The influencer industry is big business. According to Business Insider, “the influencer marketing industry is on track to be worth up to $15 billion by 2022, up from as much as $8 billion in 2019.” That’s obviously good news for those who are themselves influencers, but it also means there are a growing number of options for companies looking to enlist the help of influencers to market their products.
While much of the media attention regarding influencers goes to the huge stars with millions of followers, marketing experts say that businesses looking to expand their reach through influencers should think small. Like, micro.
While there are no hard-and-fast numbers that define influencer categories — and those numbers will change depending on who you ask — generally those influencers who have more than a million followers are the mega influencers, and those who are one notch down from that are the macro influencers. Both of these types, whether they are Instagram-famous or famous-famous, have a broad and diverse following and little to no personal connection with their fans.
But when it comes to micro influencers — those who have, say, more than 1,000 followers and definitely less than 100,000 — the nature of their connections to followers and the devotion of those followers changes substantially.
Business Insider explains that you can categorize influencers in two ways: by their reach and by their niche. In terms of reach, the influencer’s “cost-effectiveness, engagement, authenticity, and accessibility all go up as follower count goes down.” And in terms of niche, micro influencers tend to have very focused, targeted audiences.
Let’s break that down a bit.
The cost-effectiveness part is fairly obvious: Mega-influencer Kylie Jenner reportedly charges about $1 million for a single sponsored social media post. How many marketing budgets could accommodate that? Making deals with a number of micro influencers would be far more cost effective and still reach a pretty considerable audience.
An influencer’s following should be measured not just in quantity but in quality — in other words, by how engaged their followers are, how often their posts get liked or shared or commented on. A high engagement rate means that person has built a community of people who feel very connected and invested in him or her. As a marketer, getting some help tapping into an already cohesive and engaged community is invaluable.
Generally speaking, if micro influencers endorse a product, it’s probably something those influencers actually use and love. Followers value these influencers for their authentic opinions. We all look for recommendations from people we trust, and influencers with more modest audiences tend to have a more personal, more trusted connection with their community.
Again, this is fairly obvious, but we’ll say it anyway. An influencer with a smaller audience will be perceived as, and will actually be, far more accessible than a mega influencer. It’s the difference between a local band that talks with fans after a show and an arena star who poses for photos with a select few who have VIP passes.
Micro influencers tend to have audiences that are more focused on a particular topic, or niche — like movies or fitness, cooking or pets — so if, as a marketer, you can find influencers whose audience matches up with your own in terms of interests, their praise for your product will resonate more and could make a substantial difference for your business.
So bear this in mind: If you’re planning to use influencers as part of your marketing strategy in 2021 and beyond, think small. Like, micro.