What has prompted the rise of micro-influencers?
Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube have strongly demonstrated the importance of social media marketing campaigns within the last decade. As such, the algorithms which manage these sites are under more and more scrutiny. Although kept tightly under wraps, changes to Instagram’s algorithm has prompted a focus on authentic and organic advertising strategies. Instagram’s content organisation has begun to mirror that of its parent company, Facebook, more and more. In 2016 Instagram shifted their emphasis from free flowing to regulated content. The more recent changes mean that organic content will be sorted to the top of Instagrammer’s feeds. As a result, micro-influencers have increasingly been on the rise.
For businesses, this means that marketing strategies which ignore the potential of partnerships with ‘micro’ and ‘nano’ influencers will suffer. Instead of focusing solely on the biggest names within the industry, businesses should spread their interests across varied audiences.
How can influencers be categorised?
Simply put, influencers can be divided into three groups based upon following size: mega, micro and nano. Whilst mega-influencers will have followings in the millions, micro- and nano-influencers form “powerful middle influencers”. These influencers typically maintain around 100,000 to 200,000 followers. For these influencers, content creation for a brand is often secondary to their full-time profession, meaning that they post less sponsored content than social celebrities do.
As such, nano and micro-influencers create content which feels much more authentic. Influencers like these post to followers more personally invested in them and their values.
As Kevin Systrom, chief executive and co-founder of Instagram, commented, “On average, people miss about 70 per cent of the posts in their Instagram feed”. Instead of organising content in reverse chronological order, Instagram’s algorithm will place what it thinks you most want to see at the top of your feed. Marketing strategies must focus on making the 30 per cent see the best 30 per cent possible. In addition to this, research carried out by Twitter and the analytics company Annalect suggests that people trust social influencers almost as much as their own friends. The influence of personalised and organic content is clear.
Why are micro-influencers the future of social media marketing?
Micro-influencers provide the key to interested and engaging audiences. Because of their small size, micro-influencers offer audiences who have already demonstrated an interest in their niche. This means that their followers are more likely to engage with their content and trust their advocacy.
There are also key downsides to mega-influencers that simply aren’t aligned with a brand/property/event. Fyre Festival in 2017 , for example, was the highly publicised and famous example of a failed social media influencer campaign. Instead of vetting a trustworthy campaign, figures such as Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajowski and Bella Hadid (all of whom have over 10 million followers) became ambassadors for the disastrous campaign, damaging their credibility as brand promoters. To avoid this, businesses should value the trust of their customers. Influencers should likewise make sure that their promotion is honest and meaningful. Without these steps, campaigns such as Fyre Festival permanently damage a brand’s image. As such, influencers that promote brand-partnerships work best when the influencer might feature the brand even if they weren’t being sponsored.
Consumers will only trust influencers when they promote brands which match with their own values. In response, nano and micro-influencers appear to be the way forward. Micro-influencers with smaller, more maintainable followings find it easier to establish trust and authenticity within their content.