In social media marketing, influencers reign supreme. Major celebrities with massive followings often help drive sales when they endorse different products, but this practice isn’t cheap. In 2019, Kim Kardashian reportedly is charging between $300,000 to $500,000 per post. Clearly, not every company can afford such a high rate. As a result, more and more businesses are turning to micro influencer marketing.
What is a micro influencer?
Before much attention can be given to what micro influencers are, a zoomed-out look at the world of influencing is necessary.
Barrett Wissman, chairman of IMG Artists, said, “Influencers have developed into content creators who wield enough marketing power to attract attention from major brands willing to engage in bidding wars over their next sponsored post.” Micro influencers, he went on to say, typically have “50,000 to 200,000 followers” on Instagram.
This range, however, may be too large. Others in the influencer marketing field say that number should be a lot lower, from 1,000 to 50,000 followers instead. All this is to say there’s no definitive range that constitutes how many followers a micro influencer should have. Generally, though, a micro influencer has significantly fewer followers than a macro influencer, who can have upward of 1 million followers.
An article in Wired took this concept one step further. It said, “Micro influencers are a kind of engagement sweet-spot, because engagement is really a wonkish sort of word for emotional attachment and trust.” The article went on to say that working with micro influencers is better than employing a macro influencer because of the relationship they have with their smaller, more niche communities. “It’s less like a generic celebrity endorsement and more like a recommendation from a trusted friend.”
Why use a micro influencer?
Micro influencers bring a unique set of skills to the table. Because micro influencers have developed a loyal following based on their focused interests, marketers can tap into that audience by simply getting these influencers to endorse their products. Micro influencers provide clear benefits for businesses because of their higher conversion rates, affordability and stronger engagement.
Higher conversion rates
Before companies can advertise their goods, they need to objectively predict how successful their marketing will be. Micro influencer marketing can lead a successful advertising endeavor because the posts they make have a higher tendency to convert to sales. An article in the Journal of Business Research unpacked why companies are looking toward micro influencers on Instagram as viable marketing options.
The study focused on a fashion account and collected data from 808 of its followers. The researchers found that, in these smaller, more targeted communities, followers were significantly more likely to act on the advice of a micro influencer. In other words, potential consumers were way more likely to buy or even consider buying something if a micro influencer posted about it.
When it comes to social media marketing, micro influencers are one of the most affordable advertising options. In an article for Forbes, Wissman wrote they offer the best ROI to companies trying to push their products. He said companies should put more money up front by hiring a group of micro influencers instead of just one.
While they certainly don’t have the same reach as macro influencers, the cost of micro influencers is more manageable for most companies. Wissman said, “Hiring a combination of micro-influencers and celebrity influencers may raise the ROI of a campaign and lower the overall marketing spend.” Because they tap into more defined communities, their effectiveness will result in companies spending less.
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Further, Simon Moss, CEO of ImageBrief and Entrepreneur contributor, wrote of the cost-breakdown that incentivizes marketers to work with accounts that have fewer followers. He said it can easily cost a company a flat rate – on the very low end – to hire a celebrity to post once about a product for $25,000. A post by a micro influencer, on the other hand, often costs as little as $250.
As reported by Medium, the social media marketing company HelloSociety found that micro influencers are 6.7 times more efficient in terms of overall price than macro influencers. This means companies will be able to put less money down initially and get a lot more money out of the investment in the long run.
When companies hire a micro influencer that already has clout within a specific group, they engage with their own customers more directly. What’s more, this engagement can tangibly turn into a fruitful and long relationship with customers. An article appearing in Forbes said small businesses specifically can benefit immensely from employing the work of micro influencers. It said, “Micro-influencers drive engagement, which is key in influence marketing.” The article charted the success of a company that offers storage furniture for mason jars, which “yielded a roughly 2.8-times return” in part because their target audience was engaged by their marketing efforts.
While there are several other advantages to using micro influencer marketing, companies should remember that these relationships are most effective when different micro influencers are brought in over a significant period of time.
How marketers are leveraging micro influencers
Because micro influencer marketing is blowing up right now, companies need to be cleverer about the ways that they target the right audience on social media.
Instagram, according to one Forbes, is the best platform for both brands and micro influencers. The article said, “Fees are less, the talent more pliable, and if one of them does something stupid, it won’t metastasize into a brand-damaging P.R. debacle.” Just as importantly, relationships between brands and micro influencers can result in long term relationships between brands and customers.
This micro influencer trend on Instagram has been closely monitored by others in marketing, too. According to research by marketing news organization Digiday, there’s a concrete statistical advantage to working with micro influencers. Specifically, the likes-to-follower rate is drastically higher in influencers with a lower follower count.
As the number of followers increases, the number of likes decreases. Accounts with less than 1,000 followers have an 8 percent like rate, while those with 1,000 to 10,000 followers sit at 4%. Those with 1 to 10 million followers have only a 1.66 percent like rate. The comment rates compared between micro influencers and macro influencers are even starker, where those with lower follower numbers have between a 5- and 10-times higher comment rate.
These favorable numbers showcase the importance of working with a micro influencer. Going one step further, Nielsen’s overarching Global Trust in Advertising study highlighted that a staggering 92 percent of consumers reported they trust family and friend recommendations over traditional advertising. In this context, Instagram micro influencers have a clear advantage over otherwise conventional advertising efforts because they already have a much tighter connection to their follower base.
At the same time, companies need to be mindful about the micro influencers they choose to work with. Research here is necessary. In order for companies to maximize their impact, they must make sure the influencer they’re considering has similar goals and values. Influencers are likely doing the same type of research to determine if they’ll partner with a company or not. In 2018, SocialPubli surveyed 1,000 micro influencers and found an overwhelming “99% of them say they believe in the products and services they promote.”
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