Social media influencers have received a lot of attention in recent years in marketing circles - and for good reason. Using influencers as a part of your marketing strategy is incredibly effective - especially among Millennials. The idea is that influencers humanize the marketing process. They are celebrities or other widely-known people who are sponsored by companies and brands to incorporate the companies' products into their social media posts. These posts will reach and hopefully influence the social media followers to purchase the product.
But while many companies have their sights set on macro influencers with household names, they might be overlooking an important part of influencer marketing: micro-influencers.
How to spot an influencer
We've written before about how effective influencer marketing is and how beneficial it can be to your social media strategy. But for many, celebrity influencers can seem out of reach of their budget or their brand. How do you go about identifying influencers? And once you do, how do you know if they'll be a good fit for your brand and connect with your target audience? Influencers with hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers can command a high price for their collaboration. And your marketing budget will be ineffective if your audience doesn't already connect with or trust the influencer you choose.
There aren't official parameters for what makes someone an influencer, let alone a macro or micro influencer. Spotting an influencer isn't as easy as just checking to see how many followers an account has. For example, an account that has 100,000 followers might not be considered an influencer, but an account that has 50,000 may be. To determine who is and isn't a social media influencer, they all must have certain things in common:
- Reach - How many followers do they have?
- Engagement - How often do they genuinely engage with their followers through comments, likes, replies, etc?
- Influence - How dedicated is their audience? Are people likely to follow their advice? Are they a trusted authority?
Whether or not a person is a micro or a macro influencer depends on the relative quantity of each of those things. Someone with more reach and influence are probably macro influencers. These are often widely known celebrities with accounts that may have millions of followers. Micro influencers have fewer followers but still have influence, reach, and engagement with their audience - but they also tend to have a specific niche.
Quality Over Quantity
For many marketers, it may be tempting to shoot for the macro influencers like Kim Kardashian, Joanna Gaines, or James Charles. But there's several great reasons to look at pursuing micro influencers as well.
- Niche - Micro influencers tend to be more niche and have a more specific target market. As opposed to their macro counterparts who can sometimes be more general, micro influencers often have a well-defined niche. One example is the Brothers Buoy. Two friends run an Instagram account that specializes in finding great spots to eat in Brooklyn.
- Loyal followers - Another advantage of micro influencers is that while they may not have as many followers as macro accounts, their followers are avid fans. They usually have a very engaged community that they interact with on a regular basis. This makes micro influencers especially effective - they tend to have a higher rate of influence on their followers and therefore a marketing campaign using micro influencers may be even more effective and produce higher quality customers because they are already engaged and invested in your particular niche.
- More accessible - As we mentioned before, macro influencers can be expensive. It may be difficult to get a contract with a macro influencer, especially for small or medium sized companies. Micro influencers tend to be easier to approach and negotiate contracts with. In addition to that, a contract with a micro influencer is likely to be more mutually beneficial if they're connected with a niche that overlaps with your audience. They'll benefit from your customers and you'll benefit from their audience.
Choosing a micro over macro influencers for your marketing strategy is essentially choosing quality over quantity. Micro influencers have highly specialized niches and their audiences are engaged and loyal. One of the reasons that they have become so popular recently is because marketers have realized the value in connecting with these smaller but specialized audiences.
Tapping into a niche can be a huge benefit to your business and will help increase your brand loyalty. The goal with marketing is not only to turn prospects into customers, but also to turn customers into loyal fans who keep coming back. And as customers are becoming more selective about their brands and gravitate towards brands that support their values and special interests, it's a good idea for brands to show their audience what their values are. Micro influencers help not only to tap into new audiences, but also help define, clarify, and expand a brand's values and personality.
When looking for micro influencers, try exploring beyond just your brand's specific niche. Look for influencers in adjacent niches that are related but not exactly the same. For example, if you're a beverage brand, consider partnering with a micro influencer who's a food enthusiast who can show off which of their favorite foods pairs well with your product.
Shoe manufacturer Sperry is an excellent example of this kind of partnership. They frequently feature user-generated content and have partnered with Instagram micro-influencer Slava Daniliuk in many of their posts.
Slava runs a travel Instagram account (@slavatheshrimp) and he frequently uses Sperry's hashtags and features photos of him wearing their products in beautiful locations in his posts. Sperry isn't a travel brand, but by partnering with an influencer who has a travel niche, they are able to tap into an audience that needs and appreciates their products.
Expanding your options and getting creative with finding related niches to your brand's target niche is a great way to find micro influencers and new audience.
As you're strategizing about your future marketing campaigns, consider using collaborations with micro influencers. Sure, they don't have millions of followers. But they have specialized audiences who are engaged and loyal and will better appreciate your brand. Micro influencer strategy is a great way to make sure that you get the most ROI on your marketing budget and will create loyal, engaged customers who come back to your brand again and again.