Fact or fiction: Having tons of followers is the only way to get more partnership possibilities, more business opportunities, and by extension, more money.
That’s totally FICTION. In the social media world of buying followers and the dreaded follow-unfollow game, the quality of your engagement with your audience is way more valuable than getting that ‘K’ next to your follower count. Micro-influencers are crushing the game and building dedicated, engaged followings that brands are leaning into and wanting to target.
Puno is a digital entrepreneur and web designer. She founded @ilovecreatives, a platform for creatives to connect and she co-created PeopleMap.co, an Instagram marketing tool where you can strategically find, grow, and track your community. She’s also a YouTuber and takes the most epic photos with her cat.
If YOU are a micro-influencer and you want to attract more partnerships and opportunities, or if you’re a business and you’re wondering if micro-influencer partnerships are the right choice to market your products and services, this episode is rich with the details you need.
When you think of brands, you might think of big players who want to work with big influencers. But there are SO many MICRO-brands who are looking for people to work with in the influencer space. Not to mention, the quality of influence is sometimes higher working with a micro-influencer. The school of thought that more influencers = greater influence is not always accurate. The number one question Puno is asked when working with brands and business who want to partner with influencers, is about the comments section on Instagram. Brands want to work with influencers whose engagement is real, not fueled by Instagram “pods”. Micro-influencers are building engaged followings and (in most cases) are focused and dedicated to fueling their community with genuine comments and interactions. When they post about a product they’re loving, the audience knows and trusts the influencer and is more likely to take action on their recommendations.
What Brands Want
When you get fixated on the number of followers you have it’s easy to lose sight of the thing that brands actually want: genuine influence. Brands love to see an influencer who shares what they like and speaks honestly about the products they use… Not only when they’re paid to talk about it. Brands love to see when a content creator has built a community who gets excited about the products and services they’re sharing about. If you want to build yourself as an influencer, put yourself out there and share the things you love, unpaid. Brands are paying attention to your comment thread and tracking top commenters. They want to see your feed filled with meaningful interactions with your followers, no matter how many you have.
Grow Your Influence
If you want to be an influencer, micro or MAJOR, you need to grow your influence. Lucky for you, you can do this without even putting pants on. Find like-minded accounts on Instagram and start engaging. Put in the legwork. If you’re mindlessly scrolling your Instagram feed and not even pausing to double-tap the photos you like, you’re not engaging. Puno recommends getting into a hashtag and treating it like “the biggest conference you’ve ever been to.” Hashtags are a networking opportunity much like a major industry conference except the handshake is digital. Start with hashtags that relate to you, tap on accounts that you’re genuinely interested in, and start commenting. It might not be a perfect science at first. Finding the perfect hashtag that you fit into, or that your ideal audience fits into, might come as a trial and error. But if you want to grow your influence, you need to start networking, socially.
Working with Influencers
Are you a brand that is interested in working with influencers to get the word out about your product or service? Don’t worry, we didn’t leave out the flip side of the influencer marketing discussion in this episode. Puno works with brands and businesses to get their names on the lips of influencers, and she shared a few tips for determining if the influencer space is right for you, and how to get the most value out of partnerships. Among those tips, determining how much you can afford to “gift” to influencers each month (you know those PR packages that are constantly being unboxed by bloggers and Instagrammers? How much can you afford to do of THAT?) Once your product is in the hands of the influencer, don’t get too caught up in asking for photos on their feed or story. Give them time to use the product and decide if they genuinely like it. Build a relationship with that influencer first and listen to their feedback.
More from This Episode
Puno is the powerhouse behind many online businesses, and in this episode she talks about the pain point in her own business that lead her to create PeopleMap.co. She also shared the three things she recommends you do right now if you want to be an influencer of any size, plus why investing money in your Instagram business (even though it’s a free app!) may be the best idea to actually GROW your business. I loved this conversation with Puno, and she answers some of the biggest questions about starting out as an influencer, growing your engagement, and working with influencers as a business. Press play on the player above to hear the full episode!