The Most Important Question in Influencer Marketing Right Now
Who says that influence has to be loud, large and global? For the last year, countless articles have bucked both previous trends and logical thinking, by extolling the benefits of brands working with ‘micro’ influencers, as opposed to their more well-known counterparts. From ‘The Rise of the Micro Influencer’ to ‘Why Brands Should Use Micro-Influencers to Generate Sales’, titles of the like have lately permeated the influencer marketing sphere, to the point where it’s hard not to take notice.
First things first, how can we differentiate? Where does a micro influencer stop and a macro one begin? Unfortunately, the common definition bandied around is frustratingly vague – ‘a micro influencer is an influential online personality with a smaller reach than a macro influencer’. Very helpful… If we were forced to quantify a micro influencer for the purpose of understanding, we would probably be looking at between 1,000s and 10,000s of social followers. Macros would be more in the realms of the 100,000s.
But the question remains – why are brands being advised to work with individuals who have demonstrably smaller audiences? Why is micro constantly trumping macro? To answer this, we have to consider a number of factors:
Although not the be-all-and-end-all, audience relationships are largely concerned with, that magic word, engagement. And when we compare the engagement levels of micro and macro influencers, the whole picture becomes a lot clearer. A survey conducted last year by Markerly found that when an influencer’s Instagram followers reach a certain mass, engagement rate begins to decrease. Instagram stars with between 1,000 and 10,000 followers saw a ‘like-rate’ of roughly 4%, which drops dramatically to 2.4% for those with 10,000 – 100,000 followers, and then to just 1.2% for those with over 100,000. And these stats are mirrored in other social channels too.
But what does engagement have to do with value-for-money and ROIs for brands working with influencers? Well, put bluntly, the more engaged an influencer’s audience are, the more likely they are to take a brand endorsement seriously and act upon it. Put another way, an engaged audience is one which will react positively to a brand showcase. Whilst it is undeniably tempting to be ensnared by macro influencers and their dazzlingly high fan counts, the genuine interest in the macro influencer’s USPs becomes more and more diluted as the followers rack up.
Think of it this way – Kendall Jenner, one of the world’s most influential individuals, currently has 74.7 million Instagram followers. Say you are a brand selling, for example, healthy smoothies. How many of Kendall’s 74.7 million do you think are interested in healthy smoothies? Still a fair amount? How many of them are in the correct geographical location to buy one of your smoothies? How many of them are likely to be influenced by Kendall, who merrily endorses product after product, day after day, to purchase specifically a smoothie? The number dwindles pretty fast doesn’t it? However, imagine a healthy-eating micro influencer who has around 10,000 social followers. As the stats above show, those followers are almost 75% more engaged already, and are invested in the lifestyle and opinions of the influencer because they are knowledgeable in the healthy eating sphere. If you conduct the same thought experiment here, you’ll find the numbers a lot more robust
We’ve touched on this in the above section, but it is very important to remember how different the relationships between influencers and their audiences are, micro to macro. Along with higher levels of engagement, micro influencers are able to develop and cultivate stronger, more authentic relationships with their audience. Subsequently, the audience are more trusting and invested in the influencer. If you select the right personality in the industry that matches your brand, chances are, their audience will have an interest in your brand when it is made known to them by an influencer whose opinion they value and trust.
The same cannot really be said for macro influencers – their followings are so large that there is no scope for personal, authentic relationships to form. Perhaps Kendall Jenner’s influence can cause a product to sell out in record time as her followers scrabble to get what they deem to be a piece of her lifestyle, but she is unlikely to inspire widespread brand loyalty due to authentic relationships with her followers.
A very useful exercise in answering the ‘micro or macro?’ question, is to think of a micro influencer as ‘dominating a niche’. Let’s say you are a sunglasses brand. Your niche is fashion, specifically eyewear fashion. Working with an influencer who is known for their association with the same niche, will mean that they are followed almost exclusively by people who are bang into sunglasses. A macro influencer, even one in the fashion industry, will be followed by a vast swathe of people, some of whom might be loosely interested in sunglasses, but most of which aren’t particularly. It’s not hard to see which of these two audience pools is more likely to have customer conversion success!
For obvious reasons, micro influencers are much, much easier to approach and engage with than their macro counterparts. Aside from these practicalities, micro influencers are also much more likely to show genuine interest in your brand, as (if you’re approaching the right ones), your influencers will share your brand’s niche industry. This leads to far a more authentic, believable, trustworthy and powerful brand-influencer collaboration.
So, we’ve reached the point where micro influencers are looking like the ‘no-brainer’ choice for most average size brands looking to increase reputation, and sales along the way. However, there is a twist in the tale. And it’s this – although micro influencers are targeted and honed to reach the right people, in order to achieve the kind of scale that most brands require from marketing efforts, one micro influencer is not usually enough.
More and more, brands are looking to work with multiple micro influencers at a time. And, unsurprisingly, this takes a lot more sweat and effort than joining forces with just one macro influencer. From defining the pool of influencers to approach, to writing the campaign brief, agreeing payment terms and measuring the KPIs of one collaboration, the process has to be repeated again and again for each micro influencer you work with. This is where CI’s platform and network of talented, focused influencers may well be the solution!
To answer the question that began this post, the most important thing to consider is what you are trying to achieve through influencer marketing. It may be that you can get the spike in UUs, social following and sales you’re looking for with one micro influencer. Or, it may be that you are simply wanting to increase your brand reach as far as possible, in which case, a macro influencer may well be your best fit. If it’s somewhere in between these two however, chances are you’re in need of a multiple-micro strategy. And if the associated workload sounds a little too laborious, CI is always here to take away the stress and strain.