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When smaller is better

How micro-influencers can make a major difference to your marketing strategy

By Hannah Massen 

They say that bigger is better, but when it comes to influencer marketing, the opposite could be true. 

If you’re active on social media – whether it’s Instagram, TikTok or YouTube – chances are, you follow at least one macro-influencer (a social media celebrity with a following of anywhere from 500,000 to 1 million). And if you follow an influencer, chances are, you’ve seen influencer marketing at work: the influencer – let’s call her Sarah – posts a “daily vlog” featuring her morning skincare routine with products from an up-and-coming beauty brand. And while Sarah swears that she would never promote anything that she didn’t truly love, again, chances are the beauty brand paid her several thousand dollars to put their products on display. And that’s just for one video. 

While macro-influencers are able to reach a broad audience due to their large following, the price of partnering with one is steep. As follower counts increase, the cost to work with influencers rises, creating a situation where brands must go all-in on a single piece of content. And while many people will see a brand’s sponsored content with a macro-influencer, the number of those followers who will purchase the product is far fewer, limiting the brand’s ROI.

Enter micro-influencers: influencers with a follower count of 10,000 to 50,000 but who tend to get better results for the brands they work with. How, you ask? Here’s a breakdown of the benefits of working with micro-influencers. 

Higher ROI

According to data analytics firm RivallQ, social media engagement rates have hit an all-time low – dropping by a whopping 25 percent in 2021. Now the average engagement rate across all industries is 0.98 percent, meaning that only 0.98 percent of an account’s followers will like, click and comment on a post. But according to a study from Oberlo, Instagram influencers with a following of 5,000 to 20,000 have an average engagement rate of 1.7 percent, while accounts with a following of 1,000 to 5,000 receive the highest engagement rates, coming in at 4.84 percent. 

Studies consistently report an inverse relationship between an account’s following and its engagement rates, which speaks volumes to micro-influencers’ ability to connect with their audiences. Here’s why:

Micro-Influencers are perceived as ‘people like me’

Oftentimes the traditional influencer with hundreds of thousands of followers can seem more like a celebrity than a friend. With micro-influencers this isn’t the case. Influencers with niche interests and small followings are perceived as more relatable and, therefore, more trustworthy. The level of trust between an influencer and their audience should not be undervalued, as consumers are far more likely to make a purchase based on the recommendation of a “real person” than an advertisement. In fact according to a “Global Trust in Advertising” study from Nielsen, 83 percent of people polled said they trust the recommendations of friends and family, and a similar study found that 92 percent of people trust recommendations from other people – even strangers.

Micro-influencers can better represent your business

Many “lifestyle” macro-influencers migrate toward large cities and campuses and exclusively work with big-name (or big-budget) brands. But micro-influencers have the potential to engage audiences around topics that are specific to a location, industry or a particular interest. Brands can tap into these highly curated communities, enabling a degree of targeting that’s almost impossible with macro-influencers. 

The days of brands looking exclusively at follower counts to make partnership decisions are long gone. Now influencer marketing revolves around identifying micro-influencers relevant to your marketing objectives and allowing them to promote your products and services in an authentic way.

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