To make influencer marketing more authentic, look to micro-influencers. Follow five steps to learn how to partner with the best micro-influencers for your brand.
As the use of influencer marketing increases, consumers are starting to question the authenticity behind influencer promotions. In fact, authenticity is the biggest influencer marketing prediction for 2017, according to TapInfluence, a Colorado-based influencer marketing automation software solution.
Influencer marketing entails partnering with industry leaders, recognized personas, or celebrities to help your company share its message or advertise its products to a broader market.
As more consumers question the authenticity of influencer marketing, companies need to up their content marketing game by engaging a target audience through more reliable influencer content. This is where micro-influencers come into play.
Micro-influencers may only have a few thousand followers, while other influencers have hundreds of thousands, but what’s unique about micro-influencers is their ability to maintain authenticity. They engage their audience with honest product reviews and purchase recommendations. So, if you intend to boost your content marketing return on investment (ROI), you need to implement micro-influencers into your campaign.
This article outlines five steps to guide you through the process of incorporating micro-influencers into your content marketing plan, without losing customer trust in your brand.
1. Find the Right Micro-Influencers
Although influencer marketing is an effective way to meet marketing goals, target new audiences, and build customer loyalty, attaining these positive results depends on the micro-influencers you choose. Before deciding to work with micro-influencers, carefully analyze them based on four traits to see whether they’re the right fit for you.
Ask yourself the following questions to evaluate whether a micro-influencer’s qualities match your needs.
Is the micro-influencer relevant to our audience?
The most important characteristic to look for in a micro-influencer is their relevance to your target audience. Make sure the micro-influencer you choose has a name and a voice in the relevant industry.
Micro-influencers often specialize in specific niches, which means the influencer’s main audience also is comprised of people who are interested in a particular topic, product, or market.
For example, beauty blogger and photographer Jacqueline Mikuta, acted as a micro-influencer for Kapten and Son, a jewelry and sunglass company that caters to adventurous customers. Mikuta modeled Kapten and Son’s watches and posted the photo on her Instagram account, earning 13,779 likes in 13 hours.
The partnership between Mikuta, the micro-influencer, and the brand, Kapten and Son, resulted in highly relevant content because Mikuta specializes in fashion and lifestyle, while Kapten and Son sells watches. The watches appeal to Mikuta’s audience, which also is interested in fashion and lifestyle.
Does the micro-influencer have a high engagement rate?
Analyze the engagement rate of each micro-influencer you intend to work with. An engagement rate tells you to what extent your target audience will engage with your sponsored content.
Measuring Engagement Rate
Total Engagement = (Likes + Shares + Comments) / Total Followers
If you make the mistake of only looking at follower size when searching for influencers, you may get content in front of a lot of eyes but fail to interact with potential new customers.
Do the micro-influencer’s values align with your brand's?
Evaluate whether a potential micro-influencer’s values align with your brand’s values. Ask yourself, “Does she share the same views about issues?”
For example, let’s say your company produces organic, healthy cooking ingredients. In this case, you’d want to partner with an equally health-conscious and eco-conscious influencer because her audience will share these values and find your brand more relatable.
Does the micro-influencer create content on a regular basis?
Determine the extent of a micro-influencer’s online activity before forming a partnership. Do they post on social media on a regular basis or only once in a while?
If you’re looking for frequent sharers, ensure your choice of micro-influencer posts on a regular basis. It may be helpful to define online activity thresholds before choosing a micro-influencer.
2. Encourage Creative Freedom
Make sure your promotional content blends with the influencer’s typical content. Framing content to match an influencer’s voice has two main benefits.
First, granting micro-influencers creative freedom positively impacts your relationship with them. According to a study conducted by social marketing platform Crowdtap, 47% of influencers dislike working with brands that have restrictive editorial guidelines, and 76% say they are more likely to work with brands that provide them with editorial and creative freedom.
The data suggests that businesses need to provide micro-influencers with the freedom to create promotional content in their own voice. It could be a crucial move in establishing a strong relationship with the influencers.
Businesses choose to work with micro-influencers because they want to show more authenticity, even with promotional content. The ultimate goal is to win the trust of your target audience by showcasing how influential and trusted public figures use your brand, products, and work.
However, what you need to realize is that these influencers built their audience through original and engaging content. They have a unique voice by which their audience identifies them. Anything that differs from this will automatically be considered unnatural.
Second, when an influencer genuinely likes a brand, it positively impacts the quality of promotional content.
For example, in a sponsored content series for Bigelow Tea, bloggers had the freedom to use the tea bags in a way that matched their typical content style.
The Florida-based food blogger and mother who runs The Kitchen Prep Blog used Bigelow Tea in a nutcracker-themed Christmas tea party.
Layering tea bags to create an ornamental Christmas tree matched Kitchen Prep’s blog style, as the blog normally post recipes and party planning ideas.
On the other hand, health and food blog Great Contradictions used Bigelow Tea bags in a DIY post.
The post provided readers with tips on creating their own green tea lip balms using the products. This approach was fitting because the blog normally covers DIY and sustainable living ideas.
3. Guide Micro-Influencers in Enriching Your Content
Take advantage of micro-influencers’ talent for creating content that appeals to their fans.
Besides having micro-influencers feature your products in their content, encourage them to engage your existing fans by launching social media takeovers.
Social media takeovers entail inviting influencers to take control of your social media account(s) for the day. The micro-influencer becomes responsible for posting photos or videos on your behalf, which can be a refreshing change for your existing followers. Additionally, micro-influencers can invite their fans to engage with your visual content.
For example, The Knot, a personalized wedding planning company, invites influencers to take over their Instagram account every Tuesday for #TakeoverTuesday.
The following example features a post from The Knot introducing Easton Events, an influential company specializing in wedding planning and design.
Easton Events has about 44,000 followers on Instagram, which qualifies the company as a micro-influencer. Besides participating in the Instagram takeover, Easton Events cross promotes The Knot’s content on its account and invites followers to check out The Knot’s content.
When Easton Events cross promotes The Knot’s content, the brand ensures both company’s audiences see and engage with the post.
4. Involve Micro-Influencers in Content Creation
Co-creating content is beneficial for increasing your audience size and driving more traffic to your site.
For example, you may interview a micro-influencer for a podcast or a blog post, encourage them to write a guest post for your blog, or create a video testimonial about your company. When you publish guest content on your site, the author is more likely to share it with her followers.
Essentially, you engage your existing audience with fresh and original content, while simultaneously attracting the influencer’s audience and boosting your traffic.
Keyhole, a real-time hashtag tracker for Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, successfully implemented this guest contributor tactic with its Influencer Interview Series.
Keyhole posts a series of interviews with industry influencers, who speak about their marketing experience and share actionable tips.
5. Encourage Micro-Influencers to Tell a Story
Snapchat and Instagram became powerful influencer marketing platforms after the introduction of Stories, temporary bite-size, visual posts that offer an inside look into a user’s day-to-day life.
Stories allow influencers to share promotional content throughout the day without worrying about over-posting. Influencers don’t have to worry about selectivity because the post disappears after 24 hours.
Additionally, Instagram Stories allow tagging, making it an even better platform for influencers than Snapchat, because a user easily can click on the tagged username and navigate to the brand’s account.
There are multiple ways to maximize the benefits of Snapchat and Instagram stories.
First, plan an event with exclusive access for micro-influencers. Micro-influencers are more likely to share their experiences over Snapchat or Instagram after receiving exclusive access.
Second, plan a social media takeover by recruiting a micro-influencer to take over your Instagram or Snapchat account for the day. The takeover will attract both your existing audience and the micro-influencer’s followers.
Beauty brand Artist Couture, regularly lets makeup influencers take over their Snapchat. Recently, the company invited beauty vlogger and influencer Leslie Michelle Malhoyt to take over their Snapchat for a day. Leslie is a makeup artist who has 3,700+ followers on Instagram.
Malhoyt invited her fans to tune in to Artist Couture’s Snapchat, while she led beauty tutorials.
After the tutorial, she created another post to share her experience taking over Artist Couture’s Snapchat. Again, she invites her fans to check out the brand’s Snapchat.
Even as more consumers begin to question the authenticity of influencer marketing, don’t shy away from the tactic completely. Instead, carefully consider the role micro-influencers may play in your content marketing strategy.
First, find the right micro-influencers for your brand by asking yourself four questions about relevance, engagement rate, values, and publication frequency.
Second, involve micro-influencers in content creation to attract multiple audiences.
Third, encourage creative freedom by allowing micro-influencers to maintain their unique style and voice in all content they create.
Fourth, show micro-influencers how to enrich the content your brand creates by helping with cross promotion.
Fifth, encourage micro-influencers to tell a “story” on Instagram or Snapchat that gives their audience an inside look into your brand’s products and services.
If you have any doubts about executing your content marketing strategy with the help of influencers, feel free to get in touch directly at ShaneBarker.com.
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, product launches, sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.