Influencer marketing has become one of the most important strategies for businesses that want to expand market share and brand awareness. A company with almost no sales and non-existent website traffic can suddenly become inundated with orders after a single influencer interaction.
However, many brands have resisted this form of marketing because they think they can’t afford it. After all, aren’t influencers big-name celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker and Kendall Jenner?
Even the smallest brands can find success through partnering with micro-influencers. These professionals have strong fan bases in small niches. They don’t have the follower numbers that a Kardashian might attract, but they may have more sway over their followers, and their audience is the same as yours.
What Is Micro-Influencer Marketing?
A micro-influencer is an internet personality who has a following around a target niche. For instance, food and beverage marketing has become prevalent on Instagram. Since food marketing relies heavily on imagery, Instagram offers the ideal social platform.
If you’re marketing a particular food or beverage, you could partner with an Instagram micro-influencer who’s interested in all things food-related. He or she might have 10,000 followers rather than 10 million, but the audience matters. Since these people care about food and drink and are engaged with this influencer, they’ll be more likely to check out your products if the influencer recommends them.
Influencer marketing works well because people buy products and services when they get recommendations from people they trust. While a food blogger doesn’t get together for coffee with his or her audience every Wednesday, his or her voice has become one in which the audience has built confidence. Micro-influencer marketing simply pares down the model and streamlines it.
What Should You Look For in a Micro-Influencer?
Before you jump into the micro-influencer pool, start thinking about what you want in such a professional. Who is your ideal influencer? What does he or she care about?
The answers will be different between marketers; however, there are a few qualities you’ll want to consider top priority in your search:
- Activity: Good micro-influencers stay active on their blogs and on social media. They’re always interacting with their audiences.
- Passion: You’ll want to partner with an influencer who generally cares about his or her industry. Apathy will only paint your brand in a negative light.
- Past performance: You might work with a micro-influencer who has never partnered with a company before. However, if you’re working with a seasoned veteran, review their results from previous campaigns.
- Values: Try to work with influencers who share your company’s values and beliefs. For instance, if you pride yourself on a family-friendly, safe culture, you probably don’t want to work with an influencer who curses every third word or posts racy photographs.
- Budget: Influencers generally expect to receive compensation for their efforts. Make sure his or her requests fit within your marketing budget.
You must also make sure the micro-influencer you choose to work with aligns with your brand personally. If you’re always butting heads over “creative differences,” you might never get anything done.
Should a Micro-Influencer Use Your Product?
Many brands have successfully partnered with micro-influencers who already use (and love!) the product. However, it’s not essential. You do want the campaign to remain authentic, however, so you must let the influencer try your product. If it’s not for him or her, simply keep looking for a better match.
Remember that influencer marketing works on trust. If a micro-influencer sounds inauthentic in recommendations, not only does your brand suffer, but the influencer’s audience becomes less likely to trust him or her.
How is Micro-Influencer Marketing Different from Traditional Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing sounds like a fairly simple marketing strategy, but you’ll find that influencers fall into many categories. Quickbooks identifies four different types of influencers, though they can easily be broken down into smaller categories.
For instance, some social media mavens take any attention they can get. They’re not focused on a specific goal or passion, so you might get lifestyle content one day and parenting content the next.
Even if that influencer’s following remains small, he or she doesn’t necessarily qualify as a micro-influencer.
You’re looking for a micro-influencer who has a stable following and a specific goal. Not only does this bring down the cost, but it also opens up your brand to a more targeted audience.
Pretend, for instance, that you have the opportunity to stand on stage with Taylor Swift at her next concert and say a few words about the truck hitch you invented for construction and agriculture. On that same night, you can speak to your local chapter of the Agricultural Alliance, but you can’t do both.
The Agricultural Alliance meeting is scheduled to draw 200 attendees, while the Taylor Swift show has filled 25,000 seats. That’s a huge difference. You’ll reach more people with Swift, but teen girls aren’t your target audience. They don’t care about trailer hitches — unless, of course, they’re part of the FFA. Even then, they’re not making purchasing decisions in their families.
Clearly, you’d sell more hitches by taking the speaking gig with the Agricultural Alliance. Not only will you speak to people who actually want what you’re selling, but you’ll get to talk to people personally, shake their hands, ask them what they’re looking for, and let them hold your product.
That’s the trade-off between influencers and micro-influencers.
Each micro-influencer focuses on spreading a targeted message and relating to his or her audience. It’s not about follower numbers for them; it’s about engagement and authenticity. As a marketer, that’s exactly what you want.
While micro-influencer marketing shares several qualities with its parent, influencer marketing, there are a few notable differences. When creating a content marketing strategy, you don’t want to select the wrong avenue.
Influencer marketing typically includes much larger audience sizes than micro-influencer marketing. In other words, you could be targeting celebrities who expect to receive appropriate compensation.
Micro-influencers, on the other hand, are much smaller in scale. They have respectable followings, of course, but they’re focused on a niche topic for which they have passion. Their communities consist of people who share that passion.
Remember that Agricultural Alliance meeting? You’re sitting at that table instead of the one Taylor Swift occupies. There are fewer people, but you get a more intimate connection.
Since micro-influencers have smaller follower numbers, they can interact more with their audiences. They respond to blog comments, take part in Twitter conversations, join the debate in their Facebook feeds, and otherwise get to know the people who love them.
This can prove powerful for brands, especially if you piggyback on that engagement. When working with a micro-influencer, you can engage with his or her followers, too, leading to increased engagement and further website traffic and sales.
Just like you can shake hands with people at a small meeting with the Agricultural Alliance, you can interact personally with members of a micro-influencer’s tribe. Get to know them, learn their pain points, and figure out how to reach them more effectively.
Smaller brands typically can’t afford to work with high-profile influencers. Micro-influencers, however, often charge much less, which might put them within your budget.
While influencer marketing offers a powerful strategy for bringing more consumers to the table, it shouldn’t consume your entire marketing budget. By working with micro-influencers, you control your spending while still reaping great rewards.
Do you know how much it costs to get on stage with Taylor Swift? It’s probably pretty pricey. Meanwhile, speaking at a small meeting of an organization probably costs next to nothing. Smaller businesses must manage smaller budgets, so they need micro-influencers.
Influencer generated content can prove far more valuable than content you create on your own. The micro-influencer uses his or her unique voice, mannerisms, and engagement style to connect with his or her audience.
It’s a slam dunk. However, larger influencers often depend on brands to create the most content. They’re focused more on sharing images and brief captions.
A micro-influencer may care more about content. He or she is trying to continually grow a customer base, so great content comes part-and-parcel with an influencer campaign. This means that you get access to the audience and amazing influencer-generated content.
Why is Micro-Influencer Marketing Valuable?
Now that you’re more familiar with how micro-influencers work, why should you give them a shot?
That’s easy enough to answer: You’ll gain tremendous value from the partnership. Brands all over the world have found success with micro-influencer marketing, whether they’re selling makeup or stainless steel water bottles. There’s a micro-influencer for every type of brand, and you can even find multiple influencers active on several channels.
That’s not just marketing speak, either. There are plenty of numbers to back that up:
- Like rates on Instagram drop as follower numbers go up. Influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers enjoy Like rates of 8 percent, while that number drops to 4 percent for those with between 1,000 and 10,0000 followers. (source)
- Micro-influencers often enjoy engagement numbers of more than 25 percent.
- Micro-influencers have more than 20 times more conversions than average consumers (source)
- More than 80 percent of a survey’s respondents said they were “very likely” to try a product recommended by a micro-influencer.
- A $25,000 budget can get you multiple micro-influencers and exposure to more than 5 million potential customers.