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Don't Overlook the Power of Online Community Micro-Influencers

Written by Molly Talbert | on October 6, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Don't overlook the power of online community micro-influencers

Ok, name the first social media influencer who comes to mind. Got it?

You probably thought of a Kardashian or Jenner. They’re all over the news and social media, and even if you don’t pay attention, it’s hard to avoid them. And companies definitely take notice -- one tweet or Instagram post from a Kardashian or Jenner can make or break a product (and can cost tons of money). But are they really as influential as they seem?

One tea company recently discovered that 30-40 micro-influencers -- on Instagram, that generally means people with 10,000 to 150,000 followers -- actually made a greater impact in sales than the Kardashian/Jenner family did. Which is pretty ridiculous when you think about it -- Khloé Kardashian alone has over 50 million followers on Instagram.

Interesting, but how does this relate to your online community?

Micro-influencers in online communities

Social media and online communities are very different, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have your own set of influencers and micro-influencers who can help you increase community engagement and awareness.

Finding your influencers isn’t hard. Micro-influencers might be trickier to find if you don’t normally think about them, but they’re definitely there. You probably already know who they’d be. Who are the biggest names in your industry or interest group? They might have tons of followers on social media, published books, or are seen as influential thought leaders.

Who are your most active members? The ones who regularly answer questions, volunteer or contribute? Even if they’re not considered “thought leaders” in your industry, they’ve still built up a following within the community -- followers who trust and respect their opinions.

Just how influential are they?

Apparently, it only takes a few dozen micro-influencers to overpower the Kardashians on Instagram -- how much influence do your micro-influencers have? Can they actually help advocate for your brand, increase engagement and drive sales?

The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) challenged Dr. Jonah Berger, author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, and Keller Fay Group to find this answer. They conducted a study that randomly surveyed an unpaid network of micro-influencers from across the country. They asked these micro-influencers how many product-related conversations they had with average consumers in a week and compared it to their control group of average users/consumers.

They discovered that micro-influencers in communities can have the same impact as micro-influencers in social media -- which translates to power in numbers and an audience that really listens and takes their advice to heart.

The study’s results showed that micro-influencers talk about and recommend products 22 times more than the average person in a week. Now think about that over the course of a year and then over the course of a community member’s lifetime. It quickly adds up to lots of talk and product recommendations.

But the big question is -- do those conversations actually show results?

Yes -- 82 percent of the average consumers they talked to said they’d likely follow the recommendation of a micro-influencer, proving that power isn’t just reserved for Instagram.

Nurturing micro-influencers with community

Here’s the main takeaway: don’t ignore your micro-influencers. Even if you’ve never thought about them before, they quietly influence current customers and prospects, increasing your business and solidifying customer loyalty.

Now imagine what would happen if you do notice them.

Don’t take micro-influencers for granted

Make sure your community is a welcoming place for them to talk with fellow customers, recommend additional products, or speak candidly with prospective customers.

Look at your micro-influencers as a type of brand ambassador

They’re your biggest advocates, and most loyal customers. But just because you don’t need to incentivize brand ambassadors to speak highly of your company or product doesn’t mean you should ignore them.

Create a program to give micro-influencers training and their own sense of community within the larger community, and reward them with shoutouts and badges. Make sure they feel appreciated by the community and the company -- it’ll only make them more loyal.

Paying attention and recognizing micro-influencers will pay off. When asked about products, 74 percent of micro-influencers suggest a prospect either try or buy products they like. And people often do take their advice because, unlike big influencers and thought leaders (the Kardashian/Jenners of your community), micro-influencers are normal people. They know what it’s like to be an average user, because they are one.

So give them the space to talk to customers and prospects -- your people will listen.

Topics: Online Community Management, Engagement, Marketing

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