Mar 18, 2021 - News
Des Moines' microinfluencers help spread the word about local brands
A screenshot of Emily Steele's oat milk latte from Instagram
A screenshot of Emily Steele's oat milk latte from Instagram. Screenshot via Instagram.

When Emily Steele tried the oat milk latte at Horizon Line Coffee downtown — she was hooked.

  • So, obviously, she turned that passion to her Instagram. Then her friends and followers got the coffee and raved about it.

What's happening: That experience inspired her to start "dsm hummingbirds," a group of "microinfluencers" who get free access to local events and products in exchange for social media posts.

How it works: Local residents can sign up to become a "hummingbird," and get added to a private Facebook group.

  • Businesses pay Steele an annual fee to feature their events and products, which group members can then try and post about.

"Influencers" conjures images of James Charles or head-to-toe Gucci posts — which Steele acknowledges.

  • But what makes her business different are the 300 local hummingbirds who aren't catering to huge follower counts — their voices are authentic and directly reach the targeted audience, she said.
  • And if someone didn't end up liking something, there's no pressure to post about it.

Some clients so far have included Hy-Vee, the Iowa Events Center and the Iowa Speedway.

  • What they're saying: "We realized our everyday decisions we were making in Des Moines were because of what our peers or co-workers or neighbors were posting on social media," Steele said.

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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