Step aside Kim Kardashian and Something Navy, the latest trend in influencer marketing revolves around activating micro-influencers—content creators who possess smaller, but highly engaged niche social followings. Although their fans may number in the hundreds or thousands rather than millions, these content creators inject an air of authenticity into their posts and drive engagement among their followers. Micro-influencers build community, creating an intimate and arguably more authentic relationship with their followers—a unique value that can’t always be measured tangibly.
Engagement By The Numbers
A micro-influencer is loosely defined as someone with a social following of over 2,000 and under 50,000. While a celebrity or elite influencer offers mass reach, engagement, represented by likes and comments, among micro-influencers is significantly higher than those with large followings. Instagram influencers with fewer than 10,000 followers consistently generated likes from 4-8% of their follower base while those with ten million or more followers earned less than 2%. While 2% of ten million is still a considerable number, micro-influencers deliver on a deeper level and drive success through comments, shares, Instagram saves, Pinterest pins, and ultimately, sales.
Creating Partnerships Not Just Posts
For both the brand and the micro-influencer, there’s nothing better than being on the ground floor of a mutually-beneficial partnership. Identify micro-influencers who are already passionate about your brand or content creators who share the same aesthetic or values and build those organic relationships. Their followers already trust their judgment and expertise, so engagement comes naturally. Give these users a toolkit (coupons, samples, product giveaway) and involve them in new product launches and seasonal campaigns. The cost of working with micro-influencers is time—coordinating posts, shipping product, and tracking data across tens to hundreds of influencers requires more legwork than a one-off post from a celebrity endorser, but the payoff can be big.
The Reality of Social Media
With Facebook and Instagram tightening their visibility algorithms, marketers are re-thinking the value in partnering with social superstars. When they work with a celebrity, marketers may believe they’re reaching her entire social network; however, that’s no longer the case. Over time, Facebook has reduced its visibility algorithm by 98%, while Instagram clipped post visibility for brands and celebrities by 30%. To obtain their desired reach, brands not only need to pay the influencer, they now need to activate a social advertising campaign to amplify the influencer’s content. Since both Facebook and Instagram prioritize authentic and highly engaged users over promoted content from brands and celebrity pages, micro-influencer content has become more visible.
When Superstars Matter
That’s not to say brands should avoid celebrities or social media superstars altogether. Influencer-brand collaborations have been extremely successful—consider the success of Chrissy Teigen for Becca Cosmetics, Something Navy for Bandier, or Olivia Palermo for Banana Republic. When the influencer is a stakeholder and involved in every aspect of the product design and marketing it can be a huge win for brands and evolve into a long-term relationship. The most successful campaigns engage elite influencers over a long period to convey authenticity and activate their communities.
Pros to Working With Micro-Influencers
Most emerging brands don’t have the budget to work with A-list influencers, but working with a select group of micro-influencers is an effective, budget-friendly way to engage in influencer marketing. Here are the pros to working with micro-influencers:
- Authentic storytelling from a trusted friend
- Perceived to be real people with honest opinions
- Content is more relatable and attainable
- Activate niche audiences with content produced for each campaign
- Excited to work with brands they love and will go the extra mile to deliver content
- Higher organic engagement rates
- Cost-effective, activate many instead of one
No longer is the best strategy the biggest and most expensive. It’s time to re-think your approach to social marketing and shift your mindset away from social superstars and towards engaging brand advocates that foster authenticity and trust.