From top athletes to Hollywood actors to pop singing sensations, fame has historically been central to an influencer campaign. Now, savvy consumers are growing weary of disingenuous celebrity endorsements, and are instead turning to devoted, everyday consumers for product recommendations, tutorials, and advice. These individuals are called micro-influencers and they are emerging as powerful and persuasive voices for brand communications.
Benefits of Partnering with Micro-Influencers
Micro-influencers are hyper-focused on one particular topic, making it likely that their followers share an interest in this topic, and are more inclined to like and comment on their content. A recent study found that micro-influencers deliver a 60% higher engagement rate versus an average campaign. With fewer followers, influencers can directly interact with a large percentage of their base, creating a sense of community. In fact, the fewer number of followers an influencer has, the more engaged his or her audience. Those with less than 1,000 Instagram followers, for example, had an average engagement rate of 8% versus only a 1.7% engagement rate for someone with over 100,000 followers.
Micro-influencers are often run-of-the-mill consumers who slowly grow their audience through a sincere passion for their subject matter. Influencers are considered more credible, believable, and knowledgeable compared to an average consumer and, in a recent study, 82% of consumers stated they were highly likely to follow a recommendation made by a micro-influencer.
The cost of partnering with a micro-influencer can be a tenth of the price of someone with over 100,000 followers  and these funds go a lot further. Brands can achieve a better ROI with micro-influencers found to be 6.7x more efficient per engagement than influencers with larger followings. 
Increased Quality Content
Brands generally partner with micro-influencers who are already brand supporters, ensuring the content they produce puts the brand in a positive light while still feeling genuine. Micro-influencers tend to be active in making product recommendations to their audience, having up to 22.2 times more of these conversations per week than an average consumer.  This results in quality content that is frequently disseminated to a highly specific audience.
Brands generally partner with micro-influencers who are already brand supporters, ensuring the content they produce puts the brand in a positive light while still feeling genuine. Micro-influencers tend to be active in making product recommendations to their audience, having up to 22.2 times more of these conversations per week than an average consumer. This results in quality content that is frequently disseminated to a highly specific audience.
Challenges of Partnering with Micro-Influencers
While micro is clearly the way forward in influencer marketing, brands still have some challenges to overcome. To begin with, it can be difficult to pinpoint suitable individuals who can both advocate for the brand and who have credibility and influence in a particular field. And while the micro-influencer as an individual is more cost-effective, it may take additional resources to select, vet, and manage multiple influencers and their ongoing content. Brands will have to be comfortable giving up some control to influencers who may not adhere to strict brand guidelines. Finally, after engaging a micro-influencer, it can be difficult to measure their direct impact on sales.
As micro-influencing programs become more sophisticated, expect these challenges to be addressed. Social media platforms are especially motivated to find ways to evaluate and report any effect that micro-influencers may have on users.
Partnering with Micro-Influencers
When identifying a micro-influencer, there are particular qualities that brands should look for. Ideally, influencers would be both loyal and relevant to the brand, a trusted source of information, and have some kind of expertise in the industry. This will ensure they have influence over a relevant target market and that they may be willing to advocate on behalf of the brand.
Establishing a long-term relationship with micro-influencers sets them up as brand ambassadors and results in a more effective influencer campaign. Companies can send free products and ask for honest reviews, promote giveaways, or provide access to an exclusive promotion code to motivate influencers. With respect to payment, the most popular method is a pay per post model,  however, with long-term partnerships, paying per engagement could be more appropriate.
Allow content to be authentic, both true to the influencer’s voice, and also beneficial to the brand. Encourage honest, personal testimonials about a product or brand instead of a simple product placement photo. Creating a candid story with product details or brand mentions will have the greatest impact on followers.