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The role of the micro-influencer as part of your wider strategy

Roger Barr
28th July 2020

The anguish of Covid-19 has prompted a craving for solidarity and fellowship, highlighting the powerful role of micro-influencers.

Lockdown saw a 5km running challenge attract over 200,000 runners, raising over £1m for the NHS in just over 24 hours. Elsewhere, people completed marathons in pocket-sized suburban gardens, using social media to drum up support and charity donations.

But lockdown hasn’t just been about altruistic challenges. On TikTok and Instagram, the #FliptheSwitchChallenge saw people swap clothes and poses in the blink of an eye, racking up over 53,000 posts on Instagram alone. In Australia, residents began dressing up to take the bins out: a Facebook group, “Bin Isolation Outing”, attracted over a million members, all sharing photos and videos of themselves taking their rubbish out while in costume.

Social media and gamification platforms have been feeding an acute need for entertainment, togetherness and comfort during the isolation enforced by Covid-19.

In Q1 2020, TikTok alone received the most downloads ever in a quarter. In March 2020 cycling platform Zwift saw a new ‘Peak Zwift’ of over 19,700 concurrent users, compared to its previous high of 16,500 in January 2020.

UGC has exploded across a myriad of platforms, spawning a wealth of micro-influencers in the process.

We don’t want to aspire, we want to be understood

The global pandemic has, understandably, altered mindsets, priorities and attitudes. No longer do celebrity influencers have the same resonance with consumers. Times are hard and uncertain for the majority of people. We crave authenticity and trust. This comes in the form of peers — people like us, facing the same struggles — not affluent and famous faces empathising from their mansions. 

Madonna talking of Covid-19 as a “great equaliser” while broadcasting from her rose petal bath just doesn’t cut it.

Reach, resonance, relevance and ROI

For brands it presents a growing opportunity to gain traction with audiences in a purposeful way by building connections with micro-influencers. Aligning your messaging with the right person of influence can achieve reach, resonance, relevance — and, importantly, deliver ROI. 

According to the 2019 State of Influencer Marketing report, 78% of marketers say they want to work with micro-influencers – those with 5,000 to 100,000 followers – in 2020.

The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the growing power of this group.

Micro-influencers have crucial cut through

In Finland, they have been key to the dissemination of information around Covid-19 after the government acknowledged that young people are harder to reach through mainstream media. Finnish social media influencers have even been classified as ‘critical workers’.

In February 2020, The World Health Organisation (WHO) debuted on TikTok with a video on ‘How to protect yourself from the coronavirus’.  Since then, the WHO, which has 2.5 million followers, has made 49 videos.  It's ‘5 things to know about Covid-19 transmission’ video, posted in June, garnered over 345k views.

The big sportswear brands including Nike, Adidas and New Balance are keen advocates of the power of micro-influencers. New Balance’s work included its series of films around the 2018 World Cup in Russia, featuring three popular YouTube influencers travelling between matches. The brand says the work attracted more than 63,000 new followers to its football Instagram channel.

In November, Walmart launched its first TikTok #DealDropDance campaign around Black Friday, encouraging users to post videos of themselves doing a jig to express their joy at the savings being made. Working with six micro-influencers, Walmart garnered over 17 million followers. Videos using the #DealDropDance hashtag clocked up over 4.1billion views.

Ignore skill and strategy at your peril

But partnering with micro-influencers isn’t a quick and easy tactic. Finding the right individuals will depend on your brand, and must fit into your company’s wider social media strategy. Goals must be clear, whether building brand awareness or driving sales, for example. The right influencers should be identified based, not just on reach, but on their engagement levels with your audience. 

And content, as always, is king. Influencers need powerful content to work with. This could be generated in-house, in line with clear KPIs, or it could mean giving influencers the freedom to create their own content based on your brief. Striking the balance between authenticity and impact, yet maintaining enough control to ensure brand messaging isn’t confused, demands skill.

In the midst of a global pandemic, people’s needs continue to change. In a world of unpredictability we seek human connection and unity through shared goals as well as shared laughter. We also crave empathy, from like-minded souls.

For brands to deliver value at this time, content must reflect this continually evolving need, leveraging the right people to reach the right audiences on their favoured platforms.

It is an art, but brands who get it right have an opportunity to win the hearts and minds of consumers at a time when we all crave truth, meaning, fellowship — and a little bit of fun.

Talk to the digital marketing specialists

If you’re looking to enhance your digital offering to keep pace with today’s extraordinary speed of change, and to better connect with your customers as behaviours evolve, talk to us. We use data and strategic insights to guide our work, creating powerful content and forging strong partnerships. We have the know-how to ensure your brand continues to deliver.

Get in touch with Roger Barr, our Chief Digital Officer to kick-start the conversation.

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