Influencer marketing is now a billion dollar game on Instagram, that’s right, billion with a B.
It’s because it works: influencer marketing campaigns boast some of the highest ROI metrics available to marketers today. But its effectiveness also means the price of entry can be exclusionary for most teams.
But what if there was a way to see explosive ROI with influencer marketing on a scale that wouldn’t eat up half of your monthly marketing budget? Most of us would jump at the opportunity to leverage an influencer who deeply believes in our brand’s mission and gives straightforward, actionable advice…if we could do it for a fraction of the cost.
So What Is a Micro-Influencer?
Micro-influencers are brand advocates who have a deeply engaged, niche audience. They generally have between 1,000 and 10,000 followers, and while they don’t boast Kardashian levels of stock-affecting social influence, they do offer opinions that are deeply trusted by their followers, who are generally like-minded folks looking for real talk.
Check out the difference:
Traditional Influencer: @yoga_girl
- Followers: 2.1M
- Projected Cost Per post: $25,000+
- Content: broad focus with less engagement per post
Rachel Brathen is one of the most well-known influencers in the yoga community on Instagram, boasting a reach of over 2 million followers. Her content ranges broadly from her family life to her yoga practice.
However, according to Forbes, because of Brathen’s expansive reach and position as a thought leader on the platform she charges a minimum of $25,000 per sponsored post.
- Followers: 8.9K
- Projected Cost Per post: $130
- Content: narrow focus with engaged community
Anna Guest-Jelley runs the Instagram account @curvyyoga, and while she posts somewhat similar content to Brathen, her content is more narrowly focused. Guest-Jelly’s account also features pictures of her yoga practice and family life, but her content is all laser-focused on accessible, body positive yoga.
Because of this narrowed focus Guest-Jelley’s account (and others like it) have followers that make up deeply engaged, niche communities – and Influence & Co. estimates sponsored posts on accounts with similar follower counts to Guest-Jelley’s will only cost you around $130.
Why Do Micro-Influencer Marketing?
So why should you venture into these still somewhat uncharted marketing waters? The answer is simple: engagement.
Our battle cry as marketers is doing what we can to break through the noise in today’s content-saturated digital environment, working tirelessly to get our audiences to engage with us. And while a traditional influencer campaign or post will likely result in a higher volume of eyes on your brand, in a study of over 5 million Instagram posts Markedly found that the rate of engagement with influencer accounts actually decreases with increased followers.
(Image source: Markedly)
This engagement spike in micro-influencer territory is because they are hardcore brand advocates.
Their passion for their niche area makes them powerful brand evangelists adept at sparking authentic interaction with their followers: Experticity found that micro-influencers have, on average, 22.2X more conversations than other Instagram users.
And those conversations translate into action: the same study found that 82 percent of people reported they were highly likely to follow a recommendation made by a micro-influencer.
(Image source medium)
Not only do micro-influencers have more conversations, their unique position somewhere between average joe and thought leader lends itself perfectly to brand endorsements that don’t feel forced. This unique ethos makes them more able to be direct in their recommendations with 74% using a “buy it or try it” call to action in posts.
So you’re convinced, you’re ready to give this whole micro-influencer thing a try.
The magic happens when your micro-influencer’s passion lines up naturally with your brand, product, and campaign – that’s why finding the right micro-influencer is critical.
Because the most effective micro-influencer campaigns are natural partnerships, you should always start at home: connect with your existing brand advocates.
Most social media management tools will report on who your top brand advocates are, so why not start within your own ranks? Start by taking a look at your own social channels: who is retweeting the content you post like clockwork?
Hashtags are another great way to find good fits for your brand. Searching for the most specific hashtags that are brand relevant for you will help you narrow down who has the right niche reach to marry with your message.
Free tools like hashtagify.me can also help you identify who is making waves in your niche and also what related hashtags you should mine that you might not have thought of. Other tools like BuzzSumo and Klear can also help you build a target list of micro-influencers quickly by cutting down on manual labor of spelunking through Instagram’s discover tab.
Once you have your micro-influencer brand champions identified you can check out this handy-dandy guide to actually interacting with influencers (it’s got do’s, don’ts, all the good stuff.)
And last but not least, plan big and think small. Your influencer marketing is most effective when done as a part of a campaign, especially when you’re working with the more limited reach of micro-influencers. Plan for multiple posts from a few different micro-influencers to build a rising tide of dedicated brand advocates who drive organic engagement.
Start by thinking holistically about how you can build a campaign with continuity over multiple accounts leveraging several micro-influencers in sightly different niches. Chances are your audience is following more than one of them, so spreading around the message and having multiple trusted influencers driving your call to action can amount to impressive results.
Go Small or Go Home
Today’s buyers are overwhelmed by constant advertising and a sea of endless content on social media and everywhere else. While earning someone’s trust in marketing is decidedly more difficult than it was 10 years ago, people still inherently trust personal recommendations from their peers or professional networks.
And that is what a well-executed micro-influencer campaign delivers: a strong recommendation from someone your audience trusts, with real ROI for marketers.