Insights: Micro-Influencers are the New Macro


TL;DR: Brands should start thinking smaller when looking for new spokespeople on social media. Micro-influencers are budget friendly and, if approached with the right product, have weight with motivated, niche groups that might not be as trusting of traditional faces of companies.

Since the launch of Instagram in 2010, the platform’s algorithm has drastically evolved. In an effort to prioritize content that would resonate most with its users, Instagram made its biggest algorithm change yet in March 2016. No longer would posts appear in chronological order, but instead, “based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post."

Take a look at your Instagram feed and tell me what you see. You will probably see a couple of your real-life friends' posts mixed in with some of your favorite celebrities, then thrown in with some accounts that you have a certain interest in. Well if you didn’t know already... those random accounts that you follow for that one certain reason are run by individuals called, micro-influencers. While most brands strive to connect with influencers with millions of followers, just because they have 1 million followers, they are missing out an opportunity to actually engage with customers that are interested in the product they are marketing. It’s time for brands and agencies to start thinking strategically about micro-influencers and here’s how.

Think About Your Objective

While there isn’t a perfect platform to find the perfect influencer, it’s important to know what you want and what you are searching for. First, take a look at your client’s goals. Is it to increase the brand awareness for the account, increase engagements or gather more assets? Finding out the value you want these people to bring to your campaign is key to finding the best person for the role. @IndytheGoldenDoodle usually posts adorable dog photos but the owner partners with specific pet brands. If a dog food brand wanted to reach a large dog owner audience, this would be the perfect account to partner with.

Consider Quality Over Quantity

According to AdWeek, “60 percent higher campaign engagement rates are driven by micro-influencers; those campaigns are 6.7 times more efficient per engagement than influencers with larger followings, which makes them more cost effective; and micro-influencers drive 22.2 times more weekly conversations than the average consumer.” Micro-influencers innately have a more engaged audience. Their audiences are following them for a specific reason and are highly invested in whatever content they are sharing. Comparatively, influencers with more than 1 million followers have a less likely chance of their post showing up into every follower’s feed. They also have a lower engagement rate because of the way the algorithm operates. In Instagram’s eyes, they are penalized because the audience isn’t engaged. Markerly found the relationship in the data is that as an influencer’s follower total rises, the rate of engagement (likes and comments) with followers decreases.


Integrate Micro-Influencers From the Beginning

Just how social media marketing has evolved in the digital marketing space, influencer-based marketing has evolved too. Influencers shouldn’t be thought of as an afterthought.

A study conducted by Nielsen Catalina Solutions and TapInfluence discovered:

  • Influencer marketing yields an annual return on investment (ROI) of $23, compared to the $4.30 of the brand’s best performing banner ads

  • For every 1,000 views, influencing brought in $285 in incremental sales

  • Influencer campaigns brought in 11 times the ROI of traditional advertising over the course of a year.

  • Brands have reported an $9.60 average ROI for every $1 invested in influencer marketing efforts across industries.

  • For travel and tourism, the ROI is even greater at $12.54 per $1 investment.

With the ROI results alone, it’s a fiscally beneficial tactic to integrate influencers into the overall campaign. Everyone may not follow this micro-influencer, but they are a part of a very specific demographic with specific interests. For example, @hollybentley_yoga is a yoga influencer with 70,000 followers, and she only posts about yoga. Therefore, followers who are interested in yoga, health and fitness are more likely to follow her and thus be very interested in whatever she may be promoting.

Look At Your Budget

Micro-influencers are affordable. While your brand or agency may not have a large budget, offering some incentives or free perks can help a micro-influencer join your campaign. Some influencers like, @hungrygirlsdoitbetter, are local to a certain market while others prefer to travel domestic and internationally. Based on the market, you can offer a lower rate than you thought before.

Micro-Influencers Are Authentic

People aren’t clueless. Most of them can see right through the celebrities who post about products they have never tried. Micro-influencers only post about the trips, destinations and products they truly care about to keep engagement rates to stay high and followers interested. On the other hand, they enjoy what they are doing and want to keep doing it. Don’t think of this is a one-time contract. More and more influencers are looking to signing contracts over the course of a year, in hopes of collaborating on more than one project.

With a high ROI paired with low brand effort, influencers are becoming increasingly valuable to the overall marketing mix as an affordable and effective effort. With the extra third party validation from a micro-influencer, you’ll reach the niche market you are looking to resonate with.

If you're interested in upping your brand's Instagram game, be sure to check out our insights on Instagram Stories to get you started.