Small is bountiful: the power of the microinfluencer


Marketers are discovering that microinfluencers are an effective and valuable alternative to hiring expensive mega influencers to raise brand profile and customer following

Microinfluencers are the secret weapon of the marketing influencer world, with the power to engage, mobilise and spark action among target audiences to a degree that surpasses their larger, often more famous counterparts. 

Typically with a cohort of between 10,000 and 100,000 followers, microinfluencers prove that quality is better than quantity to engage a target audience. Microinfluencers are unlikely to use all their work time in their marketing role, instead finding time to post during a lunch break or at the weekends. As such, they are perhaps more connected to ‘ordinary’ consumers than full-time macroinfluencers, who count between 100,000 and 1 million followers, not to mention celebrity influencers, who boast figures in the tens of millions. 

Our technology allows brands to create a landing page on their own website or to push out emails to customers to apply to become influencers

Through their relatability, the trust that microinfluencers elicit and the relative intimacy that they inject into their messaging, they have been shown to wield serious influence. For instance, when pet food brand I and Love and You partnered with 400 pet microinfluencers to ramp up brand awareness and utilise user-generated content, the influencers created 122 posts that reached 7.8 million people and received 64,000 engagements. The company also increased its reach by getting its influencers to cross-promote content on several social media channels and blogs.

And, in 2016 the Honey Nut Cheerios cereal brand in Canada called on its customers to help ‘bring back the bees’ by planting wildflowers. They brought in distinguished bee expert Marla Spivak as part of the campaign on Facebook and Twitter. “She didn’t have a huge following on social media, but what she did have was credibility in the space to tell the story,” explains influencer marketing consultant Camille Kennedy.

Where to find microinfluencers 

Brands can carry out social media searches to look at influencer content and utilise word of mouth, but they can also use influencer marketing platforms and experts to find the right microinfluencer for their campaign or project. They could also look closer to home, at their own customers.

 “Our technology allows brands to create a landing page on their own website or to push out emails to customers to apply to become influencers,” says Neil Brennan, VP sales at Klear. “A marketing agency recently discovered that a very large celebrity was a long-term subscriber of a scientific journal they represented. He said he would jump at the chance to work with the brand as an influencer. 

“There are not enough brands deliberately looking for influencers amongst their own customers, even though they are part of their marketing database and regularly buy their products. They will be truly authentic influencers for your brand.”

We outline six ways a microinfluencer can take your marketing strategy to new heights:

1 Save money

As marketing budgets – like many others – are squeezed as the cost of living remains high, marketers have a sharper eye on the value of their influencer marketing efforts. Instead of picking up a very large chequebook and waving it in the direction of a Harry Styles or Madonna, businesses can save a great deal of money by bypassing the celebrity dazzle and going micro. 

According to a HubSpot survey, 44% of marketers said cost is a major factor when selecting smaller influencers. For example, a microinfluencer is likely to charge between $100 to $500 per Instagram post, according to the Influencer Marketing Hub, compared to a macroinfluencer charging between $5,000 and $10,000. So, a brand can save money or could spread their budget over a wider range of influencers, reducing risk. This is critical as businesses seek to cut costs in the face of economic volatility while endeavouring to boost sales and gain new customers.

2 Getting engaged 

Social media engagement is how actively involved an audience is with a post. Engagement is the most common metric used by brands to measure the success of an influencer marketing campaign. According to Fohr’s 2022 Influencer Marketing Benchmark report, the highest engagement rates are hit by nano and microinfluencers with between 1,000 and 10,000 followers. A microinfluencer has an average 7% engagement rate on their feed posts compared to around 1% to 3% for all influencers, meaning the message is hitting the right targets in relatively higher numbers when compared to those who use a more scattergun approach. 

A high engagement rate means that followers have interacted with the post. Their reposts and shares mean that more people will read the brand message, widening your potential customer base and increasing brand recognition. Because the followers spend more time reading and digesting the post, rather than clicking and moving swiftly on, they are more likely to be persuaded by the message and make a purchase or visit the brand’s website.

“One of the biggest misconceptions in influencer marketing is that bigger is better, which is just not the case,” says Tom Higgins, co-founder, Gifta. “We proved this with a recent campaign for Heinz, raising awareness of their new pasta sauce collaboration with Absolut vodka.

“The launch campaign saw 150 influencers gifted/seeded with a combined following of 1.4 million; 92% of them posted a whopping 550 pieces of content, resulting in over 8 million video views. Influencers of this size have a super hyper-local audience, meaning that the awareness was focused on the UK, instead of working with a macroinfluencer that has a small UK audience.” 

3 The authentic touch

Micro- and especially nanoinfluencers – who have between 100 and 10,000 followers – tend to be specialists in a product or sector. They use, touch, discover and enthuse about the subject every day to a group of like-minded followers. Their content is creative, authentic, from the heart, and, as a result, more trustworthy. If they make a recommendation or promote a brand the follower knows that it is a genuine belief and that they are not being sold to. The chance then of meeting those KPIs of brand awareness, sentiment or conversion increase. For brands it means a target audience ready to listen to messaging around specific products or services.

“Just as a friend or family member’s recommendation tends to hold more weight than a stranger’s, influencers with engaged communities offer genuine peer-to-peer recommendations,” says Ellie Hooper, head of client at social media and influencer marketing agency Goat. “Brands can work with creators who hold the same values, engaged audiences, and authenticity to drive performance across the full funnel. The worst thing you can do is blindly onboard influencers with a large following but no relevance to your brand.  This is not only a colossal waste of budget but can also do more harm than good for your reputation.”

Sarah Penny, content and research director at The Influencer Group says microinfluencers are continuing a centuries-old tradition. “It is like Wedgwood putting his seal of approval on his China in the 19th century and the Avon lady holding home parties in the 1980s,” she says. “It’s still about trust but it is on social now. Microinfluencers also have more time to communicate with their followers and respond to their comments compared with other larger influencers.”

Creator hub director Jill Boobyer of agency Smarts adds: “Anyone can have influence in a certain sector if they have a following online. It could even be a neighbour from down your street.”

The worst thing you can do is blindly onboard influencers with a large following but no relevance to your brand.

4 Creative storytellers

Microinfluencers with a sizeable and engaged follower base have got to their position for a reason. They have produced content that has likely entertained, enthused and perhaps educated their audience. This means that when a brand chooses to work with a microinfluencer they are not only gaining a potential new audience but adding a new, engaged and distinct creative voice to their business. 

This is important for social media marketers who, according to the HubSpot survey, say creating engaging content is their top hurdle. That’s largely down to missing out on information about their audience, demographics, the challenges they face in their lives and their hobbies. Whereas a celebrity influencer will often rely on brand-generated content in the form of a script or a carefully planned photo shoot, microinfluencers can provide personal and creative engagement. 

“We are moving away from the ‘grip and grin’ style of post where someone is standing holding a bottle or the product,” says Boobyer. “Social media users don’t want that polished marketing anymore. This is a more creative-led era of marketing where unique and personal content can cut through a crowded social media marketplace. Microinfluencers are not billboards, they have huge storytelling abilities and hugely engaged followers. When we bring in an influencer, we brainstorm ideas with them and encourage them to bring their own. We don’t want restrictive tick-box briefs.” The growth of TikTok and the pandemic led to a boom in creative microinfluencers, observes Penny. “Microinfluencers since lockdown have also become adept at doing their own product photo shoots which can be used on their own and the brand’s channels. It is more multifaceted now,” she says. 

5 Build long-term creative partnerships

Microinfluencers may not stay small forever, so by forging close relationships with them at an early stage, a brand could benefit from their growth in follower numbers. Brands believe developing long-term relationships with microinfluencers is easier than those with higher follower numbers, but there are crucial ways to ensure the partnerships stay strong.

“A microinfluencer knows what their audience likes, so being too nitpicky about content could be problematic,” says Klear’s Brennan. “Give them creative freedom and be professional and responsive to feedback, questions and payment after they have published content and hit their KPIs.” 

Boobyer says that regular communication with microinfluencers and developing a personal relationship can also be beneficial for brands. “Send them best wishes on their birthday and make sure they feel engaged and excited by the content,” she says. 

The same content can also be amplified by repurposing it for use on a brand’s social media channel or other paid media such as digital advertising. A microinfluencer could also be invited to brand events or feature in advertising campaigns. 

Give microinfluencers creative freedom and be professional and responsive to feedback, questions and payment after they have published content and hit their KPIs

6 Keeping you on trend

According to HubSpot, nearly one-fifth of social media marketers fear they are failing to keep up with new social media trends such as behaviours and topics popular on channels.

Microinfluencers, because they are close to their audience, can help brands to quickly pick up these new trends on sites such as TikTok or Instagram. “Microinfluencers allow brands to catch up with culture,” says Boobyer. “They can use microinfluencers as creative consultants, letting them know what is trending and coming up with content ideas. You can use all that information in your 360-degree data feed.” 

This article was first published on Raconteur.

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