However, by activating 30 to 40 “micro-influencers,” the brand was able to obtain conversions at an even higher level.
Micro-influencers are just like us
Okay, maybe not exactly like us. But they’re real people, so their content is real, too.
Micro-influencers also gained some traction with HelloSociety, an agency that connects brands with influencers for specific campaigns.
“Influencer marketing is still effective when they’re looked at as peers,” said Kyla Brennan, the founder and CEO of HelloSociety, “When it comes to celebrity accounts who have maybe millions of followers nobody actually believes that a celebrity is a real fan of a product they’re trying to sell,” said Brennan.
Based on the fact that micro-influencers are passionate about their particular niche, their popularity grows based on their thoughts, views and expertise—not because of their first and last name or celebrity status.
It’s also worth noting that Instagram recently changed its algorithm so that now, posts from profiles that users follow and interact with most are shown first in users feeds, making authentic, quality content prioritized over promoted content from big brands. This means content from users like micro-influencers may be more visible than content from celebrities.
Micro-influencers are more affordable
It’s no secret that top-tier influencers are pricey, and it’s largely because of their massive audience and loyal followers. However, as I said earlier, people often forget to factor in the value of engagement.
In a 2016 Global Influencer Survey, Bloglovin’ asked 2,500 influencers how much they charge by platform, and analyzed the results based on the influencers’ reach — here’s what they found:
So, yes, while micro-influencers mean fewer followers, they are more accessible than celebrities or macro-influencers, and, with enough work, you can still achieve the same results—improved brand awareness, more traffic to your website and more social media engagement—but at a much lower price.
Now that you understand the value of micro-influencers, how do you find the one that’s right for your brand?
What to look for in a micro-influencer
One of the biggest mistakes a brand can make when implementing an influencer marketing campaign is selecting the wrong influencer(s).
So, before you even start your influencer campaign, you’ll have to establish your goals. Do you want more traffic? Increased brand awareness? Or the forever favorite – an uptick in sales?
Once you determine what it is you want to achieve, you’ll be able to better understand where to start. Although finding the right micro-influencer largely depends on your particular industry, here are some general things to look for.
What sorts of subjects do they cover and talk about the most? What is their area of expertise, if any?
Who is their target audience? Does it align with yours? It’s also important to factor in their audience’s location. Will their followers be able to access your product? You can find the perfect influencer for your brand, but if their audience can’t buy your product, then that influencer isn’t much use to you.
What are they sharing with their audience? Does it fit with your brand? Finding a middle ground with your content and your micro-influencers is important. Give them creative control and their enthusiasm will be apparent in the content, not to mention their followers are more likely to be accepting of it.
In general, micro-influencers are also seen as more authentic because they are less prone to just plug products for cash. If you’ve ever bought a product from a celebrity, there’s no shame in that. But people are much more likely to buy if they see that an everyday person they identify with is passionate about a certain product.
There are countless ways to find and engage audiences, but very few that are as effective as micro-influencers. The ones that do it best are able to insert themselves into a specific category, then use their personalities to inspire and communicate with audiences.
Remember, bigger isn’t always better
In America, we seem to have an obsession with size. It’s tempting to think ‘the bigger the better’ or, in this case, ‘the bigger the following, the bigger the reach.’ There’s no denying that celebrities may be able to reach more eyeballs—they’re just eyeballs that might not care.
When in a ‘buying’ state of mind, consumers are much more likely to seek out reviews for products they are interested in on blogs and vlogs to see what ‘real’ people are saying. And what’s more, those ‘real’ people, AKA micro-influencers, are there to answer their questions for them.
When done right, a strategy that includes micro-influencers can increase sales and create buzz for your brand with content that looks just as good as the pros.
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