The Rise of the Micro-Influencer: Why Less Really Might Be More

February 5 2018

Social media influencers are not a new thing by any means. With the growth of platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, the term blogger has almost become a thing of the past. Why have a WordPress account that needs to be updated constantly with full length, long form posts when you can influence the masses with a simple photo and caption or tweet?

And how about that celebrity spokesperson or endorser. They also seem to be history now that consumers are savvier to the world of traditional advertisements. Consumers want a more authentic voice delivering them brand information, product details, etc.

Hence the rise of the social media influencer.

These influencers are now an indispensable part of successful PR, social media and marketing campaigns for companies. Everything from a larger, nationally-recognized brand to a one location store in a growing city like Nashville are looking at influencers to help build awareness for their brand, product and overall mission. Given this growth, we as PR professionals need to understand how these influencers work and how to best engage with them more than ever.

Top influencers with huge followings, such as celebrities and big-name bloggers, can charge hundreds or thousands per post and many brands are willing to spend the money to reach their audience. But is this effective? To spend thousands of dollars on a single Instagram post? Bigger might not always be better.

Studies have shown that as an influencer’s following increases, their engagement actually begins decreasing. As reported by Digiday, a survey of 2 million social media influencers conducted by influencer marketing platform Markerly showed that for unpaid posts, Instagram influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers have a like rate of about 8 percent, while those with 1,000 to 10,000 followers have a like rate of 4 percent.

So according to these findings, and other recent research done by branding and marketing firms over the past couple of years, an influencer with a smaller but more loyal following might be the way to go for marketers looking to reach their target audience. An individual with a following of around 1,000 to 10,000 hold a lot of power in today’s digital world. And we call them “micro-influencers.”

Why do micro-influencers work? Well for starters, their followers view them as a trusted friend making an authentic recommendation rather than a company pushing a product. And while your content might be seen by more people if you work with a big-name influencer with millions of followers, you might not be reaching the right people for your brand. Targeting micro-influencers specific to your industry or niche is more likely to be seen by your ideal consumer. For instance, followers of influencers who post about a niche topic, like gardening, care about the way their spring yard looks, even if the influencers aren’t a household name.

Still not sold? Here are a few specific reasons why micro-influencers matter more than ever:

– Micro-influencers deliver more engagement – Because micro-influencers are personally invested in their crafts, they are trusted sources of recommendations for their followers. Additionally, according to a recent study from Experticity, micro-influencers have 22.2X more conversations than typical Instagram users. Again, this is largely because they’re passionate and knowledgeable about their particular area of interest.

– Micro-influencers have a more targeted audience – If a sneaker brand like Adidas partnered with a celebrity with millions of followers on Instagram, the celebrity could reach their huge following but a large portion of them might not be interested in sneakers. Instead, if that brand connected with 100 bloggers specifically focused on sneakers and the street wear industry with 1,000 followers each, it would be able to connect to a smaller but far more engaged audience. Conversions may be good with a mega-celebrity social media influencer, but they could be even better with micro-influencers given their small, targeted audience.

– Micro-influencers are more cost-effective – This is a no-brainer. Today, celebrities or influencers with millions of followers will charge thousands or tens of thousands for one post promoting a product. On average, a micro-influencer will charge a couple hundred for a post. Now yes, you do have to work with more than one micro-influencer, but even working with a group of 30-50 micro-influencers will cost less than working with one celebrity who charges $50,000 or more for one post. And, micro-influencers are much more open to receiving free product in exchange for monetary compensation.

– Micro-influencers are authentic – They are real people so their content and conversations are real, too. Micro-influencers likely post their own content, reply to comments and act more authentically than a celebrity influencer who usually has a social media manager handling their pages. And since these influencers are authentic and engaged, their followers are probably more inclined to engage with the brand and click on the link to learn more since there is a level of trust with this influencer.

Keeping all this in mind, next time you are thinking about the best “spokesperson” to educate your audience on your brand or product, consider a micro-influencer. That might just be the missing piece to your marketing campaign.

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