The Rise of the Micro-Influencer and How Brands Can Deploy Them

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When it comes to Instagram marketing, many brands swear by influencers. And for good reason: according to a survey done by eMarketer, 89% of respondents say that influencers can generate positive feelings about a brand. Influencer marketing was such a lucrative business that those with more than a million followers were raking in over $50k for a single sponsored post!

Today, many brands are choosing to work with influencers with a significantly smaller follower count: micro-influencers. Read on for tips on how to tap micro-influencers for your next marketing campaign.

In the beginning, bigger is better

Back when brands were just getting started on Instagram, influencer marketing was the name of the game. The premise was simple: Reach a wider audience by selling products through influential people with large social media followings. Because of this, celebrities were the perfect influencers to tap. It was fairly straightforward—they’d just post about their favorite products, and their followers would throw their support behind it.

But as Instagram started to evolve, so did the algorithms and relationship between influencers and followers. It seemed that celebrity influencer engagement rates were dropping significantly as follower counts grew. According to research, posts from accounts with 1,000 followers were being liked 8% of the time. This engagement rate performs far better than the 1.6% like-rate of influencers with more than 10 million followers.

It seemed there was a growing disconnect, and followers were becoming wary of products endorsed by popular influencers. It was becoming obvious that these posts were more like paid sponsorships than genuine recommendations.

The trend goes micro

Brands eventually realized they had to start playing smarter to keep up with changing trends. They knew they had to shift from chasing those with the widest reach to those with the best engagement rates: micro-influencers with 100,000 followers and less. And, in many cases, the follower count is much, much less.

Don’t let the numbers fool you. Micro-influencers have a relatively small following because their audience tends to be more niche. It is for this very reason that their followers are more loyal and much more likely to take their word to heart. It then comes as no surprise that micro-influencer-based Instagram marketing campaigns usually have a 60% higher engagement than those ran by influences with higher follower counts, all while being 6.7 times more cost efficient.

Finding the right micro-influencers

The right people to endorse you could be right in front of you. Start noticing your own followers and note anyone who:

  • Regularly posts about your products
  • Has an account with a loyal following similar to the ones you want to reach
  • Doesn’t just like your brand, but could possibly represent it

Found someone interesting? The next step is to reach out and establish a relationship by engaging with them. Follow their accounts, like their posts, and even comment on them. When you’re ready to start a campaign, send a message or proposal via DM.

This is what’s amazing about micro-influencers: You’re communicating with someone who actually likes and believes in your brand. This helps make your connection more authentic and organic from the get-go.

How to tap micro-influencers

You’ll want to build healthy connections with several micro-influencers who best represent your brand. When it comes to running campaigns with them, always keep in mind both longevity and reach. If you’ve got a new product coming out, you can rely on them to build hype with simultaneous posts right before your launch. They can also regularly post lifestyle content for you if you want to amp up your branding or drive traffic to your page. These techniques help increase your relevance among the community and increase your following.

When it comes to content creation, it’s only normal to bring up the mandatories of handling your brand (i.e. tagging your company in posts, using your hashtags, etc)—anything beyond that is best left to them. You approached them for a reason, and this reason also happens to be why their followers trust their opinions so much. So allow them to have fun, play around, and take your brand to new heights and new likes.

Another way to work with micro-influencers is to have them do a takeover of your brand’s page. Give them access to your account and let them post as they please—creating more room for engagement between them, their audience, your followers, and your brand.

The only thing to watch out for when it comes to takeovers is that their posts appear on your page. This means that you might have to think a little bit more about making sure these posts stay on brand and are cohesive with the look of the rest of your content. Consider asking them to run their images through the same filter you normally use before posting. If you haven’t found your go-to filter, you can check out some photo editing apps on your app store available for download.

What’s next?

At the rate Instagram is growing, the next few months or weeks could bring about even more changes and once again change the influencer marketing game as we know it. In this constantly evolving landscape, it’s crucial that you keep reassessing your relationships with your influencers.

Something that was effective for you at the start of your campaign may not be effective now! So when considering influencers (traditional or micro) for your brand, always remember to think about will get your target audience talking, as well as what will get them buying.

Natasha Ponomaroff is the Senior Marketing Director of Instasize – a content creating tool kit for anyone editing photos and online content on mobile. A weekly contributor on the site’s blog, Natasha tracks social media trends and updates the millions of “creatives” who are currently using Instasize to curate awesome online content. When she isn’t writing up the latest trend, Natasha is overseeing a team of 10 over at the Instasize HQ – ensuring that the marketing content on the apps various social platforms is ready to go.