As many advertising techniques can struggle to engage audiences, one method that is proving to be highly effective is influencer marketing. One of the biggest challenges though is finding the right partners to work with to promote your brand. That is until the rise of the micro-influencer, particularly after my own little brush with influencer world.
Throwback to a couple of weeks ago and I received the most delightful private message on my Instagram from RACV City Club it went a little something like this:
"Hi Desi, RACV City Club are looking at hosting an Ultimate Trial Day and we're looking for Influencers to partner with. It would be held in the morning of Wednesday, May 29 at the RACV City Club on Bourke St and would include a quick workout with our trainer, breakfast, a treatment at One Spa and valet parking. I know you have a hectic schedule, but if you're available and this sounds like something you'd be interested in, then I'd love to chat! Thanks, RACV Club"
After my initial feeling that I have hit an absolute all-time career highlight to receive such an invitation, I was humbled and grateful for the opportunity.
Once I established this is not a hoax; I accepted and had an enjoyable experience. Similar to what we call in travel a 'familiarisation' or 'famil' for short, I had an immersive, educational and rewarding experience.
My other new influencer friends and I learned the history of the RACV City Club, the features and benefits to members, the other regional Victorian clubs and resort locations, and the lengths the club goes to look after their member community.
We had a videographer follow us around, and he produced this 60-second video of our time experiencing the facilities, food and services of the club. It was bliss.
Most of all, the experience of being hosted as an influencer helped me gain a deeper appreciation of the value and effectiveness of the emerging marketing trend of influencer marketing to drive sales and brand awareness to small business.
While influencer marketing can be beneficial, and I felt excellent for 5 minutes, few companies can afford to pay celebrities or social media personalities with large followings to endorse their products and services.
Thankfully, there is an alternative to influencer marketing, and that's "micro-influencer" marketing. The difference? While influencers are primarily associated with the Kardashians or Justin Beiber of the world, people who have a relatively small but highly engaged and active core audience you would refer to as a micro-influencer.
Speaking about the Kardashians have you ever wondered how much they make from their multi-million social media following on a platform like Instagram? They have a fee schedule that includes a fee for a story, a fee for Facebook, and a fee for Instagram that is in the vicinity of six figures, per post. You read that correctly, and you can read more here.
Micro-influencers, on the other hand, (that's me) are generally local people that you would have easier access to contact and build a genuine relationship. They are also a great way to stretch a low marketing budget and dramatically increase traffic and conversion rates, and below are some of the best tips and strategies for cooperating with a micro-influencer to boost your brand.
Find a Good Fit
Micro-influencers can be an incredible source of increased traffic, high conversion, and stronger brand awareness, but much of their effectiveness will depend on how well they connect to the vision, image, and values of your business.
One of the significant benefits of a micro-influencer campaign is that you can carefully select a passionate target audience, so don't fall into the trap of trying to force a square peg through a round hole.
For instance, if you run an ecotravel website and you donate a portion of your site's proceeds to charity, take the time to find a micro-influencer who is interested in sustainable tourism and also spends time volunteering for a good cause.
The more an influencer overlaps with your business, the more likely you are to see a healthy return on your marketing investment.
Look for High Engagement
Finding a micro-influencer who meshes with your brand is a crucial first step, but it's not the only part of the equation. It's also essential to find someone who has active audience engagement.
When you've narrowed down a list of influencers you'd like to approach, take the time to analyse their social media presence. Ask yourself some key questions:
- Do their posts receive a high number of views proportional to their follower count?
- Are they interacting with their audience in the comments, and is the audience interacting with them?
- Is their content widely shared or linked to?
All of these questions can help you gauge how likely you are to see results from a micro-influencer campaign, and high audience engagement is crucial if you're looking for people who are likely to amplify your brand and become future customers/followers/likers/subscribers.
Be Genuine and Credible
Remember that collaborative marketing is a two-way street and that most micro-influencers will be wary about partnering up with businesses that have no track record or that seem interested only in profit.
Before approaching an influencer, it's wise to have already established some credibility. That means effective, up-to-date social media platforms, participation in online communities relating to your niche, and content that goes beyond typical corporate ad copy.
Micro-influencer campaigns are much more effective if you can build a genuine relationship with the influencer, and in some cases, you may even be able to find someone who is already a fan of your product or service, which can take your campaign to the next level.
Leverage User-Generated Content
While you can also post collaborative marketing content on your site and social media feeds, the best micro-influencer campaigns leverage user-generated content, where the influencer, and sometimes even their audience, post content related to your business on their feeds.
User-generated content is seen as much more trustworthy and genuine, leading to much higher traffic and conversion rates. Some simple ways of encouraging user-generated content include:
- Sending the influencer free products or services to review,
- Sponsoring their content in exchange for mentions and links to your business.
- Inviting them to experience your service.
- Use of strategic giveaways and contests.
Branded hashtags and dedicated hashtag-based campaigns can also boost the chances of other people participating in the process and amplifying your message.
Tell A Story and #BeTheInfluence
Telling a compelling story through your marketing campaign will encourage viewers to get invested in you and your brand, which also happens to be one of the best ways to drive conversions.
Instead of a simple sponsored post where an influencer endorses your product, try to find someone willing to take part in a more in-depth campaign. Storytelling from someone that agrees to tell your story can show how to use your product or service in their own daily life, and how it fits into their lifestyle and the lifestyle of their audience. This kind of storytelling helps viewers connect to your business on a more personal level, and while it's a more time-consuming and expensive process, it's also one of the absolute best ways to showcase what you do and create new customers.
An example that inspired me to screenshot and share was a collaboration of four related small businesses that gathered their own influence to dominate a Mothers Day campaign that attracted thousands of likes, comments, and tags.
I loved this and it is something I have been sharing with businesses for some time - don't wait to be chosen, choose yourself!
It has never been truer, a referral influences people more than the best broadcast message and a trusted referral is the holy grail of advertising. Regardless if it is a friend or your audience if you lose the authenticity of a genuine referral because you've been paid to say it and you can damage relationships.
In saying that when genuine relationships are formed and full disclosure given of the nature of the collaboration an active micro-influencer campaign can be a very efficient and cost-effective method of marketing your products and services, but it requires research and an eye for not just marketers, but ethical values aligned people who can complement your businesses' values and branding.
Implementing the strategies above can significantly improve the effectiveness of your next influencer campaign so that you don't leave things to chance and fulfilling ad hoc requests from self-proclaimed influencers approaching your business. Instead, we can all take a leaf out of the RACV City Club approach to take control, set the benchmark, do the research and invite the people we choose resulting in better relationships, improved traffic, visibility, brand awareness, and conversion rates.
Full disclosure I feel it I write it.
This post has been written one because I genuinely had a great time. Two, because this new marketing strategy inspired me. I loved that RACV City Club took control of their marketing, did their research, selected influencers independently that met their criteria and ultimately chose themselves instead of waiting for others to approach them.
If at all, you will like to collaborate with me to ignite excellence in your social media marketing and brand awareness for your business, I am only one Instagram PM away!