One of the very first examples is Josiah Wedgwood, an 18th Century potter. He shot to popularity after Queen Charlotte endorsed a tea set that Josiah gifted her. With the help of just one influencer of the time, the potter built an entire brand that still exists.
For a long time, there was no better way to pull consumers towards a product than to get famous people talking about it. ‘Influence’ remained synonymous with ‘celebrity.’
Social media weaved threads of change
The landscape transformed with the sudden, meteoric rise of social media. The underlying premise was still the same. So were the mechanics. It was who was genuinely influential that took a 360-degree turn.
The consumer didn’t want to know which celebrity-endorsed which brand. They wanted to hear and read the experiences of people who used them. They wanted social proof, and that came from remote corners of the internet where bloggers, YouTuber, vloggers and social media geniuses ruled.
So, the power to influence moved away from celebrities to these prominent content creators. When they spoke for a brand, followers listened. But like everything on social media, there came the point of over-saturation.
Consumers got tired of feeds full of #ads and #sponsored posts. They were wary of the idea that these big influencers actually used a brand. Maybe they did at first. But odds are that they now post about it only after receiving a massive check for the advertisement.
This knowledge weakened the power they held over followers and shifted trust to a new category of social media users.
The new metamorphosis in influencer marketing
Micro-influencers now had the confidence of consumers. These are everyday individuals sharing content with an audience of 10,000s rather than 100,000s. Their follower size is small, but the community they’ve built is strong. Users not only relate to these influencers but also implicitly trust their recommendations.
Micro-influencers are loyal brand advocates
The best endorsement a brand can get is from regular people who are also existing users or fans. Micro-influencers continuously fall in one of those categories. They either already love a brand or use a product of it. When they talk about it, authenticity shines through, which catches the attention of consumers.
Besides, brands don’t have to spend a lot of time developing the influencer-brand relationship from scratch with these creators. Yes, nurturing it certainly helps, but the foundation is already there. This shortens the turnaround time to get an effective influencer campaign up and running.
They’re perceived as “people like me”
Mega-influencers with millions of followers are more celebrities than a friend. Micro-influencers are at a peer level, therefore far more relatable. To the average social media user, micro-influencers look like just another friend they have.
Therefore, any content they create has a stamp of total authenticity. And because followers know that every takeaway is trustworthy, 82% are highly likely to follow a recommendation from a micro-influencer.
Their engagement rates are through the roof
Micro-influencers don’t try to reach people all over the world. Their audience is finely targeted. It could be mothers in Delhi or women who are also sneakerheads. Because their posts are aimed at a pocket-sized niche, their engagement rates (ER) are much higher.
For instance, a recent campaign we ran with a popular coffee brand using micro-influencers achieved an ER of 45%. The average ER with bigger influencers in the same niche is a mere 10%. Another campaign for a well-known nutritious milk drink for growing children had an ER of 27% when the average ER with bigger creators is an insignificant 2%.
Such hefty engagement rates are game-changers for brands.
Micro-influencers abound plenty and cost less
Celebrities and big influencers make a microscopic subset of social media users. On Instagram, there are only 0.32% users with 100K to 1M+ followers. It limits the choices brands have and the ultimate reach their campaign can attain.
That’s not the case with micro-influencers. Majority of social media users have less than 10,000 followers. So, a brand gets to choose from a vast pool of possible content creators.
On top of it, the price tag attached to micro-influencers is affordable. For instance, the cost per engagement for one of our campaigns was around INR 3 as against the average of INR 6 in the category. For another lifestyle campaign, the CPE was INR 1 as against the average of INR 8 in the category.
Bigger is not better in influencer marketing
An everyday social media user might not be the person a brand thinks of first when they think of influencers. But they’re well worth the attention. With stronger engagement, better cost and tons of opportunities, they are your golden goose.
Remember, influencer marketing campaigns are not just about engagement or reach. They are how consumers find your product and buy it. Micro-influencers impel people to take action – either to search more about the brand or straightaway purchase it. And that’s the money-maker you need – followers who make a purchase decision because a person said so.
So, for the next campaign, find a creator who loves your product, is willing to share about it and has an engaged audience, even if it’s a tiny one.