Micro-Influencers: All You Need to Know
“Mom, I’m dropping out of college to become a micro-influencer!” Well, there’s a new sentence that parents can start dreading as their children choose to diverge from the traditional path of success. You are probably already familiar with the concept of an influencer, which is a person who can drive reactions or impact people’s emotions & thoughts for a cause. They represent a trusted source of authority in the industry they are in. Today’s children don’t aspire to be astronauts, or doctors, or lawyers… Instead, they are dying to be influencers thinking it’s the next big thing. What’s more, they may be right. Around 40% of Twitter users stated that they made a purchase directly through an influencer.
But what in the world is a micro-influencer and why is it becoming such a buzzword?
Even though there isn’t a cut-out answer, one can generally describe micro-influencers as people who have niche audiences in their social media accounts and have a moderate follower base. (Moderate can mean anything from a thousand to 100,000 followers) They are considered experts in their specific areas which can range from fashion, food, fitness, healthy lifestyle and so on. You might be wondering, “Wait a second. Wouldn’t advertisers want to reach as big of an audience as they can.” Not necessarily.
Let’s go back to the ages when human beings were hunter-gatherers to make sense of this seemingly counterintuitive concept. These humans tended to stick together in egalitarian groups of around 15 people as a means of responding collectively to threat. With time, they noticed the strength in numbers and 15 became 50, 500 and 5000. That was the beginning of the problem. As tribes made way to the modern society, these tight-knit groups started losing trust, intimacy and their sense of collective identity. My theory is that today, our innate need to belong to a small and close group is why we put so much value into our families, friend groups and so on.
This is precisely why micro-influencers are on the rise. A survey by AdWeek revealed that as the follower number increases, engagement and conversion rates start falling. What’s more, so does trust. Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising research demonstrated that we tend to trust the recommendations and views of people closest to us including our family and friends (just like the tribe example). That’s what makes micro-influencers an increasingly powerful asset for advertisers. Not only do they cost less, but also, they have a follower base that promises substantial results due to the additional element of trust. For micro-influencers, their follower base does not represent fans, but peers who are interested in the same niche area.
The additional layer of trust comes from the apparent expertise of the micro-influencer in their area. Say you sell unicorn food. Would you want Kim Kardashian with her 144 million followers to post about your unicorn food? Or, would you want “UnicornRazzleDazzle”, an account with 10,000 followers that shares new diets and healthy nutrition tips for unicorns. I would suggest the latter. Yes, it would be cool to see a Kardashian broadcasting how good this food is for her pet unicorn Kanye. But, for starters, it would cost a true fortune. Secondly, optimistically 10 people from Kim’s follower base would be gullible enough to take her as an expert on unicorn food. On the other hand, UnicornRazzleDazzle’s followers probably trust the account’s expertise to judge unicorn food. Partnering with them can promise conversions of up to 20% which means 2000 people. 2000 versus 10! Also, with the additional money left on your advertising budget (because you are not spending loads on one post from Kim Kardashian), you can partner with multiple micro-influencers and increase your engagement.
In short, brands are partnering more and more with micro-influencers and it is not that hard to see why. There is truly an added potential of engagement that comes from capitalizing on the expertise of micro-influencers and the genuine trust their followers harbour towards them. So maybe have an open mind the next time your kid says he/she wants to be a micro-influencer!