In a world where 70% of consumers turn to social media before making a purchase decision — it’s no surprise that the world of Influencer Marketing continues to evolve. It’s no secret brands are looking for an edge in ROAS in this saturated space — and I think we’ve found the answer. Strategic collaborations with dozens of micro-Influencers.

A survey done in 2016 revealed one of the most interesting facts about micro-influencers. They have 20x more conversations around purchase advice compared to their social relatives with higher follower counts. 82% of consumers who participated in that survey said they are highly likely to follow the recommendations of micro-Influencers. The trust they have with their audience, combined with their relatively low price point is a strong case for brands to scale their efforts here.

“Many marketers today try to use celebrities as their influencer marketing solution, but they are missing out on a much bigger opportunity. Our research shows that real life influencers who are passionate about what they are recommending have significantly more buying conversations, and consumers are more likely to act on their recommendations.” — Brad Fay, cofounder, COO and lead researcher of the Keller Fay Group.

Here’s 5 things that you should know about collaborating with this up-and-coming human-driven channel.

What defines a Micro-Influencer?

Micro-Influencers are active social media users with 1000 to 50,000 followers with the innate ability to foster community and engagement around their own personal brands.

Micro influencers are informed individuals with expertise on a particular topic who typically have a very engaged community of followers who rely on (and trust) their content. Because they are usually everyday people sharing their passion, their personal recommendations, their everyday life and their likes and dislikes — they’re able to form unique bonds with their audience. Ones that are very difficult for brands to achieve on their own.

Aside from the obvious segmentations of industry, location, gender, etc. We can generalize micro-influencers based on the strategy of a brand:

  1. Creators — expert content creators with a like-minded audience. They’re creative individuals with a flare for creating captivating content. Instagram is currently the preferred platform, with Tik-Tok as an emerging force.
  2. Engagers — their unique personalities give them the inherent ability to build connections with their audience. They’re able to generate conversation, and can get 10x more comments than the average macro-Influencer.
  3. Everyday — this would be you, your co-workers, and barely me. People who use social-media on a daily basis and influence a smaller group of acquaintances, friends, and family.

The Micro-Influencer Advantage

Authentic | Approachable | Relatable

Micro-Influencers are committed to creating high-quality, value driven content for their audiences. They have strong, authentic personal brands that are fueled by engagement, not profit. In fact, most Influencers believe that authenticity, followed by engagement and then quality content are the keys to building community.

Large influencers produce polished content and may even have an entire team working behind the scenes, the content of micro-influencers seems more down-to-earth and real. They’re seen as regular people, as “one of us”.

That’s why they tend to have more personal relationships with their audience and are seen as more authentic. They’re usually very invested in the community they’ve created and spend more time interacting with their audience than bigger influencers. There is a deeper level of trust in these communities for brands to tap into.

Another plus of micro-influencers is that they are often motivated content creators who go above and beyond to impress their audience (and the brands they work with!).

A study made by Augure in 2015 reported that influencers are most willing to work with brands which help them to grow a strong status as opinion leaders and increase their reach, improve content quality, and develop their own image. Besides the aforementioned tangible motivators, make sure that you also help them achieve these key objectives, as it will lead to more engagement for your branded content.

Tips for Collaborating with Micro Influencers

Provide Intrinsic Value: As briefly touched on above, about 40% of micro-Influencers want to express themselves, and only 7% join new platforms to make money. This means they expect brands to respect their individual voice, and provide intrinsic value when requesting to collaborate.

Hint: What does your brand stand for? Can you make this campaign stand for something larger at cause?

Include an Ambassador Program: An Influencer strategy may have different components based on goals and objectives (ie you may have a Giveaway on IG as part of your campaign). If you want to get the most out of your time and money, focus on building towards a long-standing ambassador program.

There’s a few reasons why you’d want to ensure you’re preparing to find, and keep the best performing Influencers for your brand.

  1. Economies of scale — as they gain popularity and grow, the value they provide in your collaborations with exponentially increase.
  2. Humanization — building a tribe of ambassadors helps humanize your brand, layering tangibility and trust.
  3. Increased Impressions — After learning more about your brand over an extended period of time, the increased impressions on an Ambassador’s audience increases the probability of action, meaning increased traffic from potential customers.

Scale Efficiently and Optimize: Because micro-Influencers are smaller in terms of reach, you need to work with more of them to get desired results. This is where most marketers struggle, as the work and time needed in order to reach scale almost diminishes the campaign ROI potential. So now you’ve got to work with a few hundred of them to drive results; I can think of a few challenges you may face:

  • Finding / sourcing
  • Vetting
  • Negotiating
  • Payment options
  • Following up
  • Content concerns

Despite these logistical challenges, continuously scaling your campaign is necessary to get the reach you need, and it’s a great way to optimize your ambassador program. Think of your first collaborations as “try-outs” to invite an Influencer into your Ambassador program.

Collaboration Strategies

There are a number of ways to collaborate with any Influencer, and micro-Influencers are no exception. Given that that are less expensive to work with, you can experiment with different strategies here to identify ones that resonate best with your product or service. It’s important to understand the performance goals and KPIs for each collaboration strategy so you can effectively identify top performing Influencers and enroll them into your Ambassador program.

ShopandShout.com calls the output of collaboration strategies “ShoutOuts”.

Brand Announcements and News: This is where we partner with social media influencers to generate hype around an announcement or recent news that puts a positive light on your brand. Scale your efforts using multiple micro-Influencers and have them share your company’s latest message, including events, and new product launches.

Product Reviews: Almost a requirement when launching a new product today. Having multiple, engaging reviews from micro-influencers helps build trust and credibility in the minds of your consumers. Leveraging Instagram, Youtube, blog posts, and now Tik-Tok are the ideal channels for customers to digest such reviews.

Storytelling: This is more of a long term strategy, where an Influencer helps create an emotional bond between their audience, and your brand. This works great when the Influencer can relate to your brand’s story / messaging. Compelling storytelling portrays consumers what a brand is to an audience, and over-time forges an intangible connection.

Giveaways: You can layer a giveaway within any of the above strategies. Giveaways typically lead to increased content production, and engagement due to their gamified nature. They’re a great way to boost likes, shares, comments, and tags. Use Influencers to host giveaways to increase awareness and engagement around a new product, or as a contest to generate more sign-ups.

Missions: The above strategies are focused on content creation and distribution, but Influencers are more than just great artists — the best ones have the ability to drive action within their audience. An Influencer mission requires the Influencer to motivate their audience to take action, and may not necessarily be content driven. IE to participate in a survey, to visit a brick and mortar store, or attend a local event. See example of an Influencer Mission from ShopandShout.com

Influencer Collaboration Tools

There are a number of Influencer collaboration tools that exist, some of them are simple directories, allowing you to search for Influencers that meet certain criteria you set. Some of them are full blown CRMs. To determine the best tool for you, and your team — first identify the immediate constraints. Most marketing teams spend more time finding, vetting, and negotiating with Influencers — here’s some tools that help marketing teams streamline and automate Influencer campaigns.

  1. ShopandShout.com

A speciality Influencer agency that works with brands to strategize collaborations, and deploy campaigns using their technology platform which automates campaigns for brands. ShopandShout allows brands to scale, and automate campaigns with a user-friendly set up and go app, and you have a human team dedicated to your success. Ideal team size is between 1–10 people in marketing. Prices start at $795 / month.

2. AspireIQ

Aspire is an Influencer CRM, allowing brands to contact many Influencers at scale. Used by large agencies, and enterprises, they have a suite of useful tools to help build demanding campaigns — think of Aspire as a hubspot for Influencer relationships. Ideal team size is 10+ people in marketing. Prices start at $30,000 / year.

3. Influence.co

Influence.co is a database of Influencers, campaigns, and brands. It allows brands to search for Influencers, and reach out to them individually to negotiate campaign opportunities. Brands can also post campaign opportunities, and wait for Influencers to apply. Ideal team size is 1–5 people in marketing. Prices start at $1000 / month.