By Dinah Wisenberg Brin
From Our Forbes Files: Small Businesses Find Micro-Influencers A Good Marketing Avenue
To help market their mason jar rack, the team behind Mason Jar Storage reached out to micro-influencers – social media personalities with relatively small but loyal and engaged niche audiences. The move to tap influencers in the canning, home crafts and cooking verticals proved successful, according to Alon Popilskis, who handles marketing for Mom’s Mason Jar Rack, a product developed by a small Los Angeles-area business called Otter Lab. “We decided to work with micro-influencers as opposed to larger-scale influencers due to budget as well as due to the fact that micro-influencers, even though they have smaller audiences, have a more engaged and targeted following, leading to better use of money spend,” Popilskis said. Unlike celebrities with hundreds of thousands or millions of social media followers, micro-influencers may have anywhere from 1,000 to 50,000, possibly more. While the exact numerical definition varies among experts, statistics suggest smaller niche players may wield more influence when it comes to effective social media marketing. Micro-influencers drive engagement, which is key in influence marketing, according to digital marketing solutions firm MediaHub. Retail and entertainment clients saw about 50 percent higher engagement using micro-influencers, the firm said last year in a post on its parent organization’s website. That’s important because, as MediaHub said, engagement translates into ROI, retention and deeper bonds.
Specifically, MediaHub reported that influencers with 1,000 fans drove 85 percent higher engagement “lift” than those with 100,000 followers. These campaigns realized 10 times more efficiency than those using influencers with big followings, which made them more cost effective, the firm said. New York Times-owned social media influencer marketing firm HelloSociety, meanwhile, found that accounts with 30,000 or fewer followers are better for marketers, according to Adweek. Micro-influencers, often considered to be trusted sources, generate a 60 percent higher engagement rate than a typical HelloSociety campaign and are 6.7 times more cost-effective than big-time influencers, according to the report. AnthroDesk, a Canadian standing desk maker, looks for micro-influencers involved in health-related fields, such as registered dieticians, naturopaths and fitness coaches, who will write articles or blog posts based on their experiences using desks the company provided to them, according to Michael Angelo Cruto, who handles influencer marketing for the firm. (The influencers can keep the desks that they try.) To find its influencers, the company does Google searches for specific professions and looks for blogs related to “back pain” or “healthy lifestyle,” Cruto explained. AnthroDesk also looks for people who it thinks could benefit from using a standing desk, like crafters and gamers, he said. “Better engagement with our influencers, from giving them the best product that suits their standing desk needs to sharing their articles on our different social media platforms, spells the difference,” Cruto said. “Measuring ROI is a challenge but we received positive results,” like better SEO ranking and an increase in followers in all the company’s social media platforms, he said, which resulted in better brand awareness and more sales.
Otter Lab, which Popilskis described as more of a side hustle and creative outlet for its founder, found its mason jar rack micro-influencer efforts effective and affordable. “While we can’t compare how our campaign would have gone had we used well-known influencers in the industry, I feel pretty confident in saying that we wouldn’t have been able to realize a positive ROI just based off the numbers we were getting as quotes,” Popilskis said. Quotes for well-known influencers reached thousands of dollars, compared with a few hundred for micro-influencers, according to Popilskis, who said the business dedicated 75 percent of its marketing budget to micro-influencers and 25 percent to pay-per-click ads through Google, Bing and Facebook. The business gave its micro-influencers special links with UTM parameters – tags that allow companies to track and analyze its social media campaign traffic. Site traffic and sales both received a boost, he said. “It was a bit harder to track softer metrics like brand awareness.” The product continues to sell even though the business stopped actively marketing it to focus on other projects. “Some of those customers are probably referrals from other customers who initially bought from us due to our micro-influencer campaigns,” and some come from social media even though the business is no longer actively marketing the storage racks, Popilskis said. In terms of direct sales from the influencer campaigns, the effort yielded a roughly 2.8-times return, he added. “Our returns would have been much higher had we also built a more robust content strategy on our blog to help with really building a community as well as to give people a reason to keep coming back and potentially sharing top-of-funnel content.”
To find micro-influencer bloggers, Popilskis did a Google search to find blogs he thought would be of interest to the business’s target audience, and went to forums and Facebook groups to ask what websites they visited. “I then used Ahrefs (an online marketing toolbox) to see who was linking to those sites as well as what keywords those sites ranked for. I then looked at the average number of comments a site had as well as how many social shares their articles would get,” using Ahrefs and BuzzSumo, another content marketing tool, to try to get an idea of who was sharing the content and discern whether the sharing was authentic.He similarly searched for social media influencers on Instagram and Pinterest by using terms related to the target audience. “This is where an influencer platform could have helped save time, specifically one that kept metrics, but I was fine with manual searches of hashtags,” he added. Follower, “like” and share numbers can be artificially inflated, Popilskis noted. “I tried diving deeper by looking at number of comments, comment quality, repeat commenters, etc. While it was definitely time-consuming, I felt this helped with building a list of people who were truly influencers within their respective vertical,” he explained. Current mason jar rack sales, Popilskis said, are “enough to bootstrap our next idea.”