Forbes has labeled 2017 “The Year of the Influencer,” and they might be on to something. The idea of an influencer in itself is not particularly new or revolutionary – brands have been using celebrities to promote their products for decades – but the landscape of influencer marketing has drastically changed over the last few years. Thanks to the rise of social media the coveted title of influencer is no longer reserved for the mega-famous or people with millions of followers – and so enters the micro-influencer. These days, just about anyone can become a micro-influencer if they have the time and energy, and that has opened up a lot of doors for marketers.
A micro-influencer is exactly the same as an influencer, just with a smaller following. Think 10,000 to 100,000 instead of hundreds of thousands or millions. Don’t get me wrong, the big names and celebrity influencers are great if you want a lot of eyes, but there are two major downsides: cost and engagement. Getting the big names is expensive, and multiple studies have shown that social media users with huge follower bases actually see a drop in engagement after they pass the 100,000-follower mark. Why? People just stop trusting them. Turns out, consumers are sick and tired of brands trying to pull the wool over their eyes and are starting to question the authenticity of the sponsored-influencer Instagram posts that are popping up on everyone’s feed. Micro-influencers fix both of these problems.
You may still be thinking, “But won’t big stars with lots of followers expose my brand to a much larger demographic and, therefore, increase my sales more than a micro-influencer would?” Yes and…maybe. It will definitely expose your company to a lot of people that you may not have reached yet, but it will only significantly increase sales if what you’re selling appeals to everyone and you can afford it. Big influencers will have followers that are every age, gender, nationality and race, that all have different tastes and interests. So unless your product or service is demand by a huge demographic, you could be spending massive amounts of money to market to people that are never going to become customers. With many celebrity endorsements costing five or six figures, it might not be worth it.
Micro-influencers, on the other hand, usually have a much smaller variation in the kinds of people that follow them, which can be extremely helpful if you are targeting a specific audience and cost virtually nothing compared to the bigger names.
Let’s say that you have a new workout clothing line that you are trying to market. In one scenario, you pay a celebrity to endorse your brand in a sponsored Instagram post. In the second scenario, you do some research to find 20 micro-influencers that are passionate about fitness and healthy living and pay each of them to sponsor your brand. Some 97 percent of Instagram micro-influencers and 87 percent of bloggers charge $500 or less per post, so that is only $10,000 to get 20 sponsored posts out there. In comparison, influencers with three to seven million followers charge an average of $187,500 per Instagram post. You could get sponsored posts from 375 micro-influencers for that same amount of money. Now, you probably won’t reach three million followers through the 20 micro-influencers, but if each of them has 50,000 followers, you will still reach 1 million people at a 20th of the cost.
Not only that, but these 1 million niche followers have much a higher probability of actually engaging with your brand than the celebrities followers. This is because it is a niche audience engaging with a trusted source. Micro-influencers become micro-influencers because they are passionate about something and their followers are typically passionate about the same thing. So the 1 million people who follow your 20fitness focused micro-influencers fitness are more likely to invest in workout clothes because they have an interest in working out.
This is also where trust plays a major factor. Micro-influencers are more believable when they sponsor a product because their followers know that companies aren’t just throwing huge amounts of money at them to endorse a product they probably don’t even use, which is the general perception around sponsored celebrity posts. Even more believable? Having a micro-influencer rave about a product because they genuinely love it. To cut down on costs even further, you could send your top micro-influencers some free workout gear and ask for their opinions and feedback. If they think it is a great product, there is a chance they will post about it without the extra sponsorship fee.
This year might be the year of the influencer, but it doesn’t look like they are going anywhere anytime soon. There are lots of benefits to any influencer marketing, but micro-influencers are one of the most cost-efficient and effective ways to get your brand out there. In this case, you can have quality and quantity.