It’s impossible to look through your social media streams today and not see a celebrity raving about the latest product that they love. Influencer marketing is not a new concept, but thanks to the growing presence of social media over the last five years, this marketing technique is expanding and diversifying its approach across a number of platforms. We commonly see brands use high-profile celebrities due to their large following. Taylor Swift, for example, has 73.4 million followers on Instagram. That’s almost 10 million more followers than the population of the U.K. While this has worked to try and garner mass appeal, a new type of influencer is emerging as a more impactful, more influential candidate for reaching target audiences: the micro-influencer.
A recent study by Markerly, focusing on Instagram influencer followership and engagement, uncovered an interesting trend: As follower numbers rise, engagement actually decreases. Instagram influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers have a like rate of about 8%, while those with 1k-10k followers have a like rate of 4%. Rates continue to drop as follower counts rise: 10k-100k followers have a 2.37% like rate, compared to a 1.66% like rate with 1M-10M and with 10M+ followers. A similar trend was seen among comment rate statistics, where data found a .16% comment rate for influencers with 10k-100k followers, compared to a .05% comment rate for accounts with 1M-10M followers and the .04% comment rate for accounts with 10M+ followers.
So what does this mean in terms of influencers and their followings? Basically, having a larger following does not mean that their followers are more engaged, which can be an issue to brands trying to reach their target audiences through these individuals. We can’t deny that these high-profile influencers have a very appealing, large following, but the engagement clearly lacks when compared to micro-influencers. But why is it that these followers don’t seem to trust in celebrity influencers, and why can’t they move the needle in amounts that are equivalent to their follower numbers? Do we really find them to be relatable enough to trust their recommendations or are we simply captivated with the glamour of their lives when compared to our normal, everyday lives?
Micro-influencers better connect with their followers due to their targeted focus on very niche areas and topics. While the follower number may not be nearly as high as the Kim Kardashians of the world, they’re able to engage and build a loyal relationship with their audience through a passion for these smaller focus areas such as food, health, sports and beauty. In addition, influencers with a smaller reach have the ability to create content that is fresh and up to date with the interests of individuals in that specific niche, again displaying a real interest and passion that instills follower trust. Utilizing micro-influencers particularly in that 10k-100k zone is where brands will find real value, witnessing greater engagement while still reaching a broad audience, without maxing out their marketing budget to do so.
A number of popular brands are currently using this strategy of incorporating micro-influencers into their influencer marketing campaigns. One such example is common household brand Dixie, which used this strategy with its QuickTakes container products. During the campaign, Markerly worked with Dixie to identify the niche long-tail foodie and parenting influencers to produce evergreen content that would resonate with these target markets. By focusing on the audiences that could really use the product, like the moms and dads in the world that need a quick, load-and-go solution for homemade lunches, and the foodies that make in bulk and save for later, Dixie was able to produce media value that was over 100 times the original predicted value.
With a budget of only $10K, Dixie’s QuickTakes campaign ended up earning $1M in media value with a reach of 77M, and is still growing. From the end of the campaign in 2014 through 2016, blog post reads have increased from 64,223 to 447,900, and Pins have grown from 37,404 to 234,101.
So what are some keys to developing a killer influencer marketing campaign? The first suggestion I’d offer is to leverage micro-influencers and to contract them for multiple posts. This is important for a few reasons. First and foremost, you're able to negotiate a better rate when you buy multiple sponsored posts. Second, the likelihood that their followers see it increases. Finally, if you're going to contract 50 people, putting together agreements for each of these individuals, especially if you aren't working with an influencer network to manage it on your behalf, is time consuming. Off the bat knowing that you have 3-6 months’ worth of content being produced is helpful.
My second tip is to leave behind the mindset that content needs to be produced on a campaign basis. Working with micro-influencers gives you the opportunity to have content being produced about your brand on a daily basis, continually, for years. There's a huge advantage to having sponsored content produced for your brand daily/weekly as it provides a steady flow of leads, content for repurposing, and social activity/discussion. Additionally, micro-influencers are great for scalable content creation and repurposing photography. What we’ve seen with these types of campaigns is continual repurposing, taking these photos and including them in in-store displays, email marketing, pulling them into the website, and using them in shout-outs on their own social accounts.
Micro-influencers are a growing force in the marketing world with their continual, focused content directed at specific reader bases. Honing their connection with their audiences can be a powerful marketing tool for brands. As they say, good things come in small packages.
Sarah Ware is CEO & founder at Markerly.