Size isn’t everything: Social media’s micro-influencers

A tweet by Katy Perry or an Instagram post by Taylor Swift might get their global followers buzzing. But size is no longer everything in the world of social media marketing.

Since the advent of social media, brands have looked to influencers and online celebrities with huge followings to promote their products to an audience in a way that traditional advertising struggles to do. However, just as social media influencers have challenged traditional media in the authenticity and engagement stakes, ‘micro-influencers’ are now stealing the attention of big brands looking to connect with audiences in an even more personalised fashion.

Micro-influencers with macro-engagement

While there is no universal definition of a micro-influencer, they are typically described as social media users with less than 10,000 followers, or even as low as a few hundred.

This movement away from multi-million follower influencers, like sportspeople, fashion gurus and musicians, towards users with more specialised or niche followings reflects a trend in the marketing world towards prioritising engagement rates and forming stronger personal connections with the public, rather than chasing eye-popping reach numbers.

This is a data-driven approach, with studies showing that influencers with more than 10 million followers have social media ‘like’ and ‘comment’ rates of around 1.6 per cent, paling in comparison to the 4 per cent rate of influencers with between 1000 and 10,000 followers.

This sees marketers receive a far better return on investment (ROI), particularly given the savings associated with partnering with niche influencers rather than global celebrities.

However, marketers also have to take into account that the higher engagement rate is somewhat offset by the smaller overall reach, since reaching 1.6 per cent of 10 million people is still far greater overall engagement than 4 per cent of 10,000 people. This means marketers have to determine when a micro-influencer is more appropriate for their brand or product.

Efficiently influencing

Marketers get the most from micro-influencers when they seek to raise awareness of niche brands or products among highly specialised audiences. By paying for a smaller overall reach, but one with a far higher proportion of followers who are passionate about what’s being featured, marketing budgets can be used more efficiently.

As each individual micro-influencer is relatively cheap to partner with, this approach can be applied to dozens of influencers in a niche segment with the same budget needed for just one macro-influencer partnership, yielding a far greater ROI.

The downside is that managing campaigns with multiple influencers may require more work, manpower and billable hours than for just one macro-partner.

Yet, as with most obstacles marketers face, companies have moved in with software designed to reduce the burden and streamline the service. One such solution is CastingAsia, a data-driven influencer platform that links brands and marketers with a huge database of micro-influencers across Asia, and offers engagement analytics. Similar solutions have popped up around the globe, such as Nuffnang and Voltu.

As marketers continue to learn more about maximising engagement on social media platforms, the clear and constant trend is that brands will need to prioritise influencers who can provide a smaller audience but more personal connection.

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