Why Micro-Influencers Play an Important Role in Influencer Marketing

What is a Micro-Influencer and the 8 Benefits for Brands Who Work With Them

Nobody questions the fact that influencer marketing is hot these days. Especially since they help bridge the gap between organic social reach and paid ads, influencers are one of the most effective ways to market goods and services. At the beginning of this trend, only influencers with a large following were used. However, marketers are finding more value by using people who have a smaller number of social media contacts but still a greater number than nano influencers. Known as micro-influencers, these content creators have a relatively high engagement rate and cater to a strong niche market.

What is a Micro-Influencer?

Like all influencers, micro-influencers are people who create content on social media, and whose opinion is well-respected. In other words, an influencer is more than just someone who produces great content. People look to them for news, advice, and ideas. Influencers can have a niche that includes just about any interest known to humankind.

Micro-influencers are a subset of these content creators. While the “number” of followers varies widely in this class, they are typically considered to have anywhere from a minimum of 10,000 to as many as 100,000 followers, depending on the industry definition. This group provides a nice mixture of high engagement rates and follower numbers. Remember, after a certain point, the average engagement starts to fall. With a super small following, though, there aren’t many people to reach. Once an influencer has 10,000 followers, there is a nice balance between engagement and follower counts.

Markerly influencer engagement falls as followers grow

What are the Benefits of Working with Micro-Influencers?

As I’ve said before influencer marketing is a modern version of hiring a celebrity to do endorsements. However, the biggest advantage of micro-influencers is that they are everyday people. Celebrities and sometimes even macro influencers have a reputation for “doing anything for money or attention.” They also tend to charge a high price for product endorsements. Since marketers want the best “bang for their buck,” micro-influencers have become very popular. Let’s unpack the advantages of this influencer type.

1. Large Pool of “Non-Celebrities”

Large Pool of “Non-Celebrities”

With micro-influencers, you get a rare combination of quality and quantity. While celebrities are few and far between, these people are all over the world of social media. They are businesspeople, college students, stay at home parents, and more. In fact, you can find a micro-influencer in any walk of life or age starting in their teens. Because of this diversity, marketers can find an influencer who fits just about any buyer persona imaginable. And they’ll help sell just about any kind of product.

2. Better Engagement Rates

One of the biggest challenges in influencer marketing is getting the right influencer. Within this conundrum, you can find one of the biggest considerations for marketers: engagement rates. As some people in the business are quick to point out, celebrities on Instagram don’t necessarily have high engagement rates. One reason for this is that people hang out on their social media just because they’re famous and want to hear about the adventures of the rich.

Simply put, while engagement is not the end-all of influencer marketing, if no one is engaging with the posts of the influencer, it raises the prospect that the influencer has many fake followers. Engagements ensure that the content is being absorbed, and it also increases the likelihood that others will find that post through hashtag search. More engagement doesn’t guarantee more conversion, but it certainly increases the chances that more will convert to sales.

3. More Niche/Targeted Audiences

Celebrities do one thing really well: get a lot of attention from a huge audience. However, this audience isn’t necessarily high quality for the sake of marketing. Let’s take a look at the average film or TV actor. He is known for doing a good job on film and can typically take on many roles. Unfortunately, none of these roles are the real man. Actors wear masks, both literal and figurative. People appreciate their acting, but not necessarily the same food, travel, beauty routine, fashion, or other interests.

On the other hand, with micro-influencers, you have a much narrower focus. One person might be into indie fashion, while another one enjoys driving fast cars (and showcasing their accessories). People who hang out on these social media profiles tend to either have a personal connection to the influencer or enjoy content in that niche. With this improved audience targeting, advertisers can get their brands in front of people who are more likely to buy.

4. More Affordable

According to most compensation models, influencers are paid more for having a larger number of followers. This is especially true for the pay-per-follower method, but it also holds true somewhat when paying for impressions. Probably the only one where follower numbers are irrelevant is when affiliate links are placed. With celebrities, you end up paying for lots of followers who aren’t interested in your products and services.

Worse, celebrities often have a pricing policy that is set in stone. For instance, they might have an endorsement fee, appearance fee, or other costs which are independent of follower counts. After all, you’ll have to pay for their “star power” in addition to social pull. Want Beyonce to endorse a brand of hair extensions? That’ll be a million dollars–minimum. How quickly are you going to recoup those costs in sales? The ROI is much higher for micro-influencer endorsements.

5. More Authentic

More Authentic

Let’s take another look at those hair extensions. As a consumer, would you rather wear the extensions that are hawked by a celebrity that has help looking fabulous, or the ones worn by an everyday woman? These everyday women must take care of those extensions themselves, so easy care is a major advantage. If the extensions are harder to take care of than others, then it’s unlikely that a busy office worker with kids is going to endorse them.

What does this come down to? Authenticity. While celebrities will often endorse something because the advertiser is willing to shell out a lot of money, micro-influencers usually only select products that make their lives better. Or for hobbies, something that lets them create and is enjoyable to work with. Audiences respond well to this kind of authenticity, and it makes them more likely to buy on average than they might with a celebrity.

6. Higher Conversion Rates

Along with high engagement rates comes higher conversion rates. This is especially true when you think about conversion rates in terms of how many people who see the sponsored content buy something. Depending on the agreement you have with micro-influencers, there might be a commission. However, short of using promo codes or affiliate links, you have to measure conversions another way. Engagement helps, even though it isn’t the only way to measure conversions.

Another way to think about conversion rates is the overall “impact.” If you work with micro-influencers, and sales numbers increase markedly, you know the campaign was successful. With conversion rates, it’s easy to see how good a value you’re getting for the money.

7. Better Performing User-Generated Content

Micro – Influencers may have better-performing content for several reasons, the most pressing of which is the continued relatability of their influence. Larger influencers often lose the ability to actively and consistently engage with their target audience, and they may begin to take on only larger, better-paying partnerships. A micro-influencer campaign may be able to deliver better content simply because the content may have more time and attention poured into it, and may be more likely to come from a place of genuine support for and love of a brand. 

8. More Flexible in Their Relationship

In the same vein, micro-influencer marketing is often superior to working with influencers with millions of followers because micro – influencers can more easily shift and adapt than people with heavily-established names and businesses. If you need to change dates, fiddle with formatting, or alter the work they put forth, social media influencers who fall under the umbrella of micro – influencers may be more likely to respond to critiques and required changes. Micro – influencers often seem more like “real people” to their target audience, and may be given more leeway when needing to make changes or alter deadlines.

How to Find the Right Micro-Influencer for Your Brand?

There is little question that using micro-influencers for ad campaigns is advantageous. However, like all types of influencer marketing, this presents the challenge of finding the right person. In short, you’re looking for someone who appeals to your buyer persona. Then you want someone who has a great engagement rate, and who matches the style and values of your brand. Let’s take a look at some influencer discovery techniques.

Know your goal

Know your goal

Before searching for micro-influencers, it’s important to know what you have in mind. There are a lot of influencers out there, but they aren’t all good at the same kind of content. Furthermore, you might have a certain style or demographic in mind. So, before narrowing down your options, know what you want. This will help you find the kind of person who is likely to be successful at different campaign types.

Look in your backyard

You never know what influencers are already fired up about your brand until you look. These can be employees or other stakeholders, influencers within your industry, and people who simply enjoy your products. Go through your social media profile, and those of your competitors. As you flip through followers, you will probably find some influencers. Always consider the micro-influencers who are already interested in you and like, know, and trust your brand.

Searching hashtags within your niche or within your desired niche can help you come across social media users who meet the requirements for being called micro – influencers. Influencer marketing campaigns rely heavily on hashtags, and micro – influencers rely on those same hashtags to get their names out there and gain an audience and exposure. Although the goal may be to reach millions of followers eventually, popular hashtags are not always used in this way, but can quickly and easily catapult influencer posts into your line of sight. 

Check influencer marketplaces

Another way to find micro-influencers is through an influencer marketplace. These online forums have the advantage of helping you find people who have already identified themselves as influencers. Depending on the marketplace, they may help you manage engagements with chosen influencers, as well.

Use a discovery tool

Finally, try out a few influencer discovery tools. There’s a wide variety of these available, from using social listening tools yourself, to employing the help of agencies. Each of these allows for a different amount of customization and campaign management. Costs also vary widely. Just be sure to choose the right tool or set of tools. Remember, you can use many of the same tools to find micro-influencers as you use to find macro-influencers. For most of them, the difference is only a few settings on the search function.

How to Work with Micro-Influencers After You Find Them?

Micro – influencers are not the influencers who require a marketing strategy that works around a personal team of marketing professionals or a jam-packed schedule filled with the biggest brand partnerships out there. Working with micro – influencers requires a different approach than mega – influencers, or influencers whose social media channels have reached truly explosive proportions. Far from chasing a celebrity endorsement, seeking out a partnership with a micro-influencer means taking a different approach and keeping an open mind. To successfully manage a micro-influencer marketing campaign, remember to: 

Reach out and have an open-ended conversation

Reach out and have an open-ended conversation

Mention some of the ways you prefer to work with micro-influencers, but also ask them about their experiences, what they prefer to do, and how they think they can help you reach your goals. Remember: the best influencer marketing campaigns involve true collaboration!

Further Reading: How to Reach Out to Influencers For Collaborations (with Sample Templates)

Be flexible in how you compensate

Compensation may not come primarily in the form of a cash number. Because micro – influencers do not possess huge numbers of followers and may not consider influencer marketing as their primary form of income. Consequently, compensation can come in the form of free products, payment-per-post, without a definitive contract, or other forms of compensation altogether. Maintaining some flexibility in the way you pay can help you find the right influencer for you. 

Execute an influencer contract

You should always have a contract in place for both parties so that there is no misunderstanding as to who is responsible for what. This is also important to stipulate what rights you want to have to the content after it is created by the influencer. Do you want to leverage it as part of your own user-generated content strategy?

Further Reading: How to Create a Rock-Solid Influencer Contract (+ 9 Influencer Agreement Templates)

Work with a network of micro-influencers

Networks can provide access to a different niche audience than a single micro-influencer may be able to offer. Having a solid network of micro – influencers you work with can mean building stronger relationships with all of your influencer partners, while creating a cost effective marketing approach. 

Track and monitor results

Influencer marketing is immensely valuable, as virtually all recent marketing evaluations can attest. To make sure that micro – influencers are working well for your business, track and monitor all of your results, and adjust where necessary. Although typical celebrities might not respond well to corrective action on the part of a partner, or may simply move on to another brand, a micro-influencer is more likely to respond to numbers and figures and adjust according to what a brand might need. 

Further Reading: Influencer Marketing ROI: The Ultimate Guide to Measuring It the Right Way

Start Collaborating with Micro-Influencers Today!

As the discipline of influencer marketing has matured, so has the use of micro-influencers. Once an ignored section of social media, marketers everywhere have found value in their services. In fact, we are increasingly finding them to be some of the most effective options out there. As people move away from traditional media, we can only expect this type of marketing to become more vital to the beating heart of marketing.

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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.

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