Today, the broader world is always within reach.
However, many organizations are discovering that no matter how connected the world may be, real influence starts locally.
At Mitchell, we recently published an extensive report that maps out consumers’ evolving notion of local. We found that 74 percent of millennials and members of Generation Z believe a company’s location on the map is no longer the best marker of what community it belongs to.
More than half define “community” by shared interests and mindsets. For “OmniLocal consumers,” as we’ve named them, a local buying experience is about feeling connected to a brand, regardless of whether it’s a hometown boutique or a global retailer.
One of the best ways to forge these important connections is through social influencers. In a connected world, bloggers, podcasters and others often stand in for close friends. Buyers listen as carefully to influencers as they do a confidant, which gives influencers real marketing power.
Micro-influencers hold the key
Influencer relationships may be among the most important tools in your marketing kit. More than fifty percent of respondents to our study agreed they listen to social media influencers who share their interests in local brands, regardless of whether those influencers live in their ZIP code.
However, this may be a case where bigger tools aren’t always best.
Though huge celebrity influencers can give you a big reach (at the right price), they cannot hold a candle to micro-influencers’ persuasive power. Micro-influencers have smaller audiences, but they also have a stronger bond with their followers and generate higher engagement rates. HelloSociety found that these rates peak at 5.3 percent for audience sizes of less than 35,000 and decline quickly as follower lists grow.
Working with micro-influencers gives you quick access to an eager audience, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to put in the work.
If you’re ready to start capturing the attention of “OmniLocal” groups, you should shift your influencer marketing strategy in three ways:
1. Think niche.
On top of that high engagement, micro-influencers tend to be niche experts — whether that’s in food, clothes, makeup, cars or other products. Their audiences trust their expertise, and local influence is all about trust.
Because micro-influencers have already built high levels of trust with their audience, they’ve done some of the heavy lifting for you. Your biggest task is to segment your audience.
This way, you can tap into the trust that influencers have established with those groups. Where are the audiences you’re trying to reach located, and what traits characterize those areas? What interests do they have in common? What influencers are they engaging with already?
Once you’ve answered those questions, you can start collaborating with micro-influencers to create engaging content that will resonate with your various audience segments.
2. Promote locally.
Though “OmniLocal” consumers no longer limit locality to city boundaries, there’s absolutely something to be said for understanding the geographic community on an intimate level. Our research at Mitchell shows that 63 percent of respondents want brands to demonstrate their local knowledge.
Glossier offers a great example of a brand that knows how to flex its local muscles. Its summer 2018 pop-up showroom in Chicago got locals buzzing online months before it debuted. Then, Glossier emphasized its commitment to the city by incorporating local artwork and architecture in the showroom’s design. Glossier even partnered directly with local artists—micro-influencers of another sort.
Like local artists, many micro-influencers have built up rapport and understanding with local communities in different geographic areas, even ones they don’t call home. Through a series of partnerships with them, you can multiply small-scale connections for a major overall effect.
3. Use video.
A recent study by Wyzowl found that 72 percent of consumers prefer video to text when learning about products or services. Your brand can’t afford to forsake video channels, so forge relationships with micro-influencers and start collaborating on video content.
Adidas incorporated video to build on the success of Tango Squad, its hyper-connected micro-influencer community of soccer fans living in 15 cities. After selecting eight of its best creators, Adidas formed a league, dubbed Tango Squad FC, and started creating short videos that offered behind-the-scenes footage of the team’s training sessions at local clubs. The strategy seems to have worked. One 17-minute episode generated retention rates of 50 percent and garnered more than 660,000 views on YouTube.
Audiences everywhere already feel intense connections with online influencers. If you want to extend that connection to your brand, then consider partnering with micro-influencers who can drive your message home.
Sarah Clark is the CEO of Mitchell, the flagship PR agency of the Dentsu Aegis Network. Mitchell creates real connections between businesses, brands and people through strategic insights, customized conversations, and consumer engagement.
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