Finding influencers is tricky. If you’re an influencer manager or looking for influencers to work with for the first time then you’ll quickly find that one of the major challenges is what we call ‘discovery’: identifying and analysing suitable influencers to work with.
This is particularly the case when it comes to micro influencers. Micro influencers benefit from higher engagement figures than other tiers of influencer, but their reach, by definition is lower. This means you’ll tend to need to work with more of them.
Finding two or three super influencers is relatively easy, but what about now, when you need to find 20 or more micro influencers to hit your reach goals?
In all likelihood you’ll be looking for your influencers on Instagram so, to help, we talked to our expert team.
Influence Network’s discovery is powered by our AI Discovery Engine, designed to automatically match your business and objectives to suitable influencers, of any tier, in record time. But all of our team have backgrounds in influencer marketing: they might benefit from AI now, but they feel your pain!
First though, let’s cover some basics.
What is a micro influencer?
A micro influencer tends to have between 3,000 and 25,000 followers on their platform of choice. They are characterised by having a niche focus and an engaged audience, who they interact with. Being an influencer is unlikely to be their full time job, but they are likely to have commercial experience with brands.
You can read more on the Influence Network site about micro influencers, the other influencer tiers and what they can mean to the success of your campaigns.
In short, micro influencers have a small enough following that they still interact with their followers on a one-to-one basis, but a large enough following that they are relevant from a marketing reach perspective. They’re trusted peers of their followers, rather than a distant ‘influencer celebrity’. They’re seen as knowledgeable in their space, which means they drive buying behaviour when they recommend something.
They’re also amongst the fastest growing influencer tiers, as brands tune in to the possibilities of connecting with niche experts.
How do you identify micro influencers?
Before we get to finding micro influencers it’s worthwhile thinking about how you’ll know one when you see one. We covered some of the characteristics above, but it’s worth thinking through some more aspects that might help you to think ‘oh yes, this is a micro influencer’, making your job that little bit easier.
Here’s some top level metrics that might help.
Follower count: 3,000 - 25,000
Average likes on a post: 100-600
Average comments on a post: 5-200
Average engagement rate: 3%-7%
So we’re starting to get a picture of how we can objectively spot a micro influencer from their metrics. Now how about when you click through to someone’s profile? What should you be looking for to find not just micro influencers, but suitable micro influencers? Consider the following.
Audience engagement - micro influencers are likely to respond to comments and engage directly with their followers.
Niche focus - micro influencers often ‘own’ a particular niche of expertise and post almost solely about this. The niche can be broad or ultra-focused. For example gaming influencers tend to only post about video games but motherhood influencers post about toys, TV, education, days out, etc. Don’t mistake breadth of content for not having a niche.
Some level of paid content - although this isn’t a pre-requisite in all cases, many micro influencers will have already been approached by brands. Look for sponsored content on their feed.
If you can tick some of those boxes then congratulations: you’re looking at a micro influencer! Now, how do you find more?!
Hashtags and finding micro influencers - thinking laterally
Any micro influencer search is likely to end up with using hashtags sooner rather than later.
It’s possible that you may have a large social media following on your own accounts and that the first port of call could be looking at your followers, but our team was unanimous when we asked them. Unless you are using a specialist tool, like the Influence Network platform, then discovery is going to involve browsing lots and lots of hashtags.
Finding micro influencers using niche hashtags
Influencers are likely to use hashtags around their own particular niche. Vegan influencers will likely use #veganfood #veganlife #veganlifestyle and many related hashtags, for example.
You’ll need to comb through these, looking for suitable accounts that match the above criteria.
For new hashtag suggestions you can use Instagram’s suggested hashtags. Start typing a word (in our case #vegan) and Instagram will suggest hashtags using that word. You can also then add a letter and Instagram will suggest further hashtags, so adding ‘r’ to #vegan leads to us getting suggestions for #veganrunner #veganrecipes and #veganrestaurant. There are tools available that will do this sort of search ‘hack’ for you, to give you more hashtags to browse.
Finding micro influencers using lateral hashtags
Using lateral hashtags can help you to find better-matched influencers and audiences; you’ll just need to do a bit of work first on who you want to speak to and what they like.
We loosely define a lateral hashtag as both something that our desired influencer would use, but unrelated to the product or service we’re talking about.
An example is probably the best way to explain this one.
Let’s say we’re promoting a protein shake and we’re on the lookout for great micro influencers who have an audience we want to reach.
The most obvious approach is the one we discussed before, where we look who’s using #proteinshake hashtags and variants of the same.
But think about protein shakes. They’re used by runners. And people who go to the gym. And cyclists. And body builders. And footballers. And people on a diet.
So we could reach an audience that might buy our protein shake by looking for micro influencers who post about #runningrecovery (10,000 posts), for example, and have a like-minded audience. Or how about #footballtraining? An influencer who posts into the #footballtraining hashtag about how our protein shakes really help you to have the best ever football training session seems likely to get results.
That’s lateral hashtags and they can be crucial to micro influencer discovery that really generates results.
(Side note: this is one of the ways our AI works; by automatically working out which lateral influencers could effectively promote a product to their audience, even if it’s a product they’ve never previously posted about.)
How to find micro influencers for your brand - how do you find the right micro influencers?
The simple answer to this is that you’ll need to look through the influencers you found using the above steps and figure out which, if any, are aligned with your brand’s voice, values and approach.
Look at what else they talk about and which other brands they either work with or seem to advocate on a non-paid basis. Do the brands they like and relate to have similar values to your own?
The lateral method mentioned above is a good way of finding the right influencers for your brand, potentially using other brand’s hashtags. For example, if you’ve produced a quite technical product for runners and your brand is designed to appeal to people who are really serious about their running, then targeting just those who post about #Nike might not cut it. But maybe if you look in #nikevapourfly and specialist brands like #saucony and #sauconyrunning, then you might find more aligned micro influencers.
How do you audit micro influencers?
Again, there’s no simple answer to this if you’re not using a specialist tool, such as Influence Network’s platform.
You’re going to need to decide which factors you want to look into, filter on these and then carry out some pretty hefty research to decide if your influencers pass your audit or not.
One brand we work with carry out CRB checks on their influencers. That’s a lot of legwork before working with someone, but if you’re worried about brand safety then it can be worth it.
More common is for brands to have a list of ‘hot’ words. Searching the influencer’s profiles for these words can generate a risk score and invite closer assessment on a one-by-one basis to establish if there are any risk factors to consider, or reasons to filter the influencer out.
The challenge on auditing micro influencers specifically is the scale. More on that in a second.
How do you find local micro influencers?
There are two useful features to take advantage of within Instagram to help you if you need influencers who are local to you or local to a specific location.
Simply type where you are into an Instagram search and you’ll be served results that are from users close to you. The normal suitability checks for micro influencers then apply and obviously you could type in a location that’s near to what you’re promoting or more relevant to your product than the location where you’re currently situated.
You can also search for posts that occurred at a specific place; a restaurant, shop, attraction or other place with an Instagram location.
This can be particularly useful if you’re using the lateral method of searching and you’re looking for influencers who may have an interest in what you’re promoting without ever knowing that it existed. If we were helping a company to find influencers to help to promote a new historical attraction, for example, then we could look through people who have checked into The Tower of London, Warwick Castle and other similar places. If we were launching a new herbal tea brand, then we might look for influencers who have previously visited specialist boutique tea shops.
How do you find micro influencers at scale?
This is essentially why Influence Network exists, so it’s a challenge we can really talk about at length (if you’d like to, why not book a virtual coffee here to talk it through in more detail?). Here’s the summary though:
Finding micro influencers at scale is really tough and requires a lot of ‘legwork’.
It’s hours of scrolling through hashtags and profiles, building spreadsheet lists, collecting more data and then doing it all again.
And that’s before you get to actually doing business. Hire one super influencer and you have one agreement, contract, post brief and payment to sort out but very low audience engagement. Hire 50 micro influencers and your workload exponentially increases but you get high audience engagement.
The influencer marketer’s conundrum.
The somewhat self-promotional answer is that we help businesses to work with every tier of influencer, from micro to super and our AI finds suitable influencers at the drop of a hat, so you don’t have to spend all that time scrolling, scrolling, scrolling… and then buried in myriad spreadsheets.
Hopefully, if you’re looking for micro influencers, this post has been useful, but if we can be even more useful to help you to scale your influencer searches in an instant then why not book a demo and we’ll do everything we can to help.
In the meantime, happy scrolling!