I still remember the very first time I encountered a social influencer. It was 2009 and I was a freshman in high school. Somehow I stumbled upon a YouTube video of a young college woman demonstrating a makeup tutorial from her room in a sorority house.
Since the conception of social media influencers, the industry changed dramatically right before our eyes. Frankly, it has to evolve to survive in an ever-changing digital landscape.
As the idea of social influencers has grown from dorm room beauty tutorials to meticulously edited photos and videos, the capacity for influencers has also grown. The market is becoming more saturated and nobody is complaining, to the dismay of the advertising industry. The birth of micro-influencers is a direct result of the continuously changing digital landscape. The social media influencers with fewer followers are gaining major attention from brands. Although they may not reach as many people at once, they have specific benefits that the larger influencers no longer have.
Micro-influencers’ price tag is much more affordable than larger influencers with multiple brand partnerships. For brands with smaller budgets, micro-influencers are extremely valuable. Small businesses can utilize a local influencer, or multiple, to reach a larger audience without spending all of its marketing dollars. At the same time, large brands can work with several micro-influencers all over the world for more targeted results. Brands may be able to spend less money but reach more people who are actually interested in purchasing a product by utilizing more specific targeting.
However, what makes micro-influencers so valuable is authenticity. Because they don’t have as many partnerships as larger influencers, their followers aren’t inundated with sponsored posts. Thus, they may trust micro-influencers more than a superstar influencer who has turned their account into one big advertisement. Studies show audiences trust influencers more than celebrities. This element of trust is what makes influencers, and more specifically, micro-influencers, such huge successes for brands.
Swedish watch company, Daniel Wellington, has found major success with micro-influencers. The company partners with a wide variety of micro-influencers who post a picture on Instagram of their Daniel Wellington watch and share an account-specific discount code. There are nearly 1.5 million photos with the #DanielWellington hashtag on Instagram and thousands of those photos come from regular users with no ties to the company. Additionally, sparkling water company, LaCroix, encourages everyone to use the hashtags #LaCroixlove and #LiveLaCroix on their Instagram photos featuring the beverage. The company selects users to featured on the LaCroix Instagram and might also send them a voucher for a free case of LaCroix. The result? Thousands of photos of the recognizable neon cans on Instagram.
Although micro-influencers don’t appear as appealing as the large influencers on the surface, they have plenty to offer brands and their audiences. The old saying is “quality over quantity,” but with micro-influencers, it’s possible to have both quality and quantity.