We probably don’t have to tell you that influencer marketing is on the rise. All you have to do is log on to Instagram, and you’ll see what we mean. From celebrities with millions of fans to that girl you knew in high school whose dog now has ten thousand followers, it seems like everyone wants to be an influencer. With so many options, it can be tricky to navigate when and how influencer partnerships may fit into your marketing goals. At first glance, it might seem like the more followers the better. After all, that’s more eyes on your product or service.

But what we’re finding is that bigger is not always better.

First of all, what is a micro influencer?

A micro influencer is a user with a smaller following (typically around 10,000 to 50,000 followers) and a high engagement rate. In other words, while they have less followers, those followers tend to be very active on the creator’s account, liking and commenting frequently. They typically post about a particular area of interest (health and wellness, fashion, lifestyle, etc.), cultivating a group of followers who have similar interests. Macro influencers, on the other hand, are your celebrities and public figures — they have huge follower counts and typically post a wide variety of content to a more diverse audience. However, given the greater number of followers, macro influencers struggle to form a sense of community or relationship with their fans, which in turn results in a lower level of trust.

So now we’ve introduced our players, let’s dive into the pros of going with “the little guy” when it comes to influencer marketing.

Authenticity Builds Trust

Due to a smaller fan base, micro influencers seem more like “real people” than celebrity macro influencers. They often go to greater efforts to reply to messages and comments, creating a sense of community and friendship with their followers. Because of this, people trust micro influencers more than they do celebrities. In fact, 82 percent of consumers are more likely to follow a recommendation from a micro influencer. When they recommend a product, their followers may respond much like if a close friend of theirs made the recommendation. While micro influencers often receive compensation for promoting a product or service, their followers trust that the recommendation is still authentic.

Cheaper

Influencers typically expect compensation based on their number of followers. More followers = higher prices. So working with influencers with smaller followings can often be a more cost effective option. Oftentimes, micro influencers will even accept a free product or service in exchange for a promotion. Partnering with multiple micro influencers may actually reach a more dedicated, proactive audience for less money than a partnership with one macro influencer.

Targeted Audiences

Most micro influencers post about a specific genre of interests. Maybe they’re into fashion or travel or enjoy sharing DIY projects. Maybe they just enjoy cleaning (seriously, it’s a thing). Whatever their “brand”, they’ve developed a niche audience who has the same interests. By working with a micro influencer within a certain interest category, you can have better control over what type of audience you’d like to reach. And as we saw before, that audience is likely to be more engaged and more willing to act on the influencer’s recommendations.

One final note: not all micro influencers are created equal. It’s important to find someone with an authentic following who has earned trust and rapport with their audience. At a time when it’s easier than ever for engagement metrics to be faked, it’s important to check if an influencer is buying followers, likes, or comments from an online company. Check posts for irrelevant and spammy comments and see if they have a large amount of followers with no photo or no followers of their own, as these can often be red flags. You can also use a third-party auditing and vetting tool (like Hype Auditor and SocialBlade), which can help highlight fraudulent engagement.

Are micro influencers the future? For many brands, yes. It really depends on your marketing goals. Macro influencers will still get your message out to a wider audience, which may be a good option if your goal is brand awareness (as long as you have the budget for the “big dogs”). However, if you’d like to target a specific audience in an effort to build authentic brand fans or drive sales to a particular product, you may benefit from partnering with a group of micro influencers.

So what do you think….is micro the move?

Written by Michelle Osbourn