Brands have always leveraged celebrity influencers. In fact, celebrities appear in roughly one-fifth of ads today. This is a common marketing method because it serves as a way of transferring the popularity, style, personality, and like-ability of a particular celebrity to your brand or product.
Despite their frequent use, it's debatable how much celebrity endorsements actually work to drive sales or stock prices.
There is a risk that the celebrity you align your product with may damage your brand instead of effectively promoting it.
Plus, celebrity endorsements are costly, which is undesirable in an environment where marketers are increasingly asked to prove the value of every dollar spent.
The Micro-Influencer Option
Thanks to social media and the "long tail" model, the line between "celebrity" and "social media celebrity" is blurring with each passing day. Termed "micro-influencers," these social media celebrities are getting a lot of attention lately - especially as brands begin planning their marketing for 2017.
Typically anyone with 10,000 - 150,000 followers on their blog, Twitter, or Instagram account qualifies as a micro-influencer. Micro-influencers are appealing because they cater to niche audiences, unlike celebrities. While a product or brand may get lost in a celebrity's message, the micro-influencer has typically built their audience around one consistent topic. This means your message may not get as much reach, but it will be targeted to a more relevant audience. Plus, because a micro-influencer isn't a "real" celebrity, the marketing message and product endorsement will come across as more authentic to your audience.
How To Use Micro-Influencers Effectively
Understand your audience's consumer decision journey. Know where influencers and social channels will have the greatest impact on your prospective customer. What is their thought process as they look at these sources? What are they trying to learn and what can you show them on this channel that would provide value?
Study the style and audience of your micro-influencers. This is where a brand voice & tone guide comes in handy. This influencer is going to represent your brand so don't agree to partner with them without closely looking at their work, what they've done with other brands, how they discuss products and following them on social for a little while to understand their posting and commenting cadence. Look closely at their audience to see what their demographics are and what content they really engage with. Don't forget to check to see how many of their followers are real.
Be clear in your expectations, but let them create the content. When working with micro-influencers, it's important to keep in mind that the audience you want to reach actively follows this influencer for a particular reason. This means they like what he/she does so don't try and micromanage their content or make it your own. If you do, it won't meet the audience's expectations, and neither the influencer or your brand will get what they wanted out of it.
Don't limit yourself to one channel. Get creative and allow the micro-influencer to join you in brainstorming all the various ways that you could partner. Rather than a simple blog or Instagram post, you may decide on a video, event, giveaway, etc.
Give it time. For many, working with micro-influencers is new, and you may anticipate immediate results. If that's the case, you're setting yourself up for failure. Again, consider where this step is in your customer's journey. It is unlikely that a sale will happen immediately after viewing content. It may take a while to build awareness. Remember to set the expectation that this is a long-term campaign. It is important to set goals and benchmarks in order to track activity and begin to calculate your ROI immediately.
Tracking Your ROI
Incorporating micro-influencer campaigns into your marketing plan is the easy part. How do you know if you're getting a return on your investment (budget and effort)?
Consider steps one and three from the previous section. To gauge if your campaigns are effective, you need to understand where micro-influencers fit into your customers’ journey and have clear expectations for what you're looking to get from the partnership:
Is it awareness shown by impressions, views, brand/product mentions, an increased share of voice?
Engagement in the form of likes, comments, shares, or traffic to your website?
Audience growth from new fans, followers, subscribers?
Or conversions via downloads, installs, qualified leads, or purchases?
Adding micro-influencer campaigns to your marketing plan is not an exact science due to the number of variables involved. Therefore, it's critical to continually review the campaign metrics and adjust accordingly to ensure the maximum value for your investment. Most importantly, be realistic, take the time to understand how this tactic fits into your strategy and have a vision of what success looks like in mind.