How to Work With Micro-Influencers
It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers game with blogging - or more likely with simply Instagramming. As much as I like to pretend I don’t care, seeing my follower count slip down by one or two a week, or a post reach less than 100 likes, makes me feel genuinely sad. And that is truly sad. So to perk myself and every other saddo up, I thought I’d reiterate my points about the power of micro-influencers with a post about how (and why) you, as a brand owner or designer, can and should collaborate with bloggers and Instagrammers who may not have tens or hundreds of thousands, but can still seriously influence your audience and create beautiful, engaging content to promote your brand in a genuine, authentic and relatable way.
I was prompted to write this when a local textiles and accessories designer, Leigh Elizabeth, reached out to me to work on a small gifted collaboration, and I thought it was a great example of how small independent creative brands can work with small independent creative bloggers in a mutually beneficial way. Leigh Elizabeth DM’ed me on Instagram wondering if she could send me some of her gorgeous products - handmade tassel earrings and a printed clutch bag, in exchange for a post on social media linking back to her page in the runup to Christmas (you can see the post here). I loved the pieces so much that I also decided to do a whole photoshoot with my favourite photographer pal Ellie Morag at Edinburgh’s Christmas market and pop them up all over my Instagram and now my blog.
How did this work so well as a collaboration? Because Leigh Elizabeth had clearly been following me for a while, knew my style and taste (oh hello oversized statement earring addiction), and knew I love supporting Scottish craft and design that’s made ethically using local, sustainable materials, therefore our audiences are automatically compatible with eachother. My posts so far on my feed and stories have received hundreds of likes and comments, but numbers aside - the content itself is now available for Leigh herself to share on her own platforms and show how her products can be styled. Long story short - when a brand chooses an influencer that aligns with their values, and not necessarily a lust for numbers- both parties can be happy without feeling like they’ve overspent in time or money, and can develop more of an authentic relationship with real results from a local, engaged audience.
But what is a micro influencer, and how can you find them and work together?
A micro-influencer is someone who creates content on social media and/or a blog, for an audience of followers and/or readers consisting of less than 10,000. It can be tempting for brands to try and work with mega influencers who can reach tens or hundreds of thousands or even millions of people, but working with a smaller blogger can be really beneficial for the reasons I mentioned above, not only for indie designers like Leigh Elizabeth who have small budgets for blogger collaborations but still want to increase their visibility online, but for larger brands too who want to connect with a local audience. I have created content for the likes of Nissan, Panasonic and Peroni, who like many other big national and international brands are opening their eyes to the power of micro-influencers who have smaller fees and smaller, more well-connected, engaged and authentic audiences.
The first step in a successful blogger collaboration is finding the right person. Their follower count still matters - I would aim for least 1000 on Instagram, and for a blog post, feel free to ask for statics and analytics on the blogger’s readership - but engagement is arguably much more important these days, so check comments and likes too, particularly on other sponsored or gifted posts. Most importantly though, find out who they are, what they are passionate about and what they stand for, as well as their aesthetic style. There is no point whatsoever sending a blogger something they wouldn’t buy anyway. Then, simply reach out - whether that be by email or a quick and easy DM and start a genuine conversation about how you could work together in a mutually beneficial way. Here are my do’s and don’ts for working with micro-influencers:
DO be realistic in your expectations - bloggers with relatively small followings do not do this as a full time job, so they aren’t rich in time or resources so don’t necessarily expect a professional fashion shoot - instead, expect relatable, real-life content that fits with their feed and their aesthetic, not necessarily yours.
DON’T feel that you are unable to negotiate. If a blogger is worth their salt, they will work with you to find a deal that suits you both, so don’t be intimidated by rate cards or ‘industry standards’ - neither of you want to get ripped off.
DO your research! If a blogger mentions that they are a vegan, maybe don’t reach out if you produce cosmetics that are tested on animals, or make leather handbags, or if you are a steakhouse. You’d be surprised!
DON’T demand free content! Blogging takes a lot of time and money, so you need to be prepared at the very least to send free products or provide free experiences in exchange for the blogger’s efforts, and in many cases there will be a (relatively small in comprison to traditional advertising) sponsored post fee.
DO credit the content creator. This means the blogger and their photographer (if they use one) for any content you re-share on your own feeds.
DON’T ask the blogger not to disclose that it is a sponsored or gifted post. This is against the law and social media community guidelines.
DO enjoy the experience! The process should be a collaborative, two-way conversation and you should both get something out of it - freebies or money, beautiful content for your channels, access to a new online audience, and a newly formed business relationship that can lead to further projects.