Brands are spending an increasing amount of time and money working with well-known influencers to promote their business. But what about the people you are already connected to? Micro-influencers may not be famous, but they still have powerful networks and are perfectly placed to spread the company gospel.

What are influencers?

Put simply, influencers are people who have the ability to influence a decision – whether that’s behavioural or buying. In terms of online marketing, they may come in a number of guises:

  • Celebs – the likes of Kylie Jenner can charge up to $440k per Instagram post thanks to her 120m followers. It’s reported that she’s earned $18m through social media and helped increase brand sales by 30%.
  • Bloggers – a powerful force who act as a good middle ground if you have a budget but don’t have the big bucks needed for real celebrities.
  • Micro influencers – the people who have much smaller networks, but are invested in your organisation or brand and want to help promote it. They could be existing customers, staff or friends and the costs to harness their potential are very low.

Why encourage employees to become influencers?

According to Asha Constanza at Synergy Creative, who recently spoke at #SMWBristol, your staff are a great untapped source of low-cost marketing and promotion. “If you can find the right 3% of employees who are already passionate about the brand or organisation and are already engaged then they will communicate with 90% of the remaining workforce,” she explains.

Need a stronger business case? Consider these stats:

  • Businesses with an engaged workforce outperform their peers by 202%.
  • 74% of employees find that they’re missing out on company information and news – a gap that can be filled with internal influencer programmes.
  • 66% of staff say they are already an advocate for their business – that’s a lot of potential to harness.
  • Every month $255m is spent on influencer marketing – be smart about the budget you have and invest internally first.

How to find micro-influencers within your networks …

Asha recommends conducting an employee survey and analysing internal channels, such as the company intranet to find the most engaged members of staff. “You want to find people with connections – are they in the ‘right’ world already?” says Asha. “For example, ASOS identified the staff who were already immersed in the fashion world and connecting with other fashion lovers in an online space.”

Existing customers can be surveyed in a similar way through a simple tool like SurveyMonkey – although sometimes it’s equally as effective to find your most dedicated customers organically. Start to monitor those who are interacting with you on social media the most, then analyse their networks – do they talk to lots of others in your target audience and are they active on different channels?

Be aware of the different types of micro-influencers you can look to identify:

  • Leaders
  • Mentors
  • The high potentials
  • The ‘been-there-done-that’ person
  • The glue
  • Naturals (people already doing it)

What should micro-influencers be doing?

All businesses have their own approach to using influencers, and you need to find the formula that works best for you. Here are some top-line ideas to consider:

  • Telling your story
  • Shouting about your success
  • Promoting events
  • Be in the know
  • Helping to avoid/avert rumours

Remember that the best influencers are the authentic ones – and that means trusting them to speak honestly and openly. Too many rules can be limiting – and also look fake to outsiders.

So when it comes to branding, offer options, rather than rules. When Asha worked with ASOS, they suggested that influencers use @Asos_name in their handle, but they weren’t forced to.

“You can also encourage them to include some branding in their profile imagery and tell them when there are strong brand messages you want to promote,” says Asha. “When they don’t have to, influencers will often choose to share and talk about it on their own terms.”

How to get them started …

It’s important that you spend time equipping your micro influencers well – not only will this help you to build a good relationship with them, it will also minimise any issues, like them posting in ways that don’t fit with your company ethos. Here are some pointers:

  • Training/toolkit – if possible, do some face-to-face training. If not, a written guide which you can chat through on the phone will also work.
  • Enhanced news kit – give them detailed explanations and background information so they’re armed with the right info.
  • Preferential access to senior management – when working with employees it can help if they have access to the movers and shakers.
  • Incentives – find their ‘what’s in it for me’ and respond accordingly. This could be free company products, but often people would also be happy with non-financial rewards and recognition. Remember to say thank you and share their good work with others.

Have you used micro-influencers in your social media campaigns? We’d love to hear your thoughts on making the relationship a success – what have you learnt from the process? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @AmbitiousPR.

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