Social media influencers can be powerful catalysts of growth for your brand — if leveraged correctly. So what is an influencer? There are probably more formal definitions but in my mind, it’s simply someone on social media that is paid to promote the use of certain brands or products as a marketing campaign on behalf of a larger company. And as an average teenage girl that spends several hours a day on social media, I would say it works.
When I see one of my favorite Youtubers, Ashley Rous, also known as “Bestdressed”, post a picture on Instagram wearing a cute dress, I find myself clicking through the links to see if it’s something I could even entertain the idea of buying. (Hint: with me being a struggling college student, it’s usually not). However, it is almost a 100% guarantee that I would have never even seen the product unless Ashley had promoted it on her account. This is just one small example of the power of influencers.
If you want your brand to be seen by your ideal target audience, determining what type of influencer you are looking for is one of the first, and most crucial, steps towards finding a long-term partner for your brand. The first type of influencers are micro-influencers who have roughly 10,000 to 50,000 followers. Then, there are macro-influencers with between 500,000 to 1 million followers. When choosing an influencer, it’s important to consider three key points: cost, availability, and authenticity.
When considering cost, macro-influencers tend to charge higher prices which can limit a brand’s return on investment (ROI). They are also in higher demand due to their highly visible status which can cause complications when moving forward in the contracting process. Additionally, the more brands an influencer has featured on their page, the more their perceived authenticity decreases. If you saw one post advertising biodegradable utensils and then another for a teeth whitener that used disposable plastic strips, it might get confusing as to what that influencer’s values are and which products they actually use. The more brands that are featured, the greater chance for contradictions like these to take place and diminish the trust between influencers and their followers.
On the other hand, micro-influencers tend to be more affordable and have a strong ROI. A brand that capitalized on this to launch a successful marketing campaign was the watch brand Daniel Wellington. By offering several micro-influencers a free watch for a post on their account promoting the brand, they were able to reach almost the same number of followers as one major macro-influencer but on a significantly smaller budget.
Because micro-influencers run on a smaller scale, they also usually have fewer ads or sponsored posts on their page which increases perceived authenticity to their brand and values. This has a significant impact on follower engagement as a more personal relationship with followers yields greater post engagement. Additionally, because micro-influencers have a more defined brand, they are usually in a particular niche of the market. This can make it easier for you to target a specific audience that, on average, will likely be more interested in your product than a larger following that could have an incredibly varied range of interests.
But if you are looking for a celebrity to reach hundreds of thousands of people with one post, then a macro-influencer could be worth the high price. The simply enormous following macro-influencers have includes a wide range of consumers in terms of demographics and interests. If you are looking simply to reach as many people as possible because you have a varied target audience, then it can help to target an influencer with such a wide reach on social media. Additionally, some celebrities are seen as “thought influencers,” popular in a specific market segment and seen as experts in that niche. Think James Charles in the beauty industry, or Glennon Doyle in the motivational space. These influencers have a strong pull in the market and can be a powerhouse to pull your brand to the forefront of consumers’ minds.
Another reason macro-influencers could be the right move for your brand is if you are looking for a safe guarantee that you are reaching real people. It’s not uncommon for micro-influencers to purchase followers in an effort to make brands think that they have a larger reach of followers than they actually do. With macro-influencers, they often have some sort of celebrity or internet-viral background that almost ensures that even if they have purchased some followers, your brand will still be reaching several thousand potential customers.
Because of their more famous background, you can usually expect more professionalism with macro-influencers when agreeing on terms, signing contracts, and producing content. Agents and managers make it easier to figure out the more legal jargon that a more inexperienced micro-influencer might struggle to agree upon or follow through with.
There are several pros and cons to choosing a micro or macro-influencer to promote your brand. Regardless of which you decide to go with, it will still be a worthy commitment in order to spread the word that your brand exists. Not only can an influencer endorsement of your product introduce new eyes to your company, but it can also convince people who have seen your brand before think “Oh, I didn’t think of styling that shirt how she did and I actually really like it” or ” I’ve never thought about it before but maybe that’s what I need.” By showcasing your product being used by a real human being, your audience envisions themselves actually using your brand. This can make the difference between gaining name recognition (and maybe even going viral), or simply continuing business as usual.