Consumers today trust bloggers and influencers more than celebrities. When they praise brands online, it’s seen as way more authentic than a celeb making an endorsement in exchange for a hefty paycheck.

New research confirms that influencers can be powerful marketing megaphones that pay big dividends for brands. A whopping 81% considered influencer engagement to be effective or very effective, according to a survey of 600+ marketers by Launchmetrics. In a separate study, Burst Media determined that influencer marketing campaigns earn an average of $6.85 in media value for every $1 spent on paid media for these programs.

But in reality, there are no guarantees. Researching, engaging and onboarding influencers takes a lot of time. You need to plan, coordinate carefully and ask a lot of questions to ensure you’re building relationships with the right people. Plus, there’s that whole money thing. That’s right: getting big-name celebrities and reality stars to share a few social posts about your products takes a lot of dough. San-Francisco talent agency Cativ8 revealed in an interview with the New York Times that influencers with a following of three to seven million people could rake in up to $75,000 for one promotional Instagram post. YouTube personalities charge an average of $187,500 for one sponsored video and many brands pay this amount with little to no hesitation.

That’s a pretty big gamble — especially as more industry insiders say the influencer marketing bubble is on the verge of bursting.

What if we told you there was a middle ground where you didn’t have to invest so heavily, but you could still reap the rewards? Micro-influencers — with around 10,000 to 100,000 Instagram followers — represent the new wave of influencer marketing — and there are a few reasons why they’re so valuable:

  • They’re cost-efficient: Most (84%) micro-influencers charge less than $250 per branded Instagram post and nearly all (97%) charge less than $500. If brands want to test the waters with an influencer program or campaign, or even reach out to a variety of tastemakers and experts, this is a great way to do so.
  • Micro-influencers in action: Imagine a beauty brand wants to generate buzz about its new line of lip kits. Rather than shelling out six figures for a celebrity, the marketing team can onboard three makeup artists from different areas of the U.S. They all have their own dedicated fan bases, so the brand can engage a variety of customers for a fraction of the money.
  • They have tight relationships with followers: Micro-influencers may have a smaller network than the Kim Kardashians of the world, but oftentimes, their audiences are more engaged. Rather than having a surplus of less-engaged followers, micro-influencers forge close-knit communities of people who are willing and eager to interact. Even better: micro-influencers are more likely to answer questions and share their feedback in comment chains.
  • Micro-influencers in action: Let’s say a do-it-yourself and interior design blogger posts a photo of her redecorated living room, which features items from one of the hottest contemporary furniture retailers. Her followers go ga-ga over the design and start asking where they can find different pieces. Rather than ignoring the stream of comments flowing in, she quickly responds to all inquiries, which leads to increased site traffic and sales for the retailer.
  • They’re in tune with the latest social platforms and trends: Understandably, brands focus their social media efforts on platforms and apps that they know will resonate with their target markets and demographics. But it’s helpful to experiment with new platforms and tools as they emerge so you can identify new marketing opportunities for the future. Micro-influencers are great guinea pigs because they are always in tune with the latest social trends. According to Bloglovin’, their favorite social trends of the year are Facebook Live (33%) and Boomerang (27%).
  • Micro-influencers in action: Envision a sporting goods retailer wants to promote that it’s now selling a specific brand of athletic wear in its stores and online. Rather than getting a big-name celebrity on board, the retailer taps a fitness model. In a special Facebook Live video, she wears the line of gear and walks viewers through an intense outdoor workout. Although the video indirectly promotes the line, it’s still an educational and authentic way for the retailer (and the micro-influencer) to engage followers and generate buzz.

But perhaps the most notable reason why you should consider embracing micro-influencers is that your customers trust them. Many brands think that they need to pay celebrities big bucks in order to get a real return on their influencer programs, but micro-influencers actually have a more glowing reputation. In fact, 82% of consumers saying they’re “highly likely” to follow the recommendation of a micro-influencer, according to Experticity.


Find and Engage the Right Micro-Influencers

There is clear value in engaging micro-influencers, but finding and building relationships with them can be a bit trickier. While big-name influencers have a lot of SEO power and are easy to find through a quick Google or social media search, micro-influencers tend to fly under the radar. If you want to find the right micro-influencers for your brand, here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Go where they gravitate: If you want to identify and eventually engage micro-influencers, you need to use the channels that they use most. According to Bloglovin’, Instagram is their preferred platform (50%) for branded content campaigns, followed by Facebook and then Twitter. Their least favorite network? Snapchat.
  • Track your mentions: Many micro-influencers will tag your brand or location in their posts. If you see one (or several) users that mention your brand on a consistent basis, they could be a great candidate for your future campaigns.
  • Use hashtags and keywords: Micro-influencers build their followings by incorporating hashtags into their posts. That way, when a user searches a specific trend or keyword, the micro-influencer’s post will pop up in the results. The search function is also a handy tool as you start to research and build your list of potential micro-influencers. After you build your shortlist, you can take a closer look at each micro-influencer’s network, their posts and whether they’re truly a fit for your brand.

For a quick, painless way to find influencers, use Curalate Explore, which allows you to discover micro-influencers who are posting high-quality content about your brand and sharing it with their followers. You can search for multiple hashtags and keywords or find results by location. When you get a list of potential micro-influencers, you can review their account details and content to make sure they’re a good fit. If you find a micro-influencer that piques your interest, you can either save their information for future outreach or engage with them immediately.