Micro influencers have been the talk of the influencer marketing town the last few years. Marketing experts generally agree that micro influencers offer a great avenue to building trust in your brand.
But, if you’re still a bit green in the world of influencer marketing, you might not understand exactly what a micro influencer is or why they’re so valuable to campaigns. So I’m going to break it all down for you, in the hopes that after rading this article you understand the true power of micro influencers.
What are micro influencers?
Let’s start here: micro comes from the Greek mikros, which means small. In English, the word is often a prefix that shows that something is tiny or small-scale. Think microchips, microorganisms, microeconomics, even microwaves. By now I think you can probably guess what micro influencers are, right?
Micro influencers are small-scale influencers, which basically means that they have relatively few followers when compared to the more commonly thought of style of influencer with millions of followers and internet celebrity status.
It’s difficult to pin down an exact follower range for micro influencers. Top players in the industry seem to all define it a bit differently. And then different social networks can throw different variables into the mix, with followers being quantified a bit differently than subscribers, for example.
Based on our experience in influencer marketing, we define micro influencers as having between 5,000 and 50,000 followers. Under 5K, you’re a nano influencer, and more than 50K, you get into the influencer major leagues. To read more about the different influencer tiers, check out our influencer marketing guide, Chapter 1.
Why micro influencers?
Now that you’re clear what a micro influencer is, let’s look at why they’re so important. We already mentioned above that they can help build trust in your brand, but why is that?
To start, micro influencers have some of the highest engagement rates in influencer marketing. Engagement rate is the level of interaction between an influencer and their followers. The more engaged an audience is with an influencer’s content, the more likely they are to interact with it. And when an influencer has a strong connection with their followers, that translates into a better chance of connecting those same followers to your brand.
Working backwards a bit more, we can ask ourselves why do micro influencers have higher engagement rates than, say, macro influencers with 500K followers? It comes down to two key ideas.
First, micro influencers generally work in niche markets. They might be fashion influencers, but more specifically interested in ethical, slow fashion. Or they may be sports influencers, but dedicated to an uncommon sport, like jai alai. This means their followers follow them for their content devoted to the shared niche. And these followers are laser-focused on the niche content.
Second, micro influencers score well when it comes to authenticity. They’re real people like you and me; many influence part-time and also hold another job. Moreover, their profiles don’t have the same magazine sheen or revolving display case vibe as that of celebrity influencers. Finally, their communities are smaller and more manageable, which makes it easier for them to put the personal touch on their interactions with followers.
All of these factors work together to make micro influencers authentic, trusted voices in their niche categories. But if you want to take advantage of that as a brand, you have an important task ahead of you: finding the right micro influencers for you.
How to find micro influencers for your brand
Let’s break this section into two parts: the theory and the practice.
The idea behind the right influencer
Every brand is different, but all share a common goal: they want to get their products noticed by people who will buy them. In order to use influencers to help you do this, you need to find ones who fulfill two requirements:
- Align with your brand
- Reach your target audience
Let’s dig into that a bit more. When we talk about influencers aligning with your brand, we’re thinking about if the brand and influencer fit together. Does the influencer operate in the same category and/or niche? Do they uphold your brand’s values? Does their aesthetic style work with yours?
For example, if your brand makes bohemian-style clothing from recycled materials and using sustainable resources, you need to find an influencer who fits into that world. Someone who’s constantly advertising clothes from one fast fashion chain after the next doesn’t fit with your values. And someone who dresses goth doesn’t fit with your style.
Additionally, the right influencer connects you with your target audience. Carefully analyze the influencer’s profile and its metrics to make sure they’ll help you do that. You want to make sure their followers share the demographics you’ve established for your target audience.
How to find the right micro influencers, in practice
When you want to find influencers, you have two options: you can search directly on social media, or use an influencer marketing platform. The former is free, but takes more effort, while the latter is paid but makes your life easier.
Searching on social media
If you want to find micro influencers directly on social network, there are a few places you can start your search:
- The accounts that already follow your brand
- The accounts that mention your brand or use your branded hashtags
- The accounts that post content with hashtags relevant to your niche
@vaidaurmul, a fashion micro influencer with 13K followers on Instagram, both mentioned fashion e-commerce @asos and used its branded hashtag #asosdesignmusthaves in this post.
If you find a micro influencer among one of those groups, chances are they’ll be more interested in collaborating with your brand, as they’ve already shown interest in it or in its niche.
Once you find some profiles that look good at the surface level, it’s time to dig deeper. Analyze the micro influencers for:
- Follower growth over time
- Engagement rate
- Post frequency
- Audience demographics
- Audience authenticity
- Any past branded content
You’ll have to collect this information directly from social media, or ask the influencer for their media kit and/or private performance metrics. For engagement rate, you’ll also have to know the industry averages for micro influencers on that network, as engagement varies across social media channels.
Searching on an influencer marketing platform
The alternative to the above approach is to use influencer marketing software. You have to pay, yes, but you can tell the search engine exactly what you want.
Imagine you’re looking for a fashion micro influencer from the US who has high engagement and mentions “slow fashion” in their profile. Plug it into the influencer marketing platform’s search filters, and voila!
Our example search query from above plugged into influencer marketing platform Heepsy.
When the platform returns the results, you can check into the analytics of each profile, and this helps you save a lot of time on your influencer analysis. For example, an influencer marketing platform will compare the specific influencer’s engagement rate to the average for their peers, so you can get an immediate recommendation as to whether their engagement is low, high, or even suspiciously high.
In this chart, we can see that micro influencer @sedonachristina’s engagement rate is very high when compared with the average engagement rate for similar micro influencers.
In addition to checking on metrics, influencer marketing platforms can also help you learn to detect and avoid fake influencers.
Tips for hiring and working with micro influencers
Once you find micro influencers who align with your brand and have healthy profiles, it’s time to reach out and hopefully begin a successful collaboration. But it’s important to understand some key things about hiring and working with micro influencers.
1. Know what they charge and what they offer
Another plus point about working with micro influencers is the price. As you know, influencers don’t work for free. Some charge thousands of dollars per post. But micro influencers will sometimes agree to collaborations in exchange for free products alone. Or, when they do ask for a fee, it won’t be more than a few hundred dollars.
Before you reach out to influencers, be prepared to negotiate. Know what you can offer them in incentive. Remember that incentive can be free products, services or experiences…whatever your brand has to offer.
2. Contracts can be conversion killers
When you work with influencers who have managers and charge high fees, you’ll nearly always have to sign a contract. But with micro influencers, that’s not the case. In fact, contracts can be conversion killers, meaning they prohibit you from actually converting that influencer into someone creating content for your campaign.
Micro influencers aren’t pros, yet. And they don’t tend to have managers. So contracts can potentially overwhelm them and scare them off. When doing collaborations based on free products or a few hundred dollars, a formal contract isn’t always necessary. Instead, concrete the details in another way, like email, so there’s no confusion.
3. Give them creative freedom
You may be tempted to micromanage (see what I did there!) micro influencers as they work on your campaign. Don’t. Give them creative license on their own content.
They gained their followers with their unique perspective. Their followers know their voice and trust their opinions. If you inject too much of your brand in the content, it won’t come across as authentic. Micro influencers best know how to communicate with their laser-focused niche audiences, so give them your message and let them choose how to spread it.
4. When in doubt, communicate!
Regarding the above, if you see something that goes wrong, don’t hesitate to communicate with the micro influencer. They’re still learning about collaborations, after all. Maybe they forgot to include your branded hashtag, or made an error in a caption. Tell them! Use a clear yet friendly tone to make sure there are no further misunderstandings.
On the flip side, if a micro influencer brings concerns to you, listen! They are the experts in their niche and can best sense how their followers will react to their content, so if they sense something off in your campaign, give their doubts some consideration.
Micro influencers are a great way to improve your ROI when it comes to influencer marketing. They’re relatively cheap, they have high engagement, and they can help connect your brand to niche markets. It’s just important that you find the right micro influencer for you in order to achieve campaign success.