Micro-Influencer Marketing: How to Create High-Conversion Instagram Campaigns
January 16, 2018
Stats from Google Trends: Jan. 2010 to Jan 2018.
Undoubtedly, you’ve heard the phrase, “quality over quantity,” before.
In regards to micro-influencers, this is precisely the phrase that answers the question: how can a micro-influencer with 10,000 Instagram followers lead to higher conversion rates for my business than Selena Gomez can, even though she has 132 million followers?
Before I get to that, let’s back up: what is a micro-influencer?
Mediakix defines micro-influencers as creators on social media platforms with 1,000 to 100,000 followers, who cultivate highly-engaged communities by focusing their content on specific niches like travel, fashion, or sports.
They aren’t celebrities, at least not in any traditional sense, and that’s part of the appeal.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s answer the more important question: Is this really worth my business’s time and money?
Short answer: Yes.
If that isn’t enough to persuade you, here’s why:
82% of consumers are highly likely to act on a recommendation from a micro-influencer; compared to 73% who are likely to act on a recommendation from an average person (i.e. a friend or family member…).
Which makes sense, if you think about it. For instance, I follow @tzibirita because I think her posts about style and travel are inspiring and beautiful; so when she posts a Paul Hewitt “sponsored” product post like the one below, I trust it–I like her style, so advertisement or not, I trust her style judgment.
Paul Hewitt could appeal to millions of followers with Selena Gomez, certainly; but these followers’ range broadly in their interests (style and otherwise).
Through @tzibirita, Paul Hewitt’s products are able to appeal to a more specific, more appropriate, more style-focused audience. Thus, higher conversions.
Plus, so many of your competitors are already doing micro-influencing: research firm L2 found that 70% of brands across sectors use Instagram partnerships to work with influencers; and in 2018, 39% of marketers plan on increasing their influencer marketing budgets. So your brand could risk falling behind on social media if you don’t employ micro-influencers in 2018.
Okay, so now you might be thinking–yes, yes, enough with the statistics, I get it; but how can I start a micro-influencer campaign? Where can I find these micro-influencers, and how do I know who is best for my brand? What do I do first?
I’ll cover all that next.
Step One: Set Your Goals
How will you even know if you’ve succeeded if you don’t have any clear-cut goals?
Here are a couple different goals you might have for your micro-influencer marketing campaign:
1. Increase Sales: Most obviously, you might be advertising a product (you can track results by giving the influencer a promo code, so that if the influencer’s followers purchase your product, you know where they came from).
2. Brand Awareness: Perhaps you simply want to affiliate your company with influencers to spread brand awareness; for example, Tarte Cosmetics sent Instagram influencers on holiday vacations and asked the influencers to hashtag #trippinwithtarte. They aren’t selling a product–they’re spreading their brand.
3. Engagement: It’s not necessarily enough if people see your brand or product; you also want them to engage with your brand. Some companies, like BBC Travel, do this by asking customers to share personal Instagram photos, and every day, they post a “winner’s” photo, encouraging a large network to engage personally with their brand.
4. More Followers: This aligns with brand awareness, but another goal you might have is simply to attain more followers on all your social accounts.
Step Two: Find The Best Micro-Influencers for Your Brand
This is a bit of a multi-step step.
Because first of all, you can’t find your influencers until you decide on the best platform.
For this post, I’m focusing primarily on Instagram, because although micro-influencers exist on all social platforms, Linqia Survey found that 92% of marketers cite Instagram as the most important social network for influencer marketing in 2018 (followed by Facebook, and then blogs, which are up 48% from last year).
But your company might have a good reason to choose a different platform–perhaps you want to appeal to a younger audience through Snapchat, or an older audience through a well-established blog.
For the sake of brevity, let’s assume you’ve chosen Instagram as your platform. Here are a few ways to create a broad micro-influencer list:
1. Use #Hashtags
Make a list of appropriate #hashtags: if you’re a travel company, you could try searching #travel, #travelgoals, #adventure, #wanderlust, #discoverearth, #explore–the list goes on! Take some time exploring–someone who hashtagged one of these, more than likely hashtagged other words or phrases, too, so you can jump from one to another to figure out which hashtags are most popular.
Once you’ve made a list, you can type your #hashtag into the search engine, and check out the photos with the most likes and comments trending now. You’ll very quickly find a lot of compelling images, and you can make a list of influencers from there–particularly if you continue to see the same ones trending with multiple hashtags.
2. Search Keywords in the ‘People’ Category
Click on the ‘People’ category, and then search important keywords that apply to your brand. I used the ‘travel’ keyword, for example, and as I scrolled, I found people who were influencers for travel-related posts:
3. Use “Suggestions For You” to Find Similar Influencers
Once you find one good influencer, there’s no need to start from scratch–go to their Instagram page, and Instagram will have “suggestions for you,” showing you a list of other similar Instagram accounts.
4. Check Out Your Followers
Maybe your influencer is already following your company on Instagram. Scroll through your list of followers, looking for any keywords in their name or description that might apply to what you’re looking for.
5. Location Search
If you’re a small business that is interested in employing local micro-influencers, you might start by checking out “top posts” in your neighborhood or city. For example, I checked out “top posts” in the Boston area, and found one food picture that led me to a local Boston health and fitness micro-influencer.
Step Three: Narrow Down on Your Perfect Match(es)
Depending on your budget, you might have the means to work with 30-40 micro-influencers; and trust me, it’s a better use of your money than reaching out to celebrities (if you have the option). Sarah Ware, CEO and co-founder of Markerly, has said that Markerly saw higher conversion rates on behalf of a weight-loss tea company when they activated 30-40 micro-influencers than when they asked Jenner and Kardashian sisters to promote the tea.
But besides checking out their number of followers (reportedly, 10,000 to 100,000 is the optimal range), you should check out the amount of engagement your potential micro-influencer has; how many likes does each post get? How many comments on each post–and are these comments mostly positive? How often does the micro-influencer typically post, and does he/she already promote “sponsored” content (if so, how well does it do)?
Ideally, you’re looking for ‘likes’ within a certain range of their followers–if they have 100,000 followers but most posts only get 1,000 likes, then that might be cause for concern.
With comments, you want to see “Where did you buy those?”, “I just bought a pair for my mom!”, “This product is phenomenal, thanks for the suggestion!”
Lastly, you want to make sure they take their Instagram position seriously. If they only post photos every 6-months, perhaps you want someone with a more active and ambitious presence on Instagram.
Step Four: Connect With Your Micro-Influencers
Great, you’ve made your list! Now what?
Of course, it’s probably easiest to email them; but if they don’t have a website, or you can’t find their email listed anywhere, then you can also Instagram DM them.
Shane Barker explains that when writing a pitch to a micro-influencer, you need to:
1. Introduce yourself and your company.
2. Show that you’re a fan of their account (“I’ve been following for a while now, and I’m a huge fan of your posts and the way you engage with your followers”).
3. Explain what you want in terms of how this will benefit their audience (“I think your audience would really benefit from using our product, since your audience is so interested in workout gear,” “I’m reaching out to you because I think your audience would really appreciate our new product,” or, “I think our brand’s values align well with your brand”).
4. Now, explain what’s in it for the micro-influencer: be upfront about offering them cash, free products, or other incentives (“We’re interested in offering a special discount to your audience, and you’d receive 10% of the profits,” “Since you often test new makeup products, I am hoping we could send you a few free products for you to test and review”).
There are different ways you can end it, but Shane suggests ensuring that your message isn’t presumptuous; don’t write a message with the inflection that you’re already convinced they’ll work with you.
Something like this should work well:
Step Five: Campaign!
Although you’ll want to discuss your goals and guidelines with your micro-influencers, remember that they know their brand and their audience more than you do–give them freedom to create personalized, authentic, realistic posts on their own.
The great thing about all the competition on Instagram right now is, there has already been a lot of trial and error with your competitors. Get some ideas from other Instagram campaigns by searching #sponsored, or #ad, and see which posts do exceptionally well. This can help you narrow down a list of guidelines (images in the post, certain words you want the influencer to include or exclude, a general message you’re hoping to convey… even a time of day you want them to post).
If you’re offering a discount, ensure that you create a unique discount code for each micro-influencer, so you can see who does better than others. If not, figure out compensation/free product giveaways, etc., and discuss these with the micro-influencer ahead of time.
Follow FTC guidelines regarding influencer campaigns (read more about that here).
Step Six: Measure Success for Continued Future Growth
Remember, your first Instagram micro-influencer campaign is your chance to learn a lot, regardless of whether it’s as successful as you’d hoped.
If you’ve offered a promo code to your micro-influencers’ audiences, then you have an easy way to measure results.
You can also measure success in terms of an increase in social media followers, an increase in revenue in general (under the assumption that nothing else has changed), or an increase in traffic to your website. Perhaps it’s as simple as an increase in how many people #hashtag your brand.
But one of the best ways to ensure continued future growth is by cultivating a great relationship with your micro-influencer, and asking him or her for feedback.
After the campaign, message them something like this (especially if you saw great results and want to continue working with them in the future):
Saw your post and was so impressed by it–150 people used your promo code this week/an extra 500 people are following us on Instagram, which is amazing, and all thanks to you. We are interested in partnering with you again in the future, if you’d also be interested. In the meantime, please let us know if you have any feedback or suggestions for how we can continue to create authentic Instagram marketing campaigns. As an influencer on Instagram, your advice is critical to our success. Thanks again.”
So there you have it! Your complete guide. If you follow these steps and do your “research” (Instagram stalking) to figure out which micro-influencer marketing campaigns have done best, you’ll be all set to create your own high-conversion Instagram campaign in no time.
Leave a comment with any micro-influencer marketing suggestions you have.
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