Ah, influencers. The rage du jour. The buzzword of all marketing buzzwords. (And well deserved, at that).
The rise of social influencers is undeniable, and Spin Sucks—thankfully for us communicators—delves into the topic regularly.
But what’s up with this surge in brands linking up with micro-influencers?
You know, the Instagrammers and bloggers with 10,000 to 100,000 followers (not the Kardashians, but also probably not your Uncle Jim).
The rise in micro-influencers is interesting to note because it seems these scrappy, oh-so-relatable personalities are beginning to capture the attention of brands big and small—and are driving results.
But bigger is not necessarily better.
In fact, once Instagram followers exceed the magic 10,000 mark, engagement starts to flatten out.
(Sorry, Selena Gomez).
Are Micro-Influencers Really Worth the Hype?
Not only are micro-influencers more accessible from a price standpoint (did your jaw also drop when Bella Thorne said she gets $65,000 per post?), they can drive higher engagement than their macro counterparts.
In addition to social media actions, they’re driving purchase decisions.
A whopping 82 percent of consumers are more likely to take recommendations from micro-influencers than the general population.
How? For one, they’re an involved part of their community.
With a smaller pool of fans, it’s easier for them to create individual relationships and regularly respond to comments.
Accordingly, this makes their communities feel special and valued.
Just as people are more apt to value advice from a friend, so do micro-influencers feel like friends to their followers.
Also, many micro-influencers are laser-focused on the authenticity of their feeds.
They won’t promote a product or service they don’t love, or at least haven’t tried.
And their fans appreciate this element of real-ness and respond in kind.
Erin Good, a food and fitness influencer with 17,000 Instagram followers, said:
I turn down collaborations that aren’t consistent with who I am. You’ll never see me post about beer because I don’t like it. I stay true to myself, and my fans appreciate that I keep it real and honest.
Are Micro-Influencers for Me?
Once considered the cheaper option for brand budgets, micro-influencers are now taking a role in marketing for brands such as Coca-Cola and Google.
A recent study found nearly 46 percent of major brands are finding it more valuable to work with micro-influencers versus those with 500,000 and more followers.
That means it’s getting tougher to grab the attention of micro-influencers when they receive pitches daily from a wide range of brands and budgets.
On the other hand, it means more choices for people to work with.
So, how can your brand best work with micro-influencers?
Here are a few tips:
- Prove you care and do your research:Because many micro-influencers don’t work through an agency or publicist, it takes time to find the right people and create real, lasting relationships. Search branded or relevant hashtags, and use identification services such as BuzzSumo, Klear, or NinjaOutreach.
- Provide a detailed ask:Why do you think your brand is a perfect fit? What is your budget? How many posts over what period are you looking for? What do you envision for messaging and content? What are your goals? The more info, the better.
- Ask questions:What is the demographic makeup of their fan base? How much engagement per post, sponsored and unsponsored, do they typically receive (likes, comments, clicks)? What has their most successful brand partnership been? Most unsuccessful?
- Take it slow: Because micro-influencers value authenticity, consider starting the relationship by taking a few small steps. Send product for them to try before agreeing to post anything. If they love it, try out one to two paid posts. If it’s a fit, resonates with their audience, and is meeting your goals, it’s time to start making long-term plans.
- Involve them:Instead of passing along a list of needs to execute, get influencers in on your brand action! Ask for honest feedback, let them help make decisions, even consider outsourcing feedback and decisions from their fans.
- Creative freedom rules:Influencers (micro or otherwise) know their audience, and its likes/dislikes best. You know your brand best. Be specific about your goals and expectations while giving them a long leash for creativity. It will ultimately win over their fans and your CEO.
Sounds Too Good to Be True. What’s the Downside?
Besides being more time-intensive, working with micro-influencers can have its pitfalls.
As exposed in recent months, many influencers (again, micro or otherwise) have fallen into the practice of purchasing fake followers.
Do some research to make sure the influencer’s content quality, consistency, and engagement are at a level you’re comfortable with.
Working with micro-influencers can also take more legwork on your end.
Because many do this as a side hustle and represent themselves, you must have a compelling pitch ready and a list of your specific needs.
Madison Bessinger, a food influencer with 20,000 Instagram followers and a website devoted to restaurant recommendations, gave this advice:
I have learned it is important to clarify expectations prior to doing a promotion. Will it be paid? If so, how much and can we get it in writing? Does this require a post on my Instagram account? If so, how many posts? What aspect of the restaurant do you want me to highlight? What’s the story/message you’d like to tell? It helps to make sure the engagement is successful for both parties involved.
Micro-Influencers Can Attract Brands THEY Want to Work With
I recently had a micro-influencer ask me, “What do PR people and brands wish we knew before partnering up?”
This question was like chicken soup for a PR person’s soul. I could have hugged her on the spot.
In addition to being prepared with their expectations and track record, micro-influencers can capture the attention of brands in a few simple ways:
- Use your words:A picture may tell 1,000 words, but the story accompanying it—even a simple caption—is extremely valuable. I recently saw a sponsored post that merely said, “I tried these flavors, and they were good.” That’s it?! As a fan, I’m not convinced. And if you’re an influencer and don’t dig those flavors, pass up the partnership. A compelling narrative goes a long way.
- Be yourself, online and off:Tamara Waterson, the fashion and lifestyle influencer behind Champagne and Macaroons, said this, “Brands are looking for an authentic voice, so listen to what your followers want to know or like to see. I constantly ask my readers what they want to know or see more of on my social channels. And be who you are on and off the screen. It is easy to see when people aren’t authentic or meaningful. Yes, you are building a business but at the end of the day keep it real because you want to earn your reader’s trust.”
- Know your brand and stick to it:Madison Bessinger says, “The best advice I’ve ever gotten on establishing myself is that instead of looking at others who are doing similar things as me in the market, I should instead forge my own. So many influencers accept any promotion that comes their way, but in the process, they lose sight of their own personal brand identity. Trying to be successful by comparing and copying, you limit your ability to break out of the norm and into the possibility of creating something completely unique.”
Hopefully, you’ve found inspiration to make your own micro-influencer magic happen!
Photo by Jan Traid on Unsplash