Over the past few years, the term “influencer” has really taken flight. To most marketers, “influencers” are highly influential individuals – often celebrities and social media stars – that have millions of followers that know, like and trust the influencer and, therefore, heed their recommendations.
While an attractive and alluring concept, what many brands are finding is that they are paying out massive fees to influencers but are not seeing the ROI or engagement to support it.
In an anonymous and eye-opening Digiday exposé, a social media executive shared how, even though influencer pricing has spiraled upward, its ability to track results and demonstrate financial returns is still almost non-existent.
There’s also the issue of traffic legitimacy.
Most brands vie for influencers based on their number of followers across multiple channels. Even getting a social influencer with a niche following can run between $25 and $75 per thousand followers. And A-list influencers with millions of followers can bill as much as $500,000 for a branded video.
But what if most of those followers are fake?
Apparently, the practice of renting many – if not all – of the accounts that “follow” an influencer is quite widespread, according to a recent Inc.com article.
While this may be more widespread with non-celebrities, most celebrities have, for the most part, a legit following. So if you’re comfortable with spending a large amount of money for an opaque ROI and are primarily focused on boosting your impressions, then a celebrity influencer might suit your needs.
However, if you want more trackable, measurable results, with a higher engagement rate for a much lower cost, it might be worthwhile to partner with a micro-influencer – an influencer with a smaller but better-aligned target audience and more engagement.
Attributes of Micro-influencers
- More Loyal Following. Micro-influencers, which include affiliates and non-affiliates alike, typically have a more loyal following than a “macro” or celebrity-type of influencer. They are committed to creating a strong personal brand and tend to have a higher dedication to producing creative, authentic content, according to a 2016 Bloglovin’ Global Influencer Survey.
- More Cost-Effective. Micro-influencers tend to charge more modest fees. For example, Bloglovin’s survey revealed that:
- 84% of micro-influencers charge less than $250 per branded Instagram post.
- 87% of micro-influencers charge less than $500 per branded blog post
- Better Engagement. A Markerly survey of 2 million social media influencers found that influencer engagement actually drops as an influencer’s audience grows. According to their findings, Instagram influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers have a “like” rate of about 8 percent, compared to a 1.7 percent “like” rate for those with 1 million to 10 million followers. It seems that, as ones follower base rises, their “like” rate decreases. Comment rate follows a similar pattern. Markerly’s findings apply to sponsored Instagram posts too, suggesting that the sweet spot for maximum impact is an influencer with a following in the 10,000 to 100,000 range; in other words, a micro influencer.
- Higher Conversions. In addition to better engagement with their followers, micro-influencers also seem to be able to convert at a higher level than “macro” or celebrity-type influencers, according to findings from Markerly and others. Which makes sense. Because they have fewer followers, they are able to engage with them at a higher level and foster a more loyal following. They are also apt to post less frequently than a celebrity influencer, so their content is often seen as being more authentic and valuable.
- Easier to Enforce FTC Regulations. The Federal Trade Commission has made it clear that it’s a big no-no for influencers to not disclose that they are being compensated by a brand – either monetarily or otherwise –and that the brand will be held responsible if/when an influencer fails to do so.By partnering with micro-influencers, either directly or through the affiliate channel, brands can have more control over tracking, reporting and disclosures.
Considering that 70 percent of micro-influencers work on less than 5 campaigns a year, this niche influencer group is an untapped opportunity for brands.
If you’re looking to forge a more authentic and engaged connection with your target audience, it might be a safer, less expensive and more lucrative strategy to tap influencers with smaller but more active followers.