For anyone looking to make a splash on social media, the ultimate goal should be effective personal branding. This concept is essential for micro-influencers, or those with between 1,000 and 100,000 followers. Establishing a solid personal brand allows micro-influencers to gain the attention of companies willing to work with them.
Because micro-influencers can often come across as relateable “everyday people” — much more so than mega-influencers with millions of followers or celebrities — companies are utilizing them more and more to reach the average consumer. Custom merch can help micro-influencers set themselves apart in the ever-growing social media landscape and garner the attention of companies looking to partner.
Dani Diarbakerly, CEO of custom apparel company KingPro, knows the importance of making unique merchandise for creatives accessible.
“Helping a client who has an idea, but doesn’t know how to make that idea into a real physical object that can be used to represent or promote a brand, is what we love to do,” says Diarbakerly. “I think that is what makes KingPro special; we take the time to get a deeper understanding of what each client is looking for, and then help them to create products based on what their brand needs.”
Diarbakerly says there are several considerations for micro-influencers looking to up their custom merch game. Here are some of the most important ones she mentioned:
Accurate Personal Branding Has Power
Anyone undertaking the role of being a paid influencer knows that establishing an authentic and well-thought-out personal brand is key to their success. Personal branding reflects who you are and is your “handshake” to the world. Customized merch makes a brand’s “handshake” instantly recognizable and memorable. For influencers, this immediate recognition helps to build a brand’s credibility and establish trust from followers, both of which are vital components of building an authentic personal brand on social media.
Be Intentional About Product Choice
The products a micro-influencer chooses to focus on may depend on their area of influence. For instance, musicians may want to translate a feeling or a mood found in their music through their merch, while influencers in fashion and apparel may emphasize the fashion-forward or sustainable nature of their merch choices. Whatever a micro-influencer’s niche may be, they will want to choose products that align with that niche.
Custom companies like KingPro can help influencers narrow down what merchandise will appeal to their followers.
Work With Designers That Understand Your Vision
Diarbakerly works with many creatives to guide them towards realizing the vision for their brand. Having worked with various prominent brands such as Nike and General Mills on their design approach, KingPro offers merch that always features cutting-edge design and a loud-and-clear brand voice. Micro-Influencers may struggle with establishing their vision and voice, but by working with designers who have a history of interpreting brand visions, they can elevate their own brands and their connection to their followers.
One micro-influencer that KingPro has helped elevate is Amun Bes, a multi-faceted artist with over ten thousand followers on his Instagram account. It’s creatives like Amun that Diarbakerly believes her approach to custom merchandise speaks to. Amun’s personal brand has built off the idea of finding “awae” and if there isn’t one, create one. His perspective is unique, and the items that KingPro has helped customize for him make Amun’s work and “Awae” instantly recognizable.
Custom merch can be crucial for micro-influencers looking to engage with followers in a meaningful way. Unique, high-quality merchandise allows fans of your personal brand to show their loyalty and helps draw more followers to your platforms.
Think of your favorite musician. Perhaps you own several t-shirts with their logo or familiar images that are instantly recognizable by other fans of that same band. Wearing that merchandise creates a community. When you see another person wearing that band’s t-shirt, there’s a kinship formed. Building a community is how micro-influencers grow their influence and establish a platform that more prominent brands and companies want to work with.
Diarbakerly wants to stress the importance of smaller influencers working with merch companies such as KingPro that have their best interest in mind. KingPro has a history of elevating creatives, artists, musicians, and influencers with their custom merch offerings. Unlike a mass production company, KingPro is small, customizable, and able to see each client as a unique entity — not just a number.
“We focus on what makes a brand, influencer, or business special,” says Diarbakerly. “Then, we develop fully-custom products that resonate with their fan base to drive sales and increase brand impressions.”
The KingPro approach is about storytelling and the singular voice of every creative who seeks out their services. Diarbakerly’s company has worked with celebrities like Chronixx and Popcaan, had Drake and Diplo wear her designs, and created custom items for countless influencers.
Marketing is changing, especially in regards to social media, and micro-influencers have a solid footing in this new world of interacting with consumers and selling products and services. By catering to the unique needs of micro-influencers, custom merch companies like KingPro put themselves above mass-production merch companies.
You can follow Diarbakerly and KingPro at @kingproja and @kingprodani on Instagram.