(Originally posted in Social Media Today)
Shoes of Prey, a little-known women’s custom shoe producer, decided in 2010 that it needed to boost its brand awareness. But without deep pockets for high-octane celebrity promotion, the company had to get creative.
Instead of turning to a big-name promoter, the company sought the endorsement of fashion vlogger Blair Fowler. Fowler was just 17 years old, but she had a dedicated following of more than 300,000 subscribers.
After Fowler hosted a Shoes of Prey giveaway on YouTube, the company saw a sustained 300 percent increase in sales. Once the video hit 750,000 views and 30,000 comments, the company received coverage from publications such as the Wall Street Journaland Business Insider for the publicity maneuver, which led to a partnership with Nordstrom.
Would the media have taken notice if an A-list celebrity had just said, “Buy these shoes?” Maybe, but it’s unlikely.
Small But Mighty
Seeking out micro-influencers rather than high-powered celebrities isn’t just easy on the pocketbook; there are some other reasons to choose lower-caliber influencers for your brand.
Micro-influencers are high-quality promoters. They’re social media wizards who genuinely care about the topics they deal with, and they’re more likely to provide you with authentically passionate content. Micro-influencers tend to be invested in what they do, so they make it their business to personally engage with the products they promote.
Additionally, celebrities and high-profile influencers aren’t easy to access. When you choose a micro-influencer, you don’t have to go through agents or other representatives — you can usually just contact and negotiate with them directly. What’s more, they’ll often plug your product for nothing more than a sample.
Connect With Micro- Influencers
While micro-influencers can be a great tool for your brand, you’ll need to connect with the right one or you’ll be wasting your money. Here are a few ways you can find and connect with a worthwhile promoter for your brand:
- Know who you need to reach. If you don’t know, how are you going to find the influencer with the right audience?
- Look at your needs. Identify influencers who fit your needs in terms of blog traffic, social following, cost, and topics they write about.
- Get personal. Take the time to read their blogs and review their social channels to make your pitch personal. Show them you took the time to learn about their brand, and they’ll make an effort to get cozy with yours.
- Monitor social media. Perform a search using hashtags, and make a list of influencers in your niche using tools like Hootsuite, GroupHigh, or Google Alerts.
- Provide compensation. Compensation can be in the form of money, shout-outs, or product discounts or giveaways. Ask micro-influencers how they’d like to be compensated, and they’ll see that you value their efforts.
The bottom line is that you might reach fewer people by connecting with micro-influencers, but you’ll reach people who are specifically interested in what you have to offer.
Every brand wishes it could have a top-shelf celebrity extolling its product, but the fact is that big-name influencers are hard to reach, expensive, and more of a “spray and pray” tactic. Celebrities might be capable of getting your name in front of millions of viewers in one quick shot, but that shot comes with a gold-plated price tag.
So what’s your brand’s best alternative to the celebrity who everyone knows? Think smaller, think smarter, and spend your money more wisely by connecting with micro-influencers.
(Originally posed in Target Marketing)
Meet Julie Cohn. She’s a travel expert who operates a popular website.
She’s not a big-time celebrity like Kim Kardashian, who has millions of Twitter followers. But in the family travel sphere, her name carries a lot of weight.
Julie is a travel micro-influencer: a passionate explorer who posts photos of and commentary on her adventures on social media. She doesn’t necessarily have a massive following, but her everyday approach still speaks to a substantial audience in unique ways.
As a whole, micro-influencers are a growing group of personalities who play an increasingly integral role in the success of modern marketing campaigns.
Consumers are quick to connect with regular people like Julie. If she promotes a favorite travel knapsack or family-friendly destination, her readers and followers are highly likely to explore those same options. Consumers are quick to trust her opinions and follow her advice.
In many cases, micro-influencers have proven to be equally as effective as traditional marketing avenues, while the most popular ones are actuallybetter than typical methods.
The Power of Micro-Influencers
Because of their low price and highly engaged audiences, micro-influencers earn brands a higher ROI for their promotional efforts than oversaturated, conventional methods like keyword optimization.
Their social media followers are apt to like, comment on, and share their posts — which not only circulates brand-related positive cheer throughout relevant audiences, but also expands a brand’s reach to new, untapped audiences.
Partnering with micro-influencers through social media and blog content provides an organic, trusted source of marketing that consumers love to connect with. These partnerships are especially valuable for travel brands.
Traveling provides micro-influencers with a golden opportunity to post real-time photos of the beautiful destinations they visit and the great hotels they stay in. Resorts can hire professional photographers to capture stunning images of their accommodations, but nothing can match the amount of interest an Instagram photo posted on a popular blog can drive.
Forget Kim Kardashian: How to Find the Right Micro-Influencer
Brands no longer need to rely on high-priced celebrity endorsements. Micro-influencers are cost-effective alternatives that still allow companies to leverage their message through popular mediums. This option is far more efficient than rolling out multiple marketing campaigns, as it requires time and money to earn trust and credibility with new audiences. Micro-influencers have already built up this valuable rapport.
So how do you find the right one and get the most out of your relationship? Follow these five steps:
1.) Identify your audience. Research your target audience and thoroughly pin down who they are. Once you know their values, scour the social media world and see which platforms they use the most. Once you’ve narrowed down the preferred platforms,then you can look for specific influencers.
2.) Segment and vet influencers. Search for the most popular figures in your industry, and group them using metrics like reach, resonance, relevance, gender, location, and even personality traits. There are tools out there that can help you make sure you’re properly segmenting and vetting your influencer pool.
3.) Build relationships early. Once you’ve identified your best options, don’t just blindly ask them to work with you the next day. Treat this like any relationship and take it slow. Start connecting via social media a few months ahead of time, and let them naturally get to know your brand. Establishing a basis for the relationship will cultivate respect and make prospective partners feel more comfortable when you ask them for their endorsement.
4.) Encourage authenticity. Once they’re on board, refrain from trying to script or control what they say about your product. Micro-influencers are effective because they’re authentic and trustworthy, so let them share their honest, unfiltered opinions with their audiences.
5.) Maintain relationships. Keep in touch with your micro-influencer even after the campaign has ended. If they legitimately like your product, they still may organically mention your brand as opportunities arise. Touch base regularly, and even promote their brand when it makes sense for your organization to do so. You never know when another opportunity to work together will arise.
Working with micro-influencers makes perfect sense from essentially every marketing angle. Through their approachable tone, they successfully promote your brand to an enthusiastic audience while helping you reach new markets — all while having little impact on your budget.
Consumers trust the relatable personalities they follow online more than they trust traditional campaigns and high-priced celebrity endorsements, so don’t hesitate to reap the benefits of this unique, up-and-coming strategy.