The word on the street is that influencer marketing is going to explode in 2017. In the last couple of months, the term micro-influencers has become a buzzword and it’s going to stick around in 2017 for good reason. So, what are they and what exactly is all the hype about?
While there is no strict definition it is typically someone with a small but highly engaged following, such as fewer than 20,000 followers on Instagram, or a few thousand on Facebook and Twitter. They make up the largest portion of digital influencers and, while their audience size may be modest, their influence certainly is not!
Here are 10 reasons why micro-influencers are the key to influencer marketing success in 2017 and beyond.
1. Cost effective
First and foremost, they are highly cost-effective because their rates are significantly lower than their peers with thousands or millions of followers. Macro-influencers (roughly speaking, the ones with 500k+ followers) tend to charge very high fees for branded collaborations. While they can deliver value, often their fees are so high they really are not cost effective (and that’s a whole other can of worms!).
They are so cost-effective that they should be a key part of any brand’s strategy, whether you are dabbling or investing heavily in influencer marketing. For example, you could pay $10,000 for a top-tier influencer to do one post, or you could invest the same into a campaign with 20 micro-influencers to reach a wide audience that is more highly engaged and on target, creating a groundswell approach, which leads me to my next point….
2. The perfect recipe for a groundswell approach
Micro-influencers are great for a groundswell approach to influencer marketing, where you want to reach as many people as possible, through multiple avenues, starting small and building up. This is a great strategy for brand awareness and exposure as they give you the ability to saturate the market with your brand and product.
Furthermore, repetition is good in any type of marketing, and a micro-influencer campaign ensures that the target audience is regularly exposed to the brand or product through multiple outlets (outlets being the influencers).
3. Kings and queens of content creation
If your influencer marketing goal is more focused on content creation, micro-influencers are the holy grail! As I’ve mentioned, they are cost-effective, and although they might not have a huge following, they can create great content. Whether it’s written, imagery, video or multimedia content that you’re after, seek smaller influencers to get the job done on budget, without compromising on quality.
4. Highly engaged, loyal audience
Generally speaking, micro-influencers have a highly engaged, loyal following, mostly because their audience is still growing and at this point, it is made up of people they have met, people who have followed them from the beginning, people who generally love their content and people in their personal friends and family network. On the other hand, macro-influencers often have a lower average engagement rate.
What does this mean for marketers? Engagement is a much better metric for measuring and understanding influence. While an influencer may have 100,000 followers, their engagement rate is likely to be around 1%, which means only 1,000 out of 100,000 are actually engaged with their content. Meanwhile, a smaller influencer with 10,000 followers and an average engagement rate of 6% has an engaged community of 600 people. The cost between the two can be outrageous considering you are only reaching an additional 400 engaged people!
5. Authentic and personal
What makes an audience more engaged with one influencer than another? It’s their tone, authenticity, personality, content aesthetic, topic niche, and most importantly, their ability to be personal with their audience.
Micro-influencers cherish their growing community, and they are readily available to attend events, interact with followers, reply to comments, engage with their community and have a presence offline, as well as online. Whereas high-profile influencers have an in-demand, celebrity status which often prevents them from being as personal with their large audience (not many people have time to reply to 300 Instagram comments a day).
The other thing that makes them more personal is that their audience trusts them, which is more uncommon when it comes to macro-influencers who regularly work with a wide variety of brands, and are known to take on paid advertising projects.
6. Go above and beyond to impress
My absolute favourite thing about working with micro-influencers, and why I always will value them, is that they are typically great to work with. They go above and beyond to satisfy and impress a client, doing more than is expected, as they are so grateful for the opportunity to work with a brand that values their work.
I also find they are often more available on email, they are open to exploring out-of-the-box propositions, their content is just as great, and you get to communicate directly to the influencer and build a meaningful relationship with them personally rather than through a talent manager.
7. An opportunity for small businesses
Big brands have big budgets and can afford to work with anyone and everyone, so they often ignore smaller influencers. This isn’t always a bad thing though, as it means that while the big brands are seeking the next “it” celebrity for endorsement, small businesses, startups and movers and shakers can work closely with micro-influencers who closely align with their target market and budget.
For consumers, it means that anyone and everyone can play in the influencer marketing space, and there is potential to compete with your competitors no matter your budget or investment (in saying that, you get out what you put in). My point is, influencer marketing with micro-influencers is a great way for growing brands to tap into influencer marketing and really start to see some great results.
8. Tap into a niche Audience
They have a niche audience - a small tribe that is closely align with their passions and interests, is engaged with the content style and matches a similar demographic profile. In influencer marketing, the relevance of the influencer to the brand, product or service is key, and if they aren’t a good match, your campaign will almost always be unsuccessful.
9. Traditional marketing and advertising no longer reign supreme
We know that traditional marketing and advertising, and particularly print marketing, is no longer the go-to approach when it comes to increasing brand awareness, driving product sales, generating positive PR and launching a new brand, product or service. We also know that consumers increasingly consult social media and blogs when making purchase decisions, whether it is a quick google search, browsing the branded hashtag or looking at Facebook recommendations and reviews, the digital space is the first point of call for consumers searching for product and brand information.
So, what’s the solution? Influencer marketing! Year on year, budgets and resources allocated to influencer marketing are increasing, because influencer marketing actually works, and there is clear ROI potential. What does that have to do with micro-influencers? They are up-and-comers in the influencer space, and as a collective, they’re on their way to disrupting the accepted influencer space.
On another note, what seems more effective to you - $100,000 marketing budget spent on a single print ad in a national magazine, distributed to an untargeted audience that is prone to viewing (and ignoring) advertising in this environment, or $100,000 spent on engaging with a niche target market that is highly relevant to the brand or product via a large-scale influencer marketing campaign? I’ll let you decide (hint: it’s the second one!).
10. Digital consumers are becoming more savvy
As digital consumers become more savvy with Adblock software and technology, marketers are having to be more creative when it comes to reaching their target market. The solution is influencer marketing because it is presented to consumers as editorial and advertorial, and is viewed authentically, rather than being forced upon consumers. Micro-influencers are the perfect vehicle to distribute marketing messages in a digital capacity, because 1) there are so many of them, 2) they are authentic, genuine and natural in their content and recommendations, and 3) they are not impacted by Adblock software, so there is nothing standing between the influencer content and consumers.
There is true value in understanding the power and value of engagement in the influencer marketing space, and for the marketers that do, they’re influencer marketing campaigns are better for it. By leveraging these 'smaller' influencers in your influencer strategy, any brand can create a winning formula for success.