Just as marketers were coming to grips with digital advertising, their task is becoming difficult again. According to PageFair, 615 million internet users now block ads on their computers and mobile devices. Google recently turned on automated blocking of intrusive ads for its Chrome browser, which is used by more than half of internet users.
Nor is social media advertising straightforward now that Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm prioritizes posts from friends over brands and businesses. In this climate, it’s no wonder that smart businesses are turning to influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing involves bloggers, YouTube stars and social media celebrities talking about your product or service. Done authentically, it delivers 11 times the return on investment as traditional digital marketing. But it can also be expensive. UK fashion blogger Zoella charges a minimum of $10,000 per post. A Kardashian will cost you half a million.
While results can be good, with the biggest influencers you’re paying to tap a small percentage of their large number of followers. For real engagement, you need a micro-influencer. These are people with specialist interests and smaller audiences who often deliver higher engagement rates than the celebrity influencers. Oh, and they are much more affordable.
Because micro-influencers are not rich celebrities, they have the same purchasing concerns and needs as regular people. (Nobody actually believes that George Clooney has a Nespresso machine, right?) Their audiences not only share their specific interests and values, they trust what micro-influencers have to say about products and services. 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers say they relate more to the YouTube creators they follow than to celebrities.
To give your businesses a head-start in micro-influencer marketing, follow these four valuable tips.
1. Find and engage with the right influencers
M&Ms tapped micro-influencers to promote the launch of a new crispy mint flavor in New Zealand. The confectionery brand used a dedicated influencer platform to quickly find athletes, fashion bloggers and bakers from a database of 4,500+ vetted influencers. Each chosen micro-influencer gave their own take on the product, from a sweet treat after a workout to incorporating M&Ms into cake recipes. The results were hugely successful with just 29 posts reaching 679,282 people and generating an engagement rate of 12.6%.
Finding the right influencers can be a lengthy process. Brands can search their own followers for existing fans or trawl through popular hashtags or geotags to discover potential advocates. But that’s time-consuming and you still need to ensure each influencer gets high engagement consistently and hasn’t already promoted one of your competitors. Using an influencer platform, like The Social Club or China-based PARKLU, can be a shortcut to finding the right influencers and it is also a simple place to approve content and see post-campaign reports.
2. Provide a platform to collect content
In 2007, clothing brand Gap provided six fashion bloggers with early access to its spring collection. Each fashionista shared photos of new Gap products with their followers on blogs ranging in popularity from 5,000-300,000 monthly visitors. To harness the collective power of these micro-influencers, Gap created a campaign website, Styld.by to host all of this content in one place and created a popular Styld.by photo album on Facebook.
As micro-influencers have smaller, more niche audiences, you’ll most likely need to partner with more than one to get a large enough reach. The endorsement of more than one influencer is a powerful message especially when you collect them on a simple campaign microsite.
3. Be creative with your content
Travel Leaders had experienced some success with using micro-influencer content in its social media marketing. But the travel agency market is crowded. The company felt it needed something special to stand out, especially on people’s busy Facebook’s newsfeeds. Using Shuttlerock’s Instant Video technology, Travel Leader created dynamic short videos from still images and boosted click-through rates by 79%.
Engaging with micro-influencers often means relying on each individual to create great content. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do your bit. Whether you bring static images to life or create a beautiful campaign site, with the right technology, it’s easy to make your micro-influencer content work even more effective.
4. Run strong brand promotions alongside micro-influencer content
When shoe brand Sperry’s started reposting Instagram users’ photos of their products, the results highlighted the potential of micro-influencers. A follow-up brand campaign promoted the company’s wet weather footwear used by fashion bloggers who were already fans of Sperry. The campaign generated more than 4.7 million digital impressions, half of which came directly via the influencers. In addition, click-throughs to Sperry’s website from Instagram increased by 66%.
According to research by Twitter, influencers can create a 2.7x increase in purchase intent. But when combined with a brand campaign, that impact almost doubles to 5.2. Incorporate your micro-influencer content and endorsements into your overall brand marketing and you’ll reap the rewards.
Author and journalist Jeff Haden believes that influencer marketing is most effective as a long-term strategy. Once you’ve identified and engaged with micro-influencers who post regularly and have highly engaged followers, set clearly defined goals and metrics for measuring success that connects with your wider marketing campaign aims. That will help you develop authentic and effective long-term relationships with your micro-influencers that will win new fans and drive revenue for your brand.
BONUS: Looking to repurpose your micro-influencer content into Facebook advertising? We’ve put together a free Cheat Sheet to help you ensure your creative drives better Facebook Ad Results. Get your hands on your free copy here.