Throughout much of the 2010s, influencer marketing was a hot buzzword. With the mass adoption of smartphones and the subsequent popularization of social media, the very fabric of how society communicated changed, let alone how we do business with each other.
In the early years, influencer marketing made sense. Rather than promoting to every individual on a social media platform, brands just had to win over one popular account and they’d do the evangelizing themselves. That model worked great — so great, in fact, that now influencers pull in so much money, small businesses can’t afford to work with them anymore.
That sets the stage for the next great marketing trend, what very well may be the hot buzzword for the 2020s: microinfluencers. True, microinfluencers are not new per se, and brands have been targeting them for years, but now is the time they’re really coming into their own. With a decade of evidence showing the effectiveness of influencer marketing, mixed with the virulent competition for the top-seated influencers, microinfluencers are the best option for small businesses.
In this article, we run through everything a company needs to know about microinfluencers — what they are, why they work, and how you can integrate them into your campaigns.
What Is a Microinfluencer?
Simply put, microinfluencers are people who are influential on social media, but not quite the level of a career influencer.
The exact number is highly debated; the 2018 Global Influencer Marketing report from eMarketer pinned microinfluencers as having between 10,000 and 100,000 followers, while one Forbes contributor arbitrarily put it as high as 500,000 followers.
We prefer something more fact-based than a guess, so we abide to a HelloSociety study, published by AdWeek, which puts the number at anywhere under 30,000 followers. Why? According to the study, microinfluencers with under 30K followers…
- … had 60% higher engagement rates.
- … were 6.7x more cost-effective per engagement than influencers with over 30K followers.
- … generated 22.2x more weekly conversations than the average customer.
In other words, microinfluencers hit that “sweet spot” between celebrity and Average Joe or Jane. Their following is big enough for brands to reach plenty of new people, but small enough that they can still engage with their fans and be more involved in their community.
As we’ll see in the next section, for small businesses, that’s the perfect balance between outreach and affordability.
Why Microinfluencers Work for Small Businesses
As “small” influencers, it makes sense that microinfluencers would match well with small businesses. The most obvious connection is price — SMBs who can’t afford industry-leader influencers can still afford smaller-scale microinfluencers.
It’s tempting to think of microinfluencers as the more affordable alternative to larger influencers — the store-brand version of a name-brand influencer at half the cost. But, as we explained above, it’s more than just the price. Microinfluencers perform better at engagement than top-tier influencers. For new or unknown brands, which most SMBs are, that’s just what they need to get their name out there and fast-track brand recognition, especially when you’ve just launched.
But because microinfluencers are still, by definition, influential, brands working with them still retain many of the benefits of classic influencer marketing. For starters, you reach a pool of new people, and if you’ve chosen the right microinfluencer, all those people will already fall into your target customer groups. Don’t worry about whether their following is too small; even a microinfluencer with just 1,000 followers grants you access to 1,000 new people.
Perhaps the best advantage of influencers, though, is their trustability. People see influencers as “just like them,” as opposed to brands and advertisements that were always trying to sell them something… or at least, that’s how it used to be.
As recently as 2016, Forbes cited a study where 92% of consumers said they trusted influencers more than traditional advertising or celebrity endorsements. But according to The Drum’s marketing blog, in under three years, that number fell drastically to just 4%! Granted the studies were conducted independently of each other, but even with a wide margin of error those statistics reveal a sharp change in public opinion in such a small amount of time.
In a way, that makes microinfluencers even more appealing than their larger counterparts. Larger influencers may have the numbers, but microinfluencers still have the trust.
So, to sum it up, here are the benefits of microinfluencer marketing for small business.
- More cost-effective than larger influencers
- More engagement; better for awareness
- Trustability and vote of confidence for new/unknown brands
- Reach new audiences
If you’re interested in adopting microinfluencer marketing in your strategy, let’s talk about the best ways to do it.
How to Use Microinfluencer Marketing
Want to adopt microinfluencer marketing but don’t know where to start? Below are some expert techniques for working with microinfluencers.
Use the Same 3-Step Approach as with Other Influencers
Early in 2018, we outlined three steps to finding, contacting, and working with influencers — you can read them here. Although the target is a little different, the technique works just the same. Follow that same advice to break the ice with a new microinfluencer and start off a business relationship the right way.
A lot of microinfluencer marketing works on a grassroots level. For that reason, start your search with local accounts. Who’s popular in your area? Do any social media accounts or blogs cover local events? You can find out by searching for location-specific hashtags or using a location filter for posts.
Double-Down on Your Word-of-Mouth Marketing
By some definitions, microinfluencers can be anyone on social media. To win them over, you’d use the same tactics as you would to win over all your other customers. This resurrects the art of word-of-mouth marketing. To refresh yourself on ways of encouraging people to talk about your brand, online or off, read our Guide to Word-of-Mouth Marketing now.
The future of marketing seems to be gravitating to the microinfluencer, at least for now. That shouldn’t surprise you, considering how that’s exactly why influencer marketing came to be popular in the first place.
With social media, the average person’s voice can be heard on the same level as celebrities and corporations. Where once people trusted influencers because they seemed like normal people, now influencers enjoy a prestigious fame that’s completely alien to normal people — which means microinfluencers are the new “just like me” advocates.
In a way, influencer marketing is just as powerful as before… it’s just the definition of what makes a good influencer just got a little… smaller.