When It Comes to Influencers, Bigger Isn’t Always Better

brown Blog, The Marketing Minute

How many Facebook friends do you have? Now, how many of those friends would you say are actual friends—people you engage with and who pay attention to what you post? If you’re like most people, the second number is far lower than the first.

The same concept can be applied to working with social influencers. You might think an influencer has to have a massive following to be effective, but in many cases, “micro-influencers” with a more limited audience can help your business just as much—if not more.

So why isn’t bigger necessarily better? The answer is engagement. 

Just as people with 500 Facebook friends probably don’t truly interact with most of them, it’s can be harder for an influencer to create strong, personal connections with an audience when that audience is in the millions. Micro-influencers, by contrast, have a smaller, more niche following. Definitions vary, but we’ve seen estimates of anywhere from 1,000 to 500,000 followers (although we think a range of 1,000-25,000 sounds about right). Typically, these influencers have a higher level of engagement with their followers, who feel they have more of a relationship with the person.

That leads to deeper trust and loyalty, which is especially crucial when an influencer is sharing your brand story. How crucial? According to a study from ExpertVoice, 82% of consumers surveyed said they were highly likely to follow a recommendation from a micro-influencer. 

Audiences don’t like being sold to—and they can tell when you’re doing it.

While engagement is the key to success when working with influencers, there are other benefits to working with micro-influencers. First of all, the cost. Does your budget include tens of thousands of dollars or more for influencer campaigns? Partnering with traditional influencers is expensive; for a person with more than 2 million followers, to take one example, the price was estimated at $25,000 or more—for each post.

Contrast that with a micro-influencer in the same segment, but with a tighter niche. Her followers number about 9,000, but the estimated cost for a post is just $130. The followers-per-dollar reach is a little lower than the traditional influencer, but again, it’s $130. And you’re probably gaining access to a more loyal fanbase, too.

Another advantage is the flexibility to target different segments. Instead of spending a big chunk of your budget on one traditional influencer, you can work with several micro-influencers—each with a slightly different niche. That will help you reach a broader audience, with tailored content, while still keeping your costs far lower.

Where to find micro-influencers

Experts recommend first looking within—you might have some micro-influencers among your followers already. You also can do hashtag searches to see who’s building an audience in areas you want to target.

Then, get in touch with them! Tell them what you like about their content. Follow them on their various channels. Consider offering them a complimentary night or weekend, dinner in your restaurant, a spa service or something else in exchange for creating posts or other content during their stay.

Those posts might not reach 2 million people—but they’ll reach an audience very likely to take notice, and likely to take that recommendation to heart. In the end, isn’t that what true influence is all about?