How to Find the Most Impactful Micro-Influencer

Opinion: Marketers who let follower counts cloud their judgment may miss opportunities

Preparation is key when dealing with influencers

When it comes to influencers, bigger isn’t always better. Larger accounts help brands gain exposure and increase awareness, but if the influencer doesn’t align with the brand, people likely won’t pay attention.

Kim Kardashian West has 105 million Instagram followers, but her audience (and price) isn’t ideal for every company. Aligning with a celebrity who makes the news for the wrong reasons could even lead to a negative marketing impact.

Marketers who let follower counts cloud their judgment may miss opportunities to drive real engagement through micro-influencers that their customers trust at a fraction of the cost.

When do micro-influencers make more sense?

Influencers want their posts to drive revenue for brands because they want repeat customers. Some will hawk for anyone who pays them, while the best ones stick to their niches and only promote products they have genuinely tried and tested.

When macro-influencers get careless, the brands behind them look bad, too. Last year, for example, Adidas worked with Naomi Campbell to promote some new shoes, only to watch the promotion backfire when Campbell accidentally pasted the entire email message from the marketing team into her post.

Successful micro-influencer marketing comes in two forms: Some people spray and pray, shipping products to hundreds of influencers at once in hopes that they’ll post on their platforms, while others carefully select the influencers with the most relevant followings.

Filip Tysander, owner of wristwatch startup Daniel Wellington, grew his brand from a $1,500 investment to a $220 million operation in just six years through a no-holds-barred influencer strategy.

The company succeeded by sending free watches to up-and-coming influencers, like athletes who had just been drafted and bloggers with loyal followings, flooding young people’s pages with watches.

One of Later’s users, meowbox, saw similar success targeting multiple micro-influencers who represented its customer base versus celebrities or larger accounts.

The subscription box service for cat owners found that a sponsored post from a celebrity with a large following led to only a few sales, while sending a free box to an Instagram cat account with a moderate following resulted in a significantly larger number of sales.

When the company started focusing on sending boxes to micro-influencers that had a genuine following of its target audience, however, sales exploded. Organic posts from these smaller influencers led to a huge growth in sales for meowbox at a fraction of the cost.

How to land the most impactful micro-influencers

Preparation is key when dealing with influencers, so it’s critical to have your strategy and desired outcomes clearly outlined. Follow these tips to make sure you’re selecting the right micro-influencers for your project, getting them on board, and—most important—seeing big results.

Set clear expectations for influencers and return on investment

Don’t rely on gut instincts to pick micro-influencers, and don’t assume that they will know how to drive sales on their own. The first step in developing your influencer strategy is to consider the resources available. Should you offer products, money or both?

Next, identify the objectives. Should influencers post about the brand to drive awareness, or should they help generate content for the brand to share later?

Finally, determine what kind of content would work best, including which products to feature and which formats to utilize.

Answers in hand, begin your outreach, keeping ROI at the forefront. Instead of “boosting awareness,” stick to metrics-based goals, like driving three times as many sales of a specific product.

Assess candidates’ alignment with your brand and goals

With these goals in mind, narrow down the pool of influencers to people who can meet the objectives. The best influencers have followers who mostly fall into one target demographic, allowing brands to get as close to their intended audience as possible.

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