While the term “Influencer Marketing” might be new(er) or more of a buzzword lately, the concept is anything but. As long as marketing and advertising has been around, brands have been using people in positions of celebrity, or whom others look up to, to promote their products.
One of my all-time favorites are the ads from the late 1940s that read “More Doctors Smoke Camels Than Any Other Cigarette.” People look to their doctors for advice, and they have high influence over our thoughts and actions, making them the perfect vehicle for an influencer campaign.
All influencer marketing is, no matter what you call it, working with someone who's influential over a certain group in order to promote your brand to that influencer’s audience. Until recently, those influencers were almost solely celebrities - brands would have high profile people hold their product in commercials or ads, and people developed stronger affiliations with brands as an extension of their connection with each celebrity. Some were subtle, others not so much (I'm looking at you, “Be Like Mike”).
The problem is, most those celebrities didn’t truly use those brands, and with access to much more information, and connection to more people, consumers are getting much more savvy about where they place their trust.
Social media has given rise to a newer concept within influencer marketing, referred to as 'micro-influencer' marketing. It’s the same premise as influencer marketing, but on a smaller scale - brands partner with people with smaller social media followings to promote their products in a more authentic way, as opposed to large scale, sponsored ads.
Unlike celebrities, micro-influencers are often just like us. I think of them as people with between 1,000-10,000 followers, but for the most part, I focus on those in the 1,000-6,000 range. They’re individuals that are vocal about what they like and don’t like on social, and they engage frequently with the people that follow them about those likes and dislikes.
And while they don’t have the hundreds of thousands of followers, their audiences are often much more engaged. Generally, as an influencer’s number of followers increases, their number of likes and comments from those followers decreases. People might like posts as a way to remember certain ones, but without a back-and-forth conversation, I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t follow those people for very long.
When a celebrity has a million followers, each one of those million people might follow that celebrity for a different reason - some may follow because they like the fashion of that celebrity influencer, while another might follow them because they loved a TV show they were on, or a movie they were in. On the other hand, micro-influencers’ audiences are more highly targeted. If they have 1,000 followers, it's more than likely that those 1,000 people all follow them for the same reason – because, like the micro-influencer, they share a passion about a particular area of interest.
Micro-influencers are also more accessible and affordable. Celebrities can charge upwards of $50,000 for a single post promoting a product, while a micro-influencer will often want to partner with a brand so they can grow together.
Because micro-influencers are often seen as more authentic, and spend more time engaging with their followers, they can be a huge help in working with the algorithms that social platforms now employ.
For example, posts from profiles with highly engaged audiences are shown first in Instagram feeds - this means that a micro-influencers content might be more visible than a huge celebrity's, if the algorithm is being shown that people are more interested that content.
As such, micro-influencers should definitely be on your radar as a potential social media marketing option - utilizing a range of smaller-scale influencers with dedicated followings can provide significantly better results than a single big budget campaign, when targeted correctly.
Have you begun working with micro-influencers with your brand? Leave me a comment and let me know how it’s been working for you, or if there are any campaigns you’ve seen recently that you think we should all check out.