Micro-Influencers: Inside Dirt Astute Marketers Don’t Know

How To Use Micro-Influencers To Improve Your Marketing Results

Micro-InfluencerWhen in buying mode, no customer is an island.

Instead, prospects research a variety of resources and reach out to influencers, both online and IRL.

While we like to talk about the customer journey, the reality is it’s not a straight process. There’s no special mapping app you can use.

Rather, marketers must provide the necessary information and support to serve prospects when, where and how they want to consume it. But must also take care not to push too hard or be too promotional.

To increase engagement and conversion that ultimately yields sales requires interaction.

That’s why influencer marketing is white hot.

When I say “influencers” do you think expensive, hard to reach thought leaders and celebrities?

You don’t have to!

Instead think small!

Tap into the power of micro-influencers who have sway over a smaller number of people.

Micro-Influencers: Inside Dirt Astute Marketers Don’t Know



Micro-Influencer Defined

Influencers including thought leaders, professors and celebrities have above average followings (often on social media) that pay attention and listen to their advice. As a result, when they mention your business they build trust and brand recognition for you.

By contrast, micro-influencers have smaller (and sometimes almost no) following. But they’re more engaged with their communities. Therefore, the people in their network are more likely to engage with them on social media and other channels.

Micro-influencers are knowledgeable, motivated by their personal goals and passion around a core, consistent topic. From a customer perspective, micro-influencers feel more authentic and less like a paid spokesperson.


Micro-influencer marketing is most effective for:

  1. Sporting goods and outdoor gear
  2. Fashion and footwear
  3. Fitness, nutrition and wellness
  4. Beauty
  5. Consumer electronics

Influencers come in a variety of different types and reach.

Influencer Types


3 Types of Micro-Influencers

Micro-influencers fall into 3 categories:

Micro-Influencers Defined

3 Types of Micro-Influencers Defined

1. Purchase influencers

These influencers have specific purchase decision-making sway. While they may only influence one purchase, you need to support them. Specifically:

  • End-users. Actually use or consume your product regardless of who purchased it.
  • Buyers who don’t use your product. Appeal to their needs as well as the end-user or you’re not part of the consideration set.
  • Outside influencers. Sway your product to be purchased. They don’t consume or purchase your product. But ignore them at your peril. If they don’t like you, you’re toast.

2. Raving Fans

They love your products and business. They can’t help but talk about your business and brand in glowing terms. While they may act without you knowing about them, they’re motivated when you recognize them.

3. Topic-based influencers

They’re most like thought leaders and celebrities. They’ve grown their base around a single idea. Often they’re on one or more social media entities such as Instagram or YouTube.


Micro-Influencer Data Most Marketers Use

Most marketers make the case for micro-influencers based on the following 3 key points. While valid, you can make a stronger case for using micro-influencer marketing.

1. Growth of influencer and influencer marketing

Influencer marketing has grown over the last few years. This is attributable to the rise of social media stars especially on YouTube and Instagram. Additionally, Wharton Professor Jonah Berger’s best selling books, Contagious (2014) and Invisible Influencers (2016) have spread these ideas. It’s also gained traction due the work of Lee Odden.

Influencer Marketing

While “influencer marketing” is relatively new it’s really an extension of word of mouth marketing. One of its key proponents was Andy Sernovitz, author of Word of Mouth Marketing who transformed WOMMA into a viable business association. Note the trend for Word of Mouth Marketing.

Word of Mouth Marketing - US trend

Influencer Marketing versus Word of Mouth Marketing use crossed in July 2015.

Influencer marketing vs Word of Mouth MarketingInfluencer Marketing VS Word of Mouth Marketing – US data (2004-2017)- Inflection Point in July 2015

Before Berger and Sernovitz, Ed Keller of Fay Keller wrote The Influentials, one of the first books on the topic. Unlike others, Keller isn’t limited to online interactions. His work shows the impact of online and offline. Pay attention.

2. Rise of ad blockers

While ad blocker use continues to increase, this shouldn’t be the basis for making the case for using micro-influencers.

Currently, most ad blacker use is desktop-based while most users are mobile-based. While the percentages for mobile ad blockers are lower, there are significantly more mobile users. As a result, expect ad-blockers to increase for mobile formats.

US Ad Blocker Software

US Ad Blocker Software Is Mainly On Desktops – eMarketer Data Chart

Here are 3 ad-blocker work-arounds:

  • Invest in Facebook ads. Their desktop ads get around ad blockers.
  • Create quality, non-promotional content. If there’s the slightest smell of advertorial, you’ve lost your reader.
  • Optimize content for findability on platforms where prospects seek information, namely search and social.

3. Weakness of celebrity endorsement

Celebrity endorsement isn’t new. For years, businesses have tapped into the power and attention of top stars and athletes to gain brand recognition and association.

While businesses still use high priced celebrities in television ads and infomercials, it’s not always a recipe for success. Pepsi learned this lesson the hard way with their tone deaf Kendall Jenner ad.

Celebrity endorsements bottom line:

  • Are expensive. Despite testing, you’re still dependent on the context and continued positive feelings about the person.
  • Depend on fickle celebrities. You’re dependent on their whims.
  • Don’t necessarily yield engagement and conversions.


Attention-worthy Micro-Influencer Data Astute Marketers Miss

The real power in micro-influencer relations is based on these 3 facts.

Influencer Data

3 Key Pieces Of Influencer Data Astute Marketers Miss

1. Decrease customer trust

There’s no way to sugar coat the reality: Customer trust is low according to reports like the Edelman Trust Barometer. This is particularly true of your business’s c-suite.

Influencer Relations

Instead rely on the power of personal connections. I know that sounds scary to marketers. Since it’s out of your control.

But when it comes to spending money, Nielsen  consistently reports people trust people they know well, namely family and friends.

  • 83% of global respondents either completely or somewhat trust the recommendations of friends and family.
  • 66% of global respondents trust consumer opinions posted online. They trust other customers in aggregate. Think Amazon, Yelp and TripAdvisor.

Here is a chart of Nielsen’s 2015 results by age segment. Note that Millennials feel stronger  about these points than other age groups.

Global trust in advertising

Nielsen has measured advertising trends over time. Recommendations from people I know and online consumer opinions consistently rank highest at similar rates. Here’s the chart from 2011.

2. Engage and persuade customers to buy further down the purchase funnel

Micro-influencers have up to 22.2 times more buying conversations including product recommendations weekly than an average consumer based on research by KellerFay, Jonah Berger and Experticity.

Influencer Frequency

Frequency Influencer Opinions Are Sought – KellerFay, Berger & Experticity Research

  • 87% of influencer recommendations take place face-to-face.
  • 74% of influencers directly encourage people to buy or try products and services.

Further, customers are more likely to act on micro-influencer recommendations.

  • 82% of consumers are “highly likely” to follow a recommendation made by a micro-influencer.
  • 53% of influencers’ recommendations happen at works.

Influencer Recommendation Value-dataValue of Influencer Recommendations – Graphic

3. Provide better performance metrics

Despite the increased need for marketing (or agency) management, micro-influencers yield better results than other types of influencers.

Micro-influencers are less expensive than well known figures with larger followings. This is partially offset by increased costs from both you and your agency (if you have one).

More critical is that micro-influencers tend to yield deeper engagement all along the purchase process. This contributes to better conversion rates and sales.

In general, influencers yield an ROI of $6.50 per $1.00 invested (Tomoson). Of course, like any new form of marketing, influencer relations metrics need to evolve.

Influencer Marketing ROI


3 Micro-Influencer Benefits

Micro-influencers offer your business 3 key benefits that you might not get with other forms of influencers or marketing.

1. Diversify your interaction

Since micro-influencers exert their power over a smaller community, you need more of them, about 20 to 40.

While this requires more budget overhead in terms of management, it means each influencer can’t sway your entire campaign.

2. Have greater interaction with followers

Given their smaller followings, micro-influencers engage more and each interaction has greater impact. As a result, they don’t seem bought, yielding greater influencer impact.

This makes sense since micro-influencers have fewer followers and their community is organically attracted to them. Here’s data from Markerly’s 2 million social media influencers by social platform study, specifically Instagram. (Note: This may differ from other older or less visual sites.)

  • Influencers with 10+ million followers have a like rate per post of 1.6%.
  • Micro-influencers with 1,000 followers have a higher like rate of 8.0%.

Comment rates for Instagram influencers follow a similar pattern.

Influencer metrics based on followingInfluencer results based ranked by follower size using Instagram – Chart

3. Are topic focused

Micro-influencers have 500 to 5,000 highly engaged followers around their core topic that is relevant to your business. They engage in authentic conversions with other customers interested in the same topic.


5 Steps to Engage Micro-Influencers for Improved Marketing Results

Here are 5 steps to start your micro-influencer marketing program. Remember it’s not a campaign. It’s on-going marketing.

  1. Look inside first to determine if your micro-influencer program aligns with your marketing mission, target audience and existing social media presences and content. Also, examine your social media presence across different platforms.
  2. Determine with who you want to engage with using a variety of tools. Use options such as hashtags, BuzzSumo and BlogLovin. But realize that no one tool will do everything you need to accomplish. Set up a list of people and their handles and hashtags to follow.
  3. Follow and engage with potential micro-influencers. Pay-it-forward and soft sell. Share and comment on their content to get their attention. Take the time to understand how their specific community operates. Ideally spread this work across your team so that each member focuses on specific influencers.
  4. Be hands on. Work closely with micro-influencers to ensure that their content and communications resonate for your brand.
  5. Start small. Where appropriate offer them free products and special access. Make sure that your interactions are personal.


The Micro-Influencer Conclusion

By attracting attention from their loyal followers, micro-influencers support your marketing campaigns and help them to break though.

Because they have a deeper connection and sway with your prospects and customers (and this can be key for your influencer marketing), your marketing doesn’t have any of that icky paid endorsement feel.

Translation: Bigger impact marketing impact in terms of brand reach, engagement and sales although you’ll need a wider pool of influencers.

They participate in influencer relations for their own needs. Often, they’re more interested in supporting and building their base in lieu of direct financial compensation.

With their natural affinity for your product, micro-influencers build their communities while supporting your mission. They’re bought into your product but this affinity can turn if you inadvertently do something that they find unacceptable.

To succeed with micro-influencer relations, take care in your influencer selection, build your relationships over time, and define your brand guidelines.

Micro-influencers are a great starting point for influencer marketing.

Take your first step and see how it can improve your marketing.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.


Photo Credit: https://unsplash.com/@didididi?photo=immqhDwKBSQ (CC Zero)

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