In 2017, the average American spent nearly two hours a day on social media, so it’s no surprise that advertisers are willing to spend $1.6 billion on Instagram alone this year, according to Mediakix.
But advertisers need to understand that what worked for print and television (ie: the celebrity endorsement) is not always the best method for social media. And who can afford to use an uber-influencer celebrity anyway? According to HopperHQ, celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Selena Gomez can rake in up to half a million per post.
Enter the micro-influencer. They are social media evangelists who authentically engage their audience on a sincere and personal level. They are not the “famous-for-the-sake-of-being-famous” crew , a’la the Kardashians, but Average Joes and Janes who have successfully leveraged social media to share their passions and expertise with the world around them.
One of these micro-influencers is Chicago foodie Uyen Tran, who uses Instagram to drive 18.6k followers to her free Wordpress blog, From Uyen With Love. Now we all like to take Instagram pics of our expertly-plated restaurant meals, but Tran’s pics drive hundreds of Chicagoans into the restaurants that sell them.
Another is Indiana resident Erin Schrader, who began her fashion blog Living in Yellow in 2011. After a few short years, her readership ballooned to over 150,000. Her fans, mostly women in their 20s - 40s, connect with her blog via Facebook for practical tips related to fashion, home decor, and travel.
And yet again there is Diego León, who has blogged about men’s fashion and social matters on Dandy in the Bronx since 2014. At just over 42k followers, he made it to Reelio’s list of NYC’s top Lifestyle influencers. Better yet...his captions are in English and Spanish!
Each of these three everyday Americans are powerful influencers because they’ve established trust and credibility among their followers.
Caveat Emptor: Making Smart Decisions about Micro-Influencers
“Influencer marketing has expanded exponentially over the past two years. We’ve seen the industry go from a rising marketing tactic to an essential part of most marketing budgets” wrote social analyst Giordano Contestabile for Adweek in January.
Savvy brands are attracted to micro-influencers because they know that the engagement is real, but marketers also need to be well-versed in social media to spot the fakes. Does that Average Jane actually have 1.5 HUMAN Instagram followers? Or are most of them bots? Bots don’t make purchases, of course… so who are you really reaching?
So let’s go back to Uyen Tran, Erin Schrader and Diego León, who have captured the attention of a near half million real people in various target markets. Brands look to micro-influencers like them to promote their products in the most natural and organic way, just by doing what they already do online.
Schrader populates her fashion blog with selfies of her day-to-day outfits from affordable brands, and hundreds of Millenial women follow for the practical fashion tips. A few “likes” here and a few more “shares” there, and Schrader soon captured the attention of the brands she had been promoting for free, just by posting pictures of herself coordinating well-put-together outfits with their apparel.
It wasn’t long before Nordstrom reached out, and Target, and then others with affiliate links for Schrader to post with her selfies. Any time someone clicks through Schrader’s post to a brand website and makes a purchase, she receives a kickback. According to media news outlet CNHI, this has allowed Schrader to turn her hobby into a full time gig.
Now, imagine you took back the $500k you paid for that one celebrity uber-influencer. Cut your budget in half and reallocate funds. Build line items for research and creative, and then distribute the rest among hundreds of proven micro-influencers who have earned their followers’ respect. Every “like”, every comment, and every touchpoint will reach a more relevant audience.
And the best part is that many of these micro-influencers will be your advocate for around a few hundred dollars, or in some cases, for barter.
Micro-influencing is Not Just For Foodies & Fashionistas
Many industries can benefit from working with micro-influencers: Tech and travel included.
Piranha NYC recently worked on a campaign called “Go:Tohoku” for the Japan National Tourism Organization. As with many tourism campaigns, their budget were not on the scale of big consumer advertising. They needed to make a smaller budget go as far as it could and reach their target audience with accuracy.
Piranha researched and located real people with a following, whose interests and expertise were compatible with the campaign objectives, and then built their campaign on micro-influencing. They were provided with an authentic experience in Japan, and Piranha successfully utilized the content collected around those experiences as the core of their campaign.
This resulted in higher watch times on social media and meaningful engagement amongst the core target demographic. The campaign exceeded every goal that was set at the start. As an agency, Piranha got a larger cross section of engagement and data for their report, and as a brand, JNTO got great content that made real meaningful connections to their target audiences.
Could this have worked just as well with uber influencers? The budget of one top celebrity influencer post would likely have consumed the entire budget. Share your thoughts.