How to avoid pitfalls in your micro-influencer campaign

Some marketing bigwigs are doubting the effectiveness of mid-level influencers and internet personalities. Is their impact limited or is your organization doing something wrong?

In a recent interview, an anonymous marketing executive claimed micro-influencers are the biggest scam in marketing, made up of tiny influencers who will do anything for a kickback.

This argument might convince some, but to suggest all micro-influencers are desperate for any deal feels like a spurious assumption. The truth is this: If you’re not seeing returns from your micro-influencers or brand ambassadors, it’s more likely that your organization is doing something wrong.

How are executives misusing micro-influencers?

One of the first and biggest mistakes executives make is not looking at proper benchmarks for engagement for each tier of influencer. While traditional influencers can have millions of followers, micro-influencers typically have audiences of fewer than 100,000, and sometimes as few as 1,000 if they’re newer accounts.

Yet even among their meager thousand followers (or fewer), micro-influencers can have an engagement rate of 8 percent or higher. Rather than using engagement as a metric, however, executives often give too much weight to audience size.

They also frequently neglect to run analyses to understand who makes up each micro-influencer’s audience. Standard, multimillion-follower influencers have such a varied audience that analyzing their followers won’t draw any meaningful data. However, with tools like Upfluence that provide data on influencers’ locations, social network metrics and engagement rates, executives can easily find accounts with fewer—but more engaged—followers.

After finding potential micro-influencers, though, many executives make the mistake of not vetting them for fake accounts.

If an account is less than a month or so old and has a particularly high following, its engagement is going to be low, and many of the account’s followers are likely fake. If the account has less than a few dozen photos or has an unreasonably high followers-to-posts ratio, it’s also likely fake.

Another major headache for executives working with micro-influencers is choosing among the more than 490 influencer or micro-influencer management platforms. While these companies have taken some of the burden of negotiating with individual micro-influencers off your plate, their markup for their service can almost negate any ROI, a devastating problem for brand managers looking to get micro-influencer campaigns off the ground with small test budgets.

For the decision makers who can avoid these mistakes and conquer the hurdles, choosing and engaging micro-influencers is a highly beneficial way to boost their brands across all media, and several organizations have already enjoyed success by managing their ambassadors effectively.

How to find useful ambassadors

Recently, Heartbeat ran a campaign for Amazon that engaged ambassadors who were exclusively women with nieces, nephews or children younger than five. By using 10,000 ambassadors who all shared the same characteristic, it was able to maintain eight to 12 percent engagement on all of the campaign’s Instagram posts.

The more clearly you define the list of people that you want to work with and the more you’ve vetted them, the higher the output you’ll see in terms of engagement, clicks and sentiment within comments on a piece of content.

Fortunately, doing so is becoming easier. In addition to platforms like Heartbeat and tools like Upfluence, you can also use PeopleMap to quickly and inexpensively understand the engagement of someone’s account—if they’re public—and add them to lists for later use.

How to make the most of your micro-influencers

Like any tool in any marketer’s arsenal, your micro-influencers will bring results only if they’re managed properly, and that requires a different approach compared with standard influencers with larger audiences.

Here are three steps that can help make sure your micro-influencers are worth the investment:

1. Have a clear guide.

Think about—and make clear—the five to 10 key tenets of your brand that you want people to talk about and keep them consistent. If your website hammers home three main points over and over again, your promotional partners should be sharing those same three points. Each micro-influencer can even choose a favorite aspect of the message and focus on that.

2. Create a mobile site to test your strategy first.

Try to optimize conversions on a mobile test site before you send people through from Instagram and Facebook. You can test the conversions by driving traffic to the test site through your organization’s own social media accounts and then measuring the falloff to give yourself a starting benchmark. This sort of A/B testing will help ensure your brand and ambassadors consistently deliver the most relevant and engaging content.

Continue such testing before and during every new campaign to gauge the effectiveness of each strategy shift. If videos performed better than still images on Instagram during the last campaign, run an analysis of longer and shorter videos, or videos with and without sound, for the next one.

3. Buy AdWords during your micro-influencer campaign.

During your campaign, you are going to get the most traffic via Google search, so take advantage by buying AdWords. Most people will not naturally click through a bio, so you can ask ambassadors to leave comments that direct followers to search Google using specific names. You can then buy the relevant tab words.

By itself, AdWords is highly competitive, but by combining it with the efforts of carefully selected micro-influencers, you’ll gain a significant advantage over campaigns that don’t invest in it at all.

How are you using micro-influencers, PR Daily readers?

Brian Freeman is the CEO and founder of Heartbeat, a female ambassador platform. A version of this article originally appeared on the Cision blog.

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