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President at Paulsen, a marketing agency that moves rural America.
In an increasingly noisy media landscape, more and more brands are turning to micro-influencers to tell their story directly to current and prospective customers.
These product endorsements can help a brand reach its target audience organically, bypassing paid social advertising.
And equally as important, micro-influencers themselves have built relationships with thousands of followers — relationships a brand may never be able to foster without investing significant amounts of money and resources.
Who are micro-influencers? And why do they matter?
Before we dive in deeper, let’s define the term micro-influencer.
With anywhere from 1,000 to 100,000 followers, micro-influencers are social media users with smaller audiences relative to celebrities and some of the most sought-after personalities.
But the degree to which micro-influencers can move others to action is generally higher, according to data analytics firm InfluencerDB. This creates a unique opportunity for your brand to move customers to action through a well-planned (and well-executed) micro-influencer campaign.
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Authenticity is the new black.
Talk to the average micro-influencer and they will more often than not shy away from the influencer label — one that has become synonymous with the Kardashian lifestyle and seems out of step with the experiences of everyday people.
And while the Kardashians of the world certainly have influence, they often lack the authenticity of an individual with a smaller online audience. Most micro-influencers maintain careers, family responsibilities and go through common struggles — experiences with which the vast majority of us can identify.
Being able to relate to and trust someone they follow online is paramount for many — if not most — consumers in our current environment, particularly when it comes to making decisions about a brand and its products or services.
In working with micro-influencers who successfully reflect their authentic selves on social media, your brand can utilize this earned trust to better position itself in the minds of your customers.
Relationships are a two-way street.
In addition to gaining trust, micro-influencers are generally more accessible and able to build deeper connections with their audience.
When you’re looking for a suitable online personality to help you share your brand’s story, pay close attention to how engaged they are with followers (and vice versa).
Do they need to respond to each and every comment? Of course not. But the level of accessibility a micro-influencer maintains can only serve to strengthen your marketing campaign.
Because micro-influencers have built and nurtured a community online, they are well-positioned to support your brand as an ambassador.
So when they are able to respond to questions — or, in some circumstances, even customer criticism — around your products and services with honest, heartfelt responses, it heightens your brand reputation to a level no amount of corporate messaging and PR strategy can achieve.
It’s the story that matters.
Most micro-influencers have a clearly defined story that brings a particular audience to their channels.
Before seeking out a micro-influencer, a good exercise is to ask yourself what your own narrative is and who it is you’re trying to reach. There is not much value in working with a micro-influencer whose message and sphere of influence are worlds apart from your brand identity.
It is also helpful to consider specific topics and themes sprinkled throughout a micro-influencer’s social feed. Perhaps they’re passionate about mental health issues or advocating for equality or providing fashion tips for everyday people. Or maybe they really care about wellness or traveling to new places.
While these interests may be secondary, they are nevertheless part of the overarching narrative that draws users in and keeps them engaged.
With this in mind, be sure to find and work with a micro-influencer whose story is well-defined and fits nicely into your own brand’s story. Because when these two are aligned, you will discover a sweet spot that can help you leverage that relationship to influence customer attitudes and behaviors.
You have to let go.
As with so many other endeavors within marketing, you need to be willing to relax your grip on your brand’s message when working with a micro-influencer.
They have built an audience online for a reason. So while you can (and should) equip them with a strategy and the right talking points, never forget that they know their community and what motivates them. That is a priceless asset.
For your campaign to be successful, it is important to trust in the insights a micro-influencer can provide and to treat them as a partner — not just a messenger.
By doing this, you will be able to tap into their authenticity, the relationships they have built and the story they’re so adept at telling to assert your own brand’s value in the eyes of current and potential customers.
Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
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Author: Sara Steever, Forbes Councils Member
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