Whether it’s George Clooney sipping a Nespresso or reality TV stars flogging weight-loss supplements, there’s no doubting the power of an influencer to catapult a brand to dizzying heights of consumer awareness.
The problem is that getting an endorsement from a celebrity with a big fan base requires an even bigger budget, meaning influencer marketing has been out of reach for many SMEs.
That is until now, because there’s a new type of brand ambassador on the block: The “micro influencer”.
These are ‘real’ people, often bloggers, vloggers and social media users, who boast a hyper-engaged following because they’re creating content that grabs the attention of a particular audience. They aren’t celebrities and they don’t have huge followings (think several thousand rather than hundreds of thousands) but they hold a great deal of social media power.
Two big companies using micro influencer campaigns successfully are supermarket chain Iceland and beauty brand L’Oreal. Iceland has ditched adverts featuring celebrity families in favour of a partnership with medium-sized online vlogging community, Channel Mum, while L’Oreal has announced a Beauty Squad’ of five UK beauty bloggers in a move away from campaigns featuring celebrity darlings like Cheryl Cole.
But it’s a technique businesses of all sizes can get behind. At Freshfield, we’re supporting clients with a number of micro influencer marketing campaigns, which range from partnerships with individuals taking part in extreme adventure sports to people carrying out home improvement projects.
Here’s three key reasons why micro influencer marketing is driving meaningful results faster than you can say “Kim Kardashian-West”.
1. It’s authentic
Influencer marketing is based on honesty and authenticity and Edelman’s Trust Barometer 2016 revealed 78 per cent of consumers trust recommendations from ‘real people’. In contrast, only 32 per cent of people trust celebrities.
Audiences find it easy to connect with micro influencers because they’re living authentic lifestyles and posting relatable content, backed up by expertise and passion for their subject matter.
They also offer a unique viewpoint on your product or service, as well as deeper storytelling and a relatable face to help humanise your brand – something lots of organisations still struggle with.
2. It boasts high levels of engagement
At first using micro influencers might seem counterintuitive, especially because as PR professionals we’re used to playing by numbers. Is someone with only a few thousand followers really worth the investment?
Research has shown that influencers with smaller followings receive higher levels of engagement. For example, Instagram influencers with 1,000 followers boast an impressive 8 per cent like ratio, but this drops to 1.6 per cent at the point where the following surpasses one million users – even when it comes to sponsored posts.
It has a lot to do with micro influencers having more targeted audiences. Many of the social media juggernauts have diverse fan bases and these followers won’t all be interested in what you’re selling.
Micro influencers, on the other hand, cater to a specific niche audience so a partnership with the right person can be a powerful path to conversion.
3. It’s cost effective
The cost of working with micro influencers varies from person to person, but generally they’re more willing to work with small budgets or accept freebies and event invitations in place of payment to collaborate with brands they love.
Organisations will usually need to partner with a selection of micro influencers to make a real impact, but since the engagement rate is higher they tend to drive a bigger return on investment than their larger counterparts.
It’s also likely that micro influencers will be open to working closely with you to ensure the content aligns with your brand values, while still feeling genuine.
Micro influencer marketing is not without its challenges. There are strict rules to navigate and time implications associated with identifying and approaching relevant partners and managing the relationship.
However, a solid influencer marketing strategy can be a powerful PR weapon for businesses of all types and sizes. There’s no better time to make think about switching your mentality from product to people.