When you think of social media marketing these days, one of the first things you probably think of are influencers. But the most beneficial influencer for your brand definitely doesn't have to be a celebrity with a massive amount of followers.

Microinfluencers — who have fewer than 10,000 followers — are often extremely important in terms of directing their fans to niche brands and products. These influencers are often ignored by advertisers, which is a huge mistake. Working with them can definitely position your brand in a desirable and highly lucrative way.

Use these research-proven strategies to align yourself strongly and profitably:

Understand "two step flow."

A study from University of Colorado researchers Harsha Gangadharbatla and Masoud Valafar found that influencers are most effective in shaping the opinion of others when they give their view independently.

This means a microinfluencer should be talking about your product without direct marketing assistance from your brand. Locate those who are doing just that on social media and then propose working with them — these influencers' affinity for what you sell is authentic, and that holds powerful appeal.

Work with influencers who don't post constantly.

A study from Indiana University's Kelley School of Business found that top-ranked reviewers on Amazon are seen as less trustworthy in terms of their opinion on a product than reviewers who post less frequently. Posting less often makes your product seem special and worthy of an influencer's praise, especially if that influencer is seen as discerning.

Look at geographical links.

A study from the University of Vermont found that during five of the largest natural disasters in recent times, Twitter users relaying information to as few as 100 to 200 followers increased activity powerfully with larger networks.

How does this translate to your brand? If you identify a powerful influencer's voice in a certain geographical region — as happens in the parts of an area affected by a disaster or localized event — you can work with that influencer's word-of-mouth skill to boost your brand in specific and important granular areas.

Look for a sense of humor.

A microinfluencer who has a fun, positive take on the products he or she loves draws loyalty. Target influencers whose voices you genuinely like, and would want to follow personally, to make a lasting connection.

Treat those you work with well.

Make sure your interactions with every microinfluencer you work with are ethical, respectful and complimentary. The last thing you want is any influencer to be able to spread the word against your company from an insider perspective.

Treat every microinfluencer you work with as a true partner, and your association can be mutually profitable for years to come!