This article originally appeared on PR Daily in June of 2018.
The rise of social media influencers is undeniable.
Yet, what’s up with this surge in brands linking up with micro-influencers?
The rise in micro-influencers is interesting to note because it seems these scrappy, relatable personalities are beginning to capture the attention of brands big and small—and are driving results.
In fact, once Instagram followers exceed the magic 10,000 mark, engagement starts to flatten out. (Sorry, Selena Gomez.)
Is the hype deserved?
Not only are micro-influencers more accessible from a price standpoint (top influencer Bella Thorne said she gets $65,000 per post), they can drive higher engagement than influencers with wider audiences.
In addition to social media actions, they’re driving purchase decisions. A whopping 82 percent of consumers are more likely to take recommendations from micro-influencers than the general population.
This is largely because they’re an involved part of their community. With a smaller pool of fans, it’s easier for them to create individual relationships and regularly respond to comments. Accordingly, this makes their communities feel special and valued.
Just as people are more apt to value advice from a friend, micro-influencers feel like friends to their followers and are therefore more influential.
Also, many micro-influencers are laser-focused on the authenticity of their feeds. They won’t promote a product or service they don’t love, or at least haven’t tried. Fans appreciate their candor and respond in kind.
Erin Good, a food and fitness influencer with 17,000 Instagram followers, said: “I turn down collaborations that aren’t consistent with who I am. You’ll never see me post about beer because I don’t like it. I stay true to myself, and my fans appreciate that I keep it real and honest.”
Are micro-influencers a fit for you?
Once considered the cheaper option for brand budgets, micro-influencers are now taking a role in marketing for brands such as Coca-Cola and Google.
A recent study found nearly 46 percent of major brands are finding it more valuable to work with micro-influencers versus those with 500,000 or more followers. That means it’s getting tougher to grab the attention of micro-influencers.
How can your brand best work with micro-influencers?
Here are a few tips:
1. Prove you care and do your research.
Because many micro-influencers don’t work through an agency or publicist, it takes time to find the right people and create real, lasting relationships. Search branded or relevant hashtags, and use identification services such as BuzzSumo, Klear or NinjaOutreach.
2. Provide a detailed ask.
Why do you think your brand is a perfect fit? What is your budget? How many posts over what period are you looking for? What do you envision for messaging and content? What are your goals?
3. Ask questions.
What is the demographic makeup of their fan base? How much engagement per post, sponsored and unsponsored, do they typically receive (likes, comments, clicks)? What has their most successful brand partnership been?
4. Take it slow.
Because micro-influencers value authenticity, consider starting the relationship by taking a few small steps. Send products for them to try before agreeing to post anything. If they love it, try out one to two paid posts. If it’s a fit, resonates with their audience and is meeting your goals, it’s time to start making long-term plans.
5. Involve them.
Instead of passing along a list of needs, bring influencers inside the circle. Ask for honest feedback and let them help make decisions. Consider outsourcing feedback and decisions from their fans.
6. Let them be creative.
Influencers know their audience. You know your brand. Be specific about your goals and expectations while giving them plenty of leeway for creativity. It will ultimately win over their fans and your CEO.
Working with micro-influencers can have a downside (or two).
As exposed in recent months, many influencers have fallen into the practice of purchasing fake followers.
Do some research to make sure the influencer’s content quality, consistency, and engagement are at a level you’re comfortable with.
Working with micro-influencers can also take more legwork on your end. Because many do this as a side hustle and represent themselves, you must have a compelling pitch ready and a list of your specific needs.
Madison Bessinger, a food influencer with 20,000 Instagram followers and a website devoted to restaurant recommendations, gave this advice:
I have learned it is important to clarify expectations prior to doing a promotion. Will it be paid? If so, how much and can we get it in writing? Does this require a post on my Instagram account? If so, how many posts? What aspect of the restaurant do you want me to highlight? What’s the story/message you’d like to tell? It helps to make sure the engagement is successful for both parties involved.