Influencer marketing has rapidly grown over the past 10 years and marketers are leveraging influencers to increase brand awareness more so than ever. But while big named influencers like Kim Kardashian were once the only option, we now live in an age where micro-influencers reign supreme.
Marketers now know that when it comes to influencers, the number of followers isn’t the best metric to use when determining influence. People relate to people, and for audiences today, authenticity and relatability is the connection that they seek towards a brand – something that micro-influencers offer. With less followers, micro-influencers have a niche audience base that is more loyal, and ultimately, highly engaged.
There’s a difference between a celebrity and an influencer, and there’s also a big difference between a major influencer and a micro influencer. In this blog we’ll be looking at what a micro influencer is, how to spot one, the benefits from working with micro influencers and tips for building a fruitful relationship.
Who are micro influencers?
Micro influencers are “regular Joes” in the sense that they’re not public figures. They’re people who are experts around a specific topic or brand. Not only are they experts, but they’re also popular online! Micro influencers have an engaged community surrounding them. In short, they are “real life” people; maybe your neighbour or former classmate who were able to build and nurture a community around their interests and passions.
How is a micro influencer different from a major influencer?
Major influencers have huge followings, they may be YouTube or Instagram famous, like Zoella or Tanya Burr. However, these major influencers often charge a huge amount of money for third-party endorsements. In contrast, a micro influencer has a smaller following, but a super-engaged community. Their advice & opinions are usually seen as more trustworthy, authentic & credible.
How to Recognise a Micro-Influencer
There is much debate as to what exactly deems a person to be an influencer. Some believe that one must have between 500 and 5,000 subscribers, others between 10,000 to 100,000. Beyond the figures, what defines a micro-influencer is not simply the number of followers they may have, rather it’s about their relationship and engagement.
A micro influencer tends to go the extra mile to support their community, they’ll treat their followers like their friends and thus have much higher levels of engagement per post than major influencers.
Like macro influencers, micro-influencers also develop a relationship with their fan base by posting engaging content frequently, however, there are certain perks that working with micro influencers have that macro influencers do not offer.
How Can Brands Benefit from Micro-Influencers?
We all wish celebrity endorsement for our business was possible, but for most it just isn’t feasible. Now smaller brands on smaller budgets can partner with less famous people who still have a wide-spread influence. The ‘micro-influencer’ is inexpensive (in relative terms), effective, and just what your brand needs if you’re not in a position to hire Mr. Clooney or Jen Aniston. As a benchmark figure, micro-influencers can charge as little as $100 for a post depending on their follower count. By saving on costs you can work with several micro-influencers at once and benefit from multiple engaged communities.
Higher engagement rates
Your brand’s visibility actually increases from using micro influencers. A recent study showed some interesting insights regarding the engagement rate of influencers:
- Influencers with at least 10 000 followers have 3.6% engagement
- Influencers with between 5000 to 10 000 followers have 6.3% engagement
- Influencers with between 1000 to 5000 followers have 8.8% engagement
Benefit from improved trust
We’re a strong believer in the mantra “The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.” Most consumers are bombarded daily with different advertisements and marketing campaigns which are all intended to get people to buy something. Consequently, consumers have developed a distrust of major corporate brands and advertising in general.
Humanize your brand
Simply put, people buy from people. Celebrities may make waves by grabbing global attention, but people really believe a neighbour who highly recommends a product because they know it’s a genuine referral and not money-driven. Micro-influencers are that neighbour. They have the ability to personalise brand experiences that highway billboards and television commercials do not. This builds trust around your brand and results in more loyal customers who are likely to stick to your brand and recommend it to their circle.
Micro-Influencer Marketing: How Zara Saw Success
Without using celebrities or macro-influencers, Zara was the top trending name globally just one day before their South African online store launch. Why? Due to the power of influencers.
Many social media users on Twitter praised Zara, a global fashion brand, for going against the grain by using micro-influencers for the #DearSouthAfrica campaign. By doing so, Zara’s #DearSouthAfrica campaign successfully generated online conversations that reached over 6 million people worldwide – all just one day before the online store launch.
On the actual day of the launch, there were close to 8 million people engaging with the ‘Zara’ and #DearSouthAfrica on social media. By using about 60 micro-influencers during the campaign, the outcome not only created a high level of brand awareness for Zara, but their strategic use of micro-influencers saw the brand tap into a wider audience that they would not have been able to if they had just used macro-influencers instead.
Less is more, and in the case of the Zara #DearSouthAfrica campaign, using micro-influencers proved how much more they have to offer in marketing strategies. With so much traction being generated around the campaign’s hashtag a day before the launch, users from across the globe engaged with the campaign’s branded hashtag. This created quick online awareness that worked far better than traditional marketing strategies such as print, billboards or broadcast.
The Groundswell Approach
Speaking of quick online awareness, if you want to reach as many people as possible across as many platforms as you can, micro-influencers are the way to go. Known as The Groundswell Approach, this is where any online environment is used for people to create the content they want in the way that they want. For a brand, this is a golden approach to building brand awareness and exposure. Zara saw the results of this approach with all the awareness that their hashtag created.
What makes this approach even more effective is the consistency of the content. Remember that if you were to use only 5 macro-influencers for a campaign, their content only gets seen a few times by their audience. But if you used 20 micro-influencers, there’s a more consistent stream of content being shown around your brand. Spread this number of micro-influencers across different platforms, and you’ll have regular brand exposure where people are constantly seeing and talking about you.
So what can we take away from the success that Zara saw during this campaign?
Micro-influencers should not be ignored in marketing strategies. If Zara showed us one thing, it is that they have great value and incredible impact. With a highly engaged following, micro-influencers provide brand exposure that audiences will trust more. Your brand will truly benefit from the trusted credibility and personal connections that micro-influencers have.
The type of influencer you target will very much depend on your goals. If you want to boost reach, impressions & brand awareness, major influencers may be more suitable. However, if you want to increase engagement and conversions, a micro influencer will be better.
As the final note, it’s important to remember that a micro-influencer marketing strategy requires time (perhaps the most important resource of all). It can sometimes take more time to identify relevant micro-influencers than to engage and build relationships with them. Fortunately, many tools exist to cut down the time while increasing the impact of our micro influencer marketing strategy. For example, Meltwater's social influencer platform or Klear's influencer tool allow us to search, monitor then engage with micro-influencers (and key influencers for that matter!). Want to learn more about finding the perfect micro influencers for your brand? Get in touch with us, we’d be happy to show you!