Here’s Why Micro-Influencers are a Big Deal for Small Business

In the early aughts, Britney Spears sold us Skechers and it worked. Today, if she were to tout a pair of Nikes or NewBalance on her Instagram, it would ring false. Celebrity endorsement has lost its charm.

In the fall of 2016, Women’s Wear Daily reported the growing phenomenon of fashion bloggers winning big with big brands after 22 year old, Kristina Bazan signed a seven figure contract with L’Oréal. Bazan is an entrepreneur to be sure. The founder of Kayture, she broke into the industry by partnering with such enviable luxury brands as Chopard, Piaget and Cartier by focusing on quality editorial. Her brand is stunning. Her travels are abundant. She’s contributed to Vogue and GQ.

But do you follow her?

Note to reader, please do.

The point is that today, everyday glamour is the new aspiration. Celebrity endorsements no longer compel us. They don’t influence our purchase decisions. Bazan’s Instagram is gorgeous but it reads like a Vogue spread. It’s entertaining but it doesn’t inspire sales. In that respect, she’s irrelevant to the average consumer.

We trust strangers who remind us of our friends. All the other strangers, we simply find entertaining.

Last year, fewer than 3% of consumers identified as likely to buy a product in store following celebrity endorsement. On the other hand, micro-influencers who have lower reach but a higher relevance to their modest following are gaining momentum in the digital world.

The notion of a micro-influencer is that anyone can influence anyone. It’s more than an notion. It’s a proven concept that is correctly leading brands to turn to people with as few as 100 followers to help spread the brand love. We trust strangers who remind us of our friends. All the other strangers, we simply find entertaining.

Most recently, an eMarketer study found that influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers see “like” rates of 8 percent and “comment” rates of 0.56 percent. It may sounds low, but those numbers performed more than four times better than influencers with more than 1 million followers. Compared to 1.8 percent like rates and comment rates of 0.09 percent, 8 and 0.5 are stellar.

The authenticity of micro influencers dovetails with another trend: the rise of user generated content. We’re all about relatability — brands and businesses and consumers agree. User-generated content is infinitely more valuable than branded content. That’s why the word influence gets tossed around so often. Influence is a indirect. It’s a hint, a sly nudge. We don’t want to feel as though we’re being sold to — and better yet, influencers don’t consider themselves salespeople.

That said, influencers do offer businesses a great deal of value. Micro-influencers in particular possess three enduring qualities which give them an edge over big brands and high profile social media celebrities.

They offer organic reach.

Influencers offer a natural means of circumventing traditional ads and paid promotions by creating their own content. Whether it’s blogging, tweeting, posting a photo, leaving a comment, or writing a review, we are constantly producing and sharing content. It’s a big part of who we are as a society. An influencer is a person who creates their own content which in turn influences their followers. Whether a product review inspires a purchase or a social post inspires someone to follow another company — influencers affect organic, word-of-mouth marketing. User-generated content on average gets 4x higher click-through rates and a 50% drop in cost-per-click when compared to paid promotions. Not only do their followers engage with this original content, but they amplify it. Social influencers produce what marketers refer to as the Multiplier Effect. Every time one person shares a post from someone else network, that post is exposed to their friends, families, and friends of friends.

They offer brand trust.

In April of 2012, Nielsen found that “ninety-two percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.” Audiences are smart. We’re quick to sense false enthusiasm and will just as soon point it out in the comments of a particularly transparent over-the-top blog post or celebrity endorsement of their “favorite” new skin care line on Instagram. Just this past year, Real Housewives of New York star, Ramona Singer accidentally posted the instructions for her promoted post alongside the intended caption: “Here is the draft with some language for the post- if we could have Ramona add something personal in about why she feels confident going makeup free that would be great.” It’s no wonder that consumers trust the opinions of smaller social influencers. When your friend shares a compelling article on Facebook or a picture of a tasty bagel on Instagram, you know that their opinion is authentic.

According to AdWeek, 93% of consumers find user generated content to be helpful when making a purchasing decision. Consumers trust recommendations from influencers because influencers maintain an objective distance from their business partners to maintain credibility, and they have enough cache with their audiences to where their recommendations are trusted. We like to defer to authorities.

They speak to millennials.

You don’t have to be under thirty years old to be an influencer, but your audience likely is young, active, receptive, and vocal according to a 2012 study by the Boston Consulting Group. According to BCG research, millennials are more likely than non-millennials to trust and follow a company with a Facebook page and mobile site — 33% to 17% — and will have more spending power than any other generation by 2017. Not only do millennials frequently review products or services by their own volition in addition to creating their own material content online but their definition of expertise has shifted.

An expert or someone with the credibility enough to recommend a brand, has slowly evolved away from professionals toward close friends and peers. In other words, where their parents would have taken Dr. Phil’s advice, a millennial will turn to their Facebook friends.

The proof is unequivocal. Micro-influencers embody the most credible voices in our current media landscape where often, the smaller the audience, the more engaged, the better for your brand. The audiences of influencers are loyal and the opinions of influencers carry weight, meaning the biggest secret of all is that influencers are accessible to brands and small businesses like you!

Choosing the right influencer wisely is half the battle. The perfect partner is out there — it’s up to you to connect.