“People trust what others say about you over what you say about yourself.”
This is common advice among marketers, which is likely why influencer marketing quickly became so popular.
According to HubSpot, 71% of consumers are likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals.
But influencer marketing can be expensive. In fact, influencers with over 10 million followers can often charge $100,000+ for a single campaign.
Yet the data says the average comment rate for these accounts is less than 1%.
So, how do you tap into larger audiences without breaking the bank?
Enter micro-influencers. In this guide, you’ll learn why micro-influencer marketing is a more cost-effective alternative to “macro” influencer marketing.
I’ll outline a step-by-step process for identifying, engaging with and creating effective micro-influencer campaigns that generate a positive ROI.
Chapter 1: Why Micro-Influencers Are More Profitable
Micro-influencers are thought leaders and experts that have a smaller following than your traditional “macro” influencer. Despite having a smaller audience, they usually have a more engaged and loyal following.
These micro-influencers work within specific categories and are truly knowledgeable in their field. They’ve carved a name for themselves within a specific niche, building loyal fans who share the same interests.
As Rashmi Manwani-Bhambhani, founder of Microfluence, puts it:
“When we pick micro-influencers for our clients we use insights from our client’s business and then match them to influencers in our database with those attributes. Multiple data points are used to find the right micro-influencer and that.s where we have found the most success. Our results so far has been great as our clients not only find micro-influencers cost-effective but also easy to work with and effective to reach their niche audience”
There are several benefits to micro-influencer marketing:
- They’re more affordable: Influencers with millions of followers may charge thousands per campaign. Micro-influencers demand a much lower fee.
- They have a higher level of engagement: Micro-influencers have a more loyal audience and generate a higher ratio of comments/shares for each post.
- They’re easier to access: By following the process in this guide, you’ll learn how to reach out to up-and-coming influencers and capitalize on their audience base.
- Accounts with less than 1,000 followers receive likes 8% of the time
- Accounts with a following between 1,000 and 10,000 receive likes 4% of the time
- Accounts with 10 million+ followers receive likes 1.6% of the time
This trend continues with comment rate:
- Accounts with less than 1,000 followers receive comments 0.5% of the time
- Accounts with a following of 1,000 to 10,000 receive comments 0.25% of the time
- Accounts with 10 million+ followers receive comments 0.04% of the time
The sweet spot is in the 10,000 to 100,000 follower range. You get access to a reasonably large audience while maintaining a good engagement ratio.
For many brands, working with influencers that have millions of followers is way out of their budget range. Instagram influencers with 6 million or more followers often charge up to $100,000 for a single post.
In comparison, 84% of micro-influencers charge less than $250 and 90% charge less than $500. You can hedge your influencer marketing budget across many micro-influencers instead of one influencer with a huge following.
Larger brands are starting to clock on to this strategy. In the example below, Steve Booker has worked with the UK shoe brand Clarks to create contextual content for his followers (those interested in men’s fashion):
So, what are the characteristics of a micro-influencer? Ideally, they must fit this criteria:
- 10k to 100k followers: As the stats show, this is the sweet spot between affordability and engagement.
- High-quality content: Check out their feed and see what type of content they’re creating. Look for high-quality photography and illustrations (if appropriate for your audience and topic).
- Targeted audience: Most micro-influencers are great at one thing. They hang their hat on a specific topic or niche. Find those who are rock stars at what they do.
Now you know what micro-influencers are and the benefits of working with them. Let’s go through the step-by-step system to establish a micro-influencer marketing campaign.
Chapter 2: A Micro-Influencer Strategy That Works
Great results don’t just appear. Successful influencer marketing starts with a strategy.
What are your objectives? Who is your target audience, and on which channels will you find them? These are questions your strategy must define before you begin.
Here, I’ll show you how to create a micro-influencer strategy that helps you achieve these goals.
Setting Goals and Identifying Metrics
First things first: what are you trying to achieve with your micro-influencer marketing efforts?
Your objective will define the influencers you target, the content you create and the metrics you measure.
Common micro-influencer marketing goals include:
- Awareness: Expanding the reach of your brand to boost awareness
- Lead generation: Driving traffic into your marketing funnel to nurture and build your audience
- Sales: Generate direct sales through exclusive offers and discounts
- Social growth: Increase the following of your social profiles
Once you know what you’re trying to achieve, you can define which metrics to monitor. Although revenue is usually true north, “vanity metrics,” such as reach, can still act as strong indicators of success.
In Chapter 5, you’ll learn what these metrics are and how to measure them.
Choosing Your Social Platform
The social platform you target will depend on your goals. If you’re trying to grow your Instagram following, you should create content that drives eyeballs to your profile.
Each platform has a unique style. Audience demographics and interests will vary. So, choose a platform where your audience is active. If you’re reaching for a younger millennial audience, consider using Instagram and Snapchat.
The content format will also define your target platforms:
- Use Instagram or Pinterest for photos, illustrations or infographics
- Use YouTube for long-form video
- For conversational videos, use Snapchat, Facebook or Instagram stories
- Consider LinkedIn when sharing business insights
Keep in mind the action you want followers to take. Driving traffic to an external site might be challenging on Instagram or Snapchat, although Instagram Stories does have a great “swipe up” feature for such occasions.
Customer personas should also help inform the platforms you target. By fully understanding your customers, you’ll know exactly where to find them.
Finally, consider targeting lesser known or emerging platforms. Music.ly, for example, already has a strong user base of music-loving teens.
Use a Testing Methodology Before You Scale
While micro-influencers allow you to spread your overall influencer marketing budget, you should test on a small scale first.
Start out with a small budget and identify which micro-influencers generate the best return on your investment. Test across several platforms to figure out which are most effective for your goals.
Test out different forms of content. Do Instagram stories perform better than photos?
The principle: test, test, and test some more. Use ROI as your true north.
Chapter 3: How to Find Wildly Popular Micro-Influencers
In sales, targeting the right prospects can be the difference between success and failure.
Influencer marketing works the same way. Targeting micro-influencers that have a relevant audience of the right size is the foundation to success with this strategy.
Let’s look at how to find influencers on the top social platforms today.
Search Within Your Network
If you dig into your social media following, you’re likely to find micro-influencers who are already engaging with you.
These are the lowest hanging fruit as they already have a relationship with your brand. It will take less effort to reach out to them and will lead to a more authentic partnership.
Begin by looking at users who have liked and commented on your posts. This level of engagement is the best excuse for reaching out.
Here’s an example from the furniture brand TRNK:
Look for accounts that fit your set criteria. With over 20,000 followers, “Studio M.oss” is a great target:
Make sure your targets post relevant content, and engage the right audience. We’re a bit spoiled and like to use our own platform to look at a group of followers and understand both the demographics, brand affinities and lifestyle preferences of potential influencers before engaging them.
Studio M.oss looks like a good fit and shares high-quality images of their contemporary furniture, which would make them a great target for a brand like TRNK.
Add qualified followers to a micro-influencer spreadsheet. Include metrics like followers and average likes, comments, and shares per post.
Dig Into Popular Hashtags
Searching popular hashtags can identify micro-influencers interested in similar offers, content, and messages to yours.
The influencers who have an interest in relevant products and services are most likely to work with you. They’re also likely to have access to the ideal audience.
Here’s how to use hashtag searches by platform:
On Instagram, enter a broad keyword in the search bar to see suggested hashtags:
Top content consists of those recently posted with lots of engagement. Look at the users who post this content and identify those who fit your criteria.
For example, this post has 530 likes, posted by a user with 15,000 followers. A perfect target for our micro-influencer marketing efforts:
On Twitter, the principle is the same. Search using the hashtags you discovered on Instagram then click on “People”:
Go through the list and search for individuals that fit the criteria:
Finally, use Google to search for bloggers and thought leaders who have a large following on your topic.
A quick Google search for “top furniture influencers” uncovers the following result:
There are dozens of useful articles that feature furniture and interior design experts. Add those that fit the criteria to your micro-influencers spreadsheet.
Influencer Networks & Tools
Manually searching for influencers is effective, but can be too time-consuming. If you have the budget, consider investing in influencer tools and networks.
One example is Ninja Outreach, a tool built specifically for finding and reaching out to influencers. Using their filtering tools you can quickly find and connect with the right micro-influencers on social platforms:
Influencer networks provide platforms for connecting brands to influencers who are interested in what you offer. Some of these platforms include:
- Brandnew: A self-serve platform that connects brands with creators across all social networks
- Speakr: Similar to Brandnew, Speakr work with many Fortune 500 companies and offer predictive and FTC compliance technology
- Upfluence: Provide influencer marketing software and services, creating end-to-end influencer marketing campaigns
Jeremiah Boehner, Sr. Director of Sales at Adwizar, was kind enough to share his process when identifying micro-influencers to work with:
“There are tools you can use to find influencers and check quality. Like Social Blade and Social Bakers. Those tools give you insights into their engagement, audience quality, etc. Then I create my outreach list and begin reaching out gathering pricing, screenshots of audience data (when available) and give them a brief description of the campaign and what we were thinking.
From there some of the influencers opt out, or excluded because of price audience doesn’t match etc. Then we get the agreements in place and send the creative brief.”
Chapter 4: Building Relationships & Making Micro-Influencers Love You
By targeting the right micro-influencers you’re already 80% of the way there.
Now you need to begin the relationship.
By this, I don’t mean “cold email them with a proposition.” You need to get on their radar first – especially if they have over 100,000 followers.
Here are five ways to engage with micro-influencers.
1. Social Engagement
This one is easy. Are they active on Facebook? Like their pages and join their groups. Instagram? Start following and enable notifications:
Follow your target influencers on every single platform they’re active. Like, share and comment on everything they publish.
It’s a quick and effective first step to getting on your target micro-influencers’ radar. The aim is to make them familiar with your brand.
2. Introduce yourself
Begin the conversation with a simple, friendly message. Something as simple as:
“Hi NAME – Just wanted to reach out and express how much I/we love your handmade furniture. Keep up the good work!”
There’s nothing promotional here. You’re simply reaching out and beginning the conversation.
If you have an engaged audience, share the content your target influencers make. On Twitter, this is as simple as hitting the “retweet” button.
For many micro-influencers, this is a huge deal. It shows people are taking notice and, furthermore, you’re helping to get their content out to a wider audience. You’ll add real value before the relationship has even begun.
On Instagram, you could do this in the form of “regrams,” where you upload a micro-influencer’s content and credit them. Make sure their content fits with the theme of your own content.
4. Be Helpful
There are other ways to deliver value to your target micro-influencers. A good philosophy is to identify individual pain points and help them overcome them.
Perhaps they’re running a contest to build up their audience. Help out by distributing it to your social media audience. Even better – include it in your email campaigns.
Go beyond shares and comments. Find pain points outside of social media and offer to help.
5. Keep Tabs
Set up alerts to quickly respond to what they’re talking about. You should also keep an eye on media mentions – especially if they write for larger publications.
6. Beginning the Business Relationship
These activities should be done continuously over time. Both before, during, and after you work together.
Engaging with them in this manner puts you on their radar. Once you’ve become familiar, it’s time to take the next step.
Many micro-influencers have contact details available on their social profiles. However, if you’ve already started conversations (via direct messages, for example), then this is the perfect way to segue into another channel.
- Start by explaining the idea for your campaign. Explain exactly why you believe you would be a great fit to work together.
- Put in a teaser on what’s in it for them. Will it be remuneration or access to a wider audience? Make the benefits clear.
- Use social proof. Who else have you worked for, and what were the outcomes? Distill success stories with other micro-influencers in a short message.
- It’s time for the call-to-action. Ask to reach out via email. Take the conversation to a more personal and professional channel.
Once you’ve started the professional relationship, it’s time to collaborate on your micro-influencer marketing campaign.
Chapter 5: Creating Campaigns & Content That Goes Viral
The most successful influencer campaigns have one thing in common:
Brands give influencers creative reign over their content.
The sentiment doesn’t mean you should let go of all control. However, influencers know what’s best for their audience. Because of this, the decision about what does and doesn’t make it into a campaign should be a collaboration between the influencer and the brand.
Keep this philosophy in mind as you begin developing and promoting your campaign.
Setting terms & goals
Like any marketing effort, you need to set goals. You’ll also need to agree to the terms of your relationship with your micro-influencers.
Start by setting goals internally. Refer to the goals that you defined when creating your strategy. How do they apply to a specific campaign? The goal will ultimately direct the content.
For example, if your goal is brand awareness, your content should tell the story of a journey, struggle or achievement.
Alastair Humphreys recently worked with Land Rover to create content on “microadventures.” It featured one of their newest cars, but only as a vehicle to drive the story (no pun intended).
If you’re going for direct sales, then consider an exclusive discount or giveaway for the audience.
Here’s a recent campaign professional surfer Anastasia Ashley created with FabFitFun:
You should also agree on which metrics to monitor. While some from the list below are considered “vanity metrics,” they can still be an effective indicator of success:
- Reach: How far your campaign content reached (usually measured as total number of impressions)
- Comments: The number of comments generated
- Shares: The number of people who shared your campaign content
- Social growth: The number of followers generated from the campaign
- Leads: Total number of new leads or subscribers generated
- Sales: Total number of sales generated
- CAC: The cost per acquisition of each new customer/user
- Revenue: Total revenue generated from the campaign
- ROI: Return on investment as a percentage
The way you compensate each micro-influencer will depend on their needs. Some may respond best to cash while others find value in free products.
Explore and figure this out during the initial stages of the relationship. Simply ask them what their own goals are and create a compensation plan that helps to achieve them.
Collaborating On the Story
Now you have your goals set up; it’s time to work on the content.
Again, you should give micro-influencers the final say on campaign content. However, you know your brand better than they do.
Creating guidelines is useful for keeping internal teams and influencers on the same page. Provide the tools that help them create the best content possible.
You should also set boundaries. What do you want them to include? What words, phrases or topics should they avoid? Making this clear in guideline documentation will save time and provide your influencers with instructions.
Need some inspiration? Let’s take a look at some common campaign formats you can swipe:
Product placements: One of the most common sponsored campaigns. The content format is simply where your micro-influencers post content featuring/using your product:
Behind the scenes: Creating content of what’s going on “behind the scenes” provides an authentic take on content collaboration. You build anticipation around your campaign while maximizing on the effort you’re putting in.
Here’s an example from vlogger and photographer Ben Brown’s collaboration with Audi:
Stories: Don’t forget, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat stories generate huge amounts of engagement. Consider including them as part of your overall campaign. Stories provide another platform for candid, behind-the-scenes content.
Maximize as much content from your campaign as possible. Repurpose and distribute it across various formats and channels where possible.
Co-branded content: Connect with other social influencers and create educational or entertaining content together.
A Note on Compliance
As marketing becomes more sophisticated, regulation follows suit.
Influencer marketing is no different, and the FTC has made clear rules on influencer marketing. As Joseph Cole said in an article for TapInfluence:
“Not paying attention to influencer marketing compliance puts you in a lot of risk financially with the FTC, makes your content less authentic, and ultimately impacts your brand’s credibility. Only 1 in 10 marketers know sponsored posts should be tagged as ads. And only 56% of marketers were aware of the FTC’s policy and guidelines (eMarketer).”
I highly recommend reading the entire article, so you’re aware of the rules.
Chapter 6: Measure & Scale to Supercharge Your ROI
You’ve created an awesome campaign with talented and well-connected micro-influencers.
Just like any marketing activity, you need to measure your results. If you know a campaign is successful, you can re-invest in it.
So, how do you effectively measure your micro-influencer marketing results? Let’s look at how to determine campaign success against your marketing goals.
1. Reach, Impressions and Traffic
While not as important as ROI, Reach is a key indicator of influencer marketing success.
The further your micro-influencer campaign has reached, the more potential for traffic, leads and sales there are.
To measure reach, monitor these metrics:
- The number of followers your micro-influencer has
- The number of impressions your campaign content generated
- How much referral traffic a campaign has sent to your site
Make sure your influencers give you a snapshot of impression data, as this is often only accessible to them.
2. Clicks, Likes & Shares
If engagement is your goal, you must measure clicks, likes, comments, and the total cost of engagement.
Here are the engagement metrics to measure:
- The number of likes (or reactions on Facebook) your content generated.
- Measuring shares indicates the quality of your content. People recommend content that evokes an emotion (or expresses who they are).
- Comments are a strong indicator of engagement. It shows that your content has inspired discussion and grabbed your audience’s attention.
- Measuring brand mentions will show if people are talking about you outside of the initial discussion.
Tracking these metrics will help you measure cost per engagement (CPE). To calculate CPE, simply divide the total cost of the campaign by the number of engagements.
Measuring CPE helps you understand sentiment around your brand, not your products or services. It’s about measuring the return on customer relationships.
3. Message-to-Market Match
If you did your homework, you should have engaged with influencers who have access to your target audience.
We recommend using our PersonaBuilder to understand if your message is reaching the right audience. While less accurate, the Demographics and Interests report in Google Analytics can also be used to see if your message is hitting the mark:
This will provide you with the data to make long-term decisions. In other words, will you generate a positive ROI by working with this micro-influencer in the future?
4. Social Sales & Lead Generation
While engagement and brand awareness are great, ROI is even better. Ultimately, your micro-influencer campaigns should be generating leads and sales.
Maximize ROI by focusing on micro-influencers and social channels that generate the best results. For example, if you’re getting more qualified traffic from Instagram over Twitter, then coordinate with your micro-influencers to double down on the former.
This way, you’re focusing on only the channels that bring the strongest results.
Create an individual UTM code to measure each campaign. Use Funnel’s campaign name and URL builder to quickly create unique URLs for your micro-influencer marketing efforts.
Open Google Analytics and head to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium to get a snapshot of how certain social platforms are performing:
To view the results of your campaigns, go to Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns:
Want to learn more about UTM and campaign tracking? This guide by Kristi Hines on the CrazyEgg blog will help.
Bonus Chapter: 6 Examples of Killer Micro-Influencer Marketing Campaigns
You now have a framework to run your own micro-influencer campaigns.
From targeting the right influencers to measuring results, this guide gives you everything you need to get started.
You might still be sitting there stuck for ideas. So to wrap this guide up, here are six successful examples to get your creative juices flowing.
1. Banana Republic
Retail marketers know the power of featuring products when they’re in use. That’s why Banana Republic works with dozens of influencers to model their latest clothing on a regular basis.
Using their #itsbanana hashtag, they can more effectively measure social reach. It also helps Instagram users tap into the conversation to see who else is talking about (and wearing) their products.
Micro-influencer marketing isn’t reserved for large retail brands. Even local businesses can get a slice of the action.
This is what Singapore-based restaurant Zafferano did. They targeted influencers in the food and lifestyle space to raise awareness and boost their social presence.
Romantic sunset 3-course dinner.✔️43rd floor.✔️Gorgeous views.✔️Exquisite food. 😍❤️💖👍 Chef Marco Guccio has pulled off contemporary but authentic italian classics very well. Of course, the stunning views help too, completely elevating (pun intended) your gastronomic experience. 💖😍💞 This is their Cavatelli – Fruiti de Mare. A simple but delectable seafood pasta, wonderfully tossed. Available Mondays to Saturdays, 5:30 – 7:30pm, SGD55++ per pax. Thank you @zafferanosg for hosting us!! 🙏☺️ Was a wonderful evening!! #ZafferanoSunset #zafferanosg #sunsetdinner #instasg #burpple #pasta #romantic #prosecco
They invited influencers to a special VIP meal. The meals were prepared with visual content in mind. The result? A combined reach of 65,000 impressions, 8,500 likes and 280 comments across 33 posts.
3. Stitch Fix
When clothing brand Stitch Fix work with influencers, they don’t just send product for them to pose with. They collaborate to create useful content for both of their audiences.
In the example below, they worked with fashion blogger Sarah Tripp to create visual content and an article in Q&A format:
With a link in the bio, they used this content to drive traffic straight to their blog, where they could convert them into subscribers and customers.
It’s hard to go anywhere on YouTube without seeing Audible. Not only do they tap into the platform’s powerful advertising features, but they pay dozens of micro-influencers to sponsor their content.
Using a basic affiliate program, Audible sponsor YouTubers to promote their free trials to cast as wide a net as possible:
This is an example of how to enhance basic referral programs with micro-influencer marketing. Build a network of influencers to promote free trials, content, and discounts to extend the reach of your offering.
Campaigns aren’t limited to a single channel. In this example, Mezzatta worked with influencers to create original content for their Pinterest page.
They turned to food blogs to come up with original recipes using their products. They took the photography created and uploaded it to Pinterest, creating a backlink for the bloggers while extending their social reach:
In the example above, food blogger Jess Harp used Mezzatta’s hot chili pepper and garlic sauces to create an extremely delicious looking mac & cheese. She even included a contest to give her readers the chance to win a gift basket.
6. Skull Candy
Finally, Skull Candy work with micro-influencers to create colorful, creative content that celebrates the music their products enable.
Like clockwork – me every Friday w @skullcandy + @streetlightstudios #stayloud . . . . . #tumblr #uoonyou #urbanoutfitters #style #streetstyle #fashion #fashionblog #cincinnati #blog #blogger @ootd.fash #ootdfash #ootdwatch #ootdpage #vsco #vscocam #hmootd #f21xme #forever21 #topshopstyle #topshop #nordstrom #stylegurulove #cfoffline #cfashionista #stylegurustyle #asseenonme
Creativity is the driving force, they provide the tools their micro-influencers need to create great content. They then use the #stayloud hashtag to encourage their entire customer and fan base to do the same.