In today’s digital age, anybody can become a micro-influencer. That’s because a micro-influencer is generally defined as having a “a deeply engaged, niche audience,” distinguished from high-profile influencers by having 1,000 to 50,000 followers on social media. They have already built an audience a brand is looking for, and established trust with them.
You could be one and not realize it, or have friends within your social circles who are micro-influencers. The principal characteristic of a micro-influencer is their ability to influence buying decisions.
A PwC study reports that “Nearly half (45%) of digital buyers worldwide said that reading reviews, comments and feedback on social media influenced their digital shopping behavior.”
This means that should you decide to become a micro-influencer, brands are willing to pay you to do so. Influence is big business, and valuable not only for your personal brand but for brands who want to reach your audience.
Perhaps you want to get paid to share brands you love or grow your Instagram account to 1 million followers (like this guy). If so, read on to learn a few significant lessons that can help to build your brand as a micro-influencer.
Micro-influencers present big opportunities for brands
A micro-influencer collaborates with brands they support and often use. They also work to discover and promote new brands through collaborations, which in turn, grows their personal brand and bottom-line.
As it pertains to social media influence, bigger isn’t always better. Here’s why brands choose to work with micro-influencers.
According to Hubspot, “Micro-influencers are typically more affordable than celebrities or profiles with millions of followers. Celebrities sometimes charge up to $75,00 for a single Instagram post promoting a product. In contrast, 97% of micro-influencers on Instagram charge less than $500 for a promotion post.”
A highly targeted audience often benefits from greater levels of engagement. “It is estimated that 60% of higher engagement rates in brand campaigns are driven by micro-influencers. These campaigns can actually be 6.7x more efficient for every engagement compared to similar campaigns with more popular influencers,” ClickZ reports.
Micro-influencers often post relatable content that can bridge the trust gap between brands and audiences. The inevitable downside of influence (think Fyre Festival, failed influencer messaging, rising costs, alleged influencer scams, etc.) has put authenticity in high demand for marketers.
How to become a micro-influencer
So how does one go about becoming a micro-influencer in the first place?
First, create a consistent, aesthetically pleasing, and engaging personal blog and presence on key social media platforms. This will help you to build your fan base and community.
Second, provide real value for your audience, while networking with other influencers and brands.
How do brands select micro-influencers?
Brand marketers often look for influencers who create content that is strongly aligned with their brand image. But it will take more than a pretty picture to win marketers over as the industry becomes more sophisticated in terms of analytics, metrics, ROI and overall accountability.
Here are a few things brands may consider when scouting micro-influencers:
- Your location and personal interests
- Follower volume and growth trends
- Audience demographics, and interests
- Average post interaction and engagement rates
- A list of brands you have worked with in the past
- The percentage of fake and/or purchased followers on your account
Micro-Influence 101: Getting started
Now that you know what brands look for when scouting potential micro influencers, here’s a look at useful tips to make your online presence unique and more appealing to brands.
Pick an industry vertical and ‘niche’ your personal brand
What niche does your content best relate to? Health and Wellness, Fitness, Beauty, Fashion, Food, Photography, Lifestyle, Business, Travel, Family, Parenting, Art, Interior Design, Sports, Pets, etc.? Focus on your niche and brands who target the same verticals and audiences.
Next, create a list of keywords that you want your personal brand to be associated with, according to your interests. For instance, if you want to become an Instagram micro-influencer, ensure your Instagram is SEO-friendly.
For example, if one of your main activities is fitness, narrow the broader category to a specific kind of fitness activity that you enjoy. For example, if you prefer yoga and pilates to weight training at the gym, use that set of keywords as your “base” and expand from there.
Create a unique and informative personal bio
Start with a short description of yourself, taking care to include priority keywords that relate to your interests, lifestyle, and values to improve searchability. Next, include key contact information such as a general location and an e-mail address for business inquiries.
You can accentuate your bio with special characters and emojis to spice it up—and remember to leave a link to a personal website, blog, YouTube channel, or portfolio if you have one!
Create core values, and live (and post) by them
Perhaps you want to grow your profile as a fashion influencer. What is it that sets you apart from other street style personalities on the gram? If you’re also a feminist, for example, highlight this value in your overall messaging as a “feminist fashionista,” etc.
This helps brands recognize the intent of the content and how well it relates to their own buyer profiles and brand messaging goals. No brand wants to work with a confused influencer who shares half-hearted, mediocre posts.
The best influencers are also visual storytellers. One popular way to do this is to share themed content in sets of three that are easily viewed within the Instagram grid and stick to a color palette. Apply consistent photo filters and editing styles to each photo and consider the cohesiveness of your overall feed.
Communicate proactively with your audience
Engagement is king as it pertains to influencer marketing. Don’t be shy! Respond to genuine comments (not bots) that come your way, even if it’s a short “thank you” or emoji.
Leave comments on other Instagram accounts you follow too—this can improve your visibility and reputation.
Micro-influence is a long game
Aspiring micro-influencers who are willing to put in a little effort, focus and dedication can steadily build a loyal following and attract attention from world-class brands. The secret lies in being consistent, adding value, creating strong content, and proactively looking for opportunities.
Influencer marketing is a long game. If you’re able to view your personal brand building as an exercise that will take time, with perseverance and smart moves you can get there.
Luke Fitzpatrick is a Forbes contributor and a guest lecturer at Sydney University—in his past, he worked for startups in both South Korea and Australia.