Influencer Marketing

Micro-Influencer Marketing 101: Why Bigger Isn’t Always Better in 2019

By August 1, 2019 No Comments

If you were asked who the best social media creators to hire for an influencer marketing campaign might be, what sort of names come to mind? Do you think of a micro-influencer? Chances are the first personalities you think of are the celebrity-level influencers with follower counts in the millions. After all, the bigger the influencer, the better the chances for a successful marketing strategy … right?

As it turns out, bigger isn’t always better when it comes to sparking real engagement on social media. While big-name influencers offer a tempting amount of star power, micro-influencers are emerging as the real winners when it comes to reaching your target audience.

micro-influencer marketing 101

Marketing’s Secret Weapon: The Micro-Influencer

Who are these micro-influencers, and what makes them such a marketing powerhouse? Let’s review the basics, before moving on to how you can work with these mid-sized but mighty creators:

  • What is a micro-influencer?
  • Why are micro-influencers better than larger (macro) influencers?
  • How can you find and partner with micro-influencers?

What Is a Micro-Influencer?

The definition of the term micro-influencer can vary greatly depending on who you ask. Here at Sway Group, we define a micro-influencer as an individual with between 10,000 – 100,000 followers on any given social platform.

what is a micro influencer

The reason we use 10,000 followers as the baseline for our micro-influencer definition has to do with Instagram’s current functionality. Once an Instagram influencer has a business account with 10,000 followers, they gain access to the Swipe Up feature in Instagram Stories. While nano-influencers (those with under 10,000 followers) are limited to a single link in their bio or links sent via direct message, micro-influencers can drive action by encouraging audiences to “swipe up for details” within their Story content.

The swipe up feature makes clicking through to promoted content far less complicated for the consumer, which means they’re more likely to engage with your brand offerings.

Bigger Influencers = Less Influence

10,000 followers may still seem like a fairly small number, especially when compared to, say, a Kardashian. However, there are many advantages to working with influencers who have a more manageable number of followers. For brands who are looking to make a real connection with audiences, it’s important to look beyond an influencer’s number of followers and focus more on quality interactions.

While nearly all accounts on Instagram have some level of spam followers or followers who are no longer active on the platform, fewer followers on a micro-influencer’s account means fewer spam accounts and non-engaging followers.

Most importantly, micro-influencers tend to have higher engagement rates than macro-influencers. While they have fewer followers, their audiences are more active and loyal. Generally, as an influencer’s follower count rises, their rate of engagement decreases.

Today’s consumers, particularly millennials, aren’t easily swayed by celebrities. In a recent survey of US millennial internet users from Roth Capital Partners, the vast majority of respondents, 78%, either had a negative view of celebrity-level endorsements or were indifferent to the practice with regard to making a purchase.

In other words, follower counts don’t dictate how well a message will be received. Macro-influencer endorsements seem to be getting tuned out the same way we skip commercials or other traditional advertising.

does influencer marketing work

A Micro-Influencer Offers a Personal Touch

Micro-influencers use their platform to create communities and build personal connections with the people who follow them. They are more likely to share personal stories and images, offer candid insight into their lives, and engage with followers via comments or direct message.

Their followers are more likely to think of them as part of their social network community, as opposed to a branded account or celebrity they follow.

When people care about not only the content that is being published but also the creator (and they feel like the content creator cares about them), they’re much more likely to engage each time a new post or Story pops up in their feeds. Micro-influencers provide the genuine recommendations that consumers are seeking; their endorsements don’t feel like advertisements, they feel like valuable opinions from a trusted friend.

Their Niche Targeting is Anything But Micro

Micro-Influencers often excel at creating content around a specific topic: food, DIY, parenting, fashion, beauty, and lifestyle are all popular niches. Thanks to their ability to forge personal connections with their audience, micro-influencers often have a more dedicated following surrounding their particular niche than larger accounts.

Sometimes these followings and niches might be larger, such as these Sway Network Instagram accounts sharing recipes and food content, and other times might be smaller and tightly focused on a narrow topic of interest. Either way, micro-influencers offer far more targeting capabilities than macro-level accounts with sprawling audience numbers.

Thanks to the wide variety of niches represented by micro-influencers, brands are able to connect with audiences who are perfectly suited for their product or service.

celebrity influencer scandal

Celebrity-Level Influencer = Celebrity-Level Scandals

There’s no way around it: big-name influencers are more prone to big scandals. The recent college cheating scandal, Fyre festival debacle, and YouTube stars like Logan Paul getting into hot water all showcase how quickly online creator partnerships can turn into a brand PR nightmare.

Micro-influencers simply don’t attract the same potentially negative attention as the macro accounts. Of course, that doesn’t mean that a micro-influencer is impervious to scandal — but it’s much less likely that any missteps they make are going to make front page news.

Get More Bang For Your Buck with a Micro-Influencer

Another advantage to hiring micro-influencers is that they are less expensive than celebrities. Macro-influencers can have fees starting with four figures and moving up from there. For the price of a single post from a macro-influencer, you could activate several micro-influencers (maybe even multiple times!) for your campaign.

When you look at the engagement rate and personal connections micro-influencers have with their audiences, it’s clear that these creators offer many advantages over their more popular peers. When you need a strong campaign that fits within your marketing budget and produces measurable results, micro is the way to go.

How To Find a Micro-Influencer

We’ve hopefully convinced you that micro-influencers are more effective, less expensive, and perceived as more authentic by their followers. The last question that needs answering is, “Where do I find micro-influencers to work with?”

  • Do it yourself. Once you’re ready to run a campaign with micro-influencers, there are several ways to search social media platforms to find the right people:
    • Reach out to influencers you’ve worked with in the past. If you know somebody in or aligned with the vertical you’re looking for, ask them for recommendations. They will likely be able to point you in a good direction to start your search.
    • Identify a few hashtags that fit within the particular vertical you want to reach. Looking through hashtags gives quick access to a multitude of influencers, and may lead to someone who’s perfect.
    • Once you find an account you like, look at who they follow. A quality influencer will follow other quality influencers.
  • Use an influencer and content marketing agency like Sway Group. Our diverse influencer network and proprietary dashboard technology means that we can easily identify and activate the best influencers for a campaign.
    • The Sway Network includes a wide range of micro-influencers across all verticals. Our influencer marketing campaigns are second to none, thanks to our hands-on approach and industry expertise. Want to see our work in action? Take a look at some of our case studies and clients.
    • From research to recruitment to reporting, we masterfully handle any — or every — aspect of your micro-influencer program. We evaluate your business needs, campaign KPIs, and target consumer mindset. We then deliver successful micro-influencer media strategies to our clients.
    • Our skilled Quality Assurance team checks all content before it goes live.
    • Likes, views, clicks, comments, tweets, hashtags, repins, shares: we analyze every engagement metric for in-depth campaign ROI. Our data-driven focus combined with industry know-how means we have the expertise you need for micro-influencer marketing success.

In a recent study with Rakuten Marketing, the vast majority of respondents say they discover new products thanks to influencers that they follow. But the shift in brand marketing spend is moving from celebrities with existing star power to micro-influencers. More and more businesses are realizing that micro-influencers often outperform the big names because of their passion, knowledge, and accessibility.

Ready to see how micro-influencers can boost your brand presence and drive real engagement with your ideal market? Talk to us today and learn more about what our team can do for you.


Sway Group

Author Sway Group

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