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The Rise of Micro-Influencers

Influencer marketing is on the rise with more and more brands seeing the value of working with bloggers, Youtubers and in particular, Instagram influencers. Alongside all of the high profile campaigns working with influencers who have become famous in their field, we are seeing more and more sponsored content driven by those with much lower numbers of followers. The question is, why should brands work with influencers with comparably small followings?

Anyone with a following of roughly 3,000 to 30,000 followers on Instagram is said to be a micro-influencer. They are known to be authentic, trustworthy and much more relatable than those with millions of followers, thanks to their highly engaged following that results in above average likes and comments on their posts. These influencers usually share content that fits into a particular niche and have a very distinct personal style; their followers more likely to be people similar to themselves with the same interests. If you discover a micro-influencer that matches your specific niche, chances are that you will discover a highly targeted audience in their followers.

Several studies have shown that as an influencer’s number of followers increases, their engagement starts to decline.

Those with thousands or tens of thousands of followers typically have the best levels of engagement. Micro-influencers receive a manageable number of comments to respond to and have the time to strike up meaningful conversations with their followers, encouraging people to comment time and time again. They also tend to be part of a circle of similar-sized influencers who all take the time to interact with each other’s feeds, building up relationships with one another that often result in friendship. Comparably, when influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers gain a celebrity status, they become much less relatable.

In general, you are much more likely to be influenced by the opinion of someone who is relatable to yourself. Think about it; if you see a dress worn by a celebrity or model compared to worn by someone who looks just like yourself, which image is more likely to influence your decision to purchase the dress?

There’s also the element of trust.

Huge influencers have Instagram feeds saturated with sponsored posts and their followers don’t always respond well to advertisements. Micro-influencers spread their commercial content out more sparingly, dotted among their natural posts, meaning that their followers don’t expect to find as many adverts on their feeds.

Micro-influencers are also seen as more authentic, partially due to less sponsored content but also because they seem genuinely interested in the subjects they are posting about. They post relatable captions, encourage conversation and chat back to their followers, creating a relationship that is more similar to friendship than what you get back from a larger influencer.

This is partially down to the amount of time available to them.

Larger influencers reach a saturation point when they are inundated by comments and messages and simply have to stop responding to them all. At this point, when the relationship between influencer and follower becomes one-sided, engagement begins to plateau. Any subsequent followers barely stand a chance to create a conversation.

Over the past twelve months, many brands have started working with micro-influencers, partially because of their engagement but also because they are much more affordable than those with larger followings. When an influencer reaches 100,000 followers, their fees sky rocket, making them unobtainable for small and medium brands with lower budgets. Micro-influencers command lower fees and may even accept gifted product as payment when they are first starting out.

One thing to consider is that a micro-influencer has a much smaller overall reach than an influencer with millions of followers.

It’s important to select the right micro-influencer for your brand, perhaps considering those who are already using or talking about your products, to ensure that you are targeting the correct audience. Working with several micro-influencers at once on the same campaign is a great way to get your brand seen by a larger number of people.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for authentic, relatable and highly engaged content, create a group of micro-influencers to form a long-lasting relationship with. Remember, these are the people that your customers are looking to for inspiration.

Words by Emma Lavelle

Image by @georgiestclair for Vitabiotics.