It's now understood that in order to drive exceptional customer experiences brands need to extend personalization beyond just recognizing customer names. Since customer data is part of a value exchange system that consumers are increasingly conscious of, it's becoming even more important to zero in on the contextual insights that allow you to create hyper-personalized experiences.

Whether or not you’re a fan of bloggers, the benefits of influencer marketing are clear to see. It’s a cost-effective marketing method, with businesses making $6.50 for every dollar spent. Word of mouth is also one of the most profitable ways to gain traction for your business: 20-50% of purchasing decisions are based on recommendations and those customers have 37% higher retention rate than customers acquired via paid advertising.

As you think about an influencer marketing strategy for your business, the most important question to ask yourself is: are you targeting the right influencers?
More often than not, brands are still falling into the common trap of focusing on A-list celebrities with high follower count. Numbers may vary depending on industry, but A-listers will typically have at least over 100,000+ followers. While seen as a measure of success, high follower count only matters if combined with other factors including the level of active engagement by those followers and the influencer’s level of trustworthiness. Not to mention that A-list bloggers now charge up to $25,000 per Instagram post for brand placements.

What you want is more than a superficial measure of reach. You want meaningful brand engagement with someone who is not only popular, but also accessible and relatable. Someone who not only advocates your brand, but who works with you. Someone you can grow with and who will appreciate that you supported them from the beginning of their journey to social media stardom.

Enter the second-tier influencer: your local social-savvy celebrity, with a modest but active follower base of 5,000 – 20,000 people. Here’s why they’re perfect for you.

1. They’re relatable

The second-tier influencer isn’t the person flying on a private jet or sporting a $2,000 handbag. They’re the person who knows their stuff; they post funny anecdotes about friends and family, enjoy playing sport or Instagramming their food or travels.

A Nielsen study show that ads depicting real life situations resonate most with audiences, with 44% of global respondents ranking these as the most powerful ads. Engaging with an influencer who is relatable evokes empathy and creates a stronger and more trustworthy link with your potential and existing customers.

2. They’re accessible

A second-tier influencer is at the stage where they will reach out and engage with their own followers, meaning they reply to comments and are often continuing to build their own relationships and rapport with their audience.

Engaging with a second-tier influencer’s social posts therefore means that your brand has a higher likelihood of having that comment reciprocated, thereby establishing a two-way relationship and dialogue with the influencer and their tightly-knit follower base. They may have fewer followers overall, but they will be more loyal and open to the influencer’s brand preferences.

3. They’re easy to work with

Knowing that support from brands is needed to reach the leagues of their A-list counterparts, second-tier influencers are keen and amenable to interacting with brands that take an interest in them.

Without a marketing team or agent, the second-tier influencer usually manages their own accounts, meaning you can have better discussions on how you want to work together. In addition to their responsiveness and flexibility, generating brand advocacy from a second-tier influencer can often be done for free in exchange for offering free product. There’s also less competition to deal with as other brands will still be going for the A-Listers.

4. They’ll give you access to their tribe

Working with second-tier influencers can also help you get more involved in your local community. Not only is this a great way to stay in the loop about local events, attitudes and trends, but it humanises your brand as a company that cares about and interacts with the people around it.

Moltz and McCray’s book, Small Town Rules: How Brands and Small Businesses Can Prosper in a Connected Economy, highlights the importance of local networking for strengthening a sense of community. Encouraging active participation through established events and building relationships with members of the community gives them a greater sense of involvement with your brand and leads to strong advocacy for your business.

This can be translated to influencer marketing. Providing a relatable link through the second tier influencer allows others to feel like they’re participating more directly with you, and vice versa. This doesn’t just apply at a purely local level in the geographical or physical sense – working with influencers can help you gain access and credibility with special interest groups and online communities.