Open any marketing magazine or visit any digital marketing site. It won’t be long before you come across the buzz term; influencer marketing. It is making such a massive splash, that some are estimating the industry to be worth $10 billion by 2020.
On the surface, influencer marketing appears to be a simple process. Find a few influencers (or micro-influencers), approach them about representing your brand in some way and start raking in all the benefits.
But as you may have guessed, it isn’t as easy as it all seems. In fact, every stage is packed with unique challenges and issues that must be overcome to reach success.
In this article, I take a look at micro-influencers and how they can benefit your brand. I also explore some of the challenges in identifying them and the tools you can use to overcome these issues.
Most of you will be familiar with what an influencer is, and many will have heard about micro-influencers. There is no science to define what an influencer is. But there are certain metrics that matter, such as follower-base and engagement.
But one thing that all these famous influencers share is the fact that once, too, they were small. They created engaging content and had potential but not the numbers.
Micro-influencers are generally influential individuals on social media that don’t quite have the same following as larger influencers in the same space. But they have smaller, engaged audience.
For example, in the health and fitness niche, influencers may have 20k+ followers on a platform such as Instagram. Thus, a micro-influencer may have 2k to 20k followers.
Micro-influencers bring a range of benefits from being easier to engage and providing a greater pool of individuals to choose from.
However, arguably the biggest reason to work with micro-influencers is that it allows you to engage with individuals who are already talking about, using and advocating your brand.
The difficulties with micro-influencers
For social networks with open APIs (Twitter, Facebook, etc), identifying micro-influencers is an easy job. You get mentioned, tagged or can search for those using your brand, product or service name.
Yet a vast amount of online influence is created via private conversations.
Take for example when you share a link with a friend or group on a platform such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or even Snapchat. These types of private conversations are what is known as dark social, referring to social that for the most part is invisible to others.
These recommendations and brand focused conversations are both more insightful and more influential. Nielsen states that recommendations from friends remain the most credible form of advertising among consumers. That’s true for commerce and for content. People trust their peers and the recommendations that they provide, hence the importance of digital influence.
These conversations are important because chat apps are overtaking social networks as the main way to share content. And there is a massive rise in private sharing.
Lighting up dark social
It doesn’t take a genius to work out the problem here.
With dark social happening ‘in the dark’, how are brands supposed to identify influential individuals? This is something that worries many marketers. With the potential that they will no longer be able to leverage social in helping build powerful and influential brand advocates.
Further to this, micro-influencers may not be endorsing or talking about a brand on social media. Yet within their private circles they may be endorsing and recommending brands that they like.
Knowing where this is happening can open doors to businesses. Allowing them to use influencers that are already familiar and impressed with their product or service.
How to leverage dark social information
Luckily there are some smart tools out there that can help you tap into dark social in a clever way.
For example, getsocial.io allows you to gather information on dark social sources. We also provide analysis of top users, stories, and channels that are driving dark social traffic to your website.
But having that information is just the beginning. How can you leverage it to work with micro-influencers?
How did you know?
When remarketing came about it had massive power, because people didn’t know how it worked.
They saw ads everywhere they went online for the product they were just contemplating buying. Dark social monitoring has the power to the do the same thing, especially when it comes to targeting influencers.
By identifying those that are bringing quality traffic to your site you can start to target them in a powerful way.
Keeping a level of mystery is a good idea when doing this. Yet, for obvious reasons, you don’t want to lead with ‘I see you have been talking about us in your private conversations’… it’s a little creepy.
Instead, use the information you have to approach the influencer in an intelligent way. Show interest in collaborating with them and explain why you think you are a good match. Build a relationship.
Measure value, distribute effort
One of the key issues of influencer marketing is fully understanding what value they bring to the table.
Measuring dark social will give you a deeper and truer understanding and what benefits influencers are bringing to your brand.
By monitoring how much traffic an influencer is bringing your brand, on both dark and normal social, you can then assign resources. This gives you the power to more intelligently assign finances, products and time to the best performing avenues.
Find new channels and adapt
Collaboration is the best way to work with influencers and doing so relies on being savvy on their preferred platform.
Using dark social may identify channels that are being used by influencers and communities that are potential customers in your niche. To benefit from this opportunity you must become well versed with the platform in question…and quickly.
Doing this will involve becoming familiar with how to use the platform and identifying how content is created and shared. This will help you work collaboratively with influencers in the space by generating useful content that matches well with the platform.
In this article, I have covered off everything you need to know about leveraging dark social to work with influencers, micro-influencers and brand advocates.
Using Dark Social Analytics will inevitably give you a competitive edge over others when it comes to identifying, measuring the benefits of and adapting your business to work with influencers.