Whether you’re a content creator looking to monetize your platform, or a publisher looking to expand reach – micro-influencers have great value when it comes to affiliate marketing.
Micro-influencers and affiliate marketing
Influencers as a whole are becoming increasingly important. However, for several reasons, many brands prefer to work with niche micro-influencers to endorse their products or services.
Keep reading to learn what a micro-influencer is, how to become one and why affiliate marketing presents a mutually-beneficial opportunity for both micro-influencers and brands alike.
What is a micro-influencer?
A micro-influencer is as it sounds: an influencer, but one that typically offers more niche content and a smaller, more focused audience.
Influencers are online content creators with a large social media following – whether on Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube or elsewhere. Companies use influencers to help promote their products because they have such an engaged audience that trust and value the opinions and insight of their chosen influencer. While an influencer may have a reach in the millions, micro-influencers are those with a smaller following and more niche content.
There’s no definitive criteria, but typically a micro-influencer has between 1,000 and 10,000 followers. This might seem small in comparison to major influencers, but having an audience of thousands would still make you hugely desirable for brands. As a micro-influencer, you’d be an attractive asset to advertisers as you’ll have an audience that’s extremely engaged and more interactive, potentially offering a stronger platform for retailers to market through than larger influencers.
Major influencers are such a powerful tool in advertising these days they rarely come as a low-cost option for brands. Getting a huge TikTok star with millions of followers to promote a brand or product might be unrealistic, but going for their micro counterpart, on the other hand, can be extremely valuable. While you may not have as big a reach, smaller influencers have an extremely engaged, growing audience. The brand would still be targeting a strong audience that values the opinion of the micro-influencer, making them far more likely to purchase the products being endorsed. Forming working relationships with micro-influencers early can be great for a brand, especially if you foresee your platform growing in popularity in the near future.
Meanwhile, by working with brands to market their products, micro-influencers can earn money and grow their platform, helping to establish themselves as a trusted source while their audience develops.
How to become a micro-influencer
There’s no one true method for finding success in micro-influencer marketing, and it’s likely to take some time to test the waters – but there’s certainly a lot you can do to help tailor your content for strong results.
Find your niche
Micro-influencers carry a lot of authority within their specific niche. To gain a consistent following, you need to ensure you’re creating regular, relevant content that will keep your audience coming back for more.
Whether you’re a lifestyle blogger, fitness model, travel photographer or otherwise, you’ll need to be confident in and passionate about the niche you choose to ensure you become a trusted source of information.
You want to go for a niche that isn’t oversaturated with influencers already creating within that space, without going so niche you won’t be able to build a strong audience. Micro-influencers perform well in less mainstream subject areas and you’ll be able to garner a far more captive audience if you choose a subject that doesn’t already have a wide range of influencers already promoting products. If you’re exploring affiliate marketing as a micro-influencer, you may not want to limit your opportunities too much, but brands will be far more likely to do business with you if they can see that you’re a trusted, knowledgeable voice in a field that’s fully relevant to their product or service.
No matter what format your content takes, it’s important to be consistent. You may post once a day, once every couple of days, or even weekly – but in any case, you should always aim to stick to a well-thought-out structure and schedule. If you have followers that enjoy your content and you stay consistent with your output, they’ll get to know your schedule and keep coming back. On the other hand, in not having a solid content structure, you’re encouraging audiences to lose interest – and trust – in your influence.
It’s so important you understand your target audience and what they’re looking for and create a platform they know they can turn to for information, entertainment, advice, etc.
Build a community
Engaging with your audience is another big must. In many ways you are a brand, but a major part of what makes influencers and micro-influencers so important in marketing is that they can humanize an otherwise corporate, manufactured approach. This is even more important for micro-influencers; a smaller audience means you can create a more intimate connection with followers, in turn further gaining their trust. So it’s important to maintain a strong relationship with the community you’ve cultivated, through actions like leaving comments, liking posts and following back.
Do your research
Be sure to do your research and stay on top of social media trends and best practices. Factors like setting up your account, how you lay out your content and building brand identity are extremely important for making sure your content reaches as wide an audience as possible. Monitor other influencers and see what works and what doesn’t. Have a look at which hashtags perform best, what kind of posts get the most engagement, how to use calls to action (CTAs), how best to share links, and so on.
Something as simple as a CTA – typically a directive line of text encouraging users to take a specific action (ex: ‘Buy Now,’ ‘Start Saving Today,’ etc.) can make a huge impact, and knowing how best to frame this content for your specific target audience is crucial.
For something like Instagram, where links cannot be directly shared within posts, you might need to sign up to platforms like linktr.ee to promote your links, while reminding your audience to click the link in your bio whenever posting affiliate content.
Strategize whether you’ll post short-form, expiring content like SnapChat or Instagram Stories, or perhaps you’ll favor short-form video content for TikTok, Reels, YouTube Shorts, etc. You might find that your audience connects more with well-written blog content – like product reviews for example. What works for you and your audience will depend on the niche and demographic you’re exploring – so make sure you do your research and always keep checking what works best.
Keep it fresh
It certainly helps to offer variety. You might have some content exclusive for TikTok followers, some static content reserved for Instagram feed posts and a Pinterest board to share inspirational content to your audience. Consistency and structure are important, but that doesn’t mean you should put all your eggs in one basket. Instead, diversify your output to widen reach and ensure content is always fresh and exciting.
While your ultimate goal may be to earn money from micro-influencer marketing, you’ll only do so if you balance your output between sponsored and organic content. You’re not just a billboard with a face – so remember to keep things grounded with plenty of authentic, relatable content rather than just posting ad after ad. You’ll lose the trust of your audience if the majority of your content is sponsored posts.
Social media is constantly evolving, so to succeed as a micro-influencer you’ll need to evolve alongside it. Even once you have a structure and brand that you think can take you to the next level, you should never stop researching, testing and refining your approach.
Once your audience begins to grow, you can start engaging with brands and advertisers. You might choose to start by promoting brands organically – without being asked or paid to do so, to show you’re a reliable partner. You could make the first move, tag the brand in a social post, and they very well may get in touch to work together more closely. Having said that, the most efficient and fruitful way for micro-influencers to make valuable connections with brands is through affiliate marketing programs like ShareASale.
Monetizing your micro-influencer platform through affiliate marketing
Once you reach a certain level of influence, you’ll likely have a variety of offers from brands who want you to endorse their products, but to get to that level you’ll need to work hard to build your reputation and following.
Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways for micro-influencers to monetize content because platforms like ShareASale create a structured space for influencers and advertisers to connect directly. Rather than waiting for brands reach out via social media, you can use a dedicated program to connect with the most relevant brands and products for your audience.
Affiliate marketing involves promoting a brand or product in exchange for a commission on conversions secured as a result of your endorsement. The commission and desired conversion goal can vary, but oftentimes an affiliate will be paid a percentage for every sale made directly from the affiliate’s efforts. The conversion might also be click throughs, sign ups, subscriptions, or otherwise. Affiliates will typically be given a unique link to the brand’s product page that they can use in any content to promote the product – on Instagram, their personal blog, their affiliate website, etc. Whenever a user clicks on that link and the desired conversion is made, this is tracked so the conversion is attributed to the affiliate and the affiliate gets paid.
Through affiliate marketing, micro-influencers can work with brands that fit their niche to promote products they know their audience will love. For instance – imagine you’re a coffee-themed micro-influencer with a few thousand followers. You could partner with an up-and-coming coffee roaster looking for exposure to review their beans on your social pages. Once you’ve made the connection and have been approved onto the program, you’ll be able to generate unique affiliate links to place in your review post. If, for example, the coffee brand will pay you commission based on sales, any time one of your followers sees your review post, clicks the trackable link to the landing page, and makes a purchase – you’ll get paid.
Why would brands prefer micro-influencers?
Micro-influencers are valuable to advertisers for several reasons. For one, they’re not as expensive as large-scale influencers while still garnering impressive results. Micro-influencers might have a more intimate, personal connection with their audience, too. Major influencers are less likely to maintain that close a relationship with millions of followers, but micro-influencers have a little more space to engage in a more meaningful way – which can certainly be helpful for the brands whose products they’re promoting.
Unless you’re specifically looking to keep a smaller audience, as a micro-influencer you’ll likely have your sight set on growth. By connecting early, brands can capitalize on this trajectory. As you gain more followers, the brand gains more exposure as they’ll already have formed a robust relationship with you and helped you strengthen your platform. It’s a mutual relationship, where both parties can grow, and profit, together.
Audiences tend to connect more with micro-influencers than brands, because micro-influencers are able to offer an authentic human touch. Engaging with actual people – whether they know them or not – feels more personable, and an influencer’s endorsement of a product feels more genuine than a brand promoting their own product. For the same reason consumers value customer reviews, influencers, especially micro-influencers, might feel a little more authentic while still carrying the credibility of being an expert on the topic.
This is also why it’s so important for growing micro-influencers to be careful about the content they create and the brands they promote. An influencer who will promote just about any brand and any product will likely seem less legitimate than, for example, a micro-influencer that focuses specifically on reviewing camping gear. Major influencers may be a little too broad or mainstream for some brands, whereas a micro-influencer may speak to the niche of this brand far better.
ShareASale’s publisher tools help advertisers and micro-influencers form relationships with a partner who is the right fit. Search our merchant directory to find the brands that will speak to you and your audience, or work with our dedicated influencer partnership managers to start earning money while promoting products you’re truly passionate about.