Everyone that uses social media understands the term ‘influencer’, and likely associates it with wildly popular accounts that have millions of followers and regularly produce viral show-stopping content. But what about the influencers that don’t fall under the ‘millions-of-followers-celeb-tier’ of online popularity?
The truth is, there are a number of different ‘tiers’ of social media influencers, and these super popular social media stars (or mega-influencers) only make up a very small proportion. The majority of influencer accounts – 91% to be exact – are categorized as ‘micro-influencers’ and can be just as valuable to brands as their higher profile counterparts.
If you haven’t heard of micro-influencers, or are wondering if your brand might benefit from finding out, read our guide to get a headstart.
What is a micro-influencer?
A micro-influencer is a social media account run by what we’ll call - for want of a better term - ‘regular’ people, who have built up an impressive online following via a niche or more focused approach to content.
An exact micro-influencer definition varies depending on who you’re talking to but, at Aspire, micro-influencers are creators who have between 10,000 and 60,000 followers. That definition covers a broad range of creators and might include established online personalities, industry experts, or up-and-coming creators in competitive online spaces such as fitness, food, technology, or art.
Like ‘traditional’ influencer accounts, micro-influencers are valued for the knowledge, trust, and authenticity that they communicate to their audiences. However, they’ll typically benefit from higher engagement and closer relationships with their followers than larger influencers, while still wielding an impressive demographic reach.
Why work with micro-influencers?
Micro-influencers are very much a part of that picture. Driven by a variety of factors, brands are increasingly turning to these smaller influencers as a way to engage more authentically with customers – with searches around the topic jumping by 105% between 2019 and 2021.
In terms of practical, positive marketing impact, there are several upfront benefits to working with micro-influencers. These include:
Highly engaged audiences
Micro-influencers operate in that sweet spot between online stardom and everyday relatability, which helps them forge stronger relationships with their audiences. Since they typically don’t receive overwhelming volumes of follower responses, micro-influencers may be able to engage more meaningfully with their audiences, responding personally to comments and DMs and building the kind of rapport that larger accounts simply don’t have the bandwidth for. Because of this, smaller creators, including nano-influencers and micro-influencers, achieve the highest engagement rates across all platforms.
Building on that engagement, the shared passion and love that micro-influencers have for their subject matter casts sponsored posts and other marketing content as friendly, authentic recommendations, rather than advertisements.
Since they’re not in the same commercial weight-class as influencer accounts with millions of followers, micro-influencers are also more budget friendly – while essentially delivering the same quality-level of content. Sponsored posts by high profile influencers can cost brands millions of dollars, mainly due to the sheer volume of attention those creators can draw, but micro-influencers offer much more bang for your buck, making up for their smaller reach with valuable engagement.
Looking in detail at the numbers, a sponsored post from an influencer with 200,000 followers or more, for example, could cost anything from $5,000 to $10,000, while posts from celebrity-level influencers will generally cost at least $1 million. By contrast, a micro-influencer sponsored post typically costs a more budget-friendly $100 to $500.
Since micro-influencers offer their followers a tighter focus on the cultural niches and topics that they love, they present brands with opportunities to target specific demographics with added granularity. For example, your brand might approach a TikTok ‘BookTok’ micro-influencer to promote a new book release, a plus-size fitness influencer to promote a new inclusive clothing line, or a French travel influencer to promote a new translation app.
With a bit of creativity and careful management, a campaign that uses multiple micro-influencers to promote a product can actually see better returns than a partnership with a single mega-influencer, simply because the micro-influencers’ content reaches people who are much more likely to engage.
What do micro-influencer campaigns look like?
Brands that understand how to use micro-influencers as part of their campaigns are likely to get the most out of the partnership. Check out some examples of brands that used micro-influencers to great effect:
Home textile retailer RugsUSA used micro-influencers as part of a product-seeding campaign, assembling a pool of suitable influencers, including mom bloggers and pet owners, each with an eye for interior design. The micro-influencers produced a range of user generated content which RugsUSA was able to use across its branded channels.
Stella & Chewy’s
With a history of creating “hyper-specific, niche campaigns”, premium pet food brand Stella & Chewy’s wanted to find influencers that would be able to create on-brand content and be “genuinely excited” about their products. To that end, Stella & Chewy’s partnered with pet-focused micro-influencers to generate new content for them on a monthly basis, with unique posts featuring pets and products.
Activewear ecommerce retailer YogaClub was seeking to both promote its clothing line and grow a community of yoga lovers around its brand. YogaClub achieved this by engaging hundreds of micro-influencers that had already demonstrated their buy-in to the culture, and by collating the content they produced to be used across social media channels, official websites, newsletters, and more.
How should you partner with micro-influencers?
When brands engage with larger influencers, they usually need to go through a layer of management or representation that can complicate the relationship. By contrast, brands usually engage directly with micro-influencers, a system that generally demands a slightly different approach.
Fortunately, we’ve got some tips to help you build a seamless partnership with your micro-influencers:
How to find micro-influencers
Like any relationship, you’ll need to make sure that the micro-influencers you work with fit your culture and goals. That means doing a bit of legwork to find suitable influencer accounts.
You could start by exploring your own follower community, searching hashtags, and mentions, engaging directly with customers, or looking at the accounts that other brands engage with. To make things easier, there are certain tools and strategies available to help you source, select, and approach micro-influencers. These include:
- Application pages: By setting up a branded application page on your website, you can let micro-influencers learn about you and your business and then apply (via a form) to become part of an advertising campaign. After collecting applications, you’ll be able to browse candidates and select the ones that you think are the best fit.
- Search engines: Brands can explore the influencer landscape via third-party search engines. These bespoke engines present account suggestions complete with details about engagement metrics, follower growth rates, audience interests, and other pertinent factors that could be useful for an upcoming campaign.
- Creator marketplace: A creator marketplace is a space where influencers themselves can search for brands that they’d like to work with. Brands will typically create a proposal for the marketplace and stipulate the types of influencers they’re looking for.
- Social listening: The social media landscape is full of comments, DMs and feedback – all of which are data points for brands that engage in a form of market research known as social listening. Monitoring the discussions and buzz that your brand generates is a great way to identify potential micro-influencer partners that know what they’re talking about and that would be excited to partner with you.
- Existing customers: People that already love your brand generally make great cheerleaders for it. With that in mind, existing customer bases will likely contain numerous micro-influencers that are predisposed to work with you on your next campaign – all you’ll need to do is reach out to them.
How to work with micro-influencers
Finding micro-influencers isn’t the end of the story, you’ll need to handle the logistics of your business relationship with them from first contact and throughout your campaign. You can make the process easier for everyone by sticking to certain partnership principles:
- Setting expectations: Clear expectations are key for any mutually-rewarding partnership. With that principle in mind, make a point of setting expectations upfront so that your micro-influencers know what you have in mind for the campaign. This might include the volume of content, timelines, brand guidelines and campaign goals.
As part of the process, you also should let them know why you want to work with them, and why you think they’re a great fit for your brand. (Learn more about creating winning influencer briefs)
- Securing usage rights: Don’t assume you have the right to use the content your micro-influencers produce – make sure you set out usage rights for influencer content at the start of your relationship. It’s a good idea to pre-prepare digital term sheets so you can complete any licensing requirements quickly, and repurpose content across all your channels with minimum friction. Once you’ve secured usage rights, you could start a library of licensed content so that you can find the perfect post in seconds.
- Creating great content: To get the best content out of your micro-influencers, you’ll need to let them do their thing. They’ve built their followings by delivering authentic, engaging content so it’s safe to say they know what works. That’s not to say you shouldn’t give them guidelines to make sure their content aligns with your brand’s ideals, but they need to know that they have the creative license to continue delivering for their followers, and enjoying what they’re doing.
How Aspire can help
There’s a universe of colorful, creative micro-influencer content out there waiting for your brand’s next campaign, but getting started can be daunting. Aspire is here to help: our influencer marketing platform is designed to connect brands with the perfect micro-influencers, and make influencer partnerships rewarding and hassle-free.
From selecting accounts suitable for your brand’s style and ideology, to launching campaigns and tracking performance metrics, we can manage the whole process from start to finish – leaving you and your micro-influencers free to concentrate on what you do best.