The rise of Micro-influencers as a marketing force

The marketing culture of using celebrities as influencers with covert or explicit endorsements is on a steep decline.

People want to be able to relate to the content creators they see online, especially when it comes to being sold on a product.

This movement away from traditional influencers marks a new age of digital transformation. If people aren’t looking to celebrities for their endorsements, where are they looking?

Enter the rise of the Micro-influencers – a lower audience quota than major celebrities, but with the benefit of an intensely targeting niche topics and therefore a higher audience engagement. Social media users nowadays are perceiving micro-influencers as more authentic and therefore are more trusting of their concentrated expertise. The article’s main points would include:

  • An overview of influencer types
  • The steps to take towards becoming a micro-influencer
  • A review of what users look out for when interacting with such influencers.
  • Some examples of types of microinfluencer sponsorships

What types of influencers are there?

As a basis, an ‘influencer’ is a person who has a presence within the general public, and with that presence is able to influence the people around them into making decisions. Influencers can be as big as Politicians and as small as the popular girl you went to school with.

There are six main types of influencers:

  1. The Celebrity. The most obvious type of influencer Celebrities don’t need to actively engage with their following, people will do what they say regardless. Usually has a large following.
  2. The Journalist. People who have a platform are able to give out opinion pieces and sway the general view on different topics and issues. This can refer to particular journalists or to publications as a whole.
  3. The Industry Expert. They may have a small following, but there is faith in their expertise, and their skill can be valued higher, even if they don’t spread their opinion to many.
  4. The Analyst. Can have a larger following but isn’t necessary. These influencers cultivate their following through their niche knowledge and their ability to offer specific insight for their particular sector.
  5. The Connector. The more personal type of influencer. The person you know, who also knows everyone. Who is able to sway people’s opinions with their charisma and people skills, but may not have any digital presence.
  6. The micro-influencer. A creator, usually online on some kind of social media or video platform. Builds their own audience over time, and therefore brings their following on their journey and creates a bond of trust. It is this trust and their perceived authenticity which allows them to have influence.

Those are the main types, but for the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on micro-influencers and how they can be used as a marketing force.

How can I become a micro-influencer?

Becoming a micro-influencer isn’t as simple as creating a social media account and posting on it – there are lots of different elements at play in order to be successful.

The first is an understanding of the business behind social media. Knowing when to post, but not posting too much and flooding your page; what trends to use, whilst still staying original; when to take sponsorships, and when do decline.

There is a delicate balance between all of these things – if it was simple most people would be trying to become a micro-influencer.

What do users look for when interacting with influencers?

The reason that micro-influencers have become so popular is because of their authenticity, so that is one of the main things users are looking for.

They want someone they can relate to, someone they find interesting. Gone are the days of celebrities held on a pedestal – people want other everyday people. Users know that celebrities are paid exuberant amounts of money, there is that disconnect from the get-go. But with micro-influencers followers are able to see that person grow, and are able to engage with more of their content so can see what they are ‘really like’ more than a celebrity whose image is curated by an agent.

That personal interaction is the main thing that users are looking for when it comes to micro-influencers. The more interactions the influencer has in their comments and in the content they create the more genuine they seem in the eyes of their viewers.

These parasocial relationships are what makes users trust these micro-influencers enough to buy the products they promote, because if they use them, they must be good.

The key ways to nurture this parasocial relationship is through engagement and interactions. Taking content suggestions from viewers, interacting in the comments, liking other creator’s content on the site. Cultivating a social media personality that can be perceived as fully fleshed out human being.

Any risk?

With every marketing tactic, there are always some risks involved. One of the reasons it’s great to work with influencers is there can be instant gratification when the person posts about your business. There can be a large and immediate response, which can be great for sales, but could also backfire.

Customers are becoming more scrutinous when it comes to sponsored content. People are more educated than ever when it comes to influencers and sponsorships. It is known that when a person is advertising a product they are benefitting in some way – whether that’s because they are being paid for the ad, whether they are receiving free products, or it could be because of cross-promotion of their page. Whatever the reason may be, there is a reason. People are less trusting of sponsored content than they used to be.

Due to this distrust, the FTC has released guidelines meaning that all influencers have to disclose any sponsorships they have when promoting the content. Therefore, you must exercise caution when choosing what influencers to work with.

Knowing your audience is crucial, and the influencer’s following should align with the content you sell; i.e. Children aren’t going to buy baby products. You need to know your influencer’s content to know if your business would naturally fit in. If there’s too much of a discrepancy people won’t see your business as legitimate, and as though you are just paying for promotion instead of having quality products. There are some micro influencer platforms that can help businesses use micro-influencers.

Examples of Micro-influencer promotions

There are various different ways of using these micro-influencers to promote your content. Here I will explain two of the larger camps your promotion can fit into, as well as an example of what could happen if things go wrong.

1. HelloFresh model. Depth rather than Breadth.

HelloFresh is a recipe box delivery kit which works on a subscription basis.

HelloFresh chooses to work with a more limited group of influencers, but will routinely sponsor a lot of their content, instead of just one off sponsorships. Since HelloFresh is a paid service it makes for sense for them to create a smaller but more loyal userbase. So by using a limited pool of microinfluencers they are able to build trust and credibility in their business.

2. Honey Model. Breadth rather than depth.

Honey is a popular free browser extension which finds coupon codes for online websites to save people money.

Honey sponsors many different types of microinfluencer across all socia media platforms, instead of picking just a select few to partner with repeatedly.

This works for Honey because it is free so there is low risk on behalf of the users who download it, and there isn’t a need for a very strong bond of trust between the influencer and their following. So honey doesn’t need to focus their marketing budget on building a rapport with a particular influencer, they are instead able to spread awareness about their company to as many people as possible.

3. Kenza Cosmetics. A cautionary tale.

In 2018 influencers Gabbie Hanna and Tana Mongeau promoted a limited sale of makeup brushes for Kenza cosmetics, and the claim was that the brushes were free if people paid for delivery.
Hanna and Mongeau have over 10 million youtube subscribers between them, and therefore many impressionable viewers who will do what they say.

The brushes turned out to be a scam, and people either didn’t receive anything or were sent subpar products. This meant that all credibility that Hanna, Mongeau, and Kenza cosmetics had was immediately lost, and people didn’t trust their sponsored content to be legitimate. This lead to a huge backlash with people blacklisting Kenza cosmetics.

With more views of your business there will be more scrutiny, so before advertising to a large platform of people make sure that you are able to fulfil the promises you give with your products.

Wrap up

The amount of micro-influencers is constantly increasing. With each new social media platform, a new generation of influencers are born. People are flocking to micro-influencers instead of celebrities because of how much more authentic these smaller creators seem. With micro-influencers one is much more able to choose exactly what content they wish to engage with, fitting with their personality and style, and are therefore more likely to buy products endorsed by those influencers.

Becoming a micro-influencer yourself may seem appealing but it isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a mix of good timing, luck, and finding your particular niche. That isn’t to say it’s a fruitless endeavor; dedication and humble beginnings are exactly what’s bringing people to micro-influencers after all.