Influencer marketing has been around for a while now, which means influencer strategies have matured and diversified. The shift towards micro influencers is one such trend in social media marketing, where brands turn to social influencers with smaller followings to promote their products or services to small clusters of passionate followers.
Because influencer marketing is an emerging trend, there isn’t a strict definition of what makes a micro influencer. It varies depending on the marketer your talking to or the platform you’re talking about.
A micro influencer might have a following of between 1000 and 10,000, or between 10,000 and 100,000. While follower count is disputed, most people agree that micro influencers target a more specific niche of followers than traditional big influencers or celebrities.
This means using micro influencers has several main advantages over using traditional influencers, all of which contribute to often higher ROI for your business.
One reason micro influencers don’t tend to grow beyond 10,000 or 100,000 followers is because they occupy a certain niche that limits their mainstream appeal.
To some, this sounds like an inhibitor. Actually, this is where the power of micro influencers comes from.
Although the world’s largest influencers are able to generate a lot of buzz around a product, the number of people who follow them means that their followers come from a variety of different backgrounds. This means, when a brand partners with a major influencer, they automatically broadcast to a lot of people who will never buy their products.
Time and money spent marketing to people who will never buy your product is time and money wasted.
Better to use influencers who actually engage your target market. These people are more likely to understand your customers because they are you customers, a factor that contributes to how much people trust their opinion.
Over 90 percent of marketers believe that the content they create is authentic.
Consumers disagree, with only 50 percent believing that brands create authentic content.
This data comes from Stackla’s Consumer Content Report 2019, which surveyed consumers to find out how they’re influenced by digital content. The report found that people aren’t being heavily influenced by brand generated content because they don’t trust its authenticity.
Respondents showed that less than 13 percent of brand generated content impacted consumer choices.
The same report also showed that only 8 percent of consumers are influenced by celebrity content. This doesn’t bode well for traditional influencers, but it shows why micro influencers are better.
Because micro influencers are more relatable and are more likely to be perceived as consumers crating content, they are more trusted and can have ten times more impact on customer purchasing decisions.
Part of the reason micro influencers are seen as more authentic and can be more impactful is because of their interactions with their followers.
For large influencers, it’s impractical to engage closely with their millions of followers.
This isn’t the case for micro influencers, who can respond to follower engagement at higher rates. In doing so, micro influencers build better relationships and appear more reliable when it comes to the products they recommend.
Edelmen, the largest PR firm in the world, released research in 2019 on the importance of reliability in social media marketing.
Similar to the Sackla report, Eldeman showed that people are unlikely to trust brands and celebrities. However, they showed that consumer trust in a brand could be improved if that brand was partnered with a person who they know and trust.
Enter micro influencers.
At a Cannes Lions Festival earlier this year, a panel from Eldeman said that this change has happened since the Fyre Festival scandal broke and eroded consumer trust in influencer reliability. Richard Eldeman, Eldeman CEO, made a key point of saying that, “People want to hear from real people, not celebrities.”
Micro influencers can have higher engagement than traditional influencers.
Research has shown that influencers with fewer followers have more likes, comments and shares than more well-known and more popular social influencers.
A study from award-winning influencer marketing company Markerly, which analysed more than 800,000 Instagram accounts, showed that engagement rates peak at around 8 per cent for influencers at around 1,000 followers. By 10,000 followers, influencers had only half this engagement (roughly 4 percent).
While this downward trend does slow down, the engagement is still much lower for large influencers.
The biggest influencers in the world (those with over 10 million followers) only generate likes 1.6 percent of the time and comments 0.04 percent of the time.
And although big influencers reach a lot of people (0.04 percent of 10 million is still a lot), this reach comes with a price tag to match, highlighting one of the other major advantages of micro influencers.
Micro influencers offer value for money.
Partnering with celebrities can cost tens of thousands of dollars for a single post. This puts large influencers well out of reach for many brands.
On the other hand, 84 percent of micro influencers charge less than $250 per post, and are within reach of any business. Of course, these influencers have far less reach than someone with millions of followers, so brands have to establish more partnerships and be careful about who they choose for an effective social media marketing strategy.
The bottom line is, this still works out to be better value for money.
A report from New York based influencer platform Bloglovin shows the average cost of posts from micro influencers on different platforms. Let’s go back to the ‘less than $250’ amount charged by micro influencers. This means that even with a budget of only $5000, a marketer can expect between 30 and 100 posts that reach over 125,000 people.
By distributing budget across many different influencers, instead of placing all your eggs in one basket, marketers can minimise the risk when it comes to social media marketing.
It all comes down to influencer segmentation.
Pick a diverse group of influencers who target different elements of your target market. This allows you to capitalise on higher engagement rates of micro influencers and increase the effectiveness of your campaign.
On top of this, if an influencer doesn’t bring in the expected engagement, then it does less damage to your overall strategy, because you have built a campaign around many small successes, rather than betting everything on the success of one horse.
Often, distrust in influencer marketing comes from cases where a brand has thrown a lot of resources into one or a few influencers, and have seen poor returns because of a misalignment between brand and ambassador.
Fast-growing platforms like Instagram offer big rewards to marketers who understand how to make the most out of them. Brands using micro influencers often find that the high engagement they get by targeting niche markets with trusted influencers leads to more genuine content and impressive ROI. How ready is your brand to enter the age of the micro influencer?
BY MICHAEL BIRD Mike is CEO and Co-Founder of digital marketing agency Social Garden. Social Garden specializes in data-driven lead generation and marketing automation to grow companies’ revenue in different verticals in Australia.