Get in the Game & Get Free Things: How to Become a MicroInfluencer
Okay, this is a super-long blog post, but I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this topic, so here goes! Comments, questions are appreciated. Now, bear with me while I put on my Marketing Nerd hat for a minute:
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You know those Instagram-famous people talking about products and using the hashtag #sponsored at the end of their posts?
Influencer Marketing, A.K.A. paying people on social media with large followings to talk up your products, is at the forefront of consumer product marketing. Which has really been going on quite a while, since the whole mom blogger phenomenon took over more than a decade (or was it two?) ago.
Nowadays, brands aren’t just looking for Instagramers with hundreds of thousands of followers anymore. What they’ve discovered through research is that people with smaller followings can sometimes get a higher percentage of their followers to like, comment, read their posts than some of the mega-Instagrammers can.
And, that by giving samples and small perks to a large number of MicroInfluencers, they can ultimately reach more people with their message cheaper (aka better ROI) than paying one MegaInfluencer (like say, Reese Witherspoon) six figures to share a photograph of herself sipping said beverage/applying said beauty product/you get the idea.
The result is entire platforms dedicated to managing MicroInfluencers, collecting their demographic information, product preferences, lifestyle preferences, and social media engagement information, and using it to match a pool of MicroInfluencers with brands who are trying to get the word out on specific products.
Enough from the marketing side of my brain – The reason this is relevant to you is that you too can get a piece of the pie.
You can sign up for one of these MicroInfluencer platforms and opt-in to promotions where you get free (often full-size) products and other perks just for agreeing to share your experience on your social channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, a blog, and even Pinterest.
But how do you get started?
Here are my top three sources for new MicroInfluencers:
You create an account for free, add and log all your social media accounts, and Influenster spits out a number representing your online social “Impact” of all your accounts combined. Based on this, your answers to product and preference surveys on the app, your engagement on the app and its various activities, you will be offered “Campaigns.”
When you participate in a campaign, you can receive either Influenster “VoxBoxes” of products to try and review, or high-dollar coupons to use in-store to get products to try – usually close to free, if not completely free.
It’s easy to get started, easy to understand, and the more engaged you are, the better things you’ll receive to review and post about online. It has an online community geared much like Facebook, so it’s a familiar setting.
There’s also a whole badge system where you are awarded badges based on your completion of activities related to the Campaigns your participate in. Let’s be real, it’s the adult version of getting a star sticker in preschool, and it totally works on me. I love it.
It takes a little time to start getting “the good stuff” in the mail – aka full size samples or higher-end products. I didn’t get a whole lot out of Influenster the first several months, then things picked up and I got several offers. But lately I haven’t had the time to invest in it, so I’m getting less offers again.
And of course, there’s the whole delicate balance of posting stuff on your social channels in order to get free things, but then annoying your friends with all the product-review spam.
Finally – Influenster is REALLY big on using their app. A lot of their activities cannot be done from a browser window, but must be done from your smartphone. Maybe I’m just an old lady, but it’s nice to have full keyboard when attempting to type a product review.
Freebies Since December 2018:
- Free $5 Kohl’s Cash
- Full-size sample of L’Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Oil Rapid Reviver (LOVED this!!)
- Vox Box of various samples (see photos)
- Full-size samples of System Professional Shampoo, Conditioner, and Mask (Did not love these, sadly)
- $24 Cash Back at Ulta for purchasing Maybelline Snapscara mascara (Got 4 for free!)
- Full-size sample of the new Pioneer Woman BBQ Sauce
This platform represents several top national brands and operates on a “Party Pack” system. Users can peruse various communities based around specific brands or products, and apply to host a party celebrating a specific product. In order to apply, you usually have to complete a number of activities, like complete a survey, tweet about the party/brand, and take a selfie with the product in a local store. Completing these activities quickly increases your chances of being chosen.
Party Packs are of decent quality and value, and worth posting on social media about. I was chosen in June for a Kikkoman party, and my pack included 11 shirts, recipe booklets, 11 coupons for free Kikkoman products, some grilling tongs, and a $25 gift card to prep for my party.
Another perk – when you get a free sample, you aren’t always required to share about it on social media – sometimes they just want you to review the product honestly on the company’s website, or post photos directly to RippleStreet. This saves you from over-spamming your friends online.
It can be a lot of work. I don’t always have time to jump at the upcoming party and register, run to my local store on my lunch break and hunt down whatever product is being hawked to selfie in the aisle and attempt to be selected. Also, if you are chosen, you must actually host a party which is a lot more work than just posting about a product online.
One other pitfall I’ve encountered is that their app isn’t as robust as Influenster. Recently I was chosen as a finalist for a party, but the site had a bug and got frozen on the party invitation screen, and by the time I got it working again, all the spots for the party had been taken and I missed out. Judging by the community feature on the site, this happened to a LOT of other people, and their user support was almost non-existent.
Freebies since March 2019:
- Kikkoman Party
- Coupons for 1 free full size Love Planet & Beauty body lotion and 1 free hand lotion
I’m newer to this one, and haven’t taken advantage of any of the offers yet because it works a little differently. HeartBeat sums up your total social media presence and assigns a dollar value to your sponsored posts. Based on my collective audience, that amounts to a *whopping* $4 per post. To be honest, $4 almost doesn’t seem worth the 1.) time and effort to create the content, and 2.) the anticipated annoyance of my friends and followers for spamming them with too much sponsored content. But I can see how with more followers (or more time on my hands), it could become worth it.
This could become very lucrative if you have a lot of people following you online. And the quick one-question surveys are a lot more fun and easy than Influenster’s game of 200 questions.
I can tell HeartBeat is intended for a younger audience than me, probably without kids. A lot of the survey questions are around what music festivals I attend and if I’m into CBD products. As if.
HeartBeat also bases your eligibility/likelihood of being chosen for “campaigns” based not just on your number of Instagram followers, but the quality of your content. That means doing things like following a theme – subject-matter wise AND photography-style wise (think color schemes and high-quality photos). They even have a whole guide dedicated to it – which is great, but challenging for the amateur momfluencer like me. (Yes, I just made that up. Let’s go with it.)
Freebies since May 2019:
None so far. I’ve gotten offers to post to Instagram about a few products, but nothing I’ve been super excited about so far. Here’s a couple of examples of what’s live on the site right now:
HONORABLE MENTION: GOING ROGUE
It’s plain and simple – post about the brands you love.
And of course follow them, and tag them in your post, and make sure you’re using any hashtags they’re using, and see if they’re running any Instagram-specific promotions or contests you can play off of. Oh, and make sure your photos are looking top notch. JUST those few things, lol.
The whole point is to let brands know you are open to working with them. You might get something out of it, you might get a shout-out from the brand’s account, you might get nothing at all.
It’s easy, you’re not going out of your way, and you’ve got nothing to lose. There are people like me (social media managers) whose job it is to SEEK out and respond to their brands’ super fans. So you might get noticed!
As a MicroInfluencer, the biggest benefit of this strategy is the possibility the brand will share YOUR content with THEIR audience, thereby attracting more people to follow your account and boosting your online clout.
Even if you get noticed, the chances of building a fruitful working relationship with a brand are very small, unless you already have a very, very large audience. This is a strategy best used by BIG time influencers, and there’s so much more complexity to it that I can’t even begin to get into.
Freebies Since 2013:
(AKA as far back as I can remember since I’ve been doing this in some capacity since as early as 2008.)
- Free Whataburger swag (perhaps my proudest moment as a Texan, lol.)
- Shout-out from Premier Protein on their Insta-stories
- Various comments/likes/good vibes