- By Parker Sheil
Whether your business is a global brand building a local presence or an SMB seeking community support, it’s time to think about micro-influencers. With niche, localized-audiences, micro-influencers are the gatekeepers to conscious consumers, ready to shop at your stores. Read on to learn how to streamline your instagram account into a local-marketing powerhouse, driving online to offline conversions with targeted partnerships.
Hold on, back up. What is Instagram, and why is it relevant to my business?
Since its debut in 2010, Instagram has grown from a fun photo-sharing platform into a business-driving powerhouse. One of the most popular social media platforms, the app boasts roughly 800 million monthly and 500 million daily users, with 20% posting multiple times per day. Facebook, the largest social media platform at the time, decided to leverage the potential that it saw in Instagram, and acquired the company in 2012- boosting Instagram’s visibility and user base significantly.
On Instagram, users can share photos and videos on their news feed, in a direct message, or to their storyboard, using hashtags and location check-ins to boost visibility for each post. Some people use the platform as a blogging podium, but the user base is predominantly made up of casual browsers and filter-users like you and I.
What is an influencer, and why should I partner with one?
Influencers use Instagram as a platform to share authentic content in the form of videos, pictures, and statuses, in which they recommend products and businesses for their followers to try. As followers try out these recommendations for themselves, influencers earn trust and credibility. So, influencers function like opinion leaders: they report on trends and products, and then their followers purchase these products for themselves.
In addition to sharing their audiences, an influencer lends credibility to product/business recommendations. Because influencers naturally make recommendations, sponsored posts feel authentic, and build trust for your brand. And this trust later becomes a key component to turning online viewers into offline shoppers.
Ok, but how can I track the impact of micro-influencer partnerships?
There are several key analytics marketers use to track the customer journey on Instagram. To measure a post’s exposure, marketers track passive actions like impressions (the number of views) and reach (the number of viewers). Because users can see the same post more than once, the impression count is always higher than the reach. After summarizing a post’s overall exposure, it’s important to separate accidental viewers from potential customers by tracking more active interactions, such as post engagements (likes, comments, and shares). Engagements reflect higher enthusiasm than passive impressions, and so are a key metric in predicting online to offline conversions. On average, there is a correlation between engagement and number of followers:
♦Micro-influencers (10k-100k followers) receive over 500 interactions per post;
♦Medium influencers (100k-1m followers) receive over 3,750 interactions per post;
♦Celebrities (10m followers or more) receive over 266,850 interactions per post.
Engagements are a good indicator of customer interest, however to build a local community around your brand, you’ll want to look for influencers with a high engagement ratio: a percentage that compares post interactions and followers by dividing the number of interactions on a single post by the number of total followers. High engagement ratios reflect strong communities, where product placement is more likely to feel authentic. Coupling this authenticity with high engagement levels can be a great way for your brand to build a loyal, local following.
According to the statistics above, there is a positive correlation between audience size and response rates, and a negative correlation between audience size and engagement ratio. High-profile influencers generate high interactions (100,000+), but low engagement ratios (~1%). Micro-influencers have fewer interactions (~500), but higher engagement ratios (~5%). If your next step is nationwide exposure, focus on finding high-profile influencers with large audiences. If you’re trying to bring foot traffic into a local store, target micro-influencers with higher engagement ratios.
In terms of pricing, influencers position themselves according to their audience size. Kim Kardashian West can charge $500,000 per post, because she has over 102 million followers. In contrast, the average price for a post from a medium or micro-influencer with fewer than 100,000 followers is less than $1,000. Small-to-mid market influencers may have smaller audiences, but they bring higher engagement ratios, indicating a higher ROI for your brand partnership. Remember that many influencers will not guarantee product placement in exchange for free samples or discounts. If you want to be sure your business gets promoted, work out a compensation system that is beneficial for both your business and your brand ambassadors.
So influencer marketing is pretty useful. How do I get started?
There are a few ways to find the perfect brand ambassador, depending on your budget. For free, you can manually crawl through relevant hashtags and location tags on Instagram. Or, for a fee, you can enlist an agency. Either way, before talking with any influencers, you’ll want to outline your campaign goals. A few key targets to consider are:
Target audience size. Will you need more than one partner?
Timeline. Do you want a few sponsored posts, or a long-term partnership?
Finances. How do you plan to sponsor postings?
Once you have these three goals in mind, remember: Influencers can bring credibility and exposure to your brand, as long as they a natural fit. The right partner will feel seamless and organic for you and your followers, the wrong person can have a negative impact on your brand engagement and perception., Large audiences may offer broad reaches, but smaller audiences have stronger communities. These smaller communities bring higher engagement ratios, and are more likely to become offline customers. If you want to drive in-store traffic from local-marketing campaigns, it may be time to add micro-influencers to your marketing mix.