Consumer trust in advertising, and in big business in general, is at an all-time low. In fact, there's been a shift to a more authentic two-way conversation -- via social media -- based on discovery. Consumers prefer genuine recommendations from friends, family and micro-influencers, who tend to hold small, but fiercely loyal followings.
Due to this shift in the way people now absorb ads, businesses are starting to use micro-influencers promote their products and services on social media.
But, what are micro-influencers exactly? They are tastemakers, opinion-shapers and trend-forecasters who generally have between 1,000 and 50,000 followers. Though this still sounds like a lot, it pales in comparison to those heavy-hitting celebs and (Instagram) "Insta-celebs" out there with followings north of 50 million.
Yet, while micro-influencers' followers are fewer in number, the loyalty and engagement they inspire has been proven to be higher, averaging around 8 percent, compared to 4 percent for those over one million followers.
Why will these influencers benefit your business and how do you fnd the best ones for your brand? Some answers are below.
Why are micro-influencers trusted by consumers?
Starting from a base of zero means, micro-influencers have a direct, personal connection with their audience. They have a very intimate sense of who they are, and what they like. A micro-influencer not only understands his or her audience members, but respects them. Micro-influencers also tend to serve up stuff that they know will resonate.
These influencers further see their role as one of continually serving up interesting ideas, news and options to their followers. And this strategy works. Some 92 percent of consumers trust an influencer more than an advertisement or traditional celebrity endorsement. That makes sense: Influencer recommendations are like your BFF telling you about her new favorite product.
Are they worth the money?
When you’re dividing up a market budget, it helps if you can pilot a lot of small experiments rather than spend your budget in one fell swoop. Working with micro-influencers allows you to do just that. The average micro-influencer charges around $250 per post, whereas the average celebrity can cost you upwards of $25,000.
“Our budget stretches further and directly to our core audience when we use micro-influencers,” Jia Lin, Creative Director at J. Lin Swim, told me. “Working with men that organically would wear our swimwear and align with our brand aesthetic helps to drive sales.”
Using different influencers, you are also able to try different tactics and see which ones work best for your brand without going over budget. Armed with this clarity, you can double-down and enjoy the consequent traction.
How do you find micro-influencers?
Micro-influencers are plentiful on social media platforms, but finding the perfect one for your brand can prove difficult. One way to go about finding the right influencers is by searching through your brand’s Instagram followers and seeing if any are already following you. Since those people are already fans of the brand, they will likely want to promote your products, and you can then build a successful relationship.
Another method, which saves a lot of time, involves paying for databases so you can have access to the contact information for different influencers in various categories. Innovative platforms such as BrandBrief, find influencers by posting a campaign on their websites or apps, then filtering responders by location, age and category while managing the transactions -- making the task efficient and effective.
“Finding micro-influencers that were a natural fit for our product and promoted a healthy lifestyle gave a lot of authenticity to their posts,” Teresa Aprile, CMO of The Chia Co., told me. “We were blown away by the engagement: over 8,000 likes in a single post!”
In sum, micro-influencers are a great investment for any company, but especially smaller businesses looking to cultivate a following and get their names out to their target audience. Micro-influencers can help build a brand by promoting sales, gaining customer loyalty and building trust.