Whether it’s a bridesmaid dress, a meal prep subscription or a fancy linen duvet cover, chances are social media has influenced your purchase of a product or service, and you’re not alone. According to Sprout Social, 84% of millennials said they were more likely to buy from a brand they follow on social media compared to a brand they don’t follow on social.

Leading the way is Instagram, the Facebook-acquired platform with over 500 million users worldwide. Since its inception in 2010, Instagram has evolved from a photo-sharing platform into a sponsored post powerhouse, serving ads in the feeds of targeted demographics and helping industry-disrupting brands get their start with influencers.

For smaller direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands, micro-influencer marketing could be your golden ticket to growing a social media following and creating brand awareness in the minds of your ICP. Whether you’ve dabbled in micro-influencer marketing before or are just getting started, we’ll provide you with the tips and tricks to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck from social media partnerships.

Less is More — Why Go Micro Over Macro?

Partnering with an influencer or celebrity with millions of followers will surely get your brand’s name out there, but when it comes to creating conversions and driving sales, micro-influencer marketing leads the way. The exact number of followers required to be considered a micro-influencer is ambiguous and loosely defined, but your best bet is to find influencers with between 10,000 and 100,000 followers.

Social media creators with fewer followers tend to have higher rates of engagement. This means that more people will be liking, commenting and sharing the content associated with your brand, and the influencers themselves are more likely to respond to followers who comment or DM them. In addition, micro-influencers bring authentic content to the table which establishes a level of trust with followers and, in turn, their recommendations begin to carry as much weight as a friend’s would.

Types of Influencer Marketing Campaigns

Before you start planning your micro-influencer campaign, it’s important to understand the different types of influencer marketing and how they can better support your marketing goals. Here are a few ideas for influencer campaigns that your brand can launch for any purpose you have in mind.

If your goal is brand awareness…

  • Ambassador Program

Reach more people and get your brand’s name out there by creating an ambassador program, which has a longer lifespan than other types of influencer campaigns. Brand Ambassadors typically attend hosted events, showcase products throughout the year and advocate for the brand over an extended period. Just be sure to have clear expectations in place for number and type of posts per month, start small, and thoroughly educate your ambassadors so they have a full view of your company’s mission, goals and products.

  • Large quantities of influencers

Rather than going all-in on one influencer, one tactic to consider is finding smaller influencers (such as ones with 10,000 followers rather than 80,000), and requiring less content, thus costing you less money. Depending on how much you have budgeted for influencer marketing, your brand can work with several influencers at a time to reach potential audiences far and wide.

If your goal is growing followers…

  • Giveaways!

Have you ever followed a brand on social media just to enter a giveaway? People on social media love competing and receiving free stuff, just as much as influencers like giving back to their followers. By requiring entrants to follow your account as part of the campaign, you can gain followers from an influencer’s audience. In your contract, detail the products you will have them give away, as well as the messaging requirements. Example: “Tag two friends in the comments and follow this account and @YourBrand to enter! Entrants must be 18+ in the contiguous U.S.”

If your goal is to drive web traffic…

  • Link in Bio

To drive people to your site, have an influencer point their followers to the link in their Instagram bio. Make sure that the link is trackable with UTMs, so you can report on the clicks, page views and web traffic you receive from the influencer’s efforts.

  • Stories – Swipe Up

Another way to gain page views is to pay influencers to create Instagram stories. If they have 10,000 or more followers, their accounts will have a “swipe up” feature in their stories, where they can link out to your website. One way to entice an audience to swipe up is by having the influencer speak to the camera and tell people to visit your site for a discount or more information. Be sure to share trackable links with the influencer so you can measure the results later.

If your goal is to acquire sales…

  • Coupon Codes

Shoppers love to know that they’re getting a good deal, and getting influencers involved can make the sale seem more exclusive. Create a trackable promo code specific to the campaign that the influencer can share with their followers. In your contract, outline the number and type of content pieces you will have your influencer share and create, and ensure that their messaging details how much the discount is, the link to purchase and the promo code to apply at checkout.

Let’s Get Started — Refining Your Strategy

1. Research and Align

The first step to building a good foundation for your influencer campaign is conducting thorough research into your ideal social media demographics and psychographics. This way, you can pick influencers based on whose audience is more likely to purchase from your brand. By creating buyer profiles, it will be easier to filter out influencers based on their audience’s interests and personas later.

2. Set Goals

Based on what you know about the types of influencer marketing campaigns above, you can weigh your options and set actionable overarching goals, such as brand awareness, sales, follower growth, or a combination of the few. Some questions to ask yourself during this stage are:

  • How much content do I want to get out of my influencer?
  • What does our budget look like? How many influencers do we plan on activating for this campaign?
  • What products are we planning on promoting?

Locking down the expected duration, type, KPIs and resources of your campaign will give you fewer hurdles to jump over when you’re negotiating with influencers.

3. Pick and Reach Out to Your Influencers

Choosing the right influencers is both the hardest and most important part of executing an influencer campaign, and it is also where most marketers struggle. Luckily, there are several influencer marketing platforms like Grin, AspireIQ, Upfluence and HYPR to help you source and filter influencers based on location, demographics, interests and more.

The tools mentioned above typically have features that allow you to see:

  • Reach: how many individual users your campaign has the potential to target with an influencer.
  • Engagement Rate: Engagement rate (engagements like likes, comments, clicks and shares / # of followers x 100) can be a dealbreaker. For example, if they have 20,000 followers but have only 50 likes on each post, treat that as a red flag and move on to the next. According to Hootsuite, an average engagement rate for Instagram influencers is 2.1 percent, but there is potential for it to be much higher with micro-influencers.
  • Relevance: Are they currently working with similar brands? Do they embody a personality and lifestyle that aligns with your brand values? Do their followers align with your ICP and researched brand profiles? Are they trending and consistently growing?

4. Determine Pricing and Content Expectations

Pricing can be tricky because it is entirely dependent on how the influencer values themselves. You’d hate to pay more than you have to, so when you’re first getting started, sometimes it’s best to reach out, have an influencer pitch you a price, compare prices of all the influencers in your list and negotiate from there. Smaller influencers will often do unpaid promotion in exchange for free product — it’s all about how you position your initial communication and negotiation deal. After exploring your options, you can get a feel for what the going rate is for influencers with your ideal following, industry buckets and demographics.

While no prices are standardized in the influencer industry, a good starting point is to expect at least $100 per post per 10,000 Instagram followers. While this may seem pricey, according to Influencer Marketing Hub, businesses are on average making $6.50 for every dollar they pay the influencer.

5. Set Up Contracts

Treat influencers as you would when you typically hire someone for your business. For many, being an influencer is their livelihood, and with such, they pay taxes as an independent contractor or a business owner would. In your terms and conditions, be sure to highlight logistics like duration of the partnership, copyright and content requirements, payment requirements, messaging and FTC-approved endorsement requirements, just to name a few.

6. Monitor and Report

Once your campaign is in full swing, the next step is to track and report on promo codes, hashtags, UTM’d links or whatever other measurable KPI you required your influencer to promote. On top of those CTAs, other metrics to consider are cost-per-engagement (CPE), total audience reach, impressions and conversions. From there, you have benchmarks to go off of for your next campaign, and you can grow your influencer program with expectations in mind.

By far, the hardest part of planning your campaign will be determining, out of hundreds of thousands of accounts, which influencers fit best with your brand. But if you do your research and set yourself up for success from the start, your influencer campaign should run like a well-oiled machine.

The fact of the matter is, with the current social media landscape, influencers aren’t going anywhere. The sooner you start reaching out to creators and start negotiating partnerships, the quicker your products will enter the minds — and hands — of potential customers.

Hayley Sakae
Author