Wingstop, a chicken wing chain with nearly 1,400 restaurants, recently announced a campaign where it would provide 1,000 units of wearable branded merchandise to users who would agree to post about Wingstop on the chain's Instagram page. The brand would also send $10 via mobile payment service Venmo to each person who posts an ad for the chain on their public Instagram profile. Wingstop launched campaign yesterday on Instagram, and already they are out of merchandise for it.

Influencer marketing is an increasingly popular strategy for brands to promote their products. In January, Beyonce sold out her line of athleisure wear in a weekend by her clever use of influencer marketing. She sent the entire collection of her Ivy Park line, which she produced in collaboration with Adidas, to famous pals with super large followings on Instagram, including Reese Witherspoon, Ellen Degeneres, Kelly Rowland, Missy Elliott, and Kylie Jenner. These influencers, elated with their surprise mysterious orange package, showcased themselves not only unboxing it, but also wearing various pieces of the collection.

But Wingstop is taking a much different approach to influencer marketing than Beyonce and many other brands do. While most brands focus on mega and macro-influencers, people with followings of more than 1 million and more than 100,000 respectively, Wingstop is focused on its existing customers, most of which are nano influencers--people who tend to have less than 1,000 followers on their social channels.

By mobilizing a small army of these smaller-scale influencers as brand evangelists, people whose reach generally doesn't go much farther than friends, families, and acquaintances, they are still able to accomplish their goals, with a much lower budget.

Why you should consider nano- and micro-influencer marketing 

My sister loves wings. She posts about her desire for them frequently on her social media accounts. When she gets them, she posts a picture of them. Everyone who engages with her, or follows along with what she posts, knows that wings are her thing. Her love for wings is so strong, sometimes it even makes me consider ordering some, even though I don't even like them very much.

But that's the thing about people who are closer to us in our circle. We are much more likely to follow their advice and recommendations, even when they aren't meant to be blatant ones. Why? Because we trust them, perhaps even more than the endorsement of a famous person we've never met.

Late last year, I sat down and watched all two hours of an interview rapper Drake did with Rap Radar. I'm not really a Drake fan, and had never heard of Rap Radar, but I spent all that time watching because I saw at least three people I know talking about it in their Instagram stories. I wanted to be in the know too, so I watched, and enjoyed it.

A similar thing happened just yesterday. I'd seen various stories in my morning news updates that talked about Senator Elizabeth Warren's viral TikTok video from her appearance on Saturday Night Live over the weekend. But it wasn't until I saw someone I know talking about it, again on Instagram, that I clicked through to watch. I can't tell you how many times I played that short video laughing. I even ended up sending it to a group of my friends.

Whether we know it or not, we are most influenced by the people who are closest to us. As you start to explore more ways to spread the message about your business, take a lesson from Wingstop, and find creative ways to mobilize your own small but mighty army of nano or micro-influencers, by getting them excited to talk about their experiences with your brand.

You can do it the traditional way by paying them to create sponsored posts and ads. Or, you can deliver remarkable customer experiences to them that compels them to want to gush all about you to the people in their circle. And you can create such a transformation for them with your products, services, and experiences, that they become a walking billboard for you and the results you helped them achieve.

You don't have to have a massive budget to capture the attention, adoration, and loyalty of your ideal customers. You just have to be willing to be creative about ways to engage them and deepen the emotional connection they have to your brand.

Implementing smart ways to get people--the ones your ideal customers already have an emotional connection with--to talk about your brand in a positive way is a great place to start.

Published on: Mar 11, 2020
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