Think Smaller but Smarter When it Comes to Influencers

Think Smaller but Smarter When it Comes to Influencers

(Originally posted in Social Media Today)

Shoes of PreyShoes 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.

microinfluencer versus celebrities

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 HootsuiteGroupHigh, 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.

A Startup’s Guide to Micro-Influencers

A Startup’s Guide to Micro-Influencers

(Originally published in Entrepreneur.com)

Celebrity influence doesn’t come cheap. Macro-influencers with massive followings could probably get away with charging two months’ payroll to promote awareness of your brand among their millions of followers. But, take heart: Set your sights a bit lower and you’ll be able to widen your reach and get better uptake for less money.

First, understand who micro-influencers are: the everyday social account gurus who are passionate about their topics.

Second, think of micro-influencers as angel investors: They’re passionate about what you do and personally invested in it. These influencers provide authentic promotion, have 10,000 or fewer Twitter followers and don’t have agents; most are happy to talk about brands in return for just a free sample.

startups

Photo by Finnish photographer/ travel blogger/ micro-influencer Jukka Heinovirtam.

For instance, a travel business might target a macro-influencer such as J.D. Andrews, who has more than 171,000 followers. Or the same company could save some serious capital by going with a micro-influencer such as Finnish photographer and travel blogger Jukka Heinovirta, who has 8,000 followers.

For startups, every decision needs a high ROI. Going after micro-influencers instead of the typically sought-after bigger names may well reveal an untapped gold mine.

Capitalizing on micro-connections

One great example of how micro-influencers can really boost your brand is Shoes of Prey. In 2010, that women’s custom shoe company wanted to scale up its business without breaking the bank.

Blaire

Micro-influencer Blair Fowler brought 3x the traffic for Shoes of Prey in a couple of days.

Rather than go for a celebrity, the brand chose a micro-influencer: 16-year-old beauty vlogger Blair Fowler. Fowler hosted a giveaway on YouTube, which led to a permanent 300 percent increase in sales for Shoes of Prey. And the benefits didn’t stop there.

After the video giveaway notched 750,000 views and close to 30,000 comments, Shoes of Prey received mentions in Business Insider, The Wall Street Journal and a host of other national publications. The success culminated in an exclusive U.S. partnership with Nordstrom.

Micro-influencers are more accessible and authentic than their A-list counterparts. Shoes of Prey received top-notch results at a bargain price by using an influencer with dedicated followers. Finding the right partner for your business is the key to getting the exposure your startup needs.

Searching for friends in lower places

To find the perfect micro-influencer, scour social media. Determine which platforms your target personas frequent, then search for the keywords or hashtags relevant to you. For instance, a boutique hotel might sift through the entries for #Travel and #NY to identify relevant influencers.

In some cases, your ideal micro-influencers may already be following you. Look through your own fans and followers for potential candidates.

The makers of Kano, a do-it-yourself computer, raised more than 10 times their $100,000 milestone after tapping into the company’s existing contributors via Kickstarter. Of course, it certainly helped that Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak were among the bunch, but you’ll never know which of your followers is an influencer until you look.

After making some connections, you should guide your new followers through the best ways to support you. Here are three action steps to successfully use microinfluencers:

1. Boost the signal.

A press release on your website makes about as much noise as clapping with one hand. Embedding pictures and linking to videos can help, but you’ll get the most mileage from messages from your microinfluencers. Ask them to amplify your latest release because the information will mean a lot more coming from them than from you.

2. Recruit new talent.

Money is essential, but recruiting the right talent is divine. Connect with influencers in your area, and ask them to let their followers know that you’re hiring. You’ll get talented applicants who are already interested in your industry.

3. Set the course.

Micro-influencers can be a bit rudderless at times, but your guidance can set them on the right path. Make sure your influencers know the top talking points and share the hashtags your target audience tends to view, to get more engagement from your influencers’ tribes.

While micro-influencers may not have world-renowned names, they do have loyal, relevant followings that will take action for a price that can’t be beat. Don’t waste your money on A-list celebrities — you can save a few bucks and get much stronger results by targeting the right micro-influencers.