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Social media influencers help brands build valuable relationships on social media platforms through word-of-mouth and referral strategies. They skip the rather blatant online advertising and link-sharing that so many social media users have learned to ignore.

But not everyone with social media followers can be considered an influencer. In other words, followers aren’t everything.  

Just because someone has a thousand or more followers on Instagram, for example, does not make them an influencer. Anyone can create a Facebook page, link an Instagram account, and run a follower PPC campaign to grow their account by thousands of followers for the low, low price of next-to-nothing. However, they are targeting followers from random countries throughout the world.

You’d be amazed how many people pad those follower numbers with fake users and third-world accounts. Sure, the number of followers look good to the untrained eye. Some have the gullible idea that followers are all you need in life. They think followers are people that want to be friends! But many of us have learned the hard way: that simply isn’t true.

If your followers or the followers of your social media influencer are not the right audience for your business, and if they are not engaging with the account, they are just as good to you as a fake or unused social media account. Unengaged followers don’t mean squat!

In fact, for marketing managers or business investors that really know what they’re looking for, padding your followers with unnecessary numbers can actually make you look bad. It will undoubtedly unveil certain micro-influencers as “fake news!”

Why? Because if you have 100,000 followers and 100 people engaging in your social media posts, that’s a 0.001% engagement rate. Your engagement rate looks a whole lot worse than if you would have left your account at those tried-and-true 2,000 followers in the first place, where 100 active followers equal a 0.05% engagement rate.

See what I mean? Quality always beats quantity in influencer marketing.

Now that you know how to spot the fake “influencer,” how do you find the real influencers you actually need? You can’t reach out to the social media mavens important to your business until you know how to find them.

Think Small

Micro-influencers, those with more than 1,000 followers but less than 100,000, are changing the face of social media marketing. New research indicates that they have a small but intensely powerful reach among their following.

For a long time, media celebrities were social marketing’s darlings. Why not try to get Rihanna to plug your sneakers or Kim Kardashian to endorse your skin cream?

Here’s why: they’re expensive. You have to pay thousands (or millions) for a celebrity endorsement. By comparison, micro-influencers, who are people with a much smaller but more dedicated sphere of influence, are phenomenal bargains. For example, 84% of micro-influencers charge under $250 for sponsored Instagram posts!

Plus, celebrity status is not necessarily a good indicator of reach. Non-celebrity bloggers are 10 times more likely to influence purchases than celebrities. In many cases, micro-influencers actually carry more influence than a consumer’s own friends.

Millennials, who are the all-important next generation of consumers to emerge on the market, are 40% more likely to appreciate the advice of their favorite YouTuber than they are their friends. (They’re also 70% more likely to relate to a YouTuber than a celebrity.) Overall, 92% of consumers find micro-influencers more credible than celebrity endorsements and other forms of advertising.

There’s no reason to break the bank to get a celebrity endorsement. Not when you can find micro-influencers who have much more influence and credibility with their audiences for a far better price.

Look Nearby

If your brand already has a healthy social presence, the odds are good that you have some micro-influencers interacting with your company already. Look through your own social accounts for the people that regularly like your posts, retweet your comments, or tag your business on their own sites. If you need help tracking down people that already use your product or service, apps like Social Mention can make it easy. SocialRank is another tool that you can use to track down your most valuable followers on both Twitter and Instagram.

Carefully check out the profiles of folks that are positive about your brand to see what their following is like. Ask yourself the following questions as you review their social posts:

  • How many followers do they have? Are they in that 1,000 to 100,000 range?
  • Does their content fit with your brand’s image? Is this a person you want as your brand ambassador?
  • Are their followers active and engaged? Are they generally positive?
  • Do they regularly post on subjects that are important to your brand?

It can be helpful if a micro-influencer has done promotional collaborations before. However, don’t let that stop you from reaching out to fresh faces with an active following and a relevant image. There’s a lot of untapped potential out there — only 30% of micro-influencers do more than 5 marketing campaigns in a year.

Research Keywords

If you’re having trouble finding micro-influencers already loyal to your brand, try approaching the problem from another direction. Use keywords to sniff out the micro-influencers who share your passion or your niche.

Google is always a good place to start if you know what type of micro-influencers you’re aiming for, like sports bloggers or beauty bloggers. If you’re a little less certain, social media marketing services like BuzzSumo can help you find the writers, bloggers, and other influencers who share your audience. Not sure at all what hashtags and keywords should be guiding your attention? Try using the Twitter analytics tool offered by Sprout Social to get a better understanding. These kind of influencer research tools are typically affordable subscription services that will make your job a lot easier.

When you’re doing your research, consider narrowing things down using location-specific keywords in your searches. For example, if you’re looking for micro-influencers on Twitter or through Google to endorse your microbrewed beer from Cleveland, add “Cleveland” or “Ohio” into your searches. When your product needs local exposure and reach, a local micro-influencer is going to bring more benefits than one halfway across the country!

The Takeaway

A micro-influencer is a marketing tool you can’t afford not to have. They provide a relevant audience for small businesses and niche markets. They feel credible to consumers in ways that social giants miss. You more than likely have a few micro-influencers already among your social contacts. If not, you can use keyword and hashtag research to track down potential future brand ambassadors for your company to nurture.

About The Author

Caz Bevan

Caz is the Director of Marketing for Boostability and has deep experience blending business goals and marketing tactics into comprehensive company strategies. Her creative innovation and expertise has helped shape customer experiences and drive continual engagement for a variety of companies and products including Sony Music Entertainment and SpeedTV. Connect with Caz: @CazBevan | Linkedin


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