Social media influencers, particularly micro-influencers are increasingly becoming a valuable resource for marketing brands online.
But what is influence marketing, and how can you benefit from micro-influencer marketing?
What is Influence Marketing
The growth Social media in recent years has enabled brands and businesses to market themselves in ways previously unimaginable.
Social media’s low barrier to entry in terms of cost and reach has in many ways made the marketing playing field more even, and at the very least more accessible.
Brand minnows and even businesses with an already healthy marketing footprint have blossomed with outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Periscope.
As people and brands reach out with their core messaging, Social media has created a new hero in the online space, the super-influencer.
In essence, these are turbo-charged celebrity product endorsements. And instant name recognition and overwhelming messaging reach can and does produce an attention-getting campaign.
While Kim Kardashian can earn around 300k for brand endorsements, companies like Skechers find such engagements a no-brainer.
Sensitive brands will call these relationships, ‘partnerships’.
Another successful influencer-brand partnership includes Justin Beiber and Calvin Klein. Within 48 hours of the marketing launch, #mycalvins generated more than 1.6 million mentions and increased sales as a result. Ironically, if we were to talk to a ‘Belieber’ ( a GenY, or Millennial ) about this campaign, they would more than likely assume that it was Justin paying Calvin Klein for their reach and demographic.
A fascinating example of influence marketing to date is the famous Ellen Degeneres Oscar selfie. Apparently unplanned, Ellen pulls out her Samsung Galaxy Note to take a selfie of some A-listers at the 2014 Oscars. The photo was promptly re-tweeted 3 million times and earned Samsung between 800 million and 1 Billion dollars as a result.
Who are these Micro-Influencers
But what if you can’t afford 300k to get Kim on board with your branding.
What if you can’t get within arm’s length of Ellen and her smartphone.
Well, all is not lost.
Introducing ….. drum roll, please ….. , the Micro-Influencer.
There’s no formal definition of a micro-influencer. However, they are generally regarded as having a ‘significant’ number of followers on social media, but nowhere as near the numbers as Katy Perry (97M followers ) or Cristiano Ronaldo ( 51.5M followers ) have.
Micro-influencers are much more accessible and certainly more affordable than traditional super-influencers. They tend to be more authentic in the sense that they have more time to engage with their own followers in a meaningful way.
They are also more likely to want to partner with you, than demand a cash transaction.
Recently, fast food giant McDonalds, teamed up with 14 Instagram influencers to promote its McCafe. Some of these micro-influencers included:
1. Cierra Ramirez – 1.7M Followers
2. Jeff Wittek – 359K Followers
3. Becca Tilley – 1.1M Followers
4. Steven Kim – 160K Followers
So the numbers of followers pale compared with Katy Perry for instance, but they’re nothing to be sneezed at. The posts themselves garnered hundreds of thousands of likes, comments and up to 17% engagement, which was considered a huge success for the brand.
But what if these type of micro-influencers also fall into the too-hard basket.
Too hard to reach, too expensive, too difficult?
Rest assured, there are a vast number of micro-influencers that have far fewer followers who can still have an enormous impact on your branding.
A great example of this is Tom’s of Maine, who manufactures natural-only personal care products. They decided to team up with a number of micro-influencers with between 500 and 5000 followers.
Essentially normal customers with modest reach.
These influencers were carefully selected for their ability and willingness to engage with their followers in ways that benefited the brand’s medium to long-term goals of better understanding their target market; through surveys and feedback.Amazingly, for every 1000 micro-influencers deployed, Tom’s of Maine accrued more than 6000 social media interactions, and huge ROI in terms of online marketing engagement.
“This example clearly shows how you don’t always have to go big with influencer marketing. A strong network of micro- and mid-level influencers, relevant to your niche, should have the desired effect on engaging your target audience,” Shane Barker – Digital Marketing Consultant.
Easy steps you can take to benefit from Micro-Influencers:
1. Finding Potential Micro-Influencers
Finding the right micro-influencer is essential for any successful branding campaign. Just because someone has thousands of followers, by itself does not mean that they are a good fit.
By the same measure, someone with fewer followers than you would like may be a better fit due to the way they treat their followers.
1) Have a look at FollowerWonk which lets you find potential micro-influencers on Twitter based on keyword selection. It has a powerful free plan which includes finding and viewing social authority rankings, followers, and activity status.
2) Check out Buzzsumo.com to see what content performs best online for your brand, and the relevant influencers who may be a good match. Buzzsumo has a 14-day trial that gives you time to see if this is the right platform for you to use, before splashing out on one of their paid plans.
3) Epictions is another platform where you can match high performing content trends with those influencers already promoting this type of content. Epictions also has a free trial, as well as monthly or yearly plans.
4) AnewsTip can help you find relevant media influencers, journalists and media outlets. You can get a free account here as well, albeit with limited features. Even with limited features, it is a powerful tool if you are looking for journalist influencers.
2. How to Engage with Micro-Influencers
As mentioned earlier, true micro-influencers are less likely to view their relationship as sheer transactional. The ones that are most likely to help, will be the ones who are interested in your story, and may even help their brand.
Some will inevitably want to provide their help as a true partner, with the expectation that they would have some sort of equity in your business. These arrangements can inevitably be a win-win for all parties.
1. Do your research
Don’t be blinded by the sheer number of followers and the number of social platforms they may be dominating. Consider the likelihood that they are likely being bombarded by people like you every day. Consider all the factors that render any potential arrangement as being a good fit or not.
2. Don’t ask first……. Offer
Offer something of value first. Perhaps offer them a guest post on your blog. Maybe even offer to curate or republish their content on your blog. Foster a professional relationship. Other than perhaps some cash, ask yourself, ‘what’s in it for them?’.
Be honest and upfront, and offer to be helpful. Helping solve one of their problems is an obvious path, so if they’re looking for more exposure or validation, then helping syndicate their message is a great approach.
3. Follow & Support
Sign up to their email list, ask questions, engage on THEIR social media. You may even find it logical to try and be their brand advocate, by purchasing their wares and promoting that fact. Maybe even hiring them in a professional capacity, as this will demonstrate your conviction in their potential influence.
Ultimately you need to ask your questions; how many channels, how much, how long and so on. If you followed the previous steps, then this will seem a natural progression in elevating your relationship.
There aren’t any strict rules regarding how to do your outreach. This will depend on your personality, your natural way of working and how easy your micro-influencer has made it, to be contacted.
Just make sure you don’t over-ask, for a whole bunch of reasons. There are a plethora of options out there, so don’t take it personally if a connection or arrangement does not work out with one particular micro-influencer.
Micro-influencers are increasingly becoming an invaluable resource for marketing brands online. Find the right ones, treat them right, then reach a win-win arrangement that will benefit your brand.