Think Micro: Leveraging Micro-Influencers to Market Your Brand
You can’t browse Instagram or Youtube without seeing a sponsored post or video. Everyone seems to be selling something—from post-workout shakes, to hair dye, to artisan jewelry. Whether or not those influencer campaigns are effective, however, depends on a whole host of factors. One of those factors, unsurprisingly, is the size of the influencers’ audience. But, here’s the thing: Bigger isn’t always better.
When we reference about traditional social media influencers, we’re talking about people who have a large number of followers on their chosen social media platform(s). Typically, on global platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, these followers come from all around the world.
Micro-influencers, however, have a much smaller follower base, and they’re not typically “professional influencers.” For some of these micro-influencers, social media is little more than a hobby that’s suddenly taken off. (Think of the “popular mom” in the neighborhood who runs the PTA, brings the most elaborate dishes to the neighborhood potlucks, hands out the best candy at Halloween, and has thousands of IG followers who keep up with updates on all of it.) They typically have between 10,000 to 50,000 followers. Although that may seem like a large number to your average social media user, it’s small compared with the top influencers who boost follower counts in the millions.
Micro-Influencer Pros and Cons
So, why use micro-influencers when their “macro” counterparts have more followers and farther reach? Well, there are some distinct advantages that you can only get by working with smaller influencers. There are, however, also, some clear drawbacks.
On the plus side we have:
- Lower Cost: Top influencers with 1 million to 3 million followers on Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat charge $3,000-5,000 per post. Partnerships with micro-influencers, on the other hand, are much cheaper. Many of them have never partnered with a brand before and are just happy to make any profit from their hobby. While you may end up shelling out thousands of dollars for a single sponsored post from a big-name influencer, micro-influencer posts usually go for under $200.
- Better Engagement Rates: Unlike celebrity endorsements, influencer marketing feels more personal. You can comment on an influencer’s post, and you just might get a response. Getting a recommendation from a favorite influencer is like getting a recommendation from a trusted friend. With a more close-knit community, these micro-influencers tend to be more connected to and engaged with their followers. This closer relationship means that followers tend to trust micro-influencers more than traditional macro-influencers.
However, the drawbacks of working with a micro-influencer are:
- Lack of Experience: Macro-influencers are professionals. They’re professional models, photographers, chefs, makeup artists, etc. They know how to make a product look good because they’ve done it before. Micro-influencers, on the other hand, don’t have the same level of experience. They may not be used to featuring a product in their photos, or they may not know the ins and outs of partnering with a brand. So, if you’re thinking of partnering with a micro-influencer, don’t assume that they necessarily have the process down pat.
- Lack of Oversight: Most micro-influencer partnerships are conducted through an influencer platform where brands can find influencers that fit their needs. The brand then hires the influencer and gives them a short brief on the assignment. After that, it’s out of their hands. A brand may write in their brief that their line of organic herbs and spices is meant to be shown as an upscale product for hobbyist chefs, but there’s no guarantee that the influencer won’t just take a picture of some basil sprinkled over takeout pizza and call it a day. Most influencers will have a natural incentive to keep the quality of their content high to appeal to both their followers and future partner brands, but you never really know what you’re going to get.
Tips for Working with Micro-Influencers
If you do choose to go the micro-influencer route, there are some ways to make the experience go a bit more smoothly:
1. Do Your Research.
Evaluate any potential influencer partnerships to ensure that their philosophy and aesthetic matches that of your brand. Most micro-influencers operate within a highly specialized niche. While someone may identify as a “food blogger,” they probably have a specialty or unique flair that they use to set themselves apart from other influencers. Maybe that means they only post gluten-free recipes or international cuisine.
So, if you’re looking to partner with a “food blogger” (or fitness guru, makeup artist, etc.), don’t just approach every influencer with a decent follower count. Find out what they’re known for and their audience demographics. Make sure your brands are a good fit for one another.
2. Make a Connection.
It’s a good idea to gauge how an influencer interacts with their followers prior to asking them to rep your brand. Afterall, the people you choose as brand ambassadors reflects who you are as a business.
That’s why you want to spend some time reaching out and making a connection before you dive into a strategic partnership. Start off by following their social channels, commenting, asking questions, and just getting to know the influencer as a person. Pay attention to their responses to fans, and their overall level of professionalism to tell whether or not you can trust them with your brand’s reputation.
3. Set Clear Expectations.
Partnering with a micro-influencer is like working with any other independent business, so to protect both of your business interests, you need a contract to outline compensation structure and deliverables. A verbal agreement just doesn’t cut it.
Make sure you’re both on the same page when it comes to how you want your product represented, any language you want included in captions, and when/how often you expect the influencer to post your sponsored content.
4. Let Them Be Creative.
I know we said to set guidelines, but resist the urge to micro-manage your micro-influencer campaign. You did all that work to find and connect with the micro-influencer who’s just the right fit for your brand. You came to them because they’re good at what they do, so let them do it!
If you dictate exactly what you want them to post, it can come off as inauthentic. Your influencer knows their audience and knows what it takes to get them engaged, so make sure to give them the creative freedom to leverage that information.
Overall, with micro-influencers, as with most things, you get what you pay for. While they may give you the best bang for your buck, you may have to put in more work to get your desired result. With a little effort, however, a good micro-influencer marketing campaign can be just what you need to extend your reach and boost your brand awareness.