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From likes to loyalty: How micro-influencers build real connections for your brand

Friday, 7 June 2024
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The prevalence of influencers in our digital landscape is a testament to their enduring influence. The global influencer marketing market has tripled since 2019 and is now worth 24 billion dollars. 

Yet, as macro-influencers such as celebrities, TV personalities, athletes, or thought leaders gain more followers, their approach can become less personal, potentially decreasing engagement rates. This is where micro-influencers stand out with their more personalized style.  

Engagement is paramount for businesses seeking to harness the power of influencer marketing to promote their products and brands. This is where micro-influencers shine. With a social media following ranging from 1,000 to 50,000, they use their platform to endorse products that align with their interests or expertise, offering a unique and personal touch to their promotions. 

Their specific interests mean relevant businesses can seamlessly integrate into their narrative and leverage their engagement rates—notably higher than macro-influencers. One study revealed that micro-influencers experience a 6% engagement rate on Instagram, while mega-influencers see engagement rates around 1.97%. 

This data underscores micro-influencers' potential to deliver higher engagement and better business results. Their cost-effectiveness is another draw for marketers as micro-influencers typically charge lower fees, some as little as $100. 

To learn more about the intricacies and benefits of working with micro-influencers, we reached out to Josh Darlington, Head of Sales, Europe at Creator.co, an e-commerce marketplace for micro influencers and brands with agency capabilities, based in North America and Europe. Creator currently works to connect the best micro-influencers with brands like Walmart, Colgate, and more, looking to elevate their engagement and widen their audiences.

Trustpilot: How do you define a "micro-influencer"? Is there a specific follower count range you typically work with?

Josh: A micro-influencer can be defined primarily by size. Many companies will have different definitions for how many followers one should have to be micro; typically, it can range between 1,000 and 50,000. This can also depend on the niche that they specialize in.

Trustpilot: Across which social media platforms are you seeing the most successful micro-influencer campaigns?

Josh: The best platform for a micro-influencer depends on their niche, content style and target audience. Instagram typically favors the majority of micro-influencers as it allows for quick and easy content and caters for all styles, from reels and posts to Instagram stories.

Trustpilot: What are some of the biggest challenges brands face when working with micro-influencers? How would you help them overcome these challenges?

Josh: I would say there are three main challenges for brands working with micro-influencers: 

Identifying the right influencers: There are so many micro-influencers worldwide, and it is important to ensure you find the right creators that match the brand’s values, audience, and goals.

Solution: Thorough research using influencer software to filter based on niche, engagement rates, audience demographics and past collaborations. Manual vetting is also important to ensure audience authenticity and potentially a trial campaign before committing to longer projects.

Measuring ROI: Due to the fragmented reach of most micro-influencers, it can be tough to measure a brand's clear ROI.

Solution: Ensure brands set clear expectations and KPIs (engagement, conversion, web traffic, etc.) at the start of a campaign to be measured. Tracking tools, such as tracking links, promo codes, and UTM links, are also useful to ensure tangibility and help measure effectiveness.

Maintaining Authenticity: The followers of micro-influencers value authenticity, and is what makes leveraging this niche so effective. However, a brand can lose that strength quickly with off-putting over-scripted or promotional content.

Solution: Brands must be prepared to give micro influencers creative freedom to integrate the brand naturally into their content style while sharing key messages. It is also important to foster long-term relationships with micro-influencers to build a community rather than one-off transactional collaborations.

Trustpilot: What are some brand best practices when selecting micro-influencers for a campaign?

Josh: Internal expectations: A brand must be clear on its campaign goals and the ideal target audience it is trying to reach. This will keep the brand laser-focused on the type of creator it needs to find in the sea of micro-creators.

Engagement over follower count: Follower counts can be misleading nowadays, so a brand needs to research every creator's engagement rates to ensure a strong ROI.

Content quality and style: To maximise the benefits of working with micro-influencers, the content style and quality must match the brand’s aesthetic and values.

Trustpilot: How can micro-influencers contribute to a brand's content marketing strategy?

Josh: UGC: Encourage micro-influencers to create and share original content featuring a product. The brand will then repurpose and use this content in its owned channels and social content strategy.

Social Media Takeovers

Brands can also allow a creator to take over their social media account for a day, providing fresh and authentic content to engage followers of the brand in real time.

Tutorials and How-To Videos

Shifted toward educational content, a micro-influencer can create demonstrations or tutorials of a product to provide value to their audience, showcase the product’s utility and ensure brand approachability.

Trustpilot: What emerging trends will shape the micro-influencer landscape in the coming years?

Josh: Following COVID and the world shifting to social for more targeting, the digital world is busier than ever. This means there will be a continued increase in brands preferring micro authenticity over transactional macro campaigns. The stats show that brands and audiences demand more authentic and transparent partnerships for influencers to promote products they are genuinely interested in and believe in.

Advanced analytics and AI will continue to grow and play a major part in working with micro-influencers. This will allow brands to identify and analyse micro-influencers more closely suited to their brand goals and values and have a higher likelihood of ROI.

Affiliate campaigns are now a huge part of micro-influencers' ability to monetise their content. This allows a micro-influencer to build an income, likely a longer and stronger relationship with a brand, and, in turn, deliver honest value to their audience.

Trustpilot: What advice would you give to brands hesitant to invest in micro-influencer marketing?

Josh: Cost-effectiveness: Micro-influencers give brands a much more affordable way to reach their audiences authentically than macro-influencers.

Start small and test: Small, low-risk campaigns are crucial to understanding whether a micro-influencer campaign will be effective for your brand. Track key metrics of interest (e.g., engagement, web traffic, conversions, etc.) to pivot and inform the brand’s future strategy when going larger.

Leverage UGC: Using micro-influencers is a great way to understand the type of content they produce. This content will not be shared on their profiles, but brands will receive it and gauge the quality of content before choosing creators to partner with. It is also important to have software or processes in place to allow for content approval—for a brand to review all posts before they are shared on an influencer's profile to vet, edit, and approve them.

Trustpilot: How do you expect the role of micro-influencers to evolve?

Josh: Growing influence and demand: Micro-influencers are now widely accepted and understood as an effective way for brands to reach niche audiences cost-effectively. However, there is still a long way to go. This will only continue to be realized in many other niches.

Specialisation and expertise: As micro-influencers become more popular, the competition will equally rise. Understanding their niche and target audience is key for micro-influencers, and I expect there to be far more specific influencers focused on a very certain niche to excel.

Technological advancements: Not only will brands begin to use software and technology to better their influencer campaigns, as will influencers themselves. More tech is available to creators than ever, supporting them in content ideation, posting and more. AI will become mainstream and greatly impact the micro-influencer world by contributing to their work or potentially becoming competitors for partnering with brands.

If you want to find out more about Creator.co, check out their website here. 

Key takeaways

  • Micro-influencer campaigns (1,000-50,000 followers) outperform macro-influencers (millions of followers) in engagement: They create more personal connections with their audience, leading to higher engagement rates.

  • This authenticity is a major benefit for brands: Micro-influencers can promote products naturally that resonate with their niche audience and elevate their social content strategy.

  • Micro-influencers are also more cost-effective: This makes them a good option for brands of all sizes.

  • The future of influencer marketing will likely see even more focus on micro-influencers: As technology like influencer software and AI advances, it may play a role in the influencer landscape.

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