Over the last decade, social media has evolved from platforms meant to share family photos and funny memes to an ideal stomping ground for marketers and advertisers across the world. Because of this ever-changing landscape, there is an increasing amount of opportunities for brands to engage with their audiences on different social platforms. But as consumers have grown savvier at knowing when a brand is trying to sell to them, a new form of social advertising has taken off: the use of so-called “micro influencers.” So who are these powerful ambassadors being used by brands all over social media? We’ve got the 411 on how these social media savvies may be the answer to your marketing prayers.
1. They’re the newest players in the social media advertising game
If you’ve ever scrolled through Instagram and seen “#ad” in a photo description (or just an odd amount of explanation for a product), you’ve been witness to an influencer. Whether it’s your best friend from high school who is sharing her latest beauty buys with a few hundred followers, or a lifestyle blogger with a few thousand followers promoting that a small, local brand they love, both parties have the same goal: to influence their audience enough to purchase the item they’re promoting.
But why would brands pay seemingly average Internet users to promote their products?
For one thing, social media is one of the most common ways people are learning about and buying new things. For example, 47% of millennials are turning to social media for recommendations about a product before they buy it. To take advantage of so many people utilizing the same place to make purchasing decisions, brands are increasing their presence across social channels in the form of sponsorships and partnerships.
Secondly, as the marketplace of things grows more and more crowded every day, brands understand that it’s often not enough to evangelize their own products. Of course a brand is going to tell their target audience that its solution is the best buy for their money. But what if a trusted, influential person recommended the product instead? You’re already following @XYZInfluencer because of how great she is at styling curly hair: Wouldn’t you also consider purchasing a product she recommended?
2. Follower counts may not actually matter
Getting a well-known celebrity with a high amount of followers may sound like an ideal way to get your product out there. But in reality, an influencer with an extremely high following can have low engagement rates and their audiences are often too widespread to promote a product effectively, especially if the product is targeted towards a niche market. It’s also more common for celebrities to be viewed in a less authentic light if they have large amounts of known brand partnerships. On the other hand, micro influencers have already developed relationships with condensed, niche audiences that will flock to your brand quickly if it’s the right fit. Not only does that benefit the influencer you choose to work with, but it makes life so much easier for you.
Every marketing team has a budget to consider, so keep in mind that micro influencers are typically more affordable than celebrities or macro influencers. Macro influencers—someone that typically has more than 100,000 followers and is well-known to many people—may charge thousands and thousands of dollars for that one Instagram post about your product. And if they aren’t sharing your brand often, the promotions can appear disjointed and fake, which usually reflects poorly on the brand. Using micro influencers can allow brands to get a better bang for their buck not only because of their smaller price tag, but because of the positive impact their posts can have on their smaller, more targeted audiences.
3. It won’t work for everyone
Despite the numerous benefits micro-influencers can bring to your marketing campaign, this tactic may not be the best fit for your brand if your audiences don’t align. For example, if you’re a B2B-focused software company, using an influencer to showcase your product on their iPad while enjoying a perfectly poured cappuccino is likely not going to affect your target audience. Most brands that use micro influencers have a physical product that already looks, or can be made to look, aesthetically pleasing.
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Any brand can find a way to market their product online in a creative and fun way, but not all micro influencers can make the creative vision come to life, nor will they want you to control exactly what they do. If you’re going to give micro influencers a shot, make sure you have a solid plan in place that won’t put you out—otherwise you may want to use a more traditional social media plan.