“A few weeks after sending products to a few Youtubers for them to test, we suddenly noticed how sales took off – especially in the US. It was clear the sales were due to the videos they published because we didn’t have any other specific initiatives for sales or marketing in the US,” says Gabriella Zachrisson, marketing manager at Idun Minerals.
Here’s one of the “first impression” videos, from Phyrra Nyx, who has more than 21,000 followers (at the time of writing). It has achieved just over 5,800 views:
Gabriella and her colleagues at Idun Minerals in Stockholm – 15 employees altogether – are a bit surprised by the direct correlation between their efforts contacting micro-influencers and the rewards from doing so; that the attention has so clearly resulted in sales.
And that they get these results without needing to offer money in exchange.
The myth of influencer marketing
It’s easy to believe that influencer marketing must involve putting plenty of money on the table.
The price table often referred to online looks like this:
- Instagram: $1,000 per 100,000 followers
- Snapchat: Starts at $500 per 24-hour campaign
- YouTube: Roughly $2,000 per 100,000 followers
In other words, if you want a top-tier influencer to mention your product or brand just once, you might need to dig deep into your company’s pockets. That is true not only for reaching out to the US market, but the prices are as steep – if not steeper – in other markets.
“We have explored that route, of paying high-profile influencers, but we can’t justify that strategy,” Gabriella says.
A recent report from Activate based on interviews with more than 800 influencers and 100 US-based marketing professionals revealed the reality of influencer marketing: that there’s more to it than money.
Asked to rate the different reasons behind a decision to work with a particular brand from 1 to 4 in importance, here were the results:
“I love the brand, I already post about them organically” (almost 3.5 out of 4)
“I want to introduce my audience to a new product/brand” (more than 2.6 out of 4)
“I have to get paid” (2.1 out of 4)
“I want more experience working with a brand” (1.9 out of 4)
Of course, there are influencers who won’t mention your brand or your products under any circumstances unless they get paid for it – but it’s also true that others will.
he problem is finding them.
How Idun found the right micro-influencers
Anna Edman, content and social media manager at Idun Minerals, describes her processes for finding the micro-influencers who, as it turned out, caused such high demand in the US that the beauty company has needed to ship to overseas distribution centers again and again.
“It takes a lot of time, that’s the most challenging part. And you have to accept the uncertainty as well. There’s no guarantee of publicity in the end, no matter how many hours, days or weeks you spend on this. And even if there is, you can’t predict the influence that will have,” she says.
“I spent a lot of time searching Youtube and Instagram. I tested lots of searches for different keywords and tags that are relevant for our products. Since our products are vegan and cruelty-free, I focused on keywords like ‘vegan cruelty-free makeup’. What happens is that you get to know the community who is passionate about that lifestyle.”
She thoroughly read comments to identify people who showed interest and passion, and went on to learn more about them – if they had their own YouTube channels – and what kind of influence each one had.
As soon as she found an interesting micro-influencer, she made contact. This went on for a few months.
“I contacted maybe 30 or 40 people, asking if I could send our products to them. After about a month we saw our sales in the US suddenly take off, and the orders have been coming in ever since then. It was an eye-opener for us. We did expect some publicity, but didn’t realize it would have such an immediate effect on sales.
Once a few of the first Youtubers had tried the products the word was out. And then other micro-influencers suddenly started making first impression videos, tutorials and reviews too – not only the ones Anna had sent products to.
It’s their Jorunn Nordic Veil foundation that gets the biggest share of the limelight.
Micro-influencer Arna Alayne in Australia – with 61,000 followers – wasn’t one of the micro-influencers Anna contacted. But she heard about it and decided to order it, despite the fact that the company didn’t ship to her country yet. Eager to get her hands on the product anyway, she shipped it to a friend in the US, who in turn sent it to her.
Here’s the result:
In the video she says: ”I’ve been wanting to recommend a more fuller coverage foundation that works for drier skin types for a while, so I’m pleased that this seems to be fitting that.”
And among the 162 comments you see things like ”Thanks for the review- I’ve had this in my basket but I haven’t pulled the trigger. I think I may try it now!” and ”Full coverage, cruelty-free, dry skin friendly and very pale – it’s like a unicorn!”
The snowball keeps rolling.
Can this happen to your brand too?
Of course it can.
However, to achieve a viral snowball effect, it helps if you have a passionate, niche market who is hungry for what you offer. In Idun Minerals’ case, the niche group ‘women in their 20’s and 30’s who have very pale and sensitive skin and are passionate about caring for animals and nature’ turned out to be a crowd that had been waiting forever for a product like Jurunn Nordic Veil foundation. It was a big surprise for everyone involved.
“We didn’t know it was so difficult for these women to find a super-light shade of foundation that gives the right neutral undertone, one that is neither too cold or too warm, and one that is based only on natural minerals. The foundation has filled a gap in the market we didn’t know existed.”
2 other things worth considering before applying this micro-influencer strategy
Ther are some more things you might need to consider before you approach micro-influencers in your niche, send out products and walk the micro-influencer path:
Do you want to schedule postings and align them with other campaign strategies?
Sorry, but you’ll not only need to completely give up control over what the micro-influencers will say, but also when they will say it (and if they’ll mentioning anything at all). Publishing happens on their terms only. With that said, even if you choose the paid path for your influencer marketing, you can run into trouble. In Digiday, one marketing executive spills out his frustration under the protection of anonymity:
“Influencers are still not aware of some things that are very obvious in marketing, like sticking to a schedule. To them it’s not important. They’ll just say, ‘Oh, you know what? I’d prefer to post this Instagram tomorrow because I’m just not feeling it today.’”
Are your products likely to be appreciated?
“Unlike when working with paid influencers, you don’t have any control whatsoever over what the influencers will say. Keep that in mind. What if they say the products are really bad? We know how good are products are, so we made the decision to pull the trigger,” says Gabriella Zachrisson at Idun Minerals.
Idun Minerals was founded in 2011 as the first company to sell beauty products to the de-regulated pharmacy market in Sweden. Still today, pharmacies are by far the most important distribution channel for the company.
In 2017 a digital team, dedicated to increasing sales internationally, was established for the first time (with the challenging balancing act of selling online, but at the same time not competing with its network of pharmacy resellers). Idun uses Wikinggruppen as the e-commerce platform.
Micro-influencers are just a part of their current strategy. The team also attracts customers via SEO using content marketing – video tutorials and a popular foundation guide for different skin tones – as well as ads on Facebook and Instagram.