Influencer marketing spending is predicted to increase in 2019, with 17% of companies spending over half their marketing budget on this tactic. Although there’s been a lot of controversies recently around influencers, especially as it pertains to the fake follower phenomenon, these budget increases are proof that marketers still find these types of campaigns to be effective. And with many social platforms like Instagram continuing to see steady growth in the number of users, there’s no real sign that this trend will slow down.
This is very exciting for companies that are able to allocate large amounts of media spend budget for influencer marketing, but how do those with smaller budgets (or none at all) take advantage of this trend? The short answer: by implementing a long-term strategy focused on cultivating relationships with those who truly influence the audiences you’re trying to reach.
Interested in the longer answer? In this post, I’ll outline the types of influencers that brands with a smaller budget (or any budget, for that matter) should be strengthening relationships with, examples of campaigns from brands and companies that (in my opinion) are doing it right.
The Everyday Influencer: Leveraging People Who Already Love Your Brand
The smartest brands know that helping their brand advocates become influencers is an essential (and inexpensive) strategy. A recent study from SurveyMonkey found that US consumers are more than 5 times as likely to have made a big purchase due to a recommendation from a trusted friend or family member (65%) than as a result of seeing an online influencer own or endorse the product/service (12%).
The concept is easy enough, just build relationships and amplify the stories (or content) of customers who already know, use and love your product!
A perfect example of a brand who is beautifully partnering with The Everyday Influencer is Montucky Cold Snacks. In fact, they’ve devoted a whole landing page for honoring self-proclaimed “cold snackin’ fools” in which they invite folks to share “how they snack” and interact with their products. For those who are true fans, they also have a form in which they can apply to join their Ambassador Program.
But, if you can’t commit to creating an entire landing page to showcase content from Everyday Influencers, reposting content that your customers tag you in also works! Moorea Seal, a local boutique in Seattle, often uses their Instagram to repost photos taken by customers rocking products they’ve purchased.
Micro-Influencers: The New Word-of-Mouth
There’s no clear definition for what would qualify someone as a micro-influencer and this is mainly because you can’t define a micro-influencer by their total number of followers.
Micro-influencers usually curate content that speaks to a more focused topic or industry, or even targets a more local or regional audience. As a result, they’ve established an immense amount of credibility and trust with niche audiences. In fact, 82% of consumers are likely to follow a micro-influencers’ recommendation.
When trying to identify micro-influencers in your space, what matters most is engagement (the share of followers who like or comment). Of course, there are a number of other factors to consider when choosing micro-influencers to work with. Along with engagement rate, make sure they post on a regular basis, that they cater to the same audiences that our client’s brand is targeting, and that their values align with those of the brand.
Working with these type of influencers involves a bit more strategy and relationship-building than the examples shared for collaborating with the ‘Everyday Influencer’ but there are a number of inexpensive tactics to begin working with them. The biggest thing to remember though is that they’re more likely to work with you if you are open to collaboration.
Before brands begin reaching out to influencers, they often times think they’ll need to share an entire campaign brief outlining all of the fine details right off the bat, but this simply isn’t necessary. In fact, preparing a campaign with strict messaging points and detailed content guidelines can be a huge turn-off for influencers.
In a recent report from Altimeter, 77% of influencers say they’d be more willing to repeatedly work with a brand if the brand gave them creative freedom on their projects. Remember, influencers know their audience best. Collaboration is key and their creative recommendations will likely result in a higher engagement rate.
Arcadia Publishing’s partnership with Fuzzy Puppet is a perfect example for why brands should trust the creative ideas of micro-influencers. To provide context, Arcadia Publishing collaborated with the producer of Fuzzy Puppet on a campaign in which they were promoting the release of a new children’s book series entitled ‘Lucky to Live In’. Instead of producing a short video in which Fuzzy Puppet reads from the book itself, the producer of Fuzzy Puppet suggested including it as part of a larger video in which the puppet begins by playing with fidget spinners (at the time, a trending topic on YouTube), things go awry (you’ll have to watch to understand how), and once the dust settles he then relaxes with a book.
While many brands might’ve declined this idea, Arcadia Publishing trusted the influencer’s recommendation and believed that the producer’s experience with capturing the attention of young children would be pay off, even if the video isn’t a true advert for their book. The end result was an action-packed story that fit more authentically into Fuzzy Puppet’s programming.
Whether you’re partnering with Everyday Influencers or Micro-Influencers, collaboration truly is key. Give them the creative freedom to produce content that reflects their personal style and flair and allow authenticity to become an integral part of your marketing strategy.