How To Win Instagram As A Micro-Influencer

By Shana Lynn Yao

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There's a new influencer in town, and it's called a MICRO-INFLUENCER. Let's hear it for the small brands, the people with the smaller following on Instagram and other social media platforms. It turns out size doesn't matter - or at least in the way that you think.

Traditionally, it has been the goal of most people on Instagram to pursue a large following. Known as a "macro-influencer", people with hundreds of thousands to millions of followers produce a pavlov dog response in people trying to make their own impact with their social media feed. But now, in a time when people - consumers - are starting to get picky - picky on what they want to buy, brands they trust, and now turning to reviews and recommendations from friends over big box options - there never has been a better time to stand out as a smaller brand.

In fact, research shows that 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations and only 33% trust ads (Nielsen). When was the last time you bought something simply because you saw an ad for it? I know for me, I read reviews and am more likely to trust a brand that has a history of customer service and high ratings over one that just seems popular to the masses.

So just what is a micro-influencer? Depending on who you ask, micro-influencers can range from 10,000 to 100,000 followers. The difference between them and the macro-influencers is their ability to connect with their audience. Research shows that Instagram accounts with LESS followers are 4x more likely to get a comment on a post than are macro-influencers with 10 million followers.


As I mentioned above, micro-influencers tend to have greater engagement on each of their posts than macro-influencers. This means their value based on engagement per follower tends to be higher than for those with a larger following.

According to Makerly’s study, influencers with 10 million followers have a like rate per post of 1.6 percent, while micro-influencers with 1,000 followers see a far higher like rate of 8.0 percent.

Becoming A Micro-Influencer

So just how do you turn your following into your ticket to success? Into customer sales? Possible sponsorship for brands? 

There are two things that are the foundation of becoming a micro-influencer on Instagram, in your business, and in everything you do. Those two things are:

Obviously, there are a lot of other factors to establishing your brand on Instagram (i.e. quality of your content and photos, aesthetic, branding) but at the foundation of all of it is how you demonstrate your trustworthiness and authenticity.

This is where, unfortunately, many entrepreneurs get stuck. It's not that you're not trustworthy and authentic, but being it in your mind and showing it online are two completely different issues.

While as a person in your everyday life, you help others, always keep your word, and all the things you do to be "a good person" are great, online, you have seconds to capture the attention of your target audience and if you don't know how to communicate the value of your brand you will have a hard time attracting your loyal and raving fans and establishing yourself as a micro-influencer.

But once you know build trust and communicate your authentic value, now you need to focus on the quality of your outreach. Because as a micro-influencer while it's not size alone that dictates your status but the total number of your - your brand’s - target customers IN your audience.

This, in fact, makes navigating your audience attraction waters a bit more complicated than you think. Because while quantity is NOT king as a micro-influencer, percentage of true fans are. That means that (using the 80/20 rule otherwise known as parkinson's law) you should have a strategy to grow your following everyday.

One way to do this is by gathering information about your audience demographics, the reasons they follow you, the problems they need solutions for - basically, understanding your brand personality and how to communicate it in a visual way. 

As with anything, it takes time, strategic thinking, and an insider's perspective. But for today, I want to know the first step to establishing yourself as a micro-influencer - what is your brand personality in three words? Tell me below in the comments and share your Instagram account. 

Shana Yao is Creative Director and Founder of Total Genius® where your personal style becomes your personal brand. Understanding your own personal style and brand story is the foundation of a solid brand, communicated on your website, social media, and voice. You can connect with her @total_genius on Instagram