Why Micro-Influencers may be the Authentic Match you're looking for
A common first thought among marketers is to recruit social influencers with large followings to broadcast a branded message out to as many eyes as possible. Throw out a large net and hope that something sticks. But savvy brands know that reach is not the most important metric for an influencer campaign. They know that it is more important to focus on matching influencers’ content and lifestyle to the brand values and the campaign goals. The right person and the biggest person are not always the same person. Many brands are finding success working with micro-influencers-- people with a smaller following who create top quality content and have a genuine lifestyle connection with the brand. These micro-influencers are helping their programs by providing better engagement and stronger recommendations than their celebrity counterparts and by providing an opportunity for a more authentic match to the brand’s program. Here are some reasons to consider engaging micro-influencers for your future campaign:
Targeting & Engagement
The audience of micro-influencers is typically much more refined and targeted than your typical mainstream celebrity influencer. Because they are unencumbered by celebrity, their followers either know them personally or follow them for a specific reason. These followers consider the content creators thought leaders in their specific interest area. They’re not just following a character from some reality show.
With that narrower follower base comes increased meaningful engagement. While the big-name celebs might have high engagement rates, most of the comments are likely to be irrelevant to the brand.
Teaming up with micro-influencers creates a better opportunity for brands to focus on a specific audience and drives more engagement on the content the influencers are sharing. Why is that so? Because micro-influencer’s concentrated audiences have the benefit of the trust factor.
Trust & Authenticity
As we just mentioned, the smaller follower base usually means that their followers are hard-earned. They are either personal acquaintances or they follow for a specific kind of content. The closer the connection, the more likely that followers will trust the opinions and recommendations of the content creator. So, while a celeb might get your brand in front of 800,000 people with a single image, a very small number of those people will believe that the celebrity actually uses your products. Does anyone really believe that the Kardashians drink those fit teas? No, they know that the full-time staff of personal trainers are responsible for their waistlines.
Research finds that knowing people personally increases trust in their opinions, even if that personal connection exists in the virtual world. In fact, the greatest value in social networks is the “data on individual preferences and on social networks: who likes what, who is friends with whom, and what sort of information do friends share” (Galeotti and Goyal, 2009, p. 521). What also helps is the nature of clustering friendships and homogeneous tendencies. Essentially, people tend to connect with people similar to themselves with shared connections, increasing the levels of trust among the network (Campbell, 2013). So if you love rock climbing and follow a rock climbing enthusiast on social media, their opinions on the right climbing gear and snacks will carry some serious weight with you-- more than a banner ad on a climbing website or a celebrity endorsement.
Additionally, research finds that “while the influencers with a large following are useful, greater loyalty is found with the mid-grade influencers who have a smaller network of followers, allowing for relationship building” (Matthews, 2013). Think of it this way-- you may follow a celebrity because you admire their lifestyle, but you know that it is not a lifestyle that you can realistically achieve. But if you follow a mommy-grammer in another city, you could very well mimic her DIY lamp, arrange your furniture the way that she does, or serve your kids that same brand of juice she recommends.
So, if influencer marketing’s usefulness comes from the role it can play on the path to purchase-- namely increasing awareness and establishing trust for your brand-- then the research shows that micro-influencers will probably be more effective at achieving that goal. Don't let a sparkly follower count draw your focus away from what is important. You want to work with the partners who are a natural lifestyle fit and are going to cultivate the most meaningful engagement with their content.
Learn more about how to find the right people for the job by downloading our free ebook: “Keys to Finding the Right Influencers for Your Brand.”
Galeotti, Andrea and Sanjeev Goyal. (2009). “Influencing the Influencers: A Theory of Strategic Diffusion.” The RAND Journal of Economics, Vol. 40, No. 3, pp. 509-532.
Campbell, Arthur. (2013). “Word-of-Mouth Communication and Percolation in Social Networks.” The American Economic Review, Vol. 103, No. 6, pp. 2466-2498.
Matthews, Kristen (2013). “The Definitive Guide to Influencer Targeting.” Kissmetrics. Date accessed 18 February 2016 https://blog.kissmetrics.com/guide-to-influencer-targeting/