Big Brands and Small Bloggers: The Rise of Micro-Influencers

June 19, 2016

6:00 pm

The strongest voice for your brand may be the one you aren’t listening to yet.

Although more and more brands are discovering the power of influencer marketing, many are still taking a “bigger is better” approach, choosing influencers based solely on their number of followers. This is partly because until recently, brands haven’t had access to meaningful data on influencers; it’s also partly because, intuitively, a bigger audience just feels like a surer bet.

But studies show this isn’t always true.

A recent survey published on Marketing Dive showed that engagement levels on Instagram decreased significantly as audience size increased – dropping from roughly 8 percent for influencers with 1,000 followers to 4 percent for those with 10,000 followers. For mega-influencers, those with more than 1 million followers, engagement drops even further to 1.66 percent.

Why does this matter? Because engagement is a strong indicator of conversion, the action that really matters to brands. An influencer is more likely to inspire viewers to become actual consumers if they have a close relationship with their audience. For this reason, selecting five or six “niche” bloggers whose audiences closely align with your own can yield a bigger result than engaging a single mega-influencer with a mainstream following.

Brands Succeeding with Micro-Influencers

Christian Paul Watches is a great example of a brand who has effectively utilized micro-influencers to boost awareness and engagement. By collaborating with a mix of influencers, from Kate Waterhouse (130k+ Instagram followers), its official brand ambassador, to up-and-coming bloggers like Katherine Saab of Stylendipity (8.8k followers), Christian Paul remains top-of-mind among several diverse social circles.

Marks & Spencer is another great example of a brand effectively engaging micro-influencers to share its story, particularly through events and individual collaborations with bloggers of different styles, a strategy that suits Marks & Spencers’ diverse customer profile. In a single recent week, the brand collaborated with trendy Australian blogger Le Blonde Fox (13.4k followers), chic Irish blogger Louise Cooney (21.2k followers), and travel blogger Nadia El Ferdaoussi (13.1k followers) — showcasing different looks by Marks & Spencer for three diverse, engaged audiences:

Launching Your Own Strategy

One of the greatest advantages of working with micro-influencers is that brands of all sizes and budgets can take advantage. Because these bloggers are often just getting their start, many are happy to accept product samples, gifts, or event invitations to collaborate with a brand they love, making them a valuable asset for those brands that may not be able to launch a paid campaign. Some up-and-coming bloggers are even happy to accept content if you can supply beautiful photography and interesting product news.

When launching your own micro-influencer collaboration, first think carefully about your target audience and who you want to reach. We recommend utilizing an influencer marketing platform specific to your industry that allows you to set defined parameters like gender, age range, geographic location, and influence level. Remember that micro-influencers may need more direction than more veteran influencers, so be sure to set clear requirements before you start your collaboration. A good influencer marketing platform will be able to offer guidance about what to include in your requirements and how to get the best results from your campaign.  It’s particularly important to make sure your campaign follows advertising laws.

The Bottom-Line

Micro-influencers can be a secret weapon for brands of all sizes looking to boost awareness and inspire more online viewers to become customers. Whether you are a large brand looking for new ways to reach your target audience, or a startup designer seeking cost-effective ways to introduce your newest looks, embracing micro-influencers can help you achieve meaningful results while connecting with genuine brand enthusiasts.

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Kim Westwood is the Founder and Managing Director of Shopping Links, a cost-effective Influencer Marketing platform that connects Bloggers with Brands for the purposes of collaboration based on genuine relationships. Shopping Links is the winner of the 2016 Governor of Victoria Export Awards and has been named to Anthill Magazine's SMART100 Index of most innovative Australian companies. A true innovator in social commerce, Kim was a finalist for the 2016 Telstra Business Women's Awards. She launched her first entrepreneurial tech project in 2012, a social shopping site designed to bring people and products together to make online shopping more rewarding. As a mother to two young children, Kim’s passion, persistence and determination enable her to balance both family and the frenetic pace of a tech startup.

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