It’s well known that people trust other people like themselves as sources of credible information. It’s no wonder, then, that influencer marketing was worth $6.5 billion in 2019. And that growth is still surging into 2020 — set to reach $9.7 billion this year. That means big opportunities for brands when it comes to influencers, especially if they’re trying to reach younger customers.

Younger demographics are known for being digital natives, but Millennials and Gen Zers are connecting via social channels at rapid rates. One study found that during COVID-19, usage of WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram from users aged 18 to 35 has increased by 40% or more. Now more than ever, younger users are looking to connect online — and that’s where influencers will meet them.

Brands going for a Gen Z influencer marketing strategy should look specifically at micro-influencers to reach their target customers. Though these influencers may have smaller followings than traditional celebrity influencers, they have more sway with younger audiences.

Consider a Morning Consult survey on influencer marketing, which found that only 10% of Gen Z and Millennial Americans consider having a large following an important determinant of whether they’ll follow an influencer. The same report showed that 35% of men and 47% of women follow influencers who post regularly about food.

What does this mean for consumer-packaged goods and other food brands? It means they have a huge opportunity to leverage the power of micro-influencers with Gen Z.

How to Reach Gen Z Through Micro-Influencers

To see micro-influencer CPG marketing in action, take a look at this excellent yet simple example: When Siggi’s Dairy tapped micro-influencer Holly Falke, a Texas-based dietitian, to promote its product, it also tapped into a niche audience of potential new buyers. Falke held a giveaway for her followers; anyone who liked the photo and tagged a friend could win one of four free samples. The beauty of this campaign was two-fold:

  • People love the chance to win free stuff, which helps increase engagement.
  • The request to tag another person in the post helps increase reach.

If you want to forge micro-influencer relationships for your own brand and see high engagement and reach from sponsored content, here are three places to start:

1. Follow first.

It may sound a bit obvious to follow a select few Gen Z micro-influencers before discussing a possible collaboration, but it is a crucial first step. Doing so allows you to not only determine their relevance, but also to engage with them on their social channels. The purpose is to build a relationship, thereby increasing the chances of a successful campaign.

Connect with influencers, share their updates, leave comments, and take part in conversations on their feeds. Go one step further by subscribing to their blog — if they have one — and engaging with content there as well. After getting a feel, reach out via email. It’s more personal and allows for greater detail on the proposed arrangement.

2. Hand over creative control.

In order for Gen Z influencer marketing to be most effective, you need to relinquish most (if not all) creative control. Setting parameters that are too strict can often leave the content feeling inauthentic and may create backlash, causing influencers to lose followers and your business to lose sales.

Instead, let influencers do what they do best to make the content feel like a true endorsement of the product, rather than just another paid post. Provide feedback, of course, but listen to their input. They know their followers better than you do.

3. Test content.

Where Gen Z influencer marketing really crosses paths with traditional marketing is in testing. You need to test content across channels and audience segments. Track follower engagement, adjust the content, and learn the nuances of various audiences to arrive at the right content on the right platform with the right influencer.

As with any marketing initiative, it’s best to settle on objectives and come up with a definition of success before entering into any partnerships with Gen Z micro-influencers. What you’re hoping for is a successful relationship that will benefit everyone involved.