Interview: Influencers as an integral part of marketing strategy

What are micro-influencers and how do they differ from traditional influencers?

First of all, it would be good to define what is a "traditional influencer", because nowadays they are usually divided into categories such as celebrities or ambassadors.

It is important to keep in mind that most of these categories are not strictly separated and may have common features. In essence, micro-influencers are one of these categories. These are mostly daily social media users, followed by a thousand to 50 or even 100,000 (depending on the market) other social media users. To become a micro-influencer, one must be able to create quality content and be ready to represent the brand.

Is the marketing of micro-influencers better than the other marketing channels we are used to working with, and if so, why? What is the difference?

From our point of view, micro-influencers are a fantastic marketing tool that creates noise on social media channels. It's a way to spread the message and create brand-oriented content and/or ads, and increase sales.

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Are the Baltic States ready for influence? Obviously, we have some YouTube channels and Instagram accounts with a fairly large number of followers who are already working with international brands, but there is no noticeable demand for micro-influencers. Who should happen to get local brands to start using this marketing channel?

The Baltic States are not only ready but also continually incorporating influencers into their marketing strategies. As with everything, new processes need time and kind of courage. If we look at the marketing of influencers in the Baltics from the point of view of the product's life cycle, it is now in its implementation phase and is starting its growth phase. Not only innovators but also early-stage start-ups are beginning to see that the marketing of influencers is active. Marketing managers are people and people are cautious, so for this marketing industry to become the norm, it will take some time, and we are constantly working on it because we believe it is the future.

What turning point should a person achieve to become a micro-influencer?

There are several important requirements that an account/person must follow. First, followers. The potential micro-influencer must have a naturally grown base of followers that contains not less than a thousand followers. But this is not enough because the account (depending on the number of account followers) must have at least 5% engagement rate. And it is not enough because the third requirement is equally important: the account must have quality content. The last requirement is the most difficult to define, but it cannot be done without it.

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What criteria should a brand look for when choosing the appropriate micro-influencers for its campaign?

This is a very good and important, but also a very broad question, the answer of which depends mainly on the brand strategy. In order to keep the answer short and concise, one should basically check each selected account on the basis of these three criteria so that the account/person is recognized as a micro-influencer: the number of followers, the engagement rate and the quality of the content. There is a huge list of options at the moment, but if I had a choice, I would say that the most appropriate influencer (s) that best match the brand, brand strategy, and advertising campaign goals should be chosen. In addition to that, there is no need to choose the same accounts as everyone else unless they are 100% suitable for the strategy, as there are thousands of people to choose from who want to help achieve brand marketing goals.

One of the biggest mistakes in e-commerce is to show only positive feedback because it can have a negative impact on sceptical followers. How important is the openness and honesty of the influencers towards the followers? What is the middle ground between gaining more profit and maintaining a loyal follower base?

This should not be a question as such, but we receive it whenever someone from a team publicly speaks, interviews or simply provides advice to a client (brand or influencer). The answer is simple and always the same: openness and honesty are all that you have in marketing. We encourage micro-influencers to be open and point to the brands they advertise on their records. The same applies to brands - they should be just as open. Openness is all you have. Neither your customers nor your followers are stupid (at least twice).

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When does one ask about the most successful micro-influencing campaign that first comes to mind and why? What were the results?

There were many different campaigns during the year with different goals, budgets, descriptions, etc. One of the newest, which has already been summarized and concluded, was the Santa Maria campaign for Santa Maria Asia and Santa Maria Tex-Mex. In this particular case, the micro-influencers were part of a huge marketing campaign covering almost all possible advertising and communication tools, mostly focusing on the shopping experience and decision making at the supermarket. The biggest challenge of the brand was the belief that cooking Asian or Mexican food is complicated and requires special knowledge and skills. During this period, the campaign achieved sales growth of 85%.

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You have worked with brands like Philips, Nestle, Fielmann, Huawei, etc. Can small brands achieve similar results, bearing in mind that their budgets might be smaller?

Of course, money is important, but it is not the deciding factor. Good communication, clear goals, perfect customer service, a desire to improve and do better than ever. These and many other factors are more mindsets than money issues. In fact, I believe that marketing micro-influencers is the perfect tool for small brands to spread the message about themselves to a targeted audience, while not losing money to anyone else who doesn't care or is not interested in a product or service.
How do you see the development of influential marketing in the coming years?

Grow! No other options. We are increasingly ignoring the information published by the brand, but we will never stop being interested in the lives and discoveries of our closest people. One-to-one brands will adapt micro-influencing marketing as a tool and integral part of brand and marketing strategy. The growth of this particular marketing market will lead to specialization and some more interesting forms, certainly, and it is the most interesting part of evolution - you never know for sure what will follow.