Recently, a new type of influencer has arisen within the realm of the influencer marketing—the micro-influencer.
Although they may not have as large a following, they can be just as effective, if not more so, than a celebrity with millions of followers, particularly when you enlist a small army of them. Knowing this, it would be foolish for your brand to overlook utilizing micro-influencers, since there are several advantages that only they can provide.
Below, we’ll review the importance of the micro-influencer and then discuss how you can best utilize them to target specific audiences and maximize your brand’s reach.
The Evolution of Influencer Marketing
It’s somewhat shocking to compare the nascent stages of social media to the all-consuming beast that it is today. Scant few people could have predicted that the apps and websites meant to connect friends, share pictures, or post videos could one day evolve into a center of commerce and marketing mecca.
But they did, which in turn precipitated the meteoric rise of influencer marketing.
That said, while influencer marketing can still be used effectively—as demonstrated by the infamous Fyre festival, whose undeserved hype was practically conjured out of thin air by a concerted major influencer push—it’s not as powerful as it initially was.
This is occurring for three reasons:
- The market has become oversaturated by influencer marketing, which causes an influencer pitch to feel less natural.
- The cost-benefit is not what it once was, particularly since large social influencers can command million-dollar fees for a single post.
- Consumers have become inured to it and are no longer as receptive as they once had been.
In the State of Influencer Marketing report, Forbes notes the shift occurring therein:
At the same time, marketers don’t spend their money how they used to but are dramatically changing how they work with social influencers. “The bigger the influencer, the better” is no longer the favored approach. As consumers become more wary of how fake the industry can be, marketers’ tactics are becoming much more sophisticated and collaborations are becoming more well thought through.
Due to this decrease in receptivity and efficacy, brands are pivoting away from the mega-influencer. In order to stay authentic, many have begun partnering with micro-influencers, or influencers with less than 10,000 followers. Such people have highly-engaged, niche audiences, to whom they’re deeply connected. And thus far, the vast majority of reports are favorable, with most marketing and PR teams claiming that this creates more poignant messaging and targeted results.
Why Brands Shouldn’t Overlook Micro-Influencers?
Although it may be tempting for marketers to shoot for the moon and work with celebrities who have hundreds of thousands of followers, the analytics suggest that this is not the best route, particularly for marketing teams that have a smaller budget.
Reasons for this include:
Micro-influencers get better engagement – Influencer marketing is used to maintain trust and relatability to the brand, which is something micro-influencers excel at. Although macro-influencers have a larger following, that figure doesn’t necessarily mean they have higher engagement or results. In 2018, Markerly conducted an analysis of more than 800,000 Instagram users, with most having at least 1,000 followers, and they found the following:
As an influencer’s follower total rises, the rate of engagement (likes and comments) with followers decreases. Those with less than 1,000 followers generally received likes on their sponsored posts 8% of the time. Users with a 10 million+ follower count only received likes 1.6% of the time. There is a clear downward correlation between follower sizes and post likes.
They conclude that the sweet spot that maximizes both engagement and reach is in the 10k-100k micro-influencer range. There are various reasons why this is the optimal range, including:
- Followers are not bought.
- Followers are more loyal and return to their content at higher engagement rates.
- Followers are more likely to engage since there’s a higher likelihood that the influencer responds in kind.
Decreased cost – Every marketing campaign has its limitations. One of the most pressing concerns typically involves the budget, or lack thereof. And the truth is that few marketing teams have deep enough pockets to pay Kim Kardashian’s exorbitant $250,000 per Instagram post fee. Micro-influencers, on the other hand, are far more cost-effective. Per Digiday, the average cost for someone with 100,000 followers on the various platforms would go as follows:
- Instagram – $1,000
- Snapchat – $500 per 24 campaign
- YouTube – $2,000
Micro-influencers, especially the smaller ones, are also more amenable to receiving free products as payment or partial compensation. In addition, they tend to become brand advocates that continue to speak on behalf of the company, instead of being bought to post a single time and then silence thereafter.
They’re more relatable – Followers are far more likely to trust micro-influencers because they tend to be far more relatable and down to earth, at least in the eyes of their fans. Oftentimes, they only post about products they genuinely like as opposed to macro-influencers who are paid big bucks to post whatever. Audiences know that micro-influencers are less likely to post products they hate since they’re doing so for little money, if not for free, and that they’ll receive widespread blowback from their audience for shilling a subpar product.
Easier to work with – As is often the case, the higher in demand someone is, the less they have to care about what they do or say. Stars and talent have more power, which allows them to get away with things that they’d never have been able to when they were on the rise. The simple truth is that mega-influencers can be extremely difficult to work with. They tend to be headstrong, obstinate, and very likely won’t care as much about your brand.
Micro-influencers, on average, are much more amenable, flexible, and receptive to your messaging and campaign goals. This creates a mutually beneficial arrangement where they’re more dependent upon pleasing you and vice versa. By working with them, you can avoid much of the headaches and drama that reportedly comes with mega-influencers.
Open to partnerships – Along the same lines, when you work with a micro-influencer who is a fan of your brand, you have the ability to arrange a long-term partnership where they act as a brand rep. Doing so strengthens your messaging far more than a one-time post ever would, particularly since it allows their audience to become far more familiar with the brand, its name, and message.
Remember that most every micro-influencer is also trying to expand their reach and audience. So, if you get in early with a rising star, you may strike gold by forging a natural partnership at an agreeable rate, which continues into the future.
You can take risks – Because an influencer campaign doesn’t cost you much, you can experiment or take risks with messaging that you’d be unwilling to do when the price tag was much higher. Should the campaign flop, it will have little to no impact on your bottom line. As a result, you can conduct trial and error campaigns, which provide you with invaluable feedback on what works and what doesn’t.
Also, you can give your micro-influencer more of a free rein to be creative and take risks that they might otherwise not consider. Doing so will empower them and strengthen your future relationship.
They may already be fans – Many micro-influencers could have already been promoting you without ever being paid a cent. Naturally, such people are more effective salesmen and more willing to work in exchange for free products or at a discount rate. So, to find enthusiastic micro-influencers, use in-depth search functions in order to see who has posted about your brand, its product, or the industry as a whole.
Targeted audiences – Micro-influencers have the ability to target niche communities that are more likely to respond positively to their messaging. For example, if you were a goggle brand, you’d probably get more sales from working with a professional snowboarder with tens of thousands of followers—who are also snowboard enthusiasts—over some celeb with millions of followers. In this case, the micro-influencer can help create a natural buzz that reaches your ideal consumer. So, to ensure you work with the right micro-influencer ask yourself the following:
- Is their audience your target audience?
- Is their brand in alignment with your brand identity and values?
Authenticity – Consumers tend to know when they’re being overtly sold something. With mega-influencers, the audience innately knows that the celebrities are likely hawking a product for a huge check. We’ve been conditioned. Our eyes are keen. With micro-influencers, particularly those that are already plugged into those niches, audiences view them as more down to earth and honest. They trust them. And trust in marketing is everything.
Don’t Overlook Micro-Influencers
Now, there may be a time and place for working with the mega-influencer, but the analytics show that consumers are more receptive to pitches from micro-influencers. A simple cost-benefit analysis demonstrates that you’ll likely see better results working with 20 micro-influencers with 100k followers than a single mega-influencer with 2,000,000 followers.
So, as you go about planning your 2020 influencer marketing campaign, avoid the pitfall of overlooking the power of a smaller voice sending a targeted message to an engaged audience.
Forbes. The State of Influencer Marketing: Growing. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forrester/2019/09/02/the-state-of-influencer-marketing-growing/#118092ee4e80
Markerly. Instagram Marketing: Does Influencer Size Matter? https://markerly.com/blog/instagram-marketing-does-influencer-size-matter/
Digiday. What Influencer Marketing Really Costs. https://digiday.com/marketing/what-influencer-marketing-costs/