What is a Micro-influencer & Should You Use One?
Social Media Marketing is Changing. Here’s How Small Businesses Can Benefit
“Influencer” is a huge buzz word lately. Some see it as a career, some as a joke, and others don’t really know what it means. Simply put, an influencer is someone who either gets paid to promote a product or service on their own social media channels, or someone who trades free goods/services for the same promotion. The bigger an influencer’s following, the more money they can potentially make. But what do influencers have to do with small business?
Using a micro-influencer—or in other words a niche influencer with fewer than 100,000 followers—could be a great marketing tool for your small business, depending on your industry. For example, we probably wouldn’t recommend anyone in professional services to use an influencer. However, a business selling physical products or services like estheticians, gyms, boutiques, and restaurants could greatly benefit from working with a micro-influencer.
It’s a newer marketing tactic, but one that seems to have a pretty good ROI, depending on the influencer you choose. Face it, word of mouth is the hands down best marketing there is with the best ROI (AKA: $Free.99). We happen to think that done correctly, working with an influencer could be a close second. After all, it is much like word of mouth, just with an added exchange of goods and/or money. Most people are more likely to use a product or service someone recommends over just simply seeing an ad. The combination of the two is also a great double exposure, but that’s a different blog for a different time. 😉
Types of Micro-influencers
1. Media Companies – There are a few media companies that utilize Instagram here locally in Greenville that we absolutely love. Their Instagram pages have a large, extremely local audience. So they’re a great asset to small businesses. A feature of your product/service could get a ton of local exposure using one of these. These are usually paid for and priced by the amount and type of posts you get.
2. Industry-Specific Influencers – These are influencers who focus on a single niche and stick to promotions and sponsorships that fit with their brand image. Athletes and beauty bloggers are a great example of an industry specific influencer. These influencers usually have fewer followers, but because their reach is so targeted, they can be a great fit for companies in their industry.
3. General Influencers & Bloggers – These are people who have a more broad audience and a more broad type of post/content that they offer. Their following usually comes from their public status. Typically these influencers focus on a few industries or interest areas, as opposed to just one. Both general influencers and industry specific influencers can be paid per post, or offered a trade/free goods and/or services in exchange for a post (and that largely depends on the size of their following, no pun intended. 😏)
So, how do you know which person/type of person to work with? Or should you even work with an influencer at all? We’re here to help! Picking the right influencers is all based on a few signs of how well they do their job.
How to Choose A Micro-Influencer
1. Engagement – Do the influencer’s followers seem legit? Are they local? Real people? Are they regularly engaged on their posts? Thankfully, Instagram has been cracking down on “bots” and bought followers, so that may be less common going forward, which is great for a company using an influencer! Still, it’s a good idea to make sure their following is genuine. There are a few ways to tell, but the best way is to take into account the size of their following compared to the amount of likes/comments they receive per post. If they have a ton of followers, but not many comments, chances are those followers may be purchased. And if they aren’t, they still aren’t engaged enough to take a recommendation from that person.
You want to make sure their following is engaging with their posts on a regular basis by liking and commenting, for two reasons. First, if the audience really values what this person adds to their feed enough to stop the scroll and hit like, or to take even more time to leave a comment. Now for the second reason— if the audience values that person’s content so much, that means they would also most likely value their opinion on a product/service they might be promoting. And that’s a huge plus when working with a micro-influencer!
2. Authenticity – Try not to work with someone who has bought followers, if they have more followers than engagement, they probably aren’t very authentic. Try to steer clear of someone who seems overly salesy, lacks a personal touch, and/or may be inclined to do the bare minimum for each sponsored post.
Look at their feed and stories to see if they have promoted a product or service before. Did they go above and beyond? Was it personable? Genuine? Or did it seem like they were just trying to get through it for a paycheck or free stuff?
Honestly for this one, you have to use your intuition. If you have a weird feeling about a person and think they may not uphold their end of the deal, chances are you’re right. Here’s one example of a famous influencer not really holding up their end of the trade and a company suing them for the price of the product they gave them. This obviously may not be the scale of a product/service you’d provide to a local micro-influencer, but it’s still a good lesson in choosing an influencer with integrity!
3. Potential Interest in Your Product/Service – A really easy way to find a micro-influencer who will genuinely promote your product or service is to choose one who may have a natural affinity for what you offer! If it’s a fashion blogger who wears the type of clothes you provide, she’ll probably love working with you. See a fun mommy blogger? She may really love your kid’s accessories and clothes and be so excited to trade some posts for products… after all, kids are expensive! If it’s an athlete, they may love promoting your relaxation and healing massages. And a local foodie would be perfect to snap a pic at your restaurant. Get creative!
Most people can tell if someone genuinely likes something they’re promoting, so finding someone who would naturally want what you’re selling is just a plain win-win for everyone.
We think using local micro-influencers could be a really good move for small businesses, but make sure you do your research and follow your gut. A big following (even a super local one) doesn’t AUTOMATICALLY mean you’ve struck gold. Make sure that person is hard working, has integrity, and is genuinely going to keep up their end of the bargain and promote your product or service to the best of their ability.
As always, if you have any questions or if you need help finding a local influencer to form a relationship with, we’d love to help! Happy influencing!