When it comes to social followings, bigger isn’t necessarily better.
Micro-influencers are a powerful way for brands to connect with loyal niche audiences, build credibility, and drive engagement.
In this article, I’ll explain what a micro-influencer is, and why they’re worth teaming up with, and how to launch a micro-influencer campaign of your own.
What You’ll Learn:
- Influencer vs. Micro influencer
- Benefits of using a micro-influencer
- How to find the right one for your business
- Tools to help you find micro-influencers
- How influencers market products
- How an agency can help
What is a Micro-influencer?
Micro-influencers are influencers with smaller followings–which can range anywhere between 1,000 and 100,000 (the exact numbers are up for debate).
These influencers often have a loyal following, and despite the smaller size, micro-influencers often wield more influence than bigger names with millions of followers.
Part of the reason for this is, micro-influencers are more engaged with their audience than those with huge followings. Celebrities and macro-influencers can’t possibly engage with every fan on their own, and as such, the relationship between influencers and their audience becomes more distant.
Micro-influencers, by contrast, can comment, like, and share content with their audience, making them feel more like a trusted friend than a paid spokesperson.
Additionally, micro-influencers are often really informed about their niche. They’re experts on one particular topic and typically have a very engaged community of followers who value and trust their opinions.
Influencers vs. Micro-influencers: What are the Benefits of Thinking Small?
The backlash against big-name influencers began sometime around 2018 when brands started looking closely at the ROI of big-budget influencer campaigns–many of which didn’t deliver the returns they were hoping for.
Now, in the midst of a pandemic, the star-power of today’s biggest influencers is continuing to wane.
According to Linqia’s 2020 State of Influencer Marketing report, 77% of brands want to work with micro-influencers, compared to 22% that say they’d most like to work with celebrity influencers.
Okay, beyond the fact that micro-influencers are less famous than “influencer-influencers,” there are some important considerations that marketers should be aware of from an ROI perspective, including:
Authenticity & Trust
Studies have found that over 90% of consumers trust recommendations from real people more than branded content.
And while yes, it makes sense that people trust a friend’s opinion, researchers found that trust remained high even when recommendations came from strangers.
According to Social Media Today, 90% of Millennial consumers say that authenticity is an important factor when it comes to deciding which brands to support.
As you put together a micro-influencer strategy, authenticity is one of the most important things to consider.
People are far more trusting of those they perceive as “authentic,” and prefer that influencers take a more “organic” approach when they promote various products or services.
In a survey published by Experticity, over 80% of consumer respondents said they were “very likely” to follow a micro-influencer’s recommendation.
While authenticity may seem subjective, you know a faker when you see one.
Avoid working with influencers who are overly aggressive in how they push products–not only can this jeopardize your campaign, it can also hurt your brand.
An estimated 15% of mobile users and 26% of desktop users use ad-blocking software to avoid ads when browsing the web. Unfortunately, for brands, that means that many display ads never reach their intended audience.
By leveraging the reach of “real” users, brands have another way to connect with their target audience. Additionally, the “realness” offered by micro-influencers may also help you get around some of the visibility issues caused by the latest Instagram algorithm change.
Higher Engagement Rates
As mentioned above, one of the biggest benefits of working with micro-influencers is that they’re a highly engaged bunch.
Because they don’t have as many followers as the Kardashians, they have more time to engage with their fans. While the mega-influencers have the advantage of reach, they lack the ability to like, comment, and connect with their audience without some paid help.
By contrast, a micro-influencer is likely to discuss pain points and solutions with their audience in a relatable way. Whereas, a celebrity influencer risks seeming “out of touch” if they take the same approach.
In this example, micro-influencer Jesse Driftwood does a nice job making a plug for Volvo sound conversational.
Driftwood is a photographer-filmmaker and highlights the car’s small cameras, which provide a birds-eye view of everything happening around the vehicle.
Celebrities and macro-influencers are expensive. A single post can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars, making this option out of reach for small to midsize brands.
Micro-influencers are far more affordable, and often, thanks to the high engagement they provide, offer more bang for your buck, too.
Do note, rates can vary considerably based on a number of factors like the number of followers, niche, etc.
According to research by CPC Strategy, influencers with 100k followers charge about $1,000 per post, on average. If it still sounds too steep, consider working with micro-influencers with 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 followers, who likely won’t charge quite as much.
Additionally, you might want to consider working with a few micro-influencers to cast a wider net and reach each of the personas you’re trying to reach.
Access to Super-Targeted Audiences
Think about micro-influencer marketing as being similar to your PPC ad strategy. Where small ad groups and super-specific landing pages might not reach a huge audience, you’re reaching an audience that’s more likely to convert than those part of a catch-all campaign.
According to Markerly, micro-influencers have more targeted audiences than big names with millions of followers.
The goal of influencer marketing is to reach a larger share of your target audience so that you can drive qualified traffic to your site and lock down more conversions.
As such, partnering with a celebrity influencer isn’t always your best bet.
For example, if makeup-brand partners with a celebrity to promote a product line, the brand will reach a huge audience. The problem is, the majority of that audience might not be interested in makeup.
How to Find the Right Micro-Influencers for Your Business
Before launching an influencer marketing campaign, you’ll need to figure out some goals for this strategy.
Common influencer marketing goals include the following:
- Build an audience
- Increase awareness
- Generate leads
- Boost engagement
- Drive conversions
- Build links
- Improve loyalty
Once you have an idea of what you want to accomplish with your influencer marketing campaign, you’ll want to work through the following steps:
Start doing research about your target audience. Look at buying behaviors, demographics, interests, and preferences. Remember, your goal is to make sure that the micro-influencer you partner up with has a following composed of members of your target audience.
One of the best ways to find the right micro-influencers for your brand is to search for hashtags or keywords related to your brand/niche. Searching for branded hashtags will help you identify users already talking about your brand–which is a great way to find potential influencer partners for your campaign.
Dig into Your Social Analytics
Best case scenario, you already have micro-influencers following you on social media. Look at your own followers to find known-influencers that are already following you, as well as anyone in your audience that already has a sizable following.
Look at Followers & Engagement
While audience size should be taken into consideration, it’s not the most important factor when it comes to identifying potential micro-influencers to target.
Instead, look at the engagement rates that their posts receive, as well as how often they interact with their audience.
Here’s an example from fast-fashion retailer, Forever 21. The brand partnered with plus-size fashion influencer, Krystal Heredia to promote their plus-size collections.
Heredia’s body-positive Instagram account and engaged community made this partnership a smart move for the retailer.
How Do Influencers Talk about Products?
After narrowing your candidate pool, your next move is to look at how influencers talk about products. Does it come across as overly sales-y or promotional? Does #sponcon stick out when compared with organic content?
Additionally, you’ll also want to consider how this particular micro-influencer can help you reach your campaign goals. For example, if you’re trying to drive sales, look at how influencers include links to other products in their posts.
Keep in mind, authenticity is a big factor–look at whether it seems like the influencer stays true to their personal brand when promoting products or if it feels like they’re pushing products they don’t care about.
Again, followers can sniff this stuff out immediately, and working with the wrong influencers can damage your brand.
Evaluate Content Quality
After identifying some potential prospects, you’ll then want to evaluate their content to make sure that it fits your vision. Beyond the number of followers, niche, and audience, evaluate influencer content based on whether their unique voice is complementary to your brand’s unique voice.
The best influencers are masters at creating a narrative around the products they promote and building relationships with their fans.
Here’s an example from La Croix’s partnership with Amanda Catherine Designs. The sparkling water brand partnered with micro-influencers in the lifestyle space to create drink recipes featuring the beverage.
Amanda’s post outlines a basic drink recipe–mango La Croix + white wine.
Nothing super innovative, but she does a nice job creating a conversation around a drink you might whip up on a sunny weekend afternoon.
Create an Offer
After you’ve identified your top prospects, your next move is coming up with an offer that makes sense in the context of their organic and paid posts.
Offers might include free products, swag, something personalized or unique, along with a short note that introduces your brand.
You might try something like this if you’re reaching out to a relatively unknown influencer:
We love (X, Y, & Z about your account).
We hope you enjoy (what you are sending) and would love it if you could give us a shout on your social media!
It would really mean a lot and we’d be happy to promote your post as well.
We will also be happy to send your more goodies in the future!
You can also ask influencers how much they charge per post or if they’re interested in a long-term partnership.
What Kinds of Tools Help You Find Micro-influencers?
There are countless tools available to marketers that make it easy to find micro-influencers (or influencer-influencers) in your niche.
Here are a few recommendations, though this is by no means a comprehensive list:
- GroupHigh. GroupHigh is an influencer marketing tool that allows you to research influencers of all shapes and sizes and create prospect lists to inform your strategy. This platform allows you to filter out fake profiles, automate data gathering, and report on your efforts.
- BuzzSumo allows you to discover potential influencers by searching for relevant keywords. The platform also allows you to analyze your competitors’ strategies and can help you see which influencers are boosting their content and ID which posts perform best.
- Keyhole. Keyhole bills itself as a hashtag analytics platform, though it comes with several influencer marketing tools. Users can identify new influencers by searching for topics, hashtags, keywords, and brands, perform market research, and dig into audience engagement stats.
- BuzzStream. BuzzStream is a digital PR platform that can help you research influencers, perform outreach, and manage your relationships. This platform is especially useful for identifying influencer contact info, analyzing their audience, and reviewing performance metrics.
For more tips and tools for finding influencers in 2020, check out my recent post on this topic. While I focus on influencers in general, the same best practices apply to micro-influencers, as well.
How an Agency Can Help You Find Micro-influencers
Even with the right tools and tactics in place, building out a micro-influencer strategy is a lot of work.
It’s also worth noting that getting this right isn’t a one-time thing–managing influencers is a long-term strategy that depends on relationship-building, collaboration, and constant measurement.
As such, brands may want to consider outsourcing their micro-influencer strategy to an agency that can handle some or all of the process.
Strategies may include:
- Influencer research
- Strategy & planning
- Outreach & relationship management
- Campaign management
- Partner recruitment
- Reporting & analytics
If you’re seriously researching influencer marketing agencies, be sure to ask them how they measure success.
They should be able to explain how many people you reached and how many of those users visited your website, made a purchase, or signed up for your mailing list.
Perhaps more importantly, they should be able to prove the ROI of each campaign and align performance metrics around your business objectives.
Thinking about becoming an influencer yourself? A social media agency can help guide you there as well. Check out this video for one way to get started!
Micro-influencers can be a highly-effective promotional tool.
They’re great for connecting with audiences, building trust, and driving engagement on your social accounts.
Still, micro-influencer marketing might not be the right strategy for every brand. Micro-influencers are super-effective on Instagram, where eye-catching products like clothing, food, and beauty products steal the show.
By contrast, if you sell software or another technical product/service, Instagram captions might not be your best medium for spreading the word.
In that case, you might target YouTubers that review technology or small brands that may be interested in a partner program.
It’s also worth noting that many brands work with several micro-influencers at a time and maintain long-term relationships with these partners. As your influencer program grows, managing and recruiting new micro-influencers becomes a full time job–or several jobs.
While the strategy is no doubt worth the investment, consider whether it makes sense to work with an agency or keep influencer marketing in-house.