By 2020, spending on Instagram influencers is projected to reach $2.3 billion. Brands of all types are supplementing traditional advertising with Instagram influencer marketing to acquire customers online.
As influencer marketing industry has swelled to $5-10 billion, two primary terms have emerged to distinguish influencer tiers: micro-influencer and macro-influencer. Micro-influencers are social media users, typically on Instagram, who have 10,000 to 50,000 followers. Macro-influencers are those with between 500,000 and 1 million followers.
Micro-influencers surged in popularity during 2017 as more brands adopted an influencer marketing strategy. Search interest in the term “micro-influencer” peaked again in early 2019, jumping more than 5X since 2018.
While the popularity of micro-influencers has grown, campaign results have been mixed. Micro-influencers have had their share cautionary tales—namely, the ability for anyone to become a fake micro-influencer overnight.
On the other hand, working with Instagram micro-influencers enables brands to generate high engagement at a lower cost among niche communities. While macro-influencers reach more consumers overall, micro-influencers are wildly successful at cultivating loyal and engaged audiences.
Once brands decide to partner with micro-influencers, the next step is finding the right ones.
Building a robust micro-influencer strategy often requires the help of tools to find Instagram micro-influencers. We’ve gathered some of the top micro-influencer platforms, apps, and marketplaces to assist marketers in their quest to execute impactful micro-influencer campaigns. (Definition here)
Socialbakers is a search tool that allows brands to identify Instagram influencers across different regions and categories. By requesting a free demo with Socialbakers, you can unlock access to a full database of micro-influencers that display important information about the influencers, like age, interests, followers, number of posts, and more.
Klear empowers marketers to research and measure Instagram influencers. Boasting a database of over 900 million Instagram profiles across 60,000 categories, Klear’s search functionalities allow brands to filter by four main tiers. The platform offers audience details to help with targeting the right demographic.
Influence.co helps brands identify and connect with influencers by offering a vast influencer database across multiple niches. Brands can filter their search by category, location, and follower count. For instance, an activewear brand looking for fitness micro-influencers in Los Angeles can quickly narrow their search with this tool.
Many forget the value of using the Instagram platform itself as a tool to discover micro-influencers. There are various ways to look for Instagram influencers, including:
Brand Snob is an influencer marketplace that allows brands to post a campaign brief for $135 in order to gain access to thousands of opt-in influencers. Influencers who show interest in your brand and campaign can be approved based on your brand’s criteria.
The Upfluence Search Engine offers brands the ability to use filters such as geolocation, engagement metrics, and language to find the right influencers. The tool also enables brands to analyze data from identified Instagram micro-influencers by giving historical insights into influencers’ audiences and how they interact with them. This way, brands can make informed decisions about how the micro-influencers will resonate with their target audience.
TapInfluence is an influencer platform that offers data and insights into brands’ influencer marketing campaigns, along with a fully vetted marketplace of influencers. The analytics capabilities help brands get an accurate measure of engagement. The platform is useful for both identifying micro-influencers, as well as measuring micro-influencer campaigns.
Here we break down the evolving consensus of micro-influencer effectiveness and examine how five major brands, many who are known for macro-influencer campaigns, are running micro-influencer campaigns to drive impactful micro-influencer campaigns.
Miette Dierckx – 35.8K Followers
Travel and foodie micro-influencer Miette Dierckx is a Coca-Cola brand ambassador with more than 35,000 Instagram followers who regularly posts photos of herself with a Coke in hand. While promoting the brand for specific campaigns is still part of Coca-Cola’s micro-influencer strategy, Miette more commonly shares sporadic sponsored Instagram posts tagged with #cokeambassador.
Consistent with her posts, Miette captures happy snippets of life while sipping a refreshing Coke which ensures authenticity and strong appeal to her niche audience. Coca Cola benefits largely from the long-term relationship with this micro-influencer, effectively expanding the reach over time.
Yannick Merckx – 47.9K Followers
Another travel micro-influencer, Yannick doesn’t miss a beat when naturally weaving an ice-cold Coke into his worldly travels. Similar to Miette, Yannick is a Coke ambassador who frequently shares sponsored Instagram posts with his nearly 48,000 followers, either donning his Coca-Cola sweater, taking a swig of Coke, or holding recycled Coke can objects.
In each post, the micro-influencer seamlessly integrates the brand into his lively adventures abroad. Through a natural and long-term partnership, Coca Cola can rely on Yannick to execute Instagram sponsorships that align with the brand’s values while generating brand lift and affinity.
Kristal Heredia – 13.8K Followers
Plus-size fashionista Kristal Heredia is known for flaunting her curves while adorned in various outfits and accessories. She shares Forever21 fashion shots on an ongoing basis, landing her sponsored posts on Forever21Plus’s Instagram feed.
While her captions are short and to-the-point, she puts Forever21 apparel on full display with stylish poses and backdrops. Cultivating a loyal audience of nearly 14,000 followers, Kristal engages her followers by replying to comments and showing her appreciation. This enables Forever21 to take advantage of a receptive micro-influencer audience and ultimately build brand trust among Kristal’s followers.
Arlette Jeanett – 15.7K Followers
Another plus-size fashion blogger, Arlette’s Instagram feed is full of thematic shots featuring her fresh looks. Like Kristal, Arlette’s Instagram posts often get reshared on Forever21Plus’s main feed, extending her reach to an even broader audience for future sponsored posts.
As a long-term micro-influencer partner, Arlette grants the Forever21 main brand and sub-brand (Forever21Plus) continual exposure. This also helps produce positive brand sentiment and ensures impactful results with each sponsored post.
Bethany Aroutunian – 24.2K Followers
Bethany Aroutunian is a content creator and blogger specializing in lifestyle, beauty, travel, style, and DIY. For holidays, events, or other life adventures, Bethany shares Instagram sponsored posts of brands that help her prepare. Her longform, genuine captions and creative images help spread the word about many major brands, including CVS Pharmacy.
Leading up to Easter, CVS looked to Bethany to drum up interest in the store’s seemingly unlimited supply of Easter decorations and treats. In two sponsored posts, the micro-influencer successfully relays the message about CVS Pharmacy’s limited time membership offer, while highlighting the value of the brand in prepping for the Easter holiday.
Samantha Scott – 45.1K Followers
Samantha Scott (@charlieandcrewmama) is a mommy blogger with 45,000 followers who focuses on home, travel, food, beauty, and style tips. Her Instagram feed covers a gamut of content with a pleasing and clean aesthetic, much of which features products from brands she loves.
In partnership with CVS Pharmacy, Samantha colorfully captures fun spring decorations and tasty goodies available at CVS stores across the country. Just like Bethany, Samantha includes a blurb about a limited time offer for ExtraCare members, further incentivizing already loyal customers to hop into a store near them to run some Easter errands.
Peace Love And Mommy – 15.8K Followers
As a mommy and lifestyle micro-influencer, Heather’s Instagram feed puts a spotlight on her life with two young children. Her Instagram posts regularly share snippets of the children’s toys and other playful affairs, including Mattel’s Polly Pocket.
Riding on the nostalgia of ’90s kids, her sponsored Instagram post shows her daughter playing with a Polly Pocket, courtesy of Mattel. She also adds that the toy makes a perfect holiday gift for other young children. Overall, the post uniquely spreads awareness about a toy made popular in the decade that most parents of Heather’s audience would be pleased to bring back.
Always Be My Princes – 36.3K Followers
Ares Valdelvira (@alwaysbemyprinces) is another mommy micro-influencer who gives lifestyle and design tips regularly throughout her Instagram feed. While toy reviews are not her primary focus, they fit with the theme of snapshots of her life with young children.
Expanding Mattel’s international reach, Ares follows suit with tugging at the heartstrings of other ‘90s babies. The sponsored post features her daughter holding a Polly Pocket and reintroduces the wonder of childhood play with her followers. This natural integration gives Mattel’s brand a boost in the eyes of other parents who likely remember playing with the toy as a kid.
Cristian – 24.7K Followers
Cristian (@cpwears) is a creative mind who influences in the menswear, lifestyle, and travel spaces. His partnership with several top brands comes across naturally and generates strong engagement within his niche. As a partner of Samsung Mobile, he effectively raises brand awareness by demonstrating Samsung’s devices’ features with his Instagram photos.
Noting his status as a creative guest partner at Samsung’s Experience Tour Pop-Up in Brooklyn, Cristian recounts his collaboration with the Samsung team. His caption also sheds light on undisclosed features of Samsung’s new product, a low light photography setting. These qualities enable Samsung to generate buzz with an audience keen to learn more about its products.
Results: His post produced 791 likes and 18 comments for an engagement rate of 3.3%.
Urška Ahac – 11.8K Followers
Samsung Mobile added a valuable partner to its roster—a kinesiology student and sports fanatic with an active presence on Instagram. Urška Ahac has posted a steady stream of content in support of Samsung’s products, including the Galaxy Watch and the Galaxy S10.
Tapping into the network of the Slovenia native, Samsung is able to broaden its reach across the globe. Not to mention, Samsung can connect with an audience that shares Urška’s interest in technology and mobile devices.
Results: Her post generated 424 likes and 9 comments for an engagement rate of 3.7%.
When launching a micro-influencer strategy, be sure to follow our 10 tricks below for successful Instagram micro-influencer campaigns:
Before launching into a search for Instagram micro-influencers, outline what niche you plan to target on Instagram. Is your target audience on Instagram in the first place? If so, which micro-influencers do they follow and engage with? It’s also critical to know the goals and KPIs of your micro-influencer strategy. Are you trying to grow your social media audience, expand into new audiences, create positive social engagement, or drive conversions?
Answering these questions will better inform your process for finding relevant micro-influencers within a particular niche.
Next, carefully cross-check that the micro-influencers you’ve identified are actually legitimate and would be natural fits for the purposes of your campaign. Do they have fake followers or use Instagram bots to inflate engagement? Have they previously been involved in an influencer marketing scandal or lawsuit? Do they authentically engage with their audience regularly? Do they have a history of promoting any of your competitors?
If the answer to any of these questions raises a red flag, evaluate whether your brand can run the risk of working with a micro-influencer who might jeopardize brand safety or pose a conflict of interest.
This step goes hand-in-hand with vetting micro-influencers. In order to understand the potential impact of micro-influencers on your campaign, monitor the engagement levels they achieve on both organic and sponsored content. This determines both their legitimacy and their ability to drive impactful results for your brand.
Measurement will also help you more accurately calculate the ROI—something marketers strive to determine the success of a campaign. Do the micro-influencers generate likes, comments, shares, brand sentiment, and other valuable metrics that translate into positive value for your brand? Keep in mind that micro-influencers don’t have the same wide reach as macro-influencers, but they excel in cultivating highly engaged audiences within their niche.
Working with just one or a couple of micro-influencers will limit the overall reach of your influencer campaign. To broaden your reach, work with several micro-influencers for a single campaign. While finding micro-influencers with a lot of overlap among their Instagram audiences will help solidify your message, be sure the micro-influencers you select also cover a more varied audience to avoid targeting the same set of followers across multiple activations.
In addition, cross-promote micro-influencer content across other channels, and reshare their sponsored posts on your own Instagram feed. Amplifying the content gives your campaign an added boost, as well as exposure to audiences on other channels. This will also help your micro-influencer partners more keen to work with again in the future, as it creates a mutually beneficial relationship.
It goes without saying, but brands who work with micro-influencers should make a concerted effort to engage with their content. Again, this demonstrates your commitment to supporting micro-influencers and it also helps get the most out of their sponsored Instagram content. Comment on their organic posts, like their photos, watch their videos, and show that your brand is as interested in them as you’d like them to be in your brand.
When working with micro-influencers (or any influencer for that matter), grant them the freedom to let their creativity run wild. While giving them briefs on the goal, key messaging, KPIs, deadlines, and other campaign details are important, the point of working with influencers is to ride on the successful innovation and creative formats that work for them already.
If you control micro-influencers too much, their audience will detect the inauthenticity and the message will not resonate with them.
A concrete outline on the terms of your partnership will ensure that both parties uphold their ends of the agreement. Without a contract, a micro-influencer campaign can encounter troubles that lead to influencer marketing fails and ultimately create a bad name for your brand. Include elements, such as deliverables, timing, compensation, and other contractual arrangements that will better guide your campaign and give micro-influencers enough direction to be successful.
In line with staying organized, ensure that you’re communicating with each micro-influencer regularly so that nothing slips through the cracks, expectations are met, and no surprises arise last minute. As with most business partnerships, transparency and trust are key to a healthy relationship. Therefore, practice constant communication to relay important information about any changes, recommendations, expectations, requirements, and outcomes.
Involving the micro-influencers throughout the process will nurture a more productive partnership, and those influencers will be more likely to work with you in the future. Professionalism also goes a long way for both parties.
Lastly, on top of building a solid relationship with your micro-influencer partners, focus on nurturing it over time. Invest in working with micro-influencers who understand your brand’s voice, mission, and ambitions, as well as those who generate positive results. When you identify the best influencer partners, express genuine interest in partnering up for long-term partnerships Always-on influencer campaigns will help kick your micro-influencer marketing strategy into first gear.