If your business hasn’t considered micro-influencer marketing, it’s time to give it some serious thought. Although it’s a fairly new concept — you might even be thinking, “what is a micro-influencer?” — and has only been buzzing since early 2016, micro-influencer marketing is one of the most affordable ways for brands to achieve real reach while remaining authentic.
We’ll tell you the most important things we’ve learned about micro-influencer marketing, and share our best tips for creating your own successful micro-influencer marketing strategy.
What the heck is a micro-influencer?
Let’s start with the basics: who are these people, and why should you care?
Micro-influencers are small-yet-mighty opinion leaders, with highly engaged social followings centered around a niche interest. Their followings are much smaller than those of celebrity influencers, but are much more likely to take actions based on their advice.
Types of influencers
- Micro-influencer – With anywhere from 1,000 to 100K followers (expert opinions vary, with some capping it at 10K), these people feel like our peers, but have followers eagerly awaiting their next post, personal tips, and recommendations.
- Macro-influencer – These people have 100K to 500K followers. Included within this category are people who make their living from being an influencer, such as bloggers and vloggers (video bloggers).
- Mega-influencer – Usually just called “influencers”, these people have 500K to 1+ million followers. They’re often celebrities, although some experts don’t consider someone to have celebrity influencer status until they have over 1 million followers.
Think of it this way: while a movie star might have over one million followers, there are any number of segments within that fanbase. If the celeb recommends a pair of shoes, how many of their followers are interested in fashion, enjoy that specific type of footwear, live in the right region to purchase them, or have disposable income for shopping?
A micro-influencer, on the other hand, typically only posts about one niche subject, which is what unites their followers and attracts new followers. With an audience that is equally passionate about their shared topic or interest, those people are much more likely to take a recommendation through to purchase.
More fun facts about micro-influencers
- They’re considered more credible and believable than celebrities, brands, or the average person because they work in or are otherwise knowledgeable about their area of influence
Micro-influencer marketing can be found on most social media platforms, but has really taken off on Instagram
- The most popular micro-influencer content categories are sporting goods and outdoor gear, fashion and footwear, fitness and wellness, beauty, and consumer electronics
- Micro-influencers typically like, comment and post as themselves, not through an assistant or social manager, which makes them feel like peers and contributes to the authentic feel of their accounts
Micro-influencers by the numbers
Data drives all of our creative decisions here at BSTRO. Naturally, we wanted to know the juicy numbers behind micro-influencer marketing, and decide for ourselves if they’re worth the fuss. And they definitely are! Take a look at these stats:
- Instagram users with 1,000 to 10,000 followers had a 4% engagement rate, while those with one to ten million followers had just a 1.7% engagement rate (source)
- According to an Experticity survey, micro-influencers have up to 22.2 times more social conversations per week, because they tend to be more passionate about their topic, and therefore their content
- The same survey indicated that 82% of customers said they would be “very likely” to follow a recommendation from a micro-influencer
- It also showed that people find micro-influencers more credible and believable, and better at explaining how a product works or can be used than the average person
- Micro-influencers are more affordable than regular influencers — 97% charge $500 or less for a promotion
As you might be thinking, 4% of a 1500-person audience doesn’t quite make up for 1.7% of an audience of one million. Many companies approach micro-influencer marketing by building a dedicated army of 50+ micro-influencers, in order to tap into their engagement rates and powers of persuasion — and it can still cost less than one post by a mega-influencer.
To top it all off, micro-influencer content is more likely to get seen by their audience — your target audience — because social media algorithms show users content with which they regularly engage.
Ready to get started with micro-influencer marketing?
If you can see the appeal of reaching a finely segmented and highly engaged audience primed to learn about and purchase your goods, let’s get moving! It’s important to understand the challenges involved and create a solid plan before you start researching and approaching influencers, so that you’re ready to manage them — and their expectations.
How to create a micro-influencer marketing strategy
Some of the biggest challenges faced by companies trying to run an influencer marketing program are figuring out how to reach the right influencers, tracking what is happening within the program, and clearly identifying the ROI.
Thinking through possible issues your team might face in these and other areas, and working them into your plan from the get-go, will help you create a smart micro-influencer marketing strategy —. and have a better chance of making it a success!
Step 1: Identify the ideal micro-influencers
Reaching and engaging with influencers is a challenge that plagues 69% of marketers, according to Social Media Week. After all, the success of your micro-influencer marketing program rests on choosing people whose opinions your target audience trusts and respects, right?
If that sounds like a daunting task, don’t stress! It does take time and research, but as long as you have a solid grasp on your brand’s goals and niche audience, you’ll be just fine.
- Start by identifying your audience
- Create buyer personas, if you haven’t already, to ensure you have a clear picture of who your ideal customer is so you can discover who they trust on social media
- Look at your most engaged customers, and visit their public social media profiles (such as Twitter or Instagram) to learn who they follow
- Search relevant hashtags to find micro-influencer accounts that feature your brand’s subject matter
- For some industries, it makes sense to search Facebook or LinkedIn groups, subreddits, and other online forums to find appropriate thought leaders
- Take particular note of people who would naturally mention, use, or review your product or service among their usual content — these are the micro-influencers for you!
There are plenty of software options and other tools that can help you source influencers, or you might consider partnering with an influencer marketing agency that specializes in this type of work.
We tested HYPR, and found its dashboard to be intuitive and extremely helpful for narrowing down the seemingly bottomless ocean of social profiles. You can create a super-granular search by narrowing down the age, gender, location, total followers, and social platforms of both your audience and influencers!
Step 2: Get to know your micro-influencers
Once you have figured out which micro-influencers might suit your business needs, it’s time to spend time getting to know them better. Don’t rush into things — this is a business partnership, not a Tinder date! First, help them see your mutual interests and shared audience, so that they’re more likely to respond favorably when you do reach out.
Micro-influencers are significantly less likely to be overwhelmed with content requests than celebrity influencers, and more likely to receive requests. But due to their niche status, they can also be hesitant to “sell out” and accept too many paid promotions that might be off-putting to their audience. This is why it’s important to make sure it’s a good fit and earn their trust before contacting them.
- Follow your potential micro-influencers on their various social media profiles, and start engaging with their content
- Comment and share it, tagging them in shares, to get their attention and show your interest
- Keep a spreadsheet or other tracking system with detailed notes on potential influencers, such as their audience size, interests, average engagement, post content quality, and additional information you can find such as values that align with your company
Step 3: Reaching out
Now that you’ve spent time establishing the right influencers and getting to know them on social media, it’s finally time to reach out! Make sure that you have the answers to all of their potential questions, and believe that the partnership is worth their while as well as your company’s.
- Send them an email if they have a contact page on a website, or a DM (direct message) through social media — but make sure either message is personalized for them
- You can also try an open call-out seeking brand ambassadors on your company’s own social media channels
- Consider both monetary and non-monetary offers — free products or services and other in-kind offers can be appealing, depending on what you offer
- Some brands use a custom landing page populated with details that thoroughly outline the potential partnership offer, so that influencers can easily peruse it at their convenience without too much back-and-forth
Step 4: Tracking your micro-influencer program
Whether you’re working with 10 micro-influencers of 500, tracking can become a logistical nightmare. Who is posting, and when? How is each post performing? Did they follow agreed-upon guidelines?
If your brand is handling its influencer marketing internally, we recommend either a really efficient system of spreadsheets or influencer software built with this purpose in mind. Tools like Traackr help companies scale their influencer marketing programs after they’ve found their footing.
Make sure that whatever your method, you also create a great communications system with each of your influencers that works for everyone involved. This way you can stay on top of schedules, questions, and other important details.
Step 5: The almighty ROI
Every marketer knows that being able to prove the value of your work can be a massive challenge! Tracking the ROI (return on investment) of a micro-influencer marketing program is no different than a social media marketing plan, in that you need to be prepared to collect the right data.
Tracking a financial ROI can be difficult, unless you are running a campaign in which each individual micro-influencer has a unique URL or purchase code they can share. LinkedIn’s expert marketing team recommends tracking non-financial returns, such as:
- Increased traffic to your website
- Increased traffic to specific landing pages
- More engagement on social media
- Increased audience size
- Brand mentions on social media
What can I do with a micro-influencer?
If you’re excited about micro-influencer marketing, but not quite sure how to incorporate it into your current marketing strategy, here are some of our favorite straightforward ideas for partnerships and things you might pay or otherwise compensate them to promote:
- Send them a product in exchange for an honest review you can share on your site/social media
- Ask them to mention, recommend, or review your product on their blog/vlog/podcast
Have them share a photo or video of your product on their Instagram, and share a branded hashtag
- Have them share a usage tip or how-to for your product on their blog or social media
- Let them do a takeover of your social (which they would support by telling their own followers to watch for their posts)
- Use their posts to promote a new product or sale
- Have them wear or use your product in their own posts and tag your brand
Micro-influencers and the law
While there are major benefits to brands, there is a danger to consumers when anyone can be paid to say something nice about almost anything on social media. Look at that whole Fyre Festival debacle! To protect consumers, laws and regulations have been put in place, and are being enforced more often — and more strictly.
For starters, influencers of all sizes are required to clearly disclose partnerships with brands.
The exact wording isn’t currently regulated, and typically involves use of words like “sponsored”, “paid”, “promoted” and “ad” (or hashtag versions) in posts. The rules do state that the words must appear before the “more” — the later part of the post copy that would be truncated and require users to click “more” in order to read. It also can’t be buried in a sea of hashtags.
These regulations are upheld in North America by the United States FTC (Federal Trade Commission), and the Canadian Competition Bureau and Advertising Standards Canada. Failure to properly disclose a partnership in a post can result in a fine of up to $11,000 in the United States. Canadian mobile giant Bell was recently fined $1.25 million for encouraging employees to write reviews without properly declaring their affiliation.
Here are some helpful micro-influencer legal guidelines reading that includes specific sources you can check to ensure your brand is playing by the rules.
Want help getting your company started with micro-influencer marketing? Reach out! Working with an agency can help ensure you have the time and resources to really take advantage of micro-influencer marketing.