There’s little doubt that influencer marketing is now a bona fide part of the marketing mix. A recent study by Affilinet found that UK consumers aged between 18 – 30 were five times more likely to purchase something promoted or reviewed by an influencer or a brand ambassador. It is the ability to bring authenticity to sponsored posts which has seen brands generate success from their influencer marketing campaigns.
As influencers become more prolific, and their audiences grow, so too do the fees they charge. Yes, that means a product or service potentially gets seen by more people, however marketers also need to take into account just how engaged and connected this larger following is. Is it possible for influencers with millions of followers to continually produce content that is relevant for and engages every single follower?
According to research from Markerly, the answer to that question is no. It found that as an influencer's number of followers increases, the number of likes and comments they get from those followers decreases; Instagram users with fewer than 1,000 followers generated likes 8% of the time, whereas users with 1-10 million followers earned likes only 1.7% of the time.
This lack of direct engagement is why micro-influencer marketing has been tipped as an emerging industry trend. Unlike traditional macro-influencers or brand ambassadors, these users have a smaller following of loyal, engaged and responsive fans that often share a common interest or passion.
Small and mighty
Micro-influencer marketing is currently a relatively untapped weapon in a marketer’s arsenal, but it is on the rise. Working with an account with a more relevant and specific audience, gives a brand the opportunity to develop meaningful, long-term relationships with potential customers.
It can be effective for all sized organisations, however micro-influencer marketing now makes this method available to companies with smaller budgets. The cost of working with these individuals is often much lower than with macro-influencers. Furthermore, the increased engagement rates achieved by working with micro-influencers means that there is often a much higher ROI. You could spend a small fortune on a partnership with Zoella, but generate a much better ROI by using that budget to work with lots of relevant micro-influencers.
Traditional social influencers, or brand ambassadors will have a large network, but often they are not well connected. On the flip side, engaging with a series of well placed micro-influencers who connect multiple networks together, will result in a brand’s message influencing more relevant people.
Context is king
In order to identify the influencers best suited to your brand, marketers first need to spend time understanding who their customers are and how to segment them.
This already happens, although at the moment segmentation is predominantly based on demographic data. However, using demographic data alone is short-sighted, and risks missing out on adding vital context. For example, in B2B marketing, demographic segmentation isn’t going to be wholly reliable or helpful because B2B brands already know their audience. To add this context, marketers need to segment based on moments and mind sets:
- A moment might be when someone is buying a house – regardless of their age, what’s more important is the context around what is driving their buying habits.
- Thinking about mindsets is to focus on people’s attitudes and a result of several overlapping moments. For instance, someone focused on saving money to buy a house, but looking to treat themselves, might use their love of Bake Off to influence that, and buy ingredients to bake a cake.
Moments and mindsets audience segmentation provides richer insight into what type of content will resonate with an audience, which isn’t available if you only look at demographics.
This level of segmentation can be done by using audience intelligence platforms to understand how customers converse online and what drives the conversation.
Influencing the influencer
Once you have meaningful audience segments, you have a manageable volume of data to help you to identify which micro-influencers to work with to reach these groups.
Some ways micro-influencers can add real value to a campaign include:
- It’s not all about engagement. Taking the time to passively listen to these individuals can deliver valuable insights for brands to develop campaigns and creative that will hit home with a target audience.
- Going one step further set up an insights panel made up of the micro-influencers to better understand an audience’s worries, hopes, motivations and sense of humour. These insights can inform creative for all marketing content.
- Educate them on your brand. Chances are – if you’ve done your research properly – your brand is likely to be something really relevant to micro-influencers, so if successful you could create your own micro-army of brand advocates.
There is much more to influencer marketing than spending a large chunk of your yearly budget on a handful of posts from an ex-reality TV star. By using tools that provide you with audience intelligence, you can identify a group of micro-influencers that have the power to make a real difference to your marketing efforts and ultimately your business.