Think small: Why micro-influencers are the perfect fit for B2B
Vice President, Digital Strategy & Marketing
Feb 10, 2023
The word “influencer” carries a lot of baggage.
When you ask someone to describe an influencer, it isn’t often a flattering portrait. It’s no wonder so many B2B marketers have brushed them off for so long. But the problem isn’t with influencers – it’s with how we define them.
All too often we equate “influencer” with “celebrity”, a famous person who provides paid endorsements – but those two aren’t one and the same.
When it comes to influencing B2B purchase decisions, communicating value is everything. Buyers don’t make decisions based on personal needs or interests. They need to understand how your solution improves their status quo. But with so many other companies vying for their attention, marketers face the all-to-familiar challenge of cutting through the noise.
Enter: micro-influencers. These external third-party experts provide a wealth of opportunities to engage with niche B2B buyers to build trust and brand preference.
Who are micro-influencers?
There’s no hard-and-fast rule, but people are often considered micro-influencers if they have between 5,000 and 100,000 followers. While their names don’t make global headlines, they have earned clout within a niche community by leveraging their expertise to share value.
They often engage with their followers via podcasts, vlogs, and other forms of social media. While most of them aren’t formally associated with brands in the form of employment or partnership, they do engage with brands to create content.
Why micro-influencers provide the best value
Compared to celebrity endorsers, micro-influencers provide some serious benefits at a lower cost. Since there are more of them, you don’t tend to run into the same constraints of availability or finding an influencer who hasn’t already worked with a competitor.
Improve reach, reliably
78% of B2B marketers have increased social reach of brand content working with influencers (State of B2B influencer marketing research report).
Reaching highly focused audiences is hard, and it’s getting harder. Thanks to increasingly stringent tracking and targeting capabilities, marketers are scrambling to find reliable ways of engaging with their target buyers.
Involving influencers allows you to tap into focused, third-party networks to reliably extend your reach, boost engagement, and grow your first-party database.
As a bonus, these communities tend to be highly active, so you aren’t just reaching qualified audiences – you’re reaching people who are likely to engage with your content.
Gain brand equity in crowded markets
77% of marketers say prospective customers rely on advice from industry experts (State of B2B influencer marketing research report).
Advertising has its value, but it can’t stand alone, especially if you’re facing strong competition or battling a negative brand perception. Rather than blasting people with ads, partnering with established influencers allows you to engage with audiences in an authentic, supportive way. It lets you establish your brand as a willing partner that is committed to innovation and improvement.
Scale content creation without headcount
These third-party experts have built their own communities by creating valuable content. Working with them can allow you to scale out your content creation without having to create it yourself. That’s an attractive option if you need to stand up a campaign quickly with limited resources.
What to look for in a micro-influencer
The first thing to look for is someone who is already reaching your audience. Does their audience represent the types of personas you’re trying to reach? Take a look at who most actively engages with their content.
Does their geographic footprint align with yours? Micro-influencers tend to be more regionally focused, so you may need more than one to account for each region.
Alignment with your message and values
The riskiest part of working with influencers is that they have their own identities. Those identities convey their message (and yours) even more than the words they use.
Before you start looking for influencers, write out your message, your brand values, and what the ideal influencer for your brand should represent.
The easiest influencers to work with are the ones who are already having the conversations you want to have.
This one probably goes without saying. You want to find someone who isn’t engaged with anyone else competing for your audience’s attention.
Another important threat to evaluate is whether or not they have any competing messages that could overshadow yours. While the content you create with them won’t be overly promotional, the underlying message of your value should be important in the mix.
Active follower base
Follower count doesn’t tell the whole story. Audience engagement is the real sign of influence. To maximize the impact of your content, look for influencers who get high engagement from their followers. Look at the volume of comments and the diversity of usernames generating those comments. Another thing to look for is how actively the influencer engages with followers in the comments. That can create deeper opportunities for engagement once your content goes live.
Continued availability for ongoing engagements
While you may have a more limited scope for the agreement initially, it’s important to consider the long-term. If you want to keep the campaign going, you’ll need their ongoing participation. Before you get started, talk about their upcoming availability and interest in an ongoing engagement.
Even when you do your homework, nothing is guaranteed. It’s impossible to know which influencer will provide the best return. Fortunately, micro-influencers don’t require the same level of investment in order to create content. Keep the engagements small and diversified at the beginning. Once you gauge performance and return, you’ll have a better idea of who to continue working with.
Vice President, Digital Strategy & Marketing