Most brands don’t have the budget to partner with big-time athletes or celebrities to promote their products — and that’s ok. Actually, it’s more than ok — studies have found that when it comes to promoting on social media, it’s way better to work with micro-influencers. They’re cheaper, create better content, and actually produce a higher ROI than the Kylie Jenners of the world. We caught up with Vancouver-based Sofie Von Marricks, the brains (and beauty) behind Hot. Rich. Love Your Life Bitch, a lifestyle and business coaching brand dedicated to helping women build stylish online businesses. Micro-influencing is her bread and butter, and with just over 4,500 Instagram followers, she knows a thing or two about why going micro is actually much better for brands. Here’s why:

1. Engagement. People who follow micro-influencers are more likely to engage with a post in a meaningful way (like leaving a comment like “What lipstick are you wearing?” versus “Nice pic!”) “People are very curious about what I’m doing and wearing, even though my brand focuses on personal development and marketing.” Oftentimes people with larger followings attract more passive followers, likely to just double tap a photo, rather than ask a question that they know will never be answered. “I have about 4,500 followers, and my photos get 12 to 35 comments on all of them. Someone else with, say, 25,000 followers will only get a couple of comments.” The proof is in the engagement rate. “People with a more passionate following get more quality comments — meaning that person’s going to pay off in a bigger way for a brand than someone with a bigger following with a passive audience.” When looking for a good micro-influencer to work with, peep their responsiveness in the comments.

Influencers love Instagram. In our free guide, Instagram influencers dish on the best ways to generate interest and maximize reach.

2. Attainability. Why are micro-influencers’ followers so much more engaged? Sofie believes it’s a matter of attainability. “When someone like Kylie Jenner promotes something, there’s a separation — people tend to think ‘that’s for them, but it’s not for me.’ Micro-influencers are maybe five to 10 steps ahead of them, people feel a closer affinity to them. They feel like whatever you’re doing is attainable for them because it’s not that far off from what they’re doing now.” This closeness and relate-ability makes the products they’re using and endorsing seem more attainable — and in turn, consumers are more likely to try them.

3. Dedication. When followers start to engage in meaningful ways, a micro-influencer is more likely to go above and beyond simply posting the photo. They will answer the questions about your product or brand and sell you harder because they believe in the product. Plus they’re generally hungrier and also really want to do a good job. “Micro-influencers want to legitimize themselves as a brand, so they’re more likely to put in more work. They want to be seen as someone who’s getting paid to do this stuff, so they might work it in a bit more and provide more value to your brand.” A good micro-influencer is someone who’s already enthusiastic about your brand, before you even approach them for a collaboration.

4. Authenticity. Micro-influencers simply don’t know how to be inauthentic when working with brands, because they’re likely to have only worked with a few, given their smaller followings. “People on social media aren’t stupid; you know when it’s not really real. You can tell when bloggers and influencers are doing something because they’re being paid to.” You’re more likely to walk away with strong, authentic content that resonates with consumers when working with a micro-influencer. To followers, a micro-influencer gives the real-person review of the brand. “The big [influencers] are just throwing it up on social media, regurgitating what the brand tells them to post. You can tell, it’s just not as authentic.” The key is finding a micro-influencer with a strong voice that feels personal and real.

5. Targeted Audience. Micro-influencers simply cannot afford to be everything to everyone, so their followers tend to be brand-specific (i.e. the female fitness community, the Coachella-vibe fashion community, etc). “Some influencers have gained such a big following that you don’t really know why or who they’re trying to serve on social media If people are more focused on serving their niche community, they’re able to stay engaged more.” The advantage to working with smaller influencers is the fact that they really understand their audience. “People follow me for my voice and I’m going to say it in a way that sells to my audience because I know them.” Micro-influencers have built a following from the ground-up, so take advantage of this audience familiarity to target niche consumer markets.

Want to work with micro-influencers but not sure how to get started? Check out our free guide How to Win Fans & Influencer Purchases to learn how much it costs, how to measure ROI and why micro-influencer marketing is the future.

For a quick, painless way to find influencers, use Curalate Explore, which allows you to discover micro-influencers eager to post authentic content about your brand. Learn more here.

Sofie Von Marricks

Photo courtesy of Sofie Von Marricks.