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Bigger Isn’t Always Better: The Rise of the Micro-Influencer

January 26, 2017
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By Nicole Best

Let’s be honest. When you see your following surge on Instagram it feels good. Am I right? But if your numbers are flat, don’t despair. Brands are starting to come around to the fact that it’s not always the numbers that make an impact, it’s the engagement. If you have built an audience that trusts and values what you have to say, and sometimes recommend, it can be worth more than the number of overall followers you have. Our friends at Matte Black, a culture marketing firm and creative studio, agree. Read on to hear what they have to say on The Rise of the Micro-Influencer…

A digital influencer: the term heard ‘round the world. As a surplus of individuals have oversaturated a market that was once undefined, lifestyle, coffee, beauty and travel influencers have become commonplace, so to speak. These people have created an industry that is is so attainable, it almost acts as a surplus of talent. So, with this overcrowding of an industry, how do we sift through each of these individuals and differentiate between Influencer A and Influencer B?  

As a brand, when you look at an influencer on Instagram, Snapchat, what have you… are you more concerned with their reach or their engagement?

Let’s do a little math to figure it out: if someone has 4 million followers and gets .5% engagement per media, is that better than an influencer with 30K followers who gets 10% engagement per media? The answer is no.

This is where the term, ‘active user’ comes into play. An active user is someone who is following another person with purpose. Active users are engaged and genuinely interested in the people they are following. These people are important because as a brand, wouldn’t we prefer to see 100 clicks back to a website to buy a product off of one post, than see 100,000 impressions but no ROI? 

As important as exposure is, hitting your key demographics with what we consider the micro-influencer is a more strategic route for a brand. The micro-influencer has a dedicated, niche following. They have a community of users that deem them the expert in their fields; the Beyonce of their craft, following their every step with a magnifying glass.

The micro-influencer is interactive, constantly engaging with their community and ensuring they are heard. This person is creating an enviable, yet tangible lifestyle, and their community not only wants to be a part of it, but already feels like they are. These influencers are tapping into the consumer’s modern desire to be a part of something unique in a world where content is fleeting, as our friends at Forbes noted.

He or she is also more cost effective. Because even though they can’t necessarily prove how they’ve helped other brands, they’ve curated a community that deems them the expert in their field.

For example, let’s say you are a skincare brand and you want to tap into the enviable life that Sincerely Jules has created. Yet, maybe 10% of her followers care about her beauty routine. I.E. you’re wasting dollars hitting 90% of a community that really doesn’t care about you. With the same amount of budget, you’d be able to activate 10 influencers with 50K followers in different niche, demographics to really expose your brand in key markets, ultimately seeing better engagement. To top it all off, these influencers aren’t yet represented by management who control deliverable and can ultimately compromise the authenticity of the partnership.

So let’s forget about follower size. Let’s forget about the cost associated with the following; the traditional CPM’s that actually don’t mean anything in digital marketing.   We need to measure ROI differently; there are a lot of intangibles that you can’t put into a spreadsheet. Let’s measure clicks back to a site, total impressions reached. How many new eyes are coming to your page and seeing your products for the first time? How much brand awareness are we increasing?

Because there is such a thing as being too popular. And social media influencers who start seeing declines in engagement with increases in follower sizes are the ones who realize this.  

Looking for insta-inspiration? Head on over the Shape Shift Report to discover 40 micro influencers in Travel, Food Fashion, Men’s Lifestyle, Fitness, Beauty, Lifestyle, Creatives, International and our favorite, Mommy.

This article first appeared in the Shape Shift Report, a trend and insight publication by the culture conduits at Matte Black. For more inspiring insights, follow along on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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