When you think about influencer marketing, you may think of big-name celebrities like Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Kim Kardashian. In other words, you imagine someone with a pretty astronomical fan base.
However, a more realistic, and effective approach for brands might start with thinking small, or “micro”. After all, studies suggest that 82% of consumers are “highly likely” to follow micro-influencer recommendations.
If you’re thinking about starting an influencer marketing campaign, this post is for you. Before you start hiring five-figures influencers, you first need to consider hiring “micro-influencers.”
What Are Micro-Influencers?
The followers might be on YouTube, social media, or blog posts, and the bottom line is that they’re often more loyal, and engagement-friendly than typical followers. That means you get more traffic to your e-commerce platforms and more conversions.
To help you get a better idea of what micro-influencers are capable of when it comes to ecommerce, the “Markerly” team ran an excellent study in 2016 that looked at the link between engagement and influencer size on Instagram. This research discovered that the more famous a person was, the more their engagement levels dropped.
In fact, it was the micro-influencers with between 10,000 and 100,000 followers that saw the best interaction from their audiences. Additionally, Experticity found that micro-influencers typically prompt 22.2x more conversions than typical Instagram users.
Therefore, when it comes to working with micro-influencers, what matters isn’t audience size, but quality.
Thinking Micro, Instead of Macro: Big Things Come in Small Packages
So, what is it that makes influencer marketing — micro, or macro — so effective for driving traffic to ecommerce platforms today?
The answer is that consumers are becoming more efficient at tuning out typical marketing solutions, and advertisers are scrambling for new ways to reach their audience. At the same time, millennials and other big consumers are becoming increasingly engaged with people who they can develop relationships with.
Brands and online businesses that have social media presences, and companies that use storytelling in their background. Here are some statistics that make my point:
- 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations, while only 33% pay attention to ads
- 32% of all internet users will be using an ad blocker by the end of this year (2017)
- 40% of Millennials feel that their favorite YouTuber understands them more than their friends.
Because micro-influencers have a more “targeted” follower base than macro-influencers, you won’t receive as wide of an impact as you might get using a standard celebrity, but micro-influencers do offer a high quality of leads, and they’re easier to connect with too.
Micro-Influencers Give Your Brand Authenticity
Perhaps the biggest benefit of micro-influencers is that they’re real people. Not to say that celebrities are all robots, but micro-influencers are generally easier to relate to than big-name superstars.
Usually, Instagram users with several thousand followers are happy to post unique content, reply to comments, and act in a way that’s far more authentic than a typical celebrity with a social media manager.
Since Instagram recently changed its algorithm to mirror Facebook’s efforts, quality content comes above big-brand posts, which could mean that micro-influencer marketing becomes more effective than content from celebrities.
One example of how micro-influencer marketing can give your brand more authenticity can be seen in the efforts used by La Croix spring water — a social-media powered brand.
The company finds micro-influencers on Instagram and asks them to get involved with their marketing campaign by using branded hashtags. By targeting profiles with low follower counts, La Croix achieves that all-important “realness” that’s so crucial to the millennial market.
Micro-Influencers Are All About Engagement
As we mentioned above, micro-influencers are great at getting your customers engaged. From acting more realistically online by responding to tweets and messages to sharing real and unique content, micro-influencers are generally more likely to start and maintain a conversation than a typical celebrity. That means that customers approach your ecommerce store feeling confident and ready to buy.
For instance, Stitch Fix linked out to an article on Instagram which features a Q&A with a fashion-blogger and social media micro-influencer talking about dressing for her size.
The micro-influencer in question then kept the conversation going by sharing the image, linking back to Stitch Fix, and sharing the blog post link on her own Instagram profile too. This helped to boost awareness for the company, and cross-promoted content across a range of platforms to generate more engagement from a host of followers.
Since micro-influencers have small but highly-engaged audiences, your goal should be focused on getting your message weaved in the conversation the influencer has with their audience.
Don’t focus on getting as much reach as possible, but on starting a conversation in the audience’s mind.
Micro-Influencers Combine Quantity and Quality
Another big benefit of micro-influencers is that you can multiple people involved in your campaign at once! Influencer marketing generally requires a lot of hard work — and for most people, it’s much easier said than done.
It’s still possible to enhance your results by building your network of influencers so that you have a host of micro-names in your industry building the value and authority of your products.
Some marketing experts recommend that you look for ways to spread your budget across a range of micro-influencers, who can reach out to targeted audiences, rather than attempting to achieve the same level of customer by reaching out through a broader network.
Your smaller reach will lead to more exposure and downloads, and because you’re paying less money, you can combine quality and quantity.
For instance, Hawaii’s Department of Tourism used the micro-influencer technique when it created the Instagram “#LetHawaiiHappen” campaign. By partnering with a range of Instagram users who were both Hawaii natives, and travel bloggers, they could promote and share events that encouraged more interest in visiting Hawaii.
The company connected with photographer Rick Poon to showcase Hawaii-themed images on Instagram.
The campaign would eventually drive more than 100K posts in a year, generating a lot of interest in Hawaii’s tourism.
Remember to Show Your Influencers Some Love
In a world of infinite choices, it’s important to remember that your influencers are being approached with offers every day — so make it clear why they should work with your brand.
Tailor your message to their needs, instead of your own, and use connections and emails that outline the true value of your organization, and what you can provide not just in terms of compensation, but experience too!
Influencers sift through plenty of emails each day, and they’re far more likely to pay attention to something that speaks to whatever they care about most. Only once you’ve really gotten their attention can you try to bribe them with promotional codes and payments.
Micro-influencers might not be quite as popular as their macro-counterparts quite yet, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have incredible value to offer you and your company. If you can show the micro-influencers in your industry that you respect their expertise, and give them a reason to work with you, then you can benefit from better engagement, greater authority, and an audience of more loyal followers.
Ivan Kreimer is a content marketer at Foundr, a leading media company that helps entrepreneurs launch and grow their online businesses. His advice has been featured in Entrepreneur, MarketingProfs, KISSmetrics, among others.