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Why micro-influencers are a macro opportunity

Think back to 10 years ago. If you had heard the word “micro-influencer”, you may have thought it was a new tech device or maybe even a kind of medical instrument.  

Today, micro-influencers are fast becoming a cornerstone of every marketing plan for brands and businesses of all shapes and sizes. Not only are they here to stay but they may soon become a leading channel in your marketing mix – and there are many reasons why.

Why you should go micro 

Micro-influencers are so called because they don’t have the reach of traditional celebrity or high-profile figure. Instead these are your everyday people who frequently produce content for their social media channels and either have a particular passion or a specific subject expertise that draws people in. They post primarily on Instagram and Facebook but also Twitter and LinkedIn too. The latter channels are often overlooked but they remain important in terms of building reach.

In terms of exactly how “micro” micro-influencers are, there is no set rule, however, to ensure you are reaching a sufficient volume of people, they should have at least 10,000 followers.

Another question that many marketers ask is, “How many influencers should we use?” But there isn’t a magic number and the answer is very much budget-dependent. Like most things, the more influencers you engage at any given time, the more impact they will have. In addition, they will elevate brand recall with consumers, who may see your content pop up from the numerous influencers running your content simultaneously, adding scale and gravitas to your proposition.

Even more important, these micro-influencers may also already be a customer of your brand so they should be treated – and utilised – accordingly.

With the rise of digital media consumption in the past decade, micro-influencers are an evolution of word-of-mouth marketing that enables brands and businesses to infiltrate the content that consumers are exposed to and are engaging with on a daily basis. Where coffee clubs were once a traditional gateway to creating conversation and passing on the word about a brand, now the North Star for brands is to target the social newsfeed to gain cut-through into consumer consciousness.

These influencers are relevant to their audience and attract a following for that reason, and this relevance is mapped by their ability to do one thing: to influence. Finding people who are trusted by consumers and can talk about your brand in a non-manufactured way to deliver your commercial messages seems like a winning combination. And that is why brands are latching onto this phenomenon.

As with any digital marketing activity, there are many nuances connected to working with micro-influencers to ensure you get the most out of it, giving your target consumers food for thought as a result.

Teamwork makes the dream work 

Here are a few ways to engage micro-influencers and to make them effectively work for your brand:

1. Show not sell: Every brand has a story to tell and a USP (or multiple) to champion. In traditional advertising, it’s easy to be overtly sales-y, but today’s consumers are seeking more experiences and entertainment as part of the plan to woo them. They want to see something meaningful that shows what your brand is all about and demonstrates why they should care – and buy – your products. Micro-influencers are powerful tools in doing that, demonstrating how the brand should be upheld and how products should be used in an authentic way that is not as contrived as it would be from the brand itself.

This is where it’s important not to fall into the trap of making the content feel like advertising but instead maintain an editorial stance so there is a mutual level of control between the influencer and the brand approving the post (if it is paid for).

2. Cumulative reach: All marketers consider reach in the delivery of results – and the good news is that the use of micro-influencers means you can reach a large volume of people through multiple channels rather than breaking the bank to land one talent (which is great for creating a big-bang PR moment but does not have as much longevity).

The additional bonus is that your selection criteria for your influencers should mean that they are all relevant to your brand and target consumer base so they are reaching a targeted audience – that is, so long as you have data that shows you are reaching a local audience versus an international audience to meet your business objectives. Platforms such as The Right Fit and Tribe do a great job of opening up lines of communication with talent and matching influencers to your brand. Although, there is also merit in having a good search across social channels to uncover more talent which has captured a large, engaged following and connecting with them directly.

3. Cost-efficiency: Not only can micro-influencers capture a targeted audience, they are a relatively inexpensive way of doing so, especially in comparison to other channels. Cost is often associated with reach and length of association. By engaging talent on a mid-term basis (eg. over a one- to two-month period) or long term (six months onwards), you have grounds to strike more of a deal than if you were only to offer up a one-off post.

4. Two-way conversation: Influencers are your model customers so it’s important to utilise them to open up the lines of communication with their audience, who are yet more of your existing or prospective customers. Influencers provide a solid platform to connecting with your customers based on their followers’ desire to engage with them and having an affinity with their content. It’s often a good idea to work with influencers who are naturally conversational and don’t just post posed content, which doesn’t allow for as much engagement.

5. Make your brand visually pop: Many influencers are so well seasoned in creating talent that they can also be classified as content creators. These are talent who know how to use the real estate of their social channels and maximise it to its full potential. Many brands crave lifestyle imagery, showing their brand and products being consumed in situ as intended. Influencers can give your brand time to shine – all with personable smiles and laughs attached – which is more authentic than the more traditional slick print or out-of-home ad.

6. Credibility: Resist the urge to work with people just based on reach alone and engage personalities who have a real interest in your brand and in working together to generate genuinely interesting content. Do their values match yours? Do they understand your brand and any complexities within it?

If so, they could be a perfect credible match for you. If there is a mutual belief between influencer and brand, the audience will believe it too. For greater credibility, best practice is to have a partnership that also runs over a number of months so the audience can see a relationship versus what can feel like a “cash for comment” transaction.

So there are a few gateways into working with micro-influencers which will open up a range of benefits to help you supercharge your marketing to new and extended audiences in no time. But don’t rush in, take your time to ensure you understand how it works first – and always seek help if you need it so you can make sure it is as effective as possible and ensure you are adhering to best practice processes.

Adam Freedman is head of consumer at Red Agency and has consulted numerous brands and retailers across Australia and the UK on their marketing and communications strategies.

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