Parasocial relationships are defined as the relationships that users develop with media personalities — and these interactions have a major impact. The influencer field has capitalized on this phenomenon for decades and often draws major celebrities like the Kardashians and their legions of followers to mind. However, beyond celebrity mega-influencers, many influencers are curating a wealth of unique audiences that marketers may not be aware of.
The most effective influencers must have relatability — and when it comes to sharing their authentic lifestyles, micro-influencers are a key, yet often overlooked channel for advertising spend. As the name suggests, micro-influencers may not boast the followings of the industry’s heaviest hitters, but their advantage lies in their ability to specialize their area of expertise, cultivating highly curated and engaged audiences. So how can brands effectively insert themselves into these conversations?
Explore New Niches
Micro-influencers have the unique benefit of reaching segments of a brand’s audience that they may not be aware of. Many operate through social media platforms, with Facebook and Instagram being top performers. Life experiences are catalysts for forging these communities — milestones such as going off to college or having children can serve as a baseline for connection, as individuals seek out those they can relate to and get recommendations from.
For example, micro-influencer Monet Hambrick combines her love of travel with her role as a mom of two to curate content specifically designed for vacation-seeking parents. This includes highlighting deals on airfare and providing tips to plan key destinations during popular breaks from school. One can expect her community to be filled with parents wanting to share their love of travel with their children and looking for products and solutions to make things simple.
Another subset of micro-influencers are deal-centric influencers. This group has exploded since the expansion of the Amazon Affiliates Program, which allows for affiliation directly through a user’s existing social media account or blog and lets them earn a percentage of sales in exchange for promoting a product. Deal-centric influencers can have several specializations — some search for deals with specific retailers, or in specific niches, such as baby products or home goods. Others focus on deals found in specific locations, and some, such as Michelle St. Pierre of MyDealAddiction, curate savings across multiple verticals that are of interest to their audiences.
Deal-centric influencers offer an additional advantage, as their curated audiences are often populated by those who are already in the active shopping mindset but may not be conducting research through traditional channels. Brands partnering with deal-centric influencers can therefore get their product in front of consumers who may not be looking for it directly.
Keep it Authentic
Micro-influencers thrive on authenticity, so ensuring that you are reaching out to influencers that align best with your brand is essential. The authenticity of a micro-influencer is often highlighted by the key connections they share to the vertical they promote. For example, a micro-influencer in the apparel space may design their clothing or attend fashion school. It’s also important to search for a high level of follower engagement with micro-influencers — they boast an increased ability to interact and engage directly, further cultivating their community.
With that in mind, it’s worthwhile to first consider the current audience for your product to determine which influencers you should be reaching out to. This is a key moment for brands to utilize their existing consumer data to build out profiles and search for new audience insights.
Marketers also will want to look into digital solutions to make sure the data involved in a brand’s influencer outreach is suitably measured and accounted for. From there, brands can seek out the solutions that allow them to engage most efficiently with the micro-influencers they hope to reach.
Once brands have a well-rounded understanding of their current audience, they can connect with influencers who have that ideal customer within their communities. Once again, authenticity is the name of the game — along with an easy explanation of how your unique offering can benefit an influencer’s audience. Because of their highly curated followings, brands can expect micro-influencers to be particularly attuned to their audience’s feedback, so making a strong case is essential.
Consider the conversations these communities are having and how your products can play a role in solving some of their unique challenges. Ensure that your messaging to these groups comes from an understanding perspective and emphasize your value proposition in order to build a positive rapport with them.
Furthermore, by making sure all elements of your micro-influencer campaign are attributable, brands can also collect and delve into richer audience insights, allowing them to continue to optimize campaigns going forward. By focusing on reaching these unique communities, brands can expand the reach of their campaigns and find exciting new audiences to reach out to.
Deborah Kilpatrick is the Co-founder and VP of Marketing at SourceKnowledge, a mrge company. An ardent advocate for the open web, Kilpatrick co-founded SourceKnowledge in order to help retailers and ecommerce brands attain incremental lifts in sales with advertising outside of the walled gardens. Prior to co-founding SourceKnowledge, Kilpatrick independently founded and ran her own successful SEO and SEM consulting business, dSide Marketing. She also worked at one of the world’s first search engines, Mamma.com, as their Product Marketing Manager. In this role, she directly managed the brand’s marketing strategy as well as product marketing within its paid-search advertising program.