Micro-Influencer Marketing Explained: Why Smaller is Better

Feb 02, 2017

Social media is the most powerful communication platform of all time. We hear this all the time but it’s easy to underestimate just how widespread the use of networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and Twitter is. According to research, there’s more than 2 billion people in the world that are active social media users. That’s two-thirds of all people with internet access.

These numbers are hard to imagine but the implications are clear: as the most powerful communication platform of all time, social media is also the most powerful marketing platform ever created.

As marketers, we know that we should have a presence on social media. The truth is that the times of posting sporadic updates on your Facebook page and getting engagement are long over. Even interesting and original content gets no attention. Meanwhile paid advertising, while still effective, is getting more and more expensive. Running PPC campaigns and hoping to just break-even is more and more common. In the end, the constant begging for likes and shares combined with poor results is turning many marketers away from social media.

Today, if you want to stand out on social media… then you have to do something different. And that’s where micro-influencer marketing comes in.

Just imagine:

The rise of micro-influencer marketing

There are three forces contributing to the emergence of micro-influencer marketing.

Let’s look at all three in more detail.

Force #1: You already have brand advocates who would be happy to share your content for you.

So who are these micro-influencers? They are anyone that is in any way connected to your brand: employees, fans, customers, readers/listeners/audience, power users, partners, and of course friends & family. These groups would be happy to share your content for you if you made it easy, fun, and engaging for them. Many of them already like your brand and products and want to see you succeed.

Even better, each of these micro-influencers has their own unique networks of friends and followers who see the things they post on social media and trust their recommendations.

“Why would these people share my content? What’s in it for them?”. The reasons vary from individual to individual but here are a few of the cost common ones:

Takeaways:

Force #2 - You don’t need a big team of advocates to drive BIG results.

Some of you might be reading this and thinking that you’ll need a big team for this to work. It’s easy to imagine GoPro and Victoria’s Secret successfully mobilizing huge numbers micro-influencers (which they are!) but what about smaller brands who don’t have millions of fans?

To understand why micro-influencer marketing works even with small numbers, we need to take a look at the changes social media newsfeeds have undergone in the last years.

First, take a look at the numbers of followers you have on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Next, compare that to the number of people that liked, shared, and commented on your most recent posts. What do you notice?

The number of people who engaged with your post are only a tiny fraction of your followers. The hard truth is that most of your followers never even saw what you shared.

This is largely due to the algorithm changes: content is no longer shown in the classic oldest-to-newest order. Instead, each platform decides for itself which content they think users will want to see the most… and that content usually is from close friends, not brands.

It’s not all bad news though. Here’s how Forbes put it when Instagram announced the change to its algorithm last year: “As much as this may be a setback for businesses and brands that count on that mass exposure, it also presents an opportunity to get in touch with a niche target audience which will consequentially benefit your brand.”

And here is what they recommend to do in order to capitalize on the new algorithm: “Under Instagram’s new algorithm, influencers who are consistently engaging with their audiences will be ranked favorably in user’s feeds. Aligning your brand with these social influencers can help you break through the barrier and indirectly interact with your target audience as well.”

Sound familiar? That’s micro-influencer marketing! And that is also the reason why you don’t need a huge number of fans to drive huge results. Even just getting started with 10 micro-influencers will expose you to their thousands of friends and followers. Combine that with the fact that 90% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase if recommended by someone and you have yourself a powerful marketing channel.

Once you have a system in place, it’s easy to recruit and mobilize new advocates. Moreover, with time your team of micro-influencers becomes a HUGE asset to your business. It’s like an email list, except instead of just broadcasting directly to people, you get to broadcast through people, reaching your second-degree connections. Your team of 100 micro-influencers will be reaching tens of thousands of people!

Takeaways:

Force #3 - Advocate-driven marketing is the most valuable form of online marketing.

There’s a reason why people say that an email list is a company’s most valuable marketing tool: you own it. You can take it with you when you switch email service providers. You can use it as many times as you want. When it grows in size, so does its value.

This is not true for social media. Your Facebook Page isn’t yours. Your Instagram page isn’t yours. Your Twitter profile isn’t yours. They can be shut down at any time and there’s nothing you can do about it. Moreover, your following on social media is constantly being devalued due to algorithm changes. Paid ads, which are still effective but getting more and more expensive, equal to renting space. Once spent, the money is gone.

A team of brand ambassadors is an asset however. It can’t be shut down and any investment you make into making it bigger also increases its value. Even better, it scales exponentially. For each micro-influencer you recruit as a brand champion, you add hundreds (if not thousands) of new people you are reaching.

There’s one more reason why advocate-driven marketing is the most valuable form of online marketing: it’s more effective. I mentioned earlier that 90% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase if recommended by someone. That’s not all. According to research from Catamount Marketing…

It’s not easy to get to that 5th-12th contact with a potential customer if you’re marketing directly to them. If you have a team of team of micro-influencers sharing on your behalf however, that number can be reached very quickly.

Key Takeaways…

Micro-influencer marketing is here to stay

Social media is here to stay and as it continues to grow in reach and influence, so does micro-influencer marketing. The timing has never been better to get into the game. New software (like Crewfire) is making managing micro-influencers and calculating the ROI of marketing campaigns easier than ever. Make sure that your marketing strategy for the next weeks, months, and years keeps these developments in mind and adjust your strategy accordingly.