How Fashion Brands Double Down on Micro-Influencer Marketing During the Pandemic
The COVID-19 crisis made most fashion brands, startups included, reassess their marketing strategy to keep their businesses afloat. Thanks to a reported 20% increase in app and mobile usage, influencer gifting, also known as ‘product seeding,’ was solidified as a marketing tool. As a result, influencers saw a rise in their engagement rates along with an opportunity to monetize their success. Brands, on the other hand, shifted to social media marketing and far more affordable barter collaborations. They currently prefer working with micro-influencers who are willing to promote a brand in exchange for gifted products. Successful influencer brand endorsements convert to increased exposure and sales.
What are the different influencer tiers?
There are 5 different categories of influencers based on the number of followers they have.
- Nano influencers have 1K – 10K followers.
Example: Beauty influencer Alexis Baker, Chicago mom & wellness blogger Carla Jian, fashion model and real estate designer Valentina Krstovic.
- Micro-influencers have 10K – 50K followers.
Example: Sports lover and filmmaker Deven Fagan, swimsuit model Elissa Burns, actress-model ruluu.
- Mid-tier influencers have 50K – 500K followers.
Example: Fashion & lifestyle blogger Joel Moore, personal fitness trainer Carly Rowena, fitness enthusiast Chloe Hutchings.
- Macro influencers have 500K – 1M followers.
Example: Fashion model Amy Neville, luxury travel influencer Jeremy Austin, model & actress Jessica Michel Serfaty.
- Mega influencers have 1M – 5M followers.
Example: American YouTuber MrBeast, gaming star and comedian PewDiePie, dancer & social media personality Charli D’Amelio.
How much do influencers charge per post in 2021?
Influencer rates are affected by various factors, such as influencer reach and engagement, content type, social media platform, industry and audience, exclusivity, season, and type of influencer partnership. Here is a high-level summary of what you can expect an influencer post to cost in 2021.
|Influencer Tier||Follower Count||Per Instagram Post||Per YouTube Video||Per TikTok Post||Per Twitter Post||Per Facebook Post|
|Nano||1K – 10K||$10 – $100||$20 – $200||$5 – $25||$2 – $20||$25 – $250|
|Micro||10K – 50K||$100 – $500||$200 – $1K||$25 – $125||$20 – $100||$250 – $1,250|
|Mid-tier||50K – 500K||$500 – $5,000||$1K – $10K||$125 – $1,250||$100 – $1K||$1,250 – $12,500|
|Macro||500K – 1M||$5K – $10K||$10K – $20K||$1,250 – $2,500||$1K – $2K||$12,500 – $25K|
|Mega||1M – 5M||$10K+||$20K+||$2,500+||$2K+||$25K+|
Follow These 30 Steps to Make your Fashion Startup Famous via Influencers!
Think Beyond Celebrity Endorsements – Start with Influencer Marketing
We understand the appeal of getting celebrity endorsements for your fashion brand. When you look to powerful fashion houses like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Saint Laurent, they all have celebrity ambassadors. Celebrities bring prestige and global publicity and outreach for fashion brands. However, as a fashion startup, hiring celebrities to promote your product might not be the best match. In fact, influencers are often deemed by their audience as more trustworthy and knowledgeable. Fashion influencers usually have a niche that they specialize in, such as street style, high fashion, etc. So when you are just beginning to build a reputation for your fashion startup, partnering with influencers will make your fashion brand feel more approachable. Plus, they are often more cost-effective than hiring a celebrity.
Lately, more and more influencer marketers and fashion brands shift into working with multiple micro-influencers rather than a few macro-influencers. Since most people following these popular accounts are merely browsing and are not really interested or paying attention to the content, it has been found that the larger the following, the lower the engagement rate. On the contrary, micro-influencers enjoy a dedicated audience group, and share a more personal relationship with their followers. This often means that micro-influencers have higher engagement per post and lower cost per engagement (CPE).
Work with Influencers from Other Industries
You don’t need to recruit only fashion influencers to promote your fashion brand. Partnering with influencers working in other fields can be equally effective because you are expanding your outreach to a completely different set of audiences whom you have not targeted before but may also be interested in your product.
Find Influencers in Your Followers
Go through your Instagram followers, especially those who are liking, commenting, and engaging with your posts. They are obviously interested in your products. Check their feeds and follower count to see if they could qualify as nano, micro, macro, or even mega influencers. Depending on your social media campaign goals, these could be potential candidates to approach and discuss brand partnerships. Since they are already familiar with your fashion brand, it will be an easier sell for you to make.
Think Beyond Instagram
For fashion, Instagram remains the preferred influencer marketing platform. Yet TikTok is rising in popularity even among the OG influencers like Bryan Boy, and is sure to gain market share. In 2018, Guess launched the #inMyDenim on TikTok with users dancing to Bebe Rexha‘s song, “I’m a Mess.” Brands like Gucci, Nike, Fendi, and Celine followed with TikTok campaigns. Other social platforms to watch as pools of influencers include Snapchat Spotlight and Caffeine.tv.
Look for Less Mature Influencer Markets
If you want to start small with a potential for growth, look for influencers outside the more established influencer markets (UK, US, Germany, etc.). Target influencer markets that are on the rise. Finland, Greece, and Croatia, for example, have influencers with fewer followers but higher engagement rates. Such influencers are also more willing to agree to a barter collaboration.
Check the Metrics
Today, platforms like Mavrck and Izea compare the social following of various influencers and show you their growth charts. Having access to such data might help you narrow down to a group with the desired range of followers and engagement. Upfluence uses advanced software that compares influencer metrics.
Avoid Accounts with Fake Followers
Numbers sometimes are too good to be true. Some influencer accounts have been boosted with paid followers, many of whom are either bots or fake. Fact check using “credibility tool” created by Grin to make sure that the stats are not inflated.
Get to Know the Influencer Before Contacting Them
Once you set eyes on an influencer, study them closely. Scroll their feed and read their posts to determine if they align with your fashion brand’s values and mission. It’s not only about social media ranking and numbers. The influencers you choose are a representation of your fashion brand’s image. Identify the right influencers to work with through careful research, with the mindset that they could one day become brand ambassadors.
Reach Out to Influencers Directly
The best way to get to know the influencer is to establish a personal relationship. Oftentimes, fashion brands DM the influencers on Instagram and get a response. Some influencers are not represented by agencies, and in this case, they or their account managers reply to comments and messages.
Contact Influencers Through Their Favorite Platform
While influencers may have gained their “stardom” from a specific platform, most of them have a presence on multiple social media platforms to increase outreach. For example, South Korean makeup artist Pony started with posting makeup tutorial videos on YouTube, where she has 5.86M subscribers; she also has Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr accounts. Find out which social media account is most active because you will most likely get a swifter response there. Apart from direct messaging, check whether the influencer replies to comments and tagged posts, or if their email address is provided. It’s a trial-and-error process, but there are always hints at what each influencer likes the most.
Be Brief, Do Not Over-Pitch your Brand
Whether via email, DM, or other text-messaging service, your communication should be polite, thoughtful, and brief. Over-selling the product doesn’t help at this point because the influencer does not know about your fashion brand yet. Instead, explain why their social media presence struck a chord with you and how your brand is a perfect match for their style.
Verify The Influencer’s Availability
Influencers can reject offers of free product sampling for many reasons. They might not have the time to commit to another brand or are bound by an exclusivity clause in existing contracts. In some countries, influencers have to declare the items they are gifted as income, so they try to be selective and prioritize their relationships with the brands. Follow their social media feed to get a sense of how frequent and how many sponsorships they have. Ask influencers or their agents whether they are already at capacity so that you don’t waste your time.
Reach Out to More Than One Influencer
Instead of waiting for each influencer to respond, move on to contacting the next one on your list. Some of them may not respond to your initial message, so follow-up regularly. Increase your chances by reaching out to a larger pool of influencers.
Build a Relationship with the Influencer
Send influencers the right sample products based on their profile. Take note of important dates like the influencer’s birthday and other upcoming life events, as well as the hobbies, likes, and dislikes of the influencer. It is always more impactful to time your gift with a special occasion because it creates a reason for the influencer to wear your product. Additionally, include a personalized message to explain why you selected the product, especially for the influencer. When influencers feel appreciated, they are more likely to post about receiving your gift.
Start Small, Ask for Something Simple
You can gift products in exchange for a comment or a mention. Most influencers who like your product are willing to do that because it is not time-consuming. A small request on your end can be followed with a larger one, especially if the influencer had great feedback from sharing your product.
Try Free Sampling and Upfront Gifting
See your influencers as marketing powerhouses and appreciate their role in moving crowds towards your direction. When an influencer works with your fashion brand, their personal image is on the line, so it is important for the collaboration to be a mutual fit. As a gesture of goodwill, offer them the opportunity to try your products for free before striking an official deal. Show them that you take their opinion seriously and value their feedback.
Mail Gifts to Celebrities and Influencers
Do your research by using influencer marketing tools or scrolling social media feed to carefully curate a list of influencers who seem to have a fashion sense and a personal style that aligns with your brand. Send them your product with beautiful personalized packaging and letter. If they like it, they might send you a thank you note, wear it in public, or post about it. Not everyone will, and oftentimes it takes more than one attempt, so keep the gifts flowing!
Gift Products to Influencer Assistants and Agents
Sometimes, social media managers, agents, and assistants are more in charge of the influencers’ social media accounts than the influencers themselves. They are the ones who do most of the posting, replying to DMs, and engaging with followers on behalf of the influencer. In fact, they are the first line of defense who read and filter out collaboration offers, and later discuss the ones that they consider good potential with the influencer. You might want to keep them happy as well.
There are voices in the industry saying that influencers are often under-rewarded for the time they spend on marketing campaigns. Each promo post or video might take hours and multiple resources to be prepped to perfection. Be thoughtful and evaluate their services fairly. This will turn you into a socially responsible brand.
Calculate the Value of Your Gifting
Influencers are aware that you are only paying for the cost of the products you are gifting because you are the one producing them. The cost differs from the items’ perceived value or retail price. If a garment costs you $20 to make but sells for $100, then the services you receive from the influencer should also cost them $20. Don’t cheat on that!
Incentivize Your Influencers
With mass production driving down unit cost, your gifting should be a fair game. Still, if you make luxury products – such as high-end fashion and fine jewelry – you can reward your influencers based on the perceived value of your gifted products. Luxury goods are far more tempting because their value can increase over time. Many influencers later resell them to get the equivalent in cash. If you are a contemporary fashion brand, consider gifting influencers a luxury product by another label, like a high-tech beauty device or decorative object, along with your garments.
Personalize and Customize Your Gifting
Initialized or bespoke gifts feel special. They also show that you took the time to create something personal and intimate that fits the recipient’s lifestyle. Juicy Couture went from nothing to millions by sending personalized sweatsuits to celebrities like Madonna, Paris Hilton, Cameron Diaz, and Drew Barrymore on their special occasions. When influencers receive countless free samples and gifts from other fashion brands, customizing the product you gift can help your fashion brand stand out and get the attention and appreciation you want.
Follow Up and Ask For Feedback
Track the delivery of your gifts, and make sure they reached the final destination. If you don’t hear back from the influencer in a couple of weeks, feel free to follow up and politely ask for feedback. Be appreciative of their input – even if it was negative! Use their comments to improve your product and recalibrate your gifting strategy accordingly. Let the influencer know that you are willing to offer more should your relationship evolves.
Propose Alternative Forms of Gifting
Instead of product gifting or cash, some influencers go for other win-win options like receiving promotional codes (discounts), shopping vouchers, and giveaways for themselves and their followers. Some influencers will also agree to work with affiliate links that earn them a percentage of the promoted product sales. This is beneficial from a performance evaluation perspective because fashion brands can quantify the conversion rate and determine the effectiveness of specific influencer campaigns. Furthermore, giveaways and contests are great for creating hype and increasing engagement for both your fashion brand and the influencer.
Sweeten the Deal with Extra Perks
Promise your influencers additional exposure and visibility via reposting. This will be especially enticing if your fashion brand has a decent following. Tag the influencer in your posts and include links to their blogs and other social media accounts. In the influencer marketing agreement, you can even stipulate a minimum advertising budget per post that you will spend on boosting the posts that feature your influencer as an extra incentive for the influencer to collaborate with you.
Give an Influencer Creative Freedom
Consumers stuck at home during the pandemic had plenty of time to browse and shop for products and services sponsored by their favorite influencers. There is a clear shift to social shopping, as consumers trust real customer reviews over traditional ads. Therefore, as a fashion brand, it is important to allow influencers to promote your product in an authentic way that is true to their content style and voice. Overly scripted social media campaigns can cause your fashion brand to lose credibility and your target audience to tune out.
Draft an Influencer Agreement
Whatever you agree on – time frame, deliverables, required hashtags/handles, and expected rewards – put it in writing and sign it. Even when it involves product gifting only, formalize an agreement to leave no room for legal ambiguity down the road.
Work with Influencer Management Platforms
If you are dealing with a significant number of micro-influencer collaborations simultaneously, logistics can be complicated. To meet the need, tech experts created the Influencer Relationship Management platform (IRM), which is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) for influencers. Influencity, Traackr, Zine, and Marketo are online platforms with campaign management and reporting tools. They keep track of performances, automate payments, schedule gifting, and help optimize your fashion brand’s marketing campaigns.
Get Product Placement at Star-Studded Events
Create a compelling product that deserves to be included in goody bags for events. Be creative and come up with unique gifts that can intrigue high-profile guests. Scottish jewelry designer Sweet Rosie custom-made a “Baby on Board” necklace for Katy Perry, who received it in Backstage Creations’ annual Mother’s Day Gift Bags. She wore the bespoke jewelry piece during her performances, giving Sweet Rosie increased online exposure and media buzz.
Alternative to gift placement, you can be a sponsor for the backstage gift lounge at award shows. Before engaging in such efforts, first check to see if the event’s guest list is your target group, as well as whether the event fits your brand identity.