With a seemingly endless supply of micro influencers to choose from, how can retailers ensure they find the right fit and optimise their social media investment? Apu Gupta, CEO of Curalate offers a five-step guide to successfully nurturing exposure using this personalised marketing approach.
The quest for authenticity has become a driving force for brand marketers. As consumers become increasingly cynical about blatant – and often irrelevant – product placements with celebrities, working with a popular online personality who has a targeted reach, contextual credibility and salesmanship is increasingly appealing.
To create the biggest impact, you first need to do some homework.
1. Pick your channel
How well do you know your audience? If you’re going to pick the most appropriate collaborator, you need to understand who your consumers are, where they live online and who they admire.
Instagram is the obvious place to start the search. The platform has the strongest interaction rate and is particularly popular with females. YouTube is another favoured home for the micro influencer community, particularly in the beauty, technology and toy sectors.
The accessory brand Claire’s works with influencers who know how to connect with its target market.
If you’re aiming to reach a younger audience, Snapchat, which continues to be the social media channel of choice for teens, is also worth exploring. However, it shouldn’t be the only channel used as it’s hard to foster engagement and measure return on investment.
Pinterest is full of consumers and more about creative content than who created it, so not hugely popular with influencers, and while Facebook has 2.2 billion monthly active users and its posts are widely shared, it works best for brand-produced content. Similarly, although Twitter is great for brands wishing to connect directly with followers, it hasn’t proved to be a hit with influencers.
And don’t forget about bloggers, podcasters or even LinkedIn users. The ideal partner depends on your brand, campaign and target market.
2. Source suitable influencers
Checking out existing fans is a good starting point, as your brand already plays a role in their everyday lives. To find them, collate posts with relevant hashtags and see if the content resonates with your brand’s personality.
The next step is to look for people who post about similar products. Search for related hashtags and check out the profiles of the users. Also look at the profiles and comments of those who engage with these influencers to help you decide on the value of a relationship with them.
3. Build your strategy
When planning a specific campaign, have a clear view of your objectives. Are you after more referral traffic to your site, an increase in social media followers or perhaps sales if they can make your product shoppable?
Talk these goals through with the influencer ahead of the campaign launch, as well as practical details such as the budget, timeframe, brand guidelines and number of posts required. It’s also important to clarify usage rights of their content offsite.
4. Nurture the relationship
Why not offer a discount code or giveaway to kickstart the campaign? Then step back and let them get on with being creative. Unlike celebrities who may simply tag a brand, micro influencers will spend time curating the perfect post – styling elements of the photo, choosing the best filter, writing a great caption and including all relevant hashtags.
A post by a micro influencer should blend in with the brand identity of its partner, as this one by belleandbunty does for Marks & Spencer
As the relationship develops and campaign momentum builds, you could invite the influencer to host an Instagram Stories takeover. This will allow them to temporarily guest edit your Instagram account to give followers a look at your business or product range from a new perspective.
It’s all about ongoing collaboration and communication. Post content from the influencer on your feed, but make sure they are talking about you on the same day to create the most buzz.
5. Measure success
Aim to measure effectiveness in real time to get an accurate understanding of the impact your partnership is having. Metrics will vary according to the campaign’s original goals, but key performance indicators tend to be around impressions, engagement – such as likes, comments, shares, retweets and reactions – social media growth and the increase in traffic to your website.
Monitor sentiment, particularly when launching a product or communicating with a new target market, to reveal the focus of the digital conversation and see if the post is having a positive response.
If you are using multiple influencers, you can run parallel campaigns and compare the success of each post to identify greatest reach and engagement.
By trying a few different partners that fit your brand, you’ll quickly be able to find out if micro influencer marketing is a scalable strategy for you.
By Apu Gupta