Unless you’re from a different planet and don’t look at any social media, you’ve likely heard of influencers and influencer marketing. While the word influencer often conjures up ideas of the Kardashians and other celebrities, the state of influencer marketing in 2021 is much more nuanced and complex. A decade ago, influencers were far and few between and the role was limited to wealthy and well-known celebrities. The past ten years have seen a complete transformation of influencer marketing with it no longer dominated by wealth and fame. Regular social media users with strong followings have begun to influence the social media sphere as well. In fact, being an influencer can now be considered a full-time job.
Charli D’Amelio is a dance tik-toker who has the highest following on the app (105 million), although she started out as an unknown. She now has immense influence on her fans when it comes to brand and product promotion and posts sponsored content almost as frequently as dance videos. As shown by her origins, anyone can become an influencer today with enough luck and hard work. The rise of social media marketing has skyrocketed the number of “influencers” across all platforms and industries. Because of this, any company, big or small, can take advantage of the benefits provided by influencers.
Influencers can be split up into categories, specifically Macro and Micro, depending on the size of their following. Generally speaking, a micro influencer has between 10,000 and 100,000 followers, and a macro influencer has 100,000+ followers. These two types of influencers attract different followers and create varying content. Because of their variances, they fit into different marketing strategies and serve different purposes. Either way, 80% of marketers find using influencers to be effective in driving ROI. So which influencers work best for which companies?
Generally, smaller more niche companies find the most success using micro influencers. Although micro influencers have less following and therefore a more limited reach, they achieve much higher engagement rates than their macro counterparts. In fact, according to a study by SocialPubli, micro-influencers generate 7x more engagement than macro-influencers. Furthermore, a study by Markerly showed that as followers increase, engagement decreases. The same study found that Instagram users with 1,000 followers or less receive 8% engagement, but posts from influencers with over 10 million followers receive 1.6% of likes. This is because platform users are genuinely more interested in a micro influencer’s posts than the average population following a macro influencer like a celebrity. Micro influencers are in more of a niche market, are often subject-matter experts, and have similar interests to their followers, thereby increasing chances of engagement. Small companies selling a specific product looking to reach more of a niche, but engaged, market would find more success using micro influencers for this reason.
While companies with niche services and products may look for micro influencers with higher engagement rates, companies with a more diversified set of products and services will want to reach a larger audience. This is where macro influencers show more success. Because of their much higher following, macro influencers have the ability to advertise to a much larger, more diverse group of people and increase a company’s brand visibility. In the end, it really depends on the company and their sales strategy.
To give an example, a small vegan clothing brand will likely find more success with a micro influencer who lives a vegan, cruelty-free life because his or her followers probably live a similar lifestyle and would be interested in the brand. Additionally, micro influencers are viewed as more genuine and trustworthy than macro influencers, and because of this they have more influence over their followers’ purchase decisions. Smaller, local companies can benefit from using micro influencers because they often accept the product or service as payment instead of money and return with an honest review. Micro influencers are a cost effective way for small companies to generate real leads they may not otherwise receive from other marketing touchpoints.
On the other hand, large corporations often focus their marketing strategy on brand visibility and relevance. Because of this, they regularly use macro influencers for their ability to reach millions of diverse people and encourage viral marketing and user generated content (UGC). Adidas is well known for its use of macro influencers, whether through design collaborations like Yeezy and Ivy Park or just basic advertising, and they have found continued success. The Adidas #MyNeoShoot is a great example of using macro influencers to harvest UGC. First, Adidas embarked on a design collaboration with star Selena Gomez, who, with 202 million Instagram followers, is definitely a macro-influencer. To promote Selena’s Adidas Neo collection, Adidas began a campaign in which users were heavily involved in the advertising, deciding many factors. Additionally, consumers were encouraged to submit their own photos to Instagram modeling the clothing line, and six lucky winners were picked to star in an Adidas Neo photo shoot. The campaign proved highly successful, with over 12,000 UGC entries for the contest and a 24.2% increase in sales.
Although utilizing macro influencers can guarantee high brand visibility and success, it is much pricier than using micro influencers. According to The New York Times, well known influencers charge around $75,000 for a single Instagram post and almost $200,000 for a YouTube video, making them much less feasible for smaller companies. Although they come at a high price, the celebrity of macro influencers controls the tide for consumers who want to be just like their famous idols, encouraging them to make purchases as such.
My earliest memory of macro influencer marketing was around my freshman year of high school when The Hunger Games franchise was making rounds in theaters and bookstores alike. Everyone I knew was obsessed with the series, the characters, the movies, and the actors involved. When China Glaze, a nail polish company, released its Capitol Colours line, inspired by the franchise and promoted by one of its most popular characters Effie Trinket, I bought the collection before I even knew what the colors were. Funny enough, I still use those polishes today, many years later.
To summarize, consumers love and trust influencers when it comes to making decisions in the product market, and therefore both macro and micro influencers should not be overlooked by companies deciding a marketing budget. Interested in taking advantage of the power of influencer marketing? Utilize the expertise of our agency partner Digital Shuffle in your next strategic marketing plan.
By Marley Niesz