We’ve all heard of influencers and influencer marketing by now I hope. (If you haven’t I strongly suggested getting out from underneath the rock where you’ve been living). Influencer marketing is one of the most popular trends in digital marketing, and it is going to get even more popular this upcoming year.
So who are these influencers? How do you work with them to promote your product or service? Don’t freak out, we wrote this post just for you rock-dwellers, let’s dive in.
What is a Micro-Influencer?
Source: Hillary Kelly Plauche (Instagram)
Influencers are people that have a following on social media channels, such as YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Influencers develop their following by creating content that appeals to a specific audience and then engaging with that audience.
A micro-influencer is someone with a smaller audience, typically between 1k and 100k followers, and a specific niche or topic that they cover.
But why not just use a celebrity, someone with millions of followers? Wouldn’t this maximize the results?
The Benefits of Micro-Influencers
There are several advantages to using micro-influencers as compared to celebrities. Here they are:
1. People trust micro-influencers more
Statistics show that 30% of consumers are more likely to buy a product that is recommended by a non-celebrity blogger. Consumers simply relate to non-celebrity influencers more. Also, a study by Google shows that 70% of teenage YouTube audiences are influenced more by YouTubers (YouTube influencers) than traditional celebrities.
2. Better engagement
Studies show that micro-influencers have much more engaged audiences. This is because they are just starting out, and are putting time and effort into every single interaction.
The average engagement rate for an influencer with 100,000 followers is 1%. But a smaller influencer with 10,000 followers could have 6% of the audience engaged. That’s a difference of hundreds of clicks and conversions from your influencer campaign.
3. A loyal following + authenticity = sales
The followers of a micro-influencer are much more loyal, and very interested. Also, the posts of the influencer are much more authentic. So it’s much easier for your brand to sell your product or service through influencers with the smaller followings.
The Difference Between Micro-Influencer Marketing and Traditional Influencer Marketing
Even with the advantages of working with micro-influencers, there are clear advantages to using either group. The main advantage of working with micro-influencers (10k-100k followers) is that you can target a specific niche, a group of people in a specific geographical location, or people that care about a certain topic.
For example, if you were a restaurant owner, your best bet would be to work with a micro-influencer in your city or region.
On the other hand, if you want to the maximum reach and connect with a broad audience, you may want to work with a traditional influencer, (with more than 100k followers). This type of influencer marketing is good for national companies/brands, national causes, popular product categories, basically any company with a diverse and large customer base.
If you don’t have the money to pay celebrities and traditional influencers the way to get the same reach and even better results is by creating a campaign with several micro-influencers.
For example, if you pick ten micro-influencers with 15,000 followers each, your potential reach is 150,000 (same as a traditional influencer). However, the engagement of each micro-influencer is much higher than traditional influencers. So you will get more engagement, more sales, and a higher ROI overall.
How to work with micro-influencers
You’re probably wondering, how do you work with micro-influencers? Let’s dive right into that.
How to measure the impact of micro-influencers
Before setting out to find influencers, you first have to be clear about the type of impact you are looking for. There are several metrics that you should consider before starting your search.
Here are some of the more common performance metrics that are used to measure the impact of micro-influencers:
- Engagement rate – This is the likes, comments, and shares of an influencer. The easy way to calculate the engagement rate for an influencer is to take 3 of their non-promotional posts and use this formula for each post:
Engagement rate of single post = (# of likes + # of comments) / # of followers.
Then take the average of the three posts and you have their actual engagement rate.
For example, if a post has 15 likes, 5 comments, and the account has 1,500 followers the engagement rate is 15 + 5 / 1500 = 1.3%.
- Foot traffic – How much foot traffic you are looking to bring to your store from an influencer campaign?
- Web traffic – How much web traffic you are looking to bring to your website or landing page?
- Sales – How many sales do you want to make from your campaign (conversions and revenue)?
What should you look for in a micro-influencer?
There are a number of things that you should look for in a micro-influencer:
- Relevance – The micro-influencer and their content has to be relevant to your brand. It has to be aligned with your brand values, with your ideal audience and any relevant topics.
- Authenticity – The micro-influencer has to be authentic and engage authentically with their followers. They have to resonate with them and have the ability to relate (no space cadets).
A quick way to check the authenticity of an influencer is to calculate their following to followers ratio. A real influencer should be following about 1 to 5% of their following. Otherwise, they are probably following people left and right and haven’t built the engaged and loyal audience that you are looking to market your product to.
- Reach – The engagement of specific topics that are relevant to you brand has to be high. For example, if you are promoting healthy snacks and are looking to work with young mom influencers then their audience needs to not only be about kids but also interested in healthy foods to some degree.
The way to calculate reach is to add up all the micro-influencer’s followers on all of their platforms (YouTube + Twitter + Facebook + Instagram). With a tool like Grin, you manually set all those parameters and find your idea micro-influencer in seconds.
Source: NatureBox influencer campaign
How do you find the right micro-influencers?
Once you identify your campaign objectives, and what you are looking for in an influencer, it’s time to go out and find some. There are numerous ways to find the right micro-influencers to work with.
Here are some of the best ones:
Look within your own followers
You might already have an influencer that follows you on social media. Look through your followers to see if you can spot some qualified candidates.
Let’s take eClincher, for example. If we look at their followers, we can find someone like Daniel Wallock, who already follows them and who has 10.6k followers.
Hashtags are a great way to find influencers because they show the top posts first. Which means the ones with the most engagement per post. This is a great way to find people on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
For example, if you were a French restaurant you could search for #frenchcooking to find the most relevant food influencers in that delicious niche.
Do a Quick Google Search
This might sound pretty basic, but if you know how to format your search correctly, you could actually get some powerful results with a Google search.
Be specific with the type of influencer you are looking for, and which platform.
For example: Food blogger site: Instagram.com.
If you are looking for influencers in a specific area, you could try this:
[your city name] + [your industry] + “blogger” site: Instagram.com.
Use an influencer tool
You can save yourself a lot of time by using an influencer marketing tool. One of the best tools is Grin, which automates every part of the influencer search process. You can filter your search results by engagement rate (they calculate this for you automatically), location, and social network.
All the information is verified, so you don’t have to stalk anybody. Also, everything about your campaign is measured on the backend, and they even take care of the payment system for you (including the influencer W-9 forms).
Planning a Micro-Influencer Campaign
Let’s take a look at a few key areas of an influencer campaign that you need to plan ahead of time to get maximum results.
Setup a goal and KPI’s
The first step in creating your micro-influencer campaign is to set a goal. Each goal would have different KPIs (key performance indicators) attached to it.
For example, if your campaign goal is to increase the reach of your brand, you would be measuring the number of likes and comments on all of your campaign posts.
If your goal is to increase sales you would be measuring the ROI or return on investment from the campaign.
Find the right micro-influencers
The next step is to find the right micro-influencers for your campaign. Grin has incredible filters that you can use to customize your results by geography, topic, age, and number of followers on any given platform.
The more targeted your influencer search is the better your campaign results will be.
Once you made a list of influencer that you would like to work with you need to contact these people. Don’t worry. They are not celebrities, so there is nothing to be scared of.
Here are a few tips to get the most responses:
- Compliment the influencer
- Cite a past campaign or post that they did
- Offer a cool reward
Here is a template that you can use:
My name is X, and I do X.
I saw your awesome post about X, and it was really great! I liked how you did _____.
We are looking for a few influencers to help us increase our brand’s reach and get us to the next level. And you obviously made the list.
In return for an awesome post about us we would send you/pay you X.
Would love to chat with you about it.
Your content should vary for each campaign, depending on your campaign objectives.
You might want to send a sample of your product to the influencer, and have them create the content. You might want to make a video instead with the influencer in it. You might want the influencer to write a review about your product and share it on social media channels.
Each campaign’s goal is different, and the type of content should reflect that.
For example, the campaign that Microsoft did with National Geographic for Women’s Day had one goal in mind – maximum reach and engagement. Microsoft wasn’t expecting to sell more product, they just wanted to get more people to interact with their brand.
Optimize Your Distribution
Look at each influencer that you work with, and see how you can distribute the promoted content to as many channels as you can. Don’t just distribute it on their social media channels, think of what else you can create to maximize the reach of your campaign.
For example, Mercedes-Benz hired Loki, the influencer dog, to promote their 2017 GLS sport utility car. The company was really smart – Loki is super famous on Instagram.
So the company created a video that they posted on YouTube, to bring the dog to a new medium and attract new users. The 360 degree video got over 250,000 views and thousands of likes.
Reporting & ROI
Don’t just launch an influencer marketing campaign and hope it works. Make sure that you analyze the results of each and every campaign. This is easy to do with a tool like Grin, which automatically analyzes all of your campaign results and quickly calculates your ROI for each campaign.
Besides the ROI, don’t forget to look at the reach and engagement of each influencer and compare that to your returns. Have your other campaign goals been met? Did you get the likes, views, and shares that you were expecting?
One of the most important aspects of your campaign is paying your influencers. Taxes and threshold (minimum amount that you will have to pay taxes for) vary by state. So make sure to do your research and have all the forms organized before the start of your campaign.
Grin is great for this aspect of the campaign as well. They have a feature where they manage all of your payments for you, and do the influencer payroll automatically. Problem solved!
If you’re not giving out free products, and are actually paying each influencer it’s a really good idea to research the recommended amounts to pay each influencer. The amounts you would pay per post or video would depend on the size of the influencer’s following, so take a look at those closely.
Strategies for Creating an Influencer Campaign
There are several ways that you can structure a campaign.
Here are some of the best and most popular ones:
You can engage with a variety of influencers to get awareness of your product and get traffic to your site.
One example of this is Sephora’s #beautyuncomplicated campaign, in which they worked with several micro- and macro-influencers and had them put a link to Sephora’s site in their bios.
They reached over 8.8M Instagram users with an engagement rate of between 2.7 and 6%.
Combine social media posts with video content
In one brilliant campaign, Gillette sponsored female beauty influencers to promote its shaving line, Gillette Venus. The influencers used their Instagram to drive traffic to their personal vlogs where they mentioned the brand once more. The campaign, titled #ChooseToSmooth, received an engagement rate of 2.2% and 476,000 followers were reached.
Use a celebrity to put a face to your brand
One campaign that really stood out was Airbnb’s campaign with Lady Gaga. She took a beautiful picture of a home she stayed at, and got over 533,000 likes.
Reward your influencers
The best way to make your campaign successful is to nurture your relationship with influencers. And in order to do that you need to provide them with something more than just financial compensation.
Send each influencer a free sample of your product or service so that they can share their experience on social media. When an influencer uses a product the recommendation becomes more personal and more powerful for their following. It is more likely to generate sales than just a generic promoted post.
A lot of fitness brands use this technique where they allow influencers to try their products – like clothing, shoes, drinks, wearables – for free and in turn the influencers leave raving recommendations and tag the brand.
This is probably the most powerful type of campaign that you can create. If the audience of the influencer is engaged, and if you pick a really catchy hashtag then sometimes the audience starts generating their own content about your brand.
For example, Frank Body, the Australian skin care company, created a campaign with the catchy hashtag #letsbefrank and hired a bunch of influencers to promote their products.
Before you know it, scores of people on Instagram were applying coffee scrub to their faces and posting selfies on social media, using the #letsbefrank hashtag. This campaign reach multiplied viraly because of the user-generated content.
How do you replicate such a thing? Easy peasy.
First, you provide your audience with something worth sharing. Whether it’s a cool message, or great packaging, or a way to personalize a great product, give people something to share about.
Next, write a note to tell people that you would love to see them enjoying your product and ask them to tag your brand in their posts.
Also, offer an incentive or create a raffle where one of the lucky participants wins more product or a cool experience with the founders of the brand. Try a couple of different incentives and see which ones work best.
Run a competition
People love to compete and win free stuff. Host a competition on one of your social media channels and encourage your followers to post a photo of your brand, product, or service with a campaign hashtag of your choice. This is even better than raffles because you can make several rounds to each competition.
For example, let’s say you get over 1,000 contestants, you can create a second round where you ask your audience to choose the best out the top 10. Then you can do the best out of the top 4.
So you’re engaging your audience more, getting more reach, making it more exciting for your users. And at the end of it you can send a prize to the winner and have them post their experience with that prize.
Users will go out of their way to create exciting user-generated content that will exponentially increase the awareness and reach of your brand.
One awesome example of a successful competition was made by Om Nom Nom Cookies. They were offering a free t-shirt for the best selfie. This kind of short campaign could be replicated every month to get maximum reach.
This campaign is perfect for events and event organizers. While hosting your event, encourage the attendees to take photos of their experience and favorite moments at the event.
One way to do this is to have a media wall with the brand logo and have people take photos in front of it. Another awesome way is to have a photobooth with a fun theme and some polaroid printers that print pictures in the booth and have everyone use it.
This will not only make the attendees feel part of the event but also provide a lot of user-generated content for your brand. You can even offer discounts for next year’s event for every attendee that posts a picture on their social media and tags your brand.
Here is an example from Marriott’s “make it insta-worthy” booth at Coachella (#MarriotxCoachella):
A flatlay is when you take a photo of something from above. These things look absolutely gorgeous, especially because people arrange the objects in a creative way that really showcases the brand.
A ton of brands use this format for their campaign. One example of this is Chobani, the delicious yogurt beverage. They created a campaign with the hashtag #ChoSquad, and invited 15 cooking influencers to participate.
The influencers took their product and created something unique with it. Then they took a flatlay shot and made it absolutely epic.
The top performing post received 13% engagement (which is unheard of). And the total campaign reach was 3 million people, and the result was 137k likes and 2.6 comments.
Another great example of flatlay campaigns is the one Quaker did with mommy bloggers. The campaign was titled “pass on the good,” and encouraged influencers to create a picture of the product, a recipe made from Quaker with an inspiration message on a note and the hashtag #GoodIsMade.
Make a campaign around a historical event
Some of the best influencer campaigns are created around historical events and national holidays. You’re probably thinking of religious holidays but what brands are using are national holidays.
Microsoft launched an incredible campaign for International Women’s Day in which they partnered with National Geographic and some of the top female adventure photographers. What? National Geographic?
Yep, I know it’s a shocker. Little did you know that NG has a huge reach, and was named the #1 brand on social media by Shareablee.
A total of 30 photos were made across five of National Geographic’s Instagram channels, each photo featured a story about a prominent female scientist or adventurer and had the caption “@Microsoft – Empowering girls to change the world, stay in STEM, and be the ones to #MakeWhatsNext.”
The results, 3.5 million likes (with over 115k likes per post), reach of about 91 million people and over 1,000 pieces of user-generated content using the #MakeWhatsNext hashtag.
This incredible combination of a top brand with a huge reach, some incredible photo influencers, and authentic stories plus powerful images made this campaign a huge success.
Working with micro-influencers can definitely boost your traffic, increase your revenue, and bring your brand to the next level. Before you jump into a campaign, you have to get a couple of things right.
Make sure to narrow down your influencer search to find the most relevant influencers. You can use a tool like Grin to save yourself a lot of time on this step.
Also, make sure that you have all the payment information clear up front, have all the necessary forms prepared, and have researched the standard pricing for the type of influencers that you are reaching out to.
Don’t forget to experiment with several content types such as video, user-generated content, and images. Try out several campaign ideas such as using celebrities, offering freebies, increasing awareness, partnering up with another brand, or using a national holiday to boost campaign reach.
Finally, think about user-generated content when you run a campaign. Use creative hashtags, enticing storylines, cool products, to encourage followers to create their own content around your product or service. You can even run a competition or a raffle to get even more participants.
Remember, the loyalty of an audience and their engagement is the currency on social media. Never underestimate the power of a small but engaged following.
Do you have any tips or case studies to add? Please share them in the comments below.