I'm an affiliate marketing expert at Affise, and I've seen how micro-influencer campaigns can go very right—or very wrong. If you're starting your first micro-influencer campaign, these tips will make sure you're covering your bases. Then, once you've successfully launched a campaign, you can take some more liberties with your process.
Here are the must-dos of any influencer campaign.
1. Understand your goals
Just like with any kind of marketing campaign, you need to start from the end: what are your goals? Depending on the answer, you might take your campaign in a different direction.
If your goal is brand awareness
Building a brand is a long, long game. Traditionally, building brand awareness with influencer marketing would involve a brand ambassador. They'd go to events as a representative of your company, show off your products, and be a long-term advocate for your brand and values.
But with micro-influencers, you can't bet the farm on one person to turn their 10,000 followers into sales. That means you'll be running a number of small brand ambassador campaigns at once. The advantage of that is that the stakes are lower. When your content commitments per influencer are small, you can safely experiment with new ideas and iterate rapidly.
Influencer content like why automation is the most important business skill might not lead someone straight down the marketing funnel. But by associating your brand's name with the influencer's domain expertise, you're building brand awareness. And if you repeat this with a number of micro-influencers over a longer period of time, the brand awareness will continue to expand.
If your goal is to drive conversions
Micro-influencers have niche followings, and if you pick the right ones, it means you're going after small audiences with a high chance to convert.
So if your bottom-of-the-funnel machine is performing well, you can use micro-influencers to help you get people there. Have your micro-influencers promote lead magnets like an eBook or a template—that'll get you contact info and start people heading down the funnel toward conversion.
Note: If your partners aren't so micro on Instagram—if they have over 10,000 followers—they can embed your lead magnets right in the app with a swipe-up button on their Stories.
2. Pick relevant KPIs
The holy grail marketing managers long for is some content that goes viral at no cost to you, but (a) don't hold your breath, and (b) it's not always the biggest number that makes the biggest impact. Build your micro-influencer strategy around a few critical KPIs: it might be conversions, return on ad spend—which KPIs matter to your campaign will depend on what you're trying to achieve.
If you're looking to boost conversions, you'll be closely monitoring your sales and average order value on a per-channel basis.
If you're looking to drive brand awareness and engagement, you'll be tracking the average number of likes/comments per post and the percentage of your followers actually engaging over time.
3. Cast a wide net
Affiliate ad networks will offer to do your influencer research for a fee. But I'd suggest engaging in the process and trying to find your own partners—that way, you can ensure they're a good fit for you and maintain control over your branding.
Here are the best ways to find the right people to work with your brand:
Build a team of freelancers for outreach. If you know how to find company affiliates the old-fashioned way, you know how to find micro-influencers. If you have freelancers or virtual assistants you trust, they can be a great resource.
Use hashtag searches. Search for hashtags that are relevant to your marketing, and then filter for users—you'll be able to find folks who are talking about things that matter to you.
Comb through your followers. Look for the most-followed accounts of folks following your account. If their engagement numbers are solid, they could be good candidates.
Use an influencer marketing platform. Tools like Upfluence and AspireIQ will speed things up when you're looking at thousands of accounts.
4. Determine perks or payment
There wouldn't be an influencer industry without generous affiliate marketing commission rates, but a micro-influencer strategy doesn't have to break the bank. You can compensate your micro-influencers in all sorts of ways:
Direct payment on a per-post basis
Free content, products, or services (if you're finding influencers through your followers, this is a great option)
Early access to new content, products, or services
Co-marketing (they promote you, you promote them)
Tiered perks based on performance
Don't forget to set your budget early. The cost of micro-influencers varies from platform to platform and will also depend on the size of their following, how much engagement they have with their audience, and how much work is required. Be sure to strike a balance so that you have high-quality influencers but enough of them to cast a wide net.
5. Iterate and improve
Doing a one-off influencer campaign is a great start—a nice way to get a feel for how it works. But in order for micro-influencers to work, you need to have a lot of them. And that means tracking their performance. Depending on your volume, you can do this in a simple spreadsheet, but as you scale, you'll want to work with an influencer marketing tool, so you can monitor the performance of all your influencers in easy-to-grok reports and narrow down your spending to the ones who bring in the most high-value customers.
But you're not only paying attention to which influencers work: you also need to keep an eye on messaging. What's resonating with your followers and your influencers' followers? Continue to hone your messaging by reviewing the performance of each campaign.
Bonus tip: once you've figured out which messages work with which audiences, you can turn those messages into regular paid ads across social channels. Think of your influencer campaigns as a petri dish for your advertising campaigns.