Social media has evolved quickly over the last decade. From humble beginnings to a multi-billion dollar industry, social media has infiltrated most of our daily lives. Businesses know this and subsequently invest millions into their digital and social marketing strategies. There has been a shift in recent times to the rise of the Micro Influencer.
Who are they?
Micro influencers are the connecting bridge between real people and brands. Celebrity endorsements are insanely expensive and out of touch with the end user. As such, brands look to connect with real people through real people. For example, the user scrolling through their Instagram page will have a higher affinity to an experience hungry travel blogger with a few thousand followers compared to a well-established sponsored influencer with millions of followers. Why? The less well-known blogger, or Micro Influencer is more real to us and subsequently more relatable.
Ronaldo (sponsored athlete) vs. Dom (adventure traveller, domonthego.com)
What does this mean for a PADI Dive Shop?
You offer adventure. You give people the opportunity to go places others can’t and see things others don’t even know exist. You can sell that all day long – but the consumer knows you’re selling it. You’re using the words you want to use and in the style you want to be perceived. That’s fine. That’s your marketing. However, in a time where social media reigns supreme, a micro influencer talking about you in their language and their style, is a much more powerful marketing asset.
How to get involved?
Wait for an influencer to contact you. If your dive store is in an exotic location and a couple of travelling micro influencers are heading there, you may find they’ll be looking to get a fix of adventure and content. Remember, they need you as much as you need them. They need fresh new content, and your dive store is the perfect backdrop. Requests may come in all shapes and sizes: “can I get my Advanced Open Water Diver course in exchange for some posts on Instagram”, or “for $75 I can advertise your page on my social feeds to a combined audience of 9,000 followers”.
Actively search for influencers. Use Iconosquare to search relevant hashtags for your region, industry and lifestyle. Explore the profiles and find your perfect match. Look for an audience size of up to 10,000 followers. Make sure they fit the SCUBA lifestyle you want to portray. A micro influencer who has actively been promoting something contrary to your business ethos, may end up being detrimental. For example, if the influencer had supported spearfishing in an earlier post, this may backfire when they promote your dive center.
What to ask them?
Ask the micro influencers for page insights. You want to know about their followers, both real and percentage of potential fake followers. Note, fake followers/accounts are bought in order to bump up the numbers. Expect to learn about the engagement of their posts. A high audience number but a very low percentage of engagement is a potential indication of a fake audience. You want to know where their audience is from. For example, if you want to target the local market but the micro influencers’ main audience comes from a different country, you should avoid them (unless looking at bringing in tourism, of course).
What are you prepared to offer in exchange for social media exposure? A Discover Scuba Diver? A PADI Open Water Diver course? A day on the boat? A cash payment? This will depend on what you think marketing is worth. How much would you spend to take an advert out in a local magazine to promote your center? This is the social media equivalent. Manage expectations early on and don’t be afraid to ask for more. Ask for a post on Instagram and Facebook, but with an accompanying mention in a blog post on their website. If they write a blog post about their recent trip to a location titled, “5 amazing things to do in ____” and one of those things is SCUBA diving, make sure they deeplink from their blog post to your website. These are known as backlinks and are SEO gold dust.
If you need more assistance with micro influencers, contact your PADI Regional Manager or the PADI Marketing department.