Guest post by Steve Hill.
As social media has become more fundamental to marketing, it’s forged new ways to attract, reach and influence an increasingly broad customer base.
While landing a celebrity to wear or promote your product was once the PR scoop of the century, today the rising profiles of social media influencers have made reaching wider audiences much more accessible.
In fact, 2017 saw 36% of marketers invest £3,598.80 (less than $5,000) in influencer marketing. This year, 38% of marketers are predicted to invest anywhere between £17,994.25 and £35,988.50 ($25,000 to $50,000) for similar campaigns.
But as bloggers and vloggers have risen in number and following, and including them as part of marketing strategies has become the norm, they’ve started to become celebrities in their own right—with the ability to demand more money for their influence and time.
So, as a small business, how are you going to get your foot on the influencer ladder?
This is where micro-influencers come in.
Micro-influencers are celebrities in their own right, but with a significantly smaller following. Micro-influencers are those with between 5,000 and 25,000 followers. In contrast, macro-influencers have 25,000 to 100,000 followers, and top influencers are defined as those with more than 100,000 followers.
Flipping The Funnel: Micro-Influencers As The Next Gen Influencer
But do micro-influencers work as well as their counterparts with a larger following?
The short answer: definitely.
The long answer has a lot to do with how consumers are becoming increasingly savvy to traditional marketing tactics.
Generally, it would make sense that the more leads you generate, the more sales you will gain. By targeting macro-influencers, you are marketing directly to their large followings, providing you with a large number of leads to potentially convert further down the line, or, further down the funnel.
However, marketing isn’t just a numbers game.
Although macro-influencers do have a lot of followers to whom they can expose your brand, the likelihood of those actually engaging with you is relatively low. Consumer influencers like Kim Kardashian, who have more than 10 million followers, have a rate of 1.6 percent interaction with their posts, which continues to drop as the follower count rises.
This is because consumers know these celebrities only engage with these brands based on paid sponsorships, and as such, are less likely to trust their recommendations.
With micro-influencers, this funnel is flipped.
Micro-influencers have a small but highly-engaged, targeted following (top of the funnel). Their followers often relate to them, and their lifestyle, on a personal level, rather than just an aspirational one. This makes their followers much more likely to not only engage with their posts on a regular basis, but actually follow their recommendations through to purchasing.
In fact, 82% of consumers are highly likely to follow a recommendation by a micro-influencer. Micro-influencer campaigns also have 60% higher campaign engagement rates than those with much larger followings.
Bigger Is Not Always Better
It’s not the size that counts, but how you use what you’ve got.
- Higher engagement – As opposed to the 1.6% engagement rate of influencers with 10 million followers, micro-influencers have an average engagement rate per post of 8%. This higher engagement is extremely valuable across social media, especially if you want to convert a lead into a buying customer.
- Cost-effective – Surveys shows that those with 2,000 to 100,000 followers charge between £98.35 and £185.21 (roughly $150 to $250) per post, but that number goes up as soon as they hit 100,000 followers (almost £287.14, or $400, per post). This is as opposed to £107,676.06 to £179,459.63 (the “Kardashian range” of $150,000 to $250,000 per post) of much bigger accounts.
- Reach a niche demographic – Micro-influencers are more likely to attract and engage with a niche audience. They then get a following who are genuinely interested in the content they post, rather than voyeuristic followings of celebrities.
- Authenticity – Because of this, micro-influencers come across as more authentic. They appear to believe in the products the write or talk about, and integrate them into their lifestyle for utility rather than money—resulting in much higher rates of conversion.
Actionable Strategies To Start Working With Micro-influencers
Given the power they have to expose your brand to a much more qualified audience, micro-influencers are a valuable addition to your campaigns. Though trends come and go in this industry, we mean it when we say 2018 is the year of the micro-influencer.
If starting to work with micro-influencers sounds overwhelming, here are some actionable strategies to get you started.
Turn customers into advocates
One of the key things that drives the success of micro-influencers, briefly mentioned above, is their authenticity. It makes sense therefore that the most effective types of influencers are those who are existing fans of your brand—as their followers are already aware of their love for your products.
These types of micro-influencers will be even more influential as their content will naturally use the language of your everyday customers, meaning their content—and your products—are especially relatable.
A study conducted by Olapic that found that 56% of respondents were more likely to purchase products after they’ve seen them featured in a relatable or positive photo from other customers.
Brands like Glossier and Australian online retailer Billy Sixes have managed to successfully promote their brands by turning everyday customers into valuable brand ambassadors. And in the case of Billy Sixes, simply by studying their Instagram followers, identifying those with the right number of followers (15,000), and reaching out to them for photo shoots, one campaign reached an audience of 200,000 purely from influencer posts.
Even better, it’s likely you won’t have to expend a huge amount of effort to convince them to become an advocate.
Other strategies to find influencers include:
- Use hashtags – Hashtags are a valuable tool to find influencers who are operating within your target demographic and industry. You can use these on sites like Instagram and Twitter to access pools of potential influencers. And the more specific to your brand the hashtags are, the better.
- Automate it – Tools like BuzzSumo or Klear can help reduce the time spent searching for influencers and provide you with a ready-made list.
Have micro-influencers tell a story
If you really want to get noticed on people’s social media streams, a simple product photo won’t cut it. If you want people to really engage with and become aware of your brand—to go out of their way to notice your product and research your products or services—your influencers need to create a strong story around your brand and product.
A unique story, told as part of an influencer’s ongoing narrative, will reach and resonate with far more people. Whether it is a review of their experiences using your product or service, or a personal story sharing how your product has alleviated a pain point, the more personal a story is the more believable it becomes.
Foster long-term relationships
Creating ongoing campaigns, in which you return to the same influencers, builds up trust in your brand with both your influencers and your customers. This makes your influencers more likely to promote your business above other brands, and their followers begin to build up trust and positive associations with your product—converting them into repeat customers.
Keep in touch with your influencers and they could open up even more opportunities for you in the future.
Have a multi-channel approach
Take, for example, Rinck Advertising’s campaign for Daily Cocktail and Wholly Guacamole. They reached out to bloggers who have strong Twitter and Facebook followings, and whose blogs contextually fit their campaign.
When these bloggers published new content, they promoted it on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Some even provided blog giveaways. That is a lot of exposure for a couple of brands investing in the right bloggers. This campaign eventually resulted in Daily Cocktail and Wholly Guacamole reaching millions of people.
Since micro-influencers promote their own brands, partnering with them means your brand can benefit from their thousands of followers on various platforms.
Allow for organic content
Though your brand image is precious, it’s important you don’t micromanage your influencer’s content. The more authentic their content is to their own voice, the more relatable and believable it appears.
Give your influencers guidelines, but try not to restrict them in how they promote you.
E.L.F cosmetics has a great track record in successfully utilizing micro-influencers to grow their audience, and they’ve done so largely by letting their influencers create their own content.
Last year, E.l.f. Cosmetics brought 50 beauty bloggers—all of whom had an average of 1,500 followers—to San Francisco and allowed them to pick new products. These individual influencers then created and disseminated unique content across their channels, driving the brand’s ethos of authenticity forward—along with a 25% increase in Instagram followers.
The Early Brand Gets The Best Influencer
With audiences becoming increasingly skeptical of social media marketing, micro-influencers are an effective way to harness the power of social channels, without damaging your brand reputation, or exhausting your resources.
Micro-influencers can provide you with better results. However, setting up and running a micro influencer campaign does usually require more time and effort on your part. For sustainable results, you should work with multiple influencers at one time, and ensure that you keep a focus on detailed metrics to track your KPIs.
Micro-influencer marketing is quickly going to become the worst-kept secret of the marketing industry. So if you want get a head start on those early leads, get searching before your competitors lock them up.
Steve Hill is the Director of Bag Workshop, a leading UK supplier in promotional bags and custom branded bags. Having worked in marketing for over a decade, Steve stepped aside to found three separate companies under the Wurlin Promo umbrella, supplying every aspect of bespoke marketing products.