When you think of Nike, does a professional athlete pop into your head? Tiger Woods? Alex Morgan? When you think of CoverGirl, do you think of Katy Perry? Or even more recently, when you think of Heineken do you think of celebrity actor Neil Patrick Harris?
These are all prime examples of traditional influencer marketing – a marketing tactic big brands utilize to partner with highly influential individuals within their market to pose as brand ambassadors. Up until recently, the influencer marketing arena has been dominated by the aforementioned brands with large marketing budgets. However, since the launch of YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media platforms, the game has changed entirely.
These platforms triggered the emergence of a new category of influencer known as the “micro-influencer”. Micro-influencers are social media users who specialize in particular verticals, such as fitness, beauty or travel and frequently share content with their followers about these interests. Unlike “traditional” influencers, micro-influencers have a modest number of fans or followers, typically in the 10,000 to 100,000 range.
While their following might be modest, the ROI for micro-influencers packs a huge punch in five key areas that savvy marketers can’t ignore:
For micro-influencers it’s the quality of their following over the quantity that can’t be emphasized enough. People typically do not follow micro-influencers if they aren’t interested in the general focus of their shared content. As a result, the audience and following they cultivate is hyper-targeted, placing your product offering and brand messaging in front of fresh eyeballs that make up your key demographic.
Micro-influencers take great pride in the following they’ve cultivated and realize that one irrelevant post can potentially drive a follower to click the dreaded “unfollow” button. So, when they do partner with your brand, they do it in an authentic and subtle way that boosts their credibility and industry relevance.
They know that their followers turn to them as a trusted friend and resource, so the high-quality content and genuine testimony that they share resonates on a deeper level than a traditional, straight-forward advertisement.
The biggest difference between micro-influencers and “traditional” influencers is that micro-influencers tend to hold more meaningful conversations with their followers and share content across several of their social media accounts. Since micro-influencers are considered thought leaders within their vertical, their passion reflects within the content they post and how they interact with their target audience. After all, micro-influencers are experts at leveraging social media to boost their profile’s status.
For example, if you decided to comment on one of Kylie Jenner’s Instagram photos, asking her a question about the product she posted about, there is a slim to none chance that she will acknowledge your comment and respond back to you. Whereas, if you commented on one of AlexisJadeKaiser’sInstagram posts, there is a higher chance she will message you back and answer your question. Not only does this carry out the brand messaging, but it shows that the influencer is educated about the brand and has personally tried their products.
A recent study on Markely determined that the “sweet spot” to receive maximum engagement from a target audience on an Instagram post are accounts within the 10,000 to 100,000 followers range. This study showed that once a social media account reaches a certain number of followers, the engagement from their target audience slowly begins to decrease. The data showed that Instagram users with less than 1,000 followers received likes on their post 8% of the time, while Instagram users with over 10 million followers received likes on their post 1.6% of the time.
There is a significant correlation between the size of an influencer’s account and how many likes each of their posts generates. In other words, the more hyper-targeted an influencer’s following is, the more engagement their posts will receive.
Users trust influencers that they identify with, relate to, and consider to be on a similar social status as. Although many users may follow their celebrity crush and live vicariously through their posts, they unconsciously label them within a social status above them. A micro-influencer’s followers aspire to their lifestyle and rely on their knowledge as a source of information.
Since micro-influencers engage with their followers and hold real conversations, their followers value their opinions and consider them someone they can trust. They expect them to be honest about which content is sponsored and if it is sponsored, what they genuinely think about the brand’s products. This is beneficial for brands because nine out of ten times consumers are more likely to trust the opinion or testimonial of someone they relate to and trust, rather than an opinion of a person who is considered “celebrity status.”
Lastly, micro-influencers are more affordable for brands to partner with, plain and simple. If a brand doesn’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars within their marketing budget, influencer marketing is the most affordable and impactful brand awareness play. In other words, brands get the biggest bang for their buck.
Partnering with several micro-influencers with a more modest number of followers is most likely still less expensive as partnering with one influencer with a large following, and it has proven to have a bigger return of investment (ROI) for brands.
As more brands catch onto this form of word-of-mouth marketing, or word-of-post marketing in this case, they are realizing that influencer marketing is no longer a tactic only large, well-known brands can implement into their marketing strategy. Brands of all sizes are able to participate in the influencer marketing realm, and if they’ve done their research, they will see that partnering with micro-influencers has proven to be a successful strategy.