The days of utilizing influencers with millions of followers for $100,000+ are waning. What has emerged is a new type of Influencer Marketing; one that even SMBs can take advantage of.
The Micro Influencer
What is a micro influencer? A micro influencer is a social media user who has a sizable and incredibly engaged audience. Their loyal following of 5,000 to 150,000 puts immense trust in these influencers, and show it through deep engagement. It's not unusual to see engagement of micro influencers in the 7.5% to 15% range. Micro influencers tend to focus on niche topics; rather than flooding their audience with dozens of different foods, a 'food micro influencer' may focus just on pizza, guaranteeing that their followers are passionate about the exact niche you service. A traditional influencer provides brand recognition, a micro influencer provides sales.
Types of Micro Influencers
The first type are 'Personalities'. These are Instagram users who are 'regular people'. It may be a mom-of-two in Idaho who shares her children growing up, or a Los Angeles photographer documenting the city's offerings.
Personalities work so well for one main reason - they are authentic. Their followers view them as a peer, not a celebrity trying to push the latest diet tea. Their opinions hold weight, and can influence potential customers in a way that friends and celebrities often cannot. Personalities also have the added bonus of creating content that can be reused in future campaigns, months or even years from now. And due to their lowered costs, engaging 5+ personalities won't break the bank. Personalities may not be the right fit for every campaign, but exceptional results aren't uncommon for businesses that offer goods through micro influencers - restaurants, clothing, makeup, etc.
The second type are 'Theme Pages'. Theme pages are Instagram users who aren't known for the person behind the page, but the content curated. Whilst Jane Doe runs 'NYC Eats', her 100,000 followers are there for the best food spots across the city, rather than Jane Doe herself - even if she adds her own personality to each post. These pages are often run by people under 18, who are hobbyists, rather full-time influencers, and therefore have competitive pricing. Theme Pages can be ideal for selling an experience - which could be a good or a service, ranging from a brunch discount to a travel package to Paris.
How To Work With A Micro Influencer
Step 1: It's a partnership. To have a successful campaign, it must be a partnership, NOT a transaction. Therefore, you can not commission one post and expect results. It must be a brand integration, even if temporary. This means 2+ posts talking about their positive experience, 1+ Instagram Story, and ideally, going Live at least once to share a story relating to your brand. Instagram Stories and Live, whilst relatively new, can be take someone from 'interested' to 'sold'.
Step 2: Pay them (with $$$!). Influencers are constantly bombarded with offers to promote products solely for commission, or get a 'free sample'. Micro influencers want cash AND the good/service offered. Unless it is a high ticket item, the good/service alone is rarely enough. Without going in detail, it is essential to research the going-rates for micro influencers in your niche - without knowing the rate, you could be paying 500% more than necessary, or lowballing to the point where the influencer won't take you seriously.
Step 3: Incentivize. Whilst micro influencers rarely work for just commission, it is important that they have skin in the game. The most successful campaigns will include a Vanity URL for the influencer (which has a discount attached to it) to track their sales, and compensate the influencer for those.
Step 4: Measure Results. Building on Vanity URLs, it is crucial to measure the results each micro influencer is producing. This includes everything from Post Impressions to Follower Growth to Sales. The 80/20 rule rings true influencer marketing. Find out who your top influencers are, and reinvest in them.
Step 5: #AD. Lastly, don't forget to disclose that it is a campaign. The FTC isn't joking when it comes to undisclosed influencer campaign, particularly due to the sheer amount of trust that users put into these influencers. Read the rules, and follow them. Losing a sale or two because of '#ad', is a lot cheaper than the fine for not doing so.
Step 6: Start. Influencer marketing, particularly micro influencer marketing, is in its infancy. For some who get in now, and dedicate resources, they will have success stories that mirror marketers who used AdWords in 2000. Wait 6-12 months, and you'll find yourself mumbling "could've, should've, would've".