Think Small: Micro-Influencers May Just Be The Most Effective Influencers Of Them All

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In 2020, most of us are pretty well-acquainted with influencers. You can’t escape a single scroll through Instagram’s explore page without encountering at least a handful, and it mostly feels like they exist to give us FOMO. Let’s be real, our day-to-day lives are generally lacking in turquoise water, and most of us don’t have perfect hair. While these influencers primarily exist to sell us on their fabulous lives — and the products and services they use to make them more fabulous — the seeming cream of the crop isn’t always the most effective. 

This is where micro-influencers come in. According to Business Insider, brands are expected to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022, but most brands can’t afford to work with major influencers like Kylie Jenner and the Kardashian sisters. As it turns out, they don’t need to. Micro-influencers are proven to be more effective than their more popular counterparts. How could this be? Here’s how micro-influencers are winning when it comes to influencer marketing.

What Are Micro-Influencers?

Unlike influencers with millions or hundreds of thousands of followers, micro-influencers have fewer than 10,000 followers. Some marketers believe the range can be as low as 1,000 or as high as 100,000. Others claim that anyone with less than 10,000 is considered a “nano-influencer.”

Regardless of the actual semantics, our research has shown that influencers with follower counts between 10,000 and 100,000 are a major marketing asset that’s widely overlooked in favor of macro-influencers who have more eyes on their channels. Overall, micro-influencers who fall within this range provide the best combination of engagement and broad reach, but at a price that won’t hurt your wallet.

More Micro-Influencers, More Conversions

It’s hard to imagine a world where someone with fewer followers would lead to more conversions, but a micro-influencer campaign can actually be more effective at converting leads than a traditional influencer campaign. How?

In an interview with Digiday, our CEO and co-founder Sarah Ware opened up about an Instagram influencer campaign that we ran with the Jenner and Kardashian sisters on behalf of a weight loss company. Yes, the Kardashian-Jenners brought hundreds of conversions. They’re super effective, but what we found was that a similar campaign that enlisted 30 to 40 micro-influencers had an even higher level of conversions. Why? Let’s dive in below.

It’s All About Engagement

Just because an influencer has a lot of followers doesn’t mean they’re listening. There’s no value in paying a premium for sponsored content that’s going to be largely overlooked, and engagement tends to tank as follower counts soar. For example, our data shows that Instagram influencers with less than 1,000 followers generate comments 0.5% of the time, but those with more than 10 million followers only generate comments 0.04% of the time.

In short: the smallest micro-influencers have nearly 13x more engagement when it comes to commenting, but this also rings true for likes. Instagram influencers with less than 1,000 followers have a like rate of 8%. Those with 1,000 to 10,000 followers have a like rate of 4%. Those with 10,000 to 100,000 followers have a like rate of 2.4%. The engagement decreases as the follower count increases.

Micro-Influencers Are Hyper-Targeted

Macro-influencers are kind of a one-size-fits-all solution. They have a huge, broad audience, who may not all be interested in what you’re selling. For example, if a skincare brand hires a YouTube celebrity with 2.5 million subscribers, not all of those subscribers may care about having a skincare routine. Instead, the company may wish to target a couple dozen skincare-focused YouTube channels.

Overall, micro-influencers can help a brand hyper-target individual, interested followers, which can lead to more conversions, but identifying these niche influencers takes some more work.

Micro-Influencers Are Highly Trustworthy

A majority of consumers may not be apt to purchase another product hawked at them from a multi-millionaire. Ad fatigue is very real, but it’s all a matter of trust.  Micro-influencers are generally regarded as real people who relate to our unique circumstances. They’re our peers, just with some fancy brand sponsorships.

For that reason, micro-influencers recommendations hold more weight than promotional posts from celebrities or traditional ads. According to VentureBeat, 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations, while only 33% trust ads. Beyond that, 40% of millennials say that their favorite YouTube star understands them better than their own friends do. That’s a deep, deep level of trust.

Micro-Influencers Are Budget-Friendly

Let’s be honest: not every brand can afford to work with a full-fledged internet celebrity. The top influencers make millions a year. According to Vox, influencers with up to 1 million followers command as much as $10,000 per post. That number soars to $100,000 a post and even $250,000 a post when you cross over that million-follower threshold. That’s generally not in the advertising budget for a small business. 

Micro-influencers cost a lot less. While some could charge a few thousand for a post, many charge a couple hundred. Others will join a campaign just for free product and exposure if they believe in your brand. Truthfully, a collection of a few dozen micro-influencers could cost less than a single traditional celebrity and provide far more conversions because you’ve targeted your audience in a more meaningful way.

The Bottom Line

Though most brands would love for a celebrity or top user to promote their product, it’s more important to put your ad dollars behind highly-engaged, eager eyes. Though you’ll certainly need to invest in finding the right micro-influencers, a properly targeted niche campaign can provide huge returns without breaking the bank. Sometimes, to think big, you’ve got to think small first.

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