There are plenty of people who automatically think of Jenners, Kardashians, or superstar Youtubers when we hear the term ‘influencer’ – but marketing teams often think very differently.
Some of the best and most successful advertising campaigns don’t have a famous face holding the product – they have real people with more modest numbers of followers or subscribers.
These people are micro-influencers – and they’re quickly becoming the go-to solution for brands who want to make a lasting impression on their audiences.
Here, we’ll take an in-depth look at what a micro-influencer is; why the use of micro-influencers is exploding, and some meaningful steps you can take to establish yourself in the micro-influencer world.
What is a micro influencer?
There’s really no solid micro influencer definition out there. Here at Influize, we would generally consider a micro influencer to be a normal person with following or regular audience of between 1,000 to 100,000.
As well as the audience numbers, micro influencers or micro bloggers tend to focus on one specific industry or niche. This is where micro influencer marketing becomes all about you.
Perhaps you’re passionate about fitness, beauty, gaming or tech? Then again, you might be interested in mental health, plumbing, hamsters, or haberdashery?! Your specific passion doesn’t matter; if you’re creating interesting content that people are engaging with, then you’ve got micro influencer potential.
Crucially, a micro influencer should be a real, genuine, and relatable person. It’s perhaps useful to think of micro-influencer as a trustworthy friend – someone you’d turn to if you need advice, help, or an informative chat about a particular subject. If you think you’re that person, you’re likely to be a marketer’s dream come true.
Micro influencers’ power is based on how engaged they are with their audience. Influencers with 1,000 followers typically see 85% more engagement than influencers with more than 100,000 followers – and in marketing, engagement is key.
We’ll explore more benefits of micro influencer marketing a little later – but as a real person, your thoughts, opinions, and reviews have real value – especially to other people who are potentially interested in a product or service you might talk about. As a micro influencer, you’re giving the same word-of-mouth recommendations you would give to a friend – but instead, you’re offering them to a larger audience.
Getting paid doesn’t mean selling out
So, you’re thinking about using your status as a micro influencer to make some money – but should you be worried about being seen as a sell-out?
We say no.
Let’s say you’ve just bought a new pair of trainers, a new phone, or even something as simple as a chocolate bar. A friend asks you what you think of your purchase – so you tell them honestly that you like the product. That recommendation is worth money to the brand.
By just having those conversations, you’re influencing peoples’ decisions. You’re just not getting paid for it.
So, by chatting, carrying a bag with a logo on it, or using a certain phone, you’re sending messages of recommendation out to the world. In effect, you’re already an influencer. The trouble is, your recommendations are limited to the brands you’re familiar with. Who’s to say there aren’t better products out there that you just don’t know about?
This is exactly why a brand would get in touch with a micro influencer agency or get online to work out how to find micro influencers themselves. By establishing yourself as a paid micro influencer, you’re simply opening your mind to the possibility that there are other great products out there.
Now – would you recommend a product that you hated to your best friend? No – and that’s the beauty of micro influencer marketing. You’re a real person, with real, trustworthy opinions. Influencing isn’t about selling out – it’s about being exposed to a world of interesting opportunities and getting paid for the work you’re probably already doing!
Why are micro bloggers important for brands?
There’s a wide world of marketing and advertising possibilities out there – from social media adverts to celebrity endorsements and plenty in between.
So, why are brands so keen to work with micro influencers?
There’s actually a handful of great reasons – so we’ve explored each in some depth here:
1. Micro influencers are great value for money
In business, marketing tends to revolve around the phrase ‘return on investment’ or ‘ROI’. It’s the idea that every bit of advertising or marketing carried out needs to return more profit than it cost.
Now, given that top celebrity influencers can charge upwards of £250,000 ($310,000) for a single post on Instagram, a brand has to be absolutely confident that they will see a substantial return if they’re going to outlay that kind of cash.
On the other hand, micro influencers will generally only charge a tiny fraction of this to feature or promote a brand or product. So, a brand will be able to engage hundreds of micro influencers for the price of one top-tier influencer – and in doing so, they will be connecting with carefully selected audiences who trust the person they’re following and engage with the posts they’re seeing.
2. Micro bloggers spread a message far and wide
Marketing isn’t always about delivering one enormous hit of orders or website visits. In fact, it’s very rarely about that.
Instead, most marketing departments are looking to grow ‘brand awareness’ – the idea that their company becomes one of the trustworthy go-to options when you think of a particular industry.
A particularly effective way to create this is through a method that’s often referred to as ‘groundswell’ – influencing the opinion of a large number of people to create a widespread positive opinion about a brand. This doesn’t happen with one big celebrity endorsement – it happens when hundreds or thousands of people start talking about a product or service – and those conversations continue to spread.
This is exactly what micro influencers are great at doing – and it’s mostly to do with the fact that you’re a real, relatable person with engaged audiences. Suddenly, the brand you’re talking about isn’t just something that one big influencer’s been paid to talk about – it’s something that real people are using and recommending to their friends and peers.
3. Micro influencers make great, unique content
Often, the most innovative social media posts don’t come from professional marketing teams – they come from normal users who have a great idea.
Take ‘unboxing’ videos for example – where users record themselves opening new products and review the overall experience.
Unboxing tech, toys, make-up, and other interesting products isn’t something that’s become popular because big brands or celebrities do it – it’s because real people do it and react to the products in authentic ways.
This is exactly the kind of thing that micro influencers are so fantastic at doing. Perhaps you’ve got a flair for writing – or maybe you take a great photo? Then again, you might be able to put together fun animations, infographics, videos, or tutorials?
When a brand works with a micro influencer, they’re likely to get great innovative content without hurting their budget.
4. Micro influencers’ audiences are engaged
Remember the last time you reacted to a celebrity’s Instagram story and ended up having a chat with them?
It’s because it very, very rarely happens. The same is true of ‘macro influencers’ – people with audience numbers of around 100,000 and above. Top-tier influencers and celebrities often get thousands of comments – and macro influencers often have hundreds of comments and messages to tackle.
Smaller accounts are different though; you could probably expect to exchange comments or DMs with a lot of the micro influencers you follow. Generally, this is because most micro-level influencers have audiences that are made up of people they know, people they’ve met, people they’re related to – or just people who share an interest.
We’re more likely to engage with accounts and posts where there’s the change of connection – and this is why brands look beyond follower numbers and consider this kind of engagement.
It’s estimated that the average engagement rate for an account with between 1,000-5,000 followers is around 5.7%. Increase that follower count to 100,000 – and you can expect engagement rates to drop to around 1.7%. Don’t misunderstand – 1.7% of 100,000 is still a lot of people, but the micro influencer with a smaller but more engaged audience often represents a better prospect for an awareness-building campaign – especially when you consider they’re a far more cost-effective option.
5. Micro bloggers are genuine
Now we’ve looked at the engagement numbers that brands buy into when they work with influencers; it’s worth looking at what’s behind those numbers.
More often than not, people engage with content because the influencer comes across as being authentic and trustworthy. On top of that, they’ve usually got a niche interest that’s shared with their audience.
When you mix those things together with their ability to be personal with their audience, you’ve got a winning combination.
In fact, brands even have consumer psychology on their side when they work with micro influencers. Industry studies suggest that 84% of consumers trust recommendations from their peers more than they do over advertising. This is great news – because social media audiences don’t tend to consider micro influencers as celebrities; the fact that they have a small audience and share an interest means they’re viewed as peers instead.
Brands will use micro influencers and micro bloggers for this very reason – especially if you’re not seen to be working with a number of different brands. The more personal and genuine you seem, the more people will take notice and engage when you create interesting content.
6. Micro influencers are a dream to work with
Being a micro influencer is a great business model – and part of the reason it works so well is because you’ll generally manage everything yourself.
When a brand talks directly to Instagram or Facebook micro influencers, they’re likely to get quick replies, clear communication, straight answers, and people who are more than willing to go above and beyond what’s expected of them.
While there’s no reason to doubt that macro influencers or top-tier influencers would be any different in an ideal world – most of them simply do not have the time to handle their business themselves. Instead, influencers with large follower counts tend to have agencies helping to manage their accounts – and that can lead to a bit of a disconnect when they’re collaborating with a brand.
Influencers are almost always great to work with – but micro influencers are often a cut above the rest - often a genuine pleasure for brands to engage with.
7. Micro influencers are accessible for brands of all sizes
Since micro influencers are more cost-effective than macro or top tier influencers, they open the door to influencer marketing for a huge range of brands – even those with more modest budgets.
This makes social platforms and blogs genuinely exciting – since they’re not dominated by big-money businesses and heavy-hitting influencer accounts.
Instead of relying on unlimited budgets - brands and micro influencers can get creative and get their innovative and interesting content seen alongside big names and famous faces.
8. Micro bloggers have unique audiences
It doesn’t matter what a company sells; there’s a micro influencer out there who’ll have the perfect audience for the product.
The thing is, many top-tier influencers and celebrities have such enormous audiences because their content is very general.
Sure, there are plenty of people who like to see what Cristiano Ronaldo or Selena Gomez are doing – but those enormous follower counts include such a broad range of people that it would make meaningful, targeted marketing impossible.
A micro influencer’s niche audience presents a fairly unique opportunity for a brand – laser-focused marketing at a very specific demographic.
9. We’re not ‘blind’ to micro influencers
People are very good at filtering out information that isn’t useful or interesting – and that can be a problem for big brands and top-tier influencers.
You probably can’t remember the banner adverts that were on a website you looked at earlier today – and this same ‘blindness’ to marketing is occurring more and more on social media platforms. When that #ad hashtag appears a lot on a big influencer’s account, you can find yourself tuned-out pretty quickly.
Fortunately, this isn’t as much of a problem for micro influencers – and companies know it. With niche audiences, trustworthy content, and plenty of personal engagement, a brand won’t fail to be noticed in the hands of a micro influencer.
10. People are smart
Ask anyone if they like advertisements, and the answer will generally be no. They usually inspire us to pick our phones up when they come on the TV – and around 25% of us use adblocking apps to avoid seeing them on our devices.
This puts micro influencers in a fairly unique position. Not only do people choose to follow you, but they’re also likely to engage with the products, services, and brands you’re working with – even if they’re the kind of person who turns their nose up at more traditional advertising.
This is the Holy Grail for marketers – and it’s one of the major reasons micro influencers are so sought after; especially when you consider that 49% of people say they trust influencers’ recommendations when they’re making a purchasing decision.
We’ve already talked about how micro influencers come up with creative and interesting content – and often, that content’s delivered so authentically that people forget they’re watching a sponsored or promotional message.
People are intelligent – they can sense an inauthentic ‘advert’ from miles away – but give people honest opinions about interesting products, and you’re likely to see your micro influencer earning potential go through the roof.
What kinds of brands can work effectively with micro influencers?
You’re perhaps wondering if working with influencers is going to be right for you.
A good way of deciding whether a micro influencer campaign could be a good fit is considering whether or not your audience is actively using social media. If they are, then influencer marketing is likely to be a great opportunity.
Generally speaking, it’s B2C businesses that use influencer campaigns – but there’s plenty of opportunity for B2B businesses too – especially with more business-orientated networking platforms and business-focused blogs.
At that moment, influencer marketing is most popular in the following industries:
- Fashion and beauty
- Travel and lifestyle
- Business and tech
- Home and family
Of course, this isn’t to say that other industries can’t get involved – in fact, some brands in extremely niche areas excel simply because there are few competitors working with influencers.
Which brands have worked successfully with micro influencers?
There are countless brands that have seen enormous success working with micro influencers – and some have worked in interesting and innovative ways with influencers from around the globe:
Chances are, you’ve seen Daniel Wellington’s minimalist watch designs pop up on at least one of your social media feeds.
The Swedish watchmaker has worked almost exclusively with influencers and social media platforms since it was founded in 2011 – and it was recently named the fasted growing private company in Europe.
DW’s approach to influencer marketing is interesting because they often use influencers outside their fashion niche. It’s not uncommon for their watches to crop up on the wrists of travellers, models, pet owners, sportspeople, and many others – showing the incredible potential of a well-put-together campaign.
Astrid and Miyu
Around 7 years ago, Astrid and Miyu was an online-only jewellery brand launched by a small team in London. Now, it’s got 2 boutiques – one just off Bond Street and the other in Shoreditch – and luxury stores like Selfridges stock their range of cost-effective products.
The brand’s founder, Connie Nam, is keen to work with influencers who other businesses don’t traditionally work with – and the jewellery retailer wins a lot of loyalty as a result. “They love our brand and it feels a lot more genuine” explains Nam.
Astrid and Miyu have done an incredible job of working with influencers in a way that creates genuine brand advocates – models and bloggers who have a passion for the product that’s naturally felt by their audiences.
Although Boohoo is now a name that you’ll often see cropping up on the TV and in celebrity feeds, the company’s astronomical early success was thanks to smart use of influencers and bloggers on Instagram.
Boohoo is an excellent example of how ‘groundswell’ marketing can create runaway success. By encouraging bloggers and customers to share their purchases online, the #boohoo hashtag has been used over 800,000 times – and there are over 200,000 similar hashtags including the company name.
While some influencers are paid to show the brand off – there’s now also a huge organic influencer campaign running thanks to the brand’s earlier paid efforts.
Where do you find micro influencers?
If you’re hoping to find micro influencers to help you promote a product or brand, it’s a good idea to start with considering your target audience.
Think about your target audience’s researching behaviours – after all, this is what they’re going to be doing when they’re taking in influencer content on social media. What are they searching for? Which platforms do they use? What kind of search phrases are they using and which hashtags are they looking for?
You’ll probably need to consider things like:
- Age: Different age groups tend to favour different platforms and often follow influencers who are around the same age.
- Location: If your product or service is geographically limited, you should work with people in the right areas.
- Gender: Do previous campaigns see better results when you target a specific gender?
- Occupation: Does your product lend itself to people in certain roles or industries?
- Interests: Are you looking for audiences with particular hobbies or pastimes?
You might decide to find a few ‘ideal’ customers online and explore the accounts and influencers they follow. You’re likely to find that you’ll begin to see some of the same influencer accounts appearing between followers.
At Influize, we’ve already done a lot of this background work – so when we work with brands, we’ve almost always got an audience profile and a range of influencers who will suit your brand. If you’ve got a demographic in mind – get in touch, and we’ll help you create an effective micro influencer campaign.
Becoming a micro influencer
There’s never been a greater demand for micro influencers – and it’s hardly surprising when you consider all the reasons we’ve just explored.
So, the question is – how do you get in on the action?
The truth is, it’s not hard work when you know what to do.
We’ve put together 6 tips that’ll help you create or grow the kind of following that brands want to see:
1. Create your own brand
When we think of the term brand, it’s easy to picture the Nike Swoosh or McDonald’s Golden Arches and think it’s something reserved for big corporations – but it’s not.
A brand is much more than a logo. Your brand tells your followers what they can expect from you – it’s your own personal blogging or social media style. When it comes to micro influencers, your area of interest is an important part of your brand too.
So, how do you bring all these things together?
Firstly, it’s important to think about creating content that you enjoy – but also think about what you do well on social media. For instance; if you seem to get a lot of love when you share beauty tips, you might want to explore this as an area to expand on and monetise. Flitting between lots of different interests and industries might keep your nearest and dearest followers onboard – but it’s unlikely to make you particularly memorable and help you grow your following.
Pick one or two areas of interest – then add your own personality. Don’t be down if things don’t explode immediately; building a brand doesn’t happen overnight – but as you become established, you’ll also become an attractive prospect for businesses and agencies.
2. Create great videos
There’s no question about it; people love video – so if you feel like you can create interesting video content, you’re likely to see your following and engagement go through the roof.
There have been countless studies into engagement with different content types – and video always comes out on top. You can expect 10x more engagement from a video Tweet than text only – and video beats any other content type on Instagram too.
Now, a great make-up tutorial video is going to be very different to a video guide on how to change the oil a classic car – and you’ll need a different skillset again if you’re going to be filming your workouts or live-streaming a parachute jump. The key is to do some research into what makes great video in your area – then get creating – after all; practice makes perfect.
3. Brush up on the writing
Virtually every platform that micro influencers work on requires some written content – even if it’s just snappy captions for Instagram pictures or descriptions for YouTube that link people out to things you’ve featured in your video.
This is another area to research and experiment with. As a rule, you’ll need to keep your descriptions fairly simple and relatable. Your written content should give your visual content some context – help your followers understand what they’re looking at; why you’re showing it to them, and what they can take away from it.
Again, this is a good area to research and experiment with. Look at the written content that influencers you follow create and think about what makes it effective. Above all, you should try to avoid being overly-promotional; being a trustworthy source of information is the micro influencer’s superpower – so don’t blow it with inauthentic words.
4. Add subtitles to your videos
Alongside good descriptions, it's a good idea to get into the habit of creating subtitles (sometimes known as ‘closed captions’) for your videos too.
As well as being a huge help for the 466 million people around the world who have hearing loss, captions are useful for all of us. You might not think it, but you have an accent – and that can make it difficult for people to understand what you’re saying (especially for viewers with English as a second language). Of course, there are also going to be plenty of people who want to watch your videos quietly too – whether they’re sneaking a quick peek at work, or they’re just in a noisy environment; subtitles are often the difference between someone watching or not.
There are some solid studies to back this idea up. Facebook released data that suggests 85% of videos are watched silently – and that adding captions to a video will boost view time by 12%. The same study said that users were 80% more likely to watch your video to the end if it had subtitles.
There are plenty of simple, user-friendly ways to add closed captions to your videos – so don’t risk missing out on engagement by neglecting to do so.
5. Think quality – not quantity
It’s normal to long for big follower numbers – but don’t assume this is what brands are looking for when they’re thinking about hiring you.
If you’ve got 25,000 followers but you’re consistently working with just a handful of comments or likes; something’s not right – and micro influencer agencies and brands will know it.
Instead, think about the quality of your followers and the interactions they bring. Create great relatable content – then engage with the people who are showing an interest. Don’t worry about follower numbers for now – focus instead on building great relationships with the people who you’ve already got on board. When this is right, your follower count will grow naturally and sustainably.
6. Engage with your followers
If you’re not careful, creating content on social media can make you blind to what other people are doing. Rather than constantly checking your notifications and numbers of likes – get out there and dish out some love too.
Perhaps the most obvious thing to do is engaging with other people’s content – you’re not the only one who’s keeping track of the likes and comments, so get involved with what other people are doing. Again, authenticity is the key here – nobody’s got any time for those “Awesome pic!!! Why not check out my profile?” comments – so definitely avoid cutting and pasting – and don’t be tempted to use automated software and apps that promise to do this for you. The brands and agencies that work with influencers have seen all these tricks before – and they’ll drop you instantly if you’re trying to cheat the system.
It’s a great idea to engage people in your own posts too. YouTubers are often very good at this – they’ll pick up on a question asked in their comments and go on to make a video that addresses it. It works across all platforms though – and you can guarantee a follower for life if you’ve invested a little time and effort in helping them out.
7. Be patient and persistent
Everything we’ve talked about here takes time – so try not to be frustrated if becoming a micro influencer doesn’t happen overnight.
If there’s a key to success when it comes to being an influencer – it’s creating content and engaging with followers and potential followers consistently. This doesn’t have to be a grind either – spend this time creating a well-researched brand, and you’ll be putting in foundations that’ll create years of earning potential as a micro influencer.
If you’re part of a marketing team and you were on the fence about whether or not micro influencers could bring something to your brand – hopefully you’re now converted! Micro influencers can bring a level of authentic word-of-mouth promotion to your brand that you simply cannot find elsewhere.
If you’re a micro influencer at the moment – or you’d like to establish yourself in the influencer world, then Influize can help. We can’t offer you any shortcuts when it comes to making great content – but if you can put the foundations in place, we can help you to fast-track your way to bigger audiences than ever before.