The Year of the Micro-Influencer

Our April Roundtable dug into everything Influencer Marketing. We were left with an interesting question – who matters more, the micro- or the macro-influencers?

According to Digiday, “Once a social media influencer reaches a critical mass of followers, audience engagement actually begins to decrease.”

Maybe bigger isn’t necessarily better. Even though a macro-influencer with 2mm+ followers can reach an enormous audience, potency is not a given. Why? A large percentage of a macro’s followers may not be interested in the brand that influencer is promoting. The consensus of our Roundtable: macro-influencers tend to drive brand awareness, while micro-influencers drive action.

A recent survey, produced by Markerly, of two million social media influencers showed:

“For unpaid posts, Instagram influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers have a like rate of about 8%, while those with between 1,000 and 10,000 followers have a like rate of 4%… as following base continues to increase, like rates keep decreasing. Instagram influencers with 10,000 to 100,000 followers see a 2.4% like rate, compared to 1.7% for those with 1mm to 10mm+ followers. Comment rates follow a similar pattern.”

CNBC notes, “Brands have long tapped into the social media ‘influencer’… fashion bloggers, athletes… the Kardashians.” But with the macro drop-off illustrated above, and that, “Famous faces can be costly and impersonal… marketers are now turning to ‘micro-influencers.’”

We all want to think we have a personal reach, but are we all micro-influencers? Not exactly. Expanding on the ‘≤ 100,000 followers’ macro-influencer definition from our Roundtable, CNBC defines micro-influencers as those, “Who have 10,000 to 100,000 followers on social media and the power to reach a niche audience.”

Viacom’s David Berzin, VP of Social Data Strategy,  and Lydia Daly, SVP of Social Media and Branded Content Strategy agree that, “The perfect influencer… isn’t necessarily someone big, but someone who’s about to be big.” Berzin continued, “You really want to look for ebbs and flows, and talent that’s about to peak, as opposed to an inflated follower count.”

Here’s perfect example, offered by Digiday: Last year Trojan wanted to create a campaign targeted to millennials… the influencer on the top of the wish list was YouTube sexologist Shannon Boodram. “Though she didn’t have the tremendous follower count that advertisers craved, her sex-positive social presence was a perfect match for the campaign. And she seemed to be at a tipping point.” To create the leverage that Boodram needed, Trojan also enlisted 2mm-follower-strong comedian Josh Leyva. “The pairing resulted in an avalanche of positive press for Trojan and Boodram,” demonstrating that micro- and macro-influencers have different reaches, and that both can be effective for a brand when used correctly.

What about the ground between micro and macro? Digiday breaks down what agencies are starting to utilize and refer to as “Power middle influencers… typically around 100,000 to 200,000 followers. Creating content for brands is still secondary to their full-time professions, so they post sponsored content less often than social celebrities… thus they feel more authentic.”  Authenticity and the different demographic reaches of micro- and power-middle influencers can result in better engagement when compared to the reach of one or two major celebrities.

Pairing influencers with campaigns is part a matter of feel – which is hard to quantify – and part a matter of reach, where numbers are available and important. Daly explained that for him, numbers come first, helping to “Whittle down from hundreds of thousands of potential influencers in the world to the twenty or so that might make sense for the campaign.” What has to be remembered is that ‘numbers of followers’ is a lifetime count, and that audience may not be relevant for a campaign running now.

Of course, there are three types of lies. We’ll be digging into fraud’s effects on Influencer Marketing in our next blog post… assuming you believe us.



Author: Ayla Quinn

Posted in Influencer Marketing and tagged , , , .