Should You Be Using Micro-Influencers for Marketing? (and 4 Brands Who Are Already Crushing It)

June 9, 2020

The influencer marketing industry is on track to be worth $15 billion by 2022, but only 4% of internet users actually trust influencer recommendations. These B2C brands are taking a new approach.

In 1992, global superstar Michael Jordan partnered with McDonald’s and encouraged TV viewers to eat Big Mac burgers in order to “be like Mike.” Whether Michael Jordan actually ate Big Macs was not in question, most people were aware of the terrific sum of money that would be exchanged in a deal between the world’s biggest basketball player and the world’s largest fast-food chain. He was a celebrity, that’s what celebrities did.

Fast forward to 2020, and celebrities are no longer the only people with a global influence. Thanks to Instagram, Snapchat, and even TikTok, ordinary people can have massive followings and partner with huge brands.

They’re called influencers – but how well are they really influencing? Macro-influencers are similar to celebrities in that they’ll promote whatever pays, and in doing so, studies have shown that despite the hundreds of thousands of followers, very few people trust the sincerity of the endorsements.

It’s time for a new approach to influencer marketing. It’s an approach that Forbes magazine called “the marketing force of the future.”

This force? Micro-influencers.

What are micro-influencers?

When it comes to differentiating between micro and macro influencers, it all comes down to the numbers. Micro-influencers have smaller followings, between 1,000 to 10,000 people. Macro-influencers, on the other hand, have anywhere from 10,000 to 1 million followers. While people may argue on these exact numbers, the key difference is in the width of their reach — with macro-influencers being able to reach hundreds of thousands of people at once.

Hundreds of thousands of potential customers? For businesses endeavoring to use influencer marketing, this may seem like a no-brainer. But there are many things to consider when deciding between micro and macro-influencers that extend beyond the cold, hard numbers.

Let’s take a look at a few of the differences between micro and macro-influencers.

Engagement

As any good marketer knows, it is not the number of followers but the engagement that matters. Although macro-influencers offer a wider reach, micro-influencers actually have higher levels of engagement.

A study by Markerly found that as followers increase, engagement decreases. While Instagrammers with less than 1000 followers got likes on their photos 8% of the time, influencers with 10 million followers or more got likes only 1.6% of the time.

Likes are only the beginning of tracking engagement. Comments are one of the best ways to assess active, genuine engagement with followers. Again, micro-influencers outshine macro-influencers with an average of 13 times more comments.

This is important because if you’re considering investing thousands of dollars into influencer-marketing, it’s crucial that followers are both seeing the influencer’s content and (more importantly) engaging with it. The more comments a post gets, the higher it will rank with the algorithm.

Affordability

Marketing ain’t cheap — and influencer marketing is no different. According to Business Insider, the influencer marketing industry is on track to be worth $15 billion by 2022, up from as much as $8 billion dollars in 2019.

Influencers know their worth – especially the big ones. Kim Kardashian reportedly charges around $500,000 per post, and Cristiano Ronaldo is paid $975,000 for a single post. And while you may not be aiming for Kardashian-level influencers, even an influencer with 250k – 1 million followers can charge anywhere from $5000 – $10,000 per Instagram post. Snapchat and Facebook posts are additional charges, and YouTube videos are far more.

Micro-influencers, on the other hand, are much less expensive. They may still charge for posts, but the cost is more likely to be in the $50-$200 range. Some micro-influencers may also be willing to work for product only. If you have a valuable product that suits their niche, micro-influencers may happily promote your product with no extra charge.

The numbers may vary, but at the end of the day, micro-influencers usually give you more for your money.

Trust and authenticity

Influencers are the new celebrities. According to Collective Bias, only 3% of customers would consider buying a product endorsed by a celebrity, while 30% would consider buying a product endorsed by a non-celebrity influencer. Another study found that 70% of teenagers trust influencers over celebrities.

However, after a decade of social media inundation, even influencers are beginning to lose their trustworthiness. According to the Wave study from media agency UM, only 4% of internet users trust influencers.

This is a huge problem for an industry that is expected to grow to $15 billion in the next two years. The popularity of influencer marketing is rapidly increasing, but the effectiveness is taking a hit. One study found that people actually trust the government more than they trust influencers (oof).

Following massive influencer scandals such as the infamous Fyre festival of 2017, influencers now are careful to put “#ad” or “#gifted” at the end of a sponsored post. The posts are also often highly unnatural and posed (picture a fitspo influencer, whose countertops just so happen to be covered in a certain brand of supplements). When every other post is a #ad, users start to see through these so-called “endorsements.”

Enter micro-influencers. Micro-influencers are often appealing to a smaller, more niche audience and are generally more trusted by their followers. Research funded by Expercity found that 82% of consumers consider a micro-influencer’s purchase recommendations to be trustworthy.

Shannon Kenney, a fashion micro-influencer, says, “Micro-influencers tend to be more passionate about what they’re promoting…I will only post brands I’m truly passionate about and do it because I want to, not for any form of compensation.”

Like Kenney, most micro-influencers tend to be pickier about the brands they partner with, especially if they’re only being offered product. Picking micro-influencers who suit the niche you are targeting is crucial to your success – whether that’s fashionistas, fitness-freaks, or foodies.

How to find micro-influencers

Finding the perfect micro-influencer can sometimes feel like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Their smaller, more intimate followings are what make micro-influencers valuable, but unfortunately, it also makes them harder to find.

The first place to look is “right under your nose.” Sift through who is commenting and engaging with your content, or tagging you in posts and stories – these people might be micro-influencers. Chances are, if they are actively engaging with your brand, they may be part of your desired niche. You can also look through who engages with your competitors’ content or search for related hashtags. It may take some digging, but the payoffs are worth it.

However, don’t choose just anyone who has the magic number of followers. Look for high-quality content, and check to make sure their followers are engaged in the comments. Buying followers is easy and far too common these days, so make sure you’re choosing real people, with followers that are real people.

Note: Micro-influencers are all about being genuine. When approaching micro-influencers, it is better to send a personable DM than to reach out through a formal email.

Brands that use micro-influencers

Let’s take a look at a few brands that have invested in micro-influencers:

1. Mejuri

Mejuri, a Toronto-based fine jewelry brand, is devoted to being the least exclusive jewelry brand out there, rocking the mantra “make luxury habit.” Mejuri appeals to the modern woman who doesn’t buy into the outdated sentiment of receiving jewelry passively (ie from a man) but will buy the “damn ring herself,” and wear it “whenever she damn wants.”

With over 100,000 people on the waitlist for some Mejuri products, it would seem that they’re doing something right. Mejuri’s launch in 2013 coincided with the rise of influencer marketing, and they have since been building upon the power of influencer marketing.

While they also partner with macro and celebrity level influencers, Mejuri recognizes the value of micro-influencers, partnering with thousands of fashionable, millennial women.

Note: Mejuri personalizes each box by hand-writing the recipient’s name, and uses aesthetically pleasing packaging. This encourages “unboxings” aka, IG stories showing the process of opening their new gift.

2. Glossier

What began as a heavily-trafficked blog called “Into the Gloss” by Emily Weiss has transformed into a leading makeup and skincare brand called Glossier. Like Mejuri, Glossier is not seeking out highly-followed influencers to promote their products.

The real requirement, according to Weiss, is that these figures “share our values, [produce] content we really like, who have something interesting to say about the products and also come from really diverse backgrounds and different parts of the country.”

In other words: authenticity. Glossier now has over 500 reps driving sales, who actively show off their favorite makeup and skincare products.

View this post on Instagram

Feeling summery ☀️🍑🍹 I took this 2 years ago but it still remains one of my fave @glossier photos I have taken. I still use coconut balm dot com, priming Rich moisturizer & Glossier You daily since I was introduced to them in 2016. This is a brand that I probably can’t ever live without because when it comes to moisturizer & balm nothing has my heart like Glossier. I used to be obsessed with the way the super glow made my skin glow as well but these days I need something stronger to brighten my skin. I go back to Milky Jelly from time to time. That was my main cleanser for 2 years straight it literally cured my oily skin in which I don’t struggle with anymore (more dry skin type now)!! Solution is also amazing at helping lighten & combat hyperpigmentation + reducing acne & pores! What are your Glossier staple/s??

A post shared by JAYLENE | skincare & wellness (@gloskinjay) on

3. Daniel Wellington

The Daniel Wellington brand was created in 2011 by John Filip Tysander as an affordable watch brand with a minimalistic, timeless design. With nearly 5 million followers on Instagram, Daniel Wellington has mastered the influence of Instagram’s “ordinary people.”

The Instagram account encourages creativity and frequent posting from their buyers, by regularly sharing user photos on their main feed, and crediting the creator.

Note: Daniel Wellington also encourages customers to style and post photos of their watches by promoting the hashtag #DWPickoftheDay, which is then used to choose the next photo for the feed.

4. Bumble

Investing in micro-influencers is not only a valuable investment for fashion and beauty brands – tech companies are also getting in on the movement. Whitney Wolfe Herd originally designed Bumble as a female-friendly dating app, but it has now grown to include Bumble BFF (for meeting friends) and Bumble Biz (for networking). Bumble actively partners with small influencers from across North America to share their success stories they’ve had with the app.

The bottom line

There are benefits to both macro and micro-influencers. If your goal of using influencer-marketing is strictly brand awareness and reaching as many people as possible, macro-influencers could be the way to go. However, if you are looking to build a reputation as a trusted, approachable brand that understands its niche – micro-influencing is your new best friend.

The rules may always be changing, but the social media game is here to stay, and we want to help you win it.

By Katrina Martin – Content Writer