A Couple of Micro Influencers Share Their Advice

I recently spoke to a couple of micro influencers, Tasha Meys and Luisa Ruocco, about their experiences and best advice. Luisa Ruocco a.k.a. The Hungry Traveller is a social media food and travel influencer with just over 50k Instagram followers and can be found at @luisainsta. Tasha a.ka. @Tastefullytash has also cracked the 50,000 follower mark on her primary account and the 70,000 mark across her three accounrs. She creates health and wellness foodie content. Here are some highlights:

Adam: How did you become a micro influencer?

Tasha: I started @tastefullytash (my influencer account) when I was in my last year of University. I was studying food science and marketing and thought the best way to help my CV was to showcase my food photography and recipes I was creating. I used Instagram to post these as it was the channel I enjoyed most and that I was most familiar with.

Luisa: By accident! I quit my job in headhunting to take a gap year and I went traveling across the USA (I’m originally from Europe) where I started getting serious about my social media presence by posting regularly, interacting with other users and monitoring engagement, and my Instagram page suddenly started gaining attention!

Adam: What are some of the brand deals you have closed? How did they come together? Did you reach out to them or did they reach out? What information did the brands ask for?

Tasha: Hello Fresh, Regal Salmon, Dole NZ, Adairs etc. The bigger companies I've worked with have come from PR companies reaching out and from The Social Club (a non-exclusive Influencer Marketing agency) reaching out to me.

Luisa: I do lots of work with restaurants, for example one of my favorite places to work with is the luxury Michelin starred chain Hakkasan. They contacted me through their PR agency! Usually brands reach out to me through Instagram, either by direct message or email. They used to be more relaxed and only looked at follower count, but recently they have been getting more savvy and asking for things like engagement rates.   

Adam: What advice do you have for those interested in working with influencers? How do you do decide who to work with?

Tasha: Know that influencer marketing should always be a mutually beneficial relationship. You might think your product is amazing but sometimes that doesn't always mean all influencers will. Align with influencers in your niche so you know they already have an interest in your product and figure out a fair deal between the two of you.

Luisa: Any influencer worth their salt would only accept a campaign that is on brand for them, so before you reach out to someone just because they have a good follower count and follower engagement, ask yourself if the product you would like them to advertise is aligned with their lifestyle and values. The question I always ask myself when presented with collaboration opportunities is whether I would be happy to buy that product or service myself. For example I have been approached with sponsorship deals by casinos and slimming pill companies and neither of those are really my jam so I had to refuse, in spite of the high price tag.   

Adam: What advice do you have for those interested in becoming micro influencers?

Tasha: Think about what your value is that you're bringing to your content and to your audience. When you confidently know your value, it's easy to convey to your audience and potential brands.

Luisa: Consider it a full time job! No one will take you seriously if you’re not serious about working hard to build an engaged audience. That goes from creating captivating and relevant content, posting at the right times, interacting with other users, doing your research to choose the best hashtags etc.   

Adam: What is the biggest misconception about the micro influencer world and life as a micro influencer?

Tasha: A misconception would be that I get everything for free. Most things I feature on my account are not sponsored but I think as soon as an influencer does any sponsored work people start to assume all their content is sponsored.

Luisa: That influencers don’t work! It’s such a competitive market because it’s everyone’s dream job - who wouldn’t want to make money by posting pictures of amazing outfits and great food while being able to travel the world because you’re not chained to a desk?! But it’s a long road to get to the kind of numbers where work just rolls in, no one just wakes up one morning with 100k followers, that takes years of work creating great content and interacting with others, often for little or no pay.  

Adam: What has being a micro influencer taught you about branding and marketing? What are your three best marketing and branding tips?

Tasha: Branding and marketing are all about touchpoints with the right audience. If you have a huge audience in a specific niche and you're promoting a product in a different niche, it's not going to be effective. It's all about product-market fit and nurturing your audience so they actually trust what you're talking about.

Luisa: I was an economics major at university and together with some management filler courses I took I already had quite a decent knowledge of marketing - I also worked weekends and school holidays at a luxury PR firm, so I luckily went into micro influencing with a solid base of branding and marketing. My top three tips would be to have a unique selling point and to always open with that, that brands are better off investing in micro influencers with a niche following than celebrities who are followed in an aspirational way by millions of people who would never be able to afford the sort of products they are selling, and to read the market and realign with the public’s priorities to keep the same market share - for example so many companies have lost sales recently because of their plastic usage when investing in going green and a marketing campaign to inform people of their environmental efforts would have gained them so much more in the long term.

Adam: If you are comfortable doing so, can you talk economics? How much money do you make on deals? 

Luisa: How do the negotiations typically work? It really depends, I would say influencers don’t really have a rate sheet but rather look at each opportunity individually. As I mentioned, I always only accept products and services that I would be happy to pay for myself, and I do take into consideration the cost of the product or service I am receiving when negotiating a rate with the brand. Things I also think about are how much new relevant content I will get from what I am sponsoring, for example a trip will provide me with weeks of interesting content that I can create for free so I am happy to take less money for something like that because I will likely gain quite a few new followers just thanks to the interesting posts I have been able to produce at no cost to me.

Tasha: New Zealand is a influencer bubble - as our country is small there is 'inflation' in what influencers get paid as companies don't have as many options. Influencers who have 10k in NZ can be making hundreds of dollars per post.

Adam Mendler