The rise of the microinfluencer

We unpack the rise of the microinfluencer and discover how brands can unlock value by working with creators with highly engaged audiences.

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Influencer marketing has boomed over the past decade, with 68% of marketers intending to increase their influencer marketing budget in the next year.

As influencer marketing has gained legitimacy as a performance channel, brands with a social-first strategy have been quick to benefit from the opportunity creators present. 

With their trustworthy product recommendations, authentic relationships with followers and their ability to create thumb-stopping social content, creators continue to demonstrate how they’re driving online sales.

The original influencers had celebrity status and millions of followers. Brands clamoured for their attention, and it wasn’t unusual to see these personalities taking over from famous public figures as the new face of celebrity endorsements.

Times have changed however, and as consumers are increasingly exposed to social channels, and have become more discerning in their interests, their content consumption preferences have also shifted. 

This shift has crept into the consciousness of brands, who now have different expectations from creator collaborations. We’ve seen a gradual preference shift among brands who have traditionally preferred to collaborate with macroinfluencers (100k+ followers), towards embracing microinfluencers.

Today’s microinfluencers (generally described as creators with a follower audience between 5-100K) tend to be ordinary folk who have built their audiences around a specific focus area or theme. They’ve applied their passions and creativity to attract niche audiences that truly value their original content and recommendations. 

They are highly engaged with their followers, and often take a more real-world approach to content curation—one that lacks the glossy production values and ‘staged’ application of product advertising we’ve come to expect from macro talent.

This authentic approach is attractive to both consumers looking to be inspired by creator content, and brands who want to bond with these audiences to create genuine connections with consumers online.

In this post, we’ll be unpacking the rise of the microinfluencer, and discover how brands can unlock value by working with creators with highly engaged audiences.

The influencer marketing boom

It’s accepted within the marketing industry that between 2010 and 2019, influencer marketing boomed. Paid promotions on social media increased and having recognized the impact creators can have on consumer choice, brands started upping their marketing budgets year on year to include an influencer marketing strategy that’s since become a staple for brand marketing.

While influencer marketing as we know it today has boomed, it’s important to note that ‘influencer marketing’ has always existed in some form or another. The tastemakers, muses and arbiters of popularity have always existed as a fixture in our culture. 

One of the first “influencer” collaborations dates back to 1760, when a potter by the name Wedgwood made a tea set for the Queen of England. Since the monarchy were the influencers of their time, his forward-thinking decision to market his brand as Royal-approved afforded it the luxury status the brand still enjoys today. 

Today, the influence of creators holds a more mainstream place in our lives, thanks to the social media platforms that consume much of our waking lives.

What used to be a famous spokesperson for a product or a simple recommendation from a friend has morphed into an online phenomenon driven by talented individuals with something to offer. 

Content creators have become valued spokespeople within consumer groups, and their opinions hold weight. The influencer landscape that was once populated by big names is now more concentrated on authentic engagement and relatable content. 

Creator content scratches the itch we all have to feel connected to experts, discover new brands and products, and find authentic recommendations before we purchase.

 

Evolving influencer marketing through micro influencers

One of the reasons why microinfluencers are now one of the strongest groups represented within the creator ecosystem, is because they’ve proven their ability to generate much higher engagement rates. 

Microinfluencers on Instagram boast an average engagement rate of 3.86%. Meanwhile, macroinfluencers tend to have an average engagement rate of 1.21%.

Although they have a smaller reach, these influencers have an advantage over macroinfluencers. They have the ability to authentically build community and loyalty amongst their followers. 

It’s not to say that macroinfluencers are incapable of building communities—we’ve seen great examples of macro talent (Zoella, Nikki Tutorials, Danielle Bernstein to name a few) who started small and eventually transcended into becoming their own media brands with loyal audiences. 

The difference lies more so in the relatability aspect of microinfluencers, and the fact that they can sustain more authentic relationships with their audiences when compared to the scale of a macro talent’s audience size.

Part of the appeal of microinfluencers is the perception of being ‘just like you’; normal people who live normal lives. They’re able to build a strong sense of community, with gradual growth that permits audience engagement over time. 

Their followers are much more likely to value their opinion, with 82% of consumers saying they’re “highly likely” to follow a recommendation made by a microinfluencer.

The close bond between creator and audience weakens the perception of marketing, creating intimacy around branded content that appears like a genuine conversation between friends. 

This helps brands drive higher engagement and conversions, giving them a higher ROI, and reasons for re-hiring micro talent for campaigns. A good example of this is UK-based shoe retailer Russell and Bromley, a brand that experienced a higher ROAS as a result of partnering for a second time with Vamp’s microinfluencers. 

The evolution of influencer strategies 

As influencer marketing has evolved, so have creator engagement strategies. In the early days, matching an influencer to the core values and mission of a brand wasn’t as highly considered. 

The competitive focus was based on not wanting to miss out on talent, with brands being OK to work with any big influencer who would be willing to accept their fee. 

A famous example of this was when Scott Disick was paid to promote BooTea’s protein powder. As a celebrity influencer, Disick was not known for his affinity for fitness products, making this pairing a mismatch. 

This damaged the brand’s reputation when he posted an incriminating post in error, highlighting the transactional nature of the relationship.

As demand for authentic content has risen, sponsored posts have become much more than transactional deals. For creators, they are opportunities to showcase their passion and creativity, and promote brands that they truly feel will align with their audience. 

Microinfluencers in particular are more interested in providing genuine recommendations to their audience, driven by the desire to facilitate authentic experiences between the brand, themselves and their communities. 

Brands are responding positively, seeking to find creators who strongly align with their vision and purpose. It’s no longer about chasing after mega-influencers or trying to figure out where to find the right creators for your brand. 

There are trusted platforms that offer a broad selection of vetted creators. Knowing where to source talent from may have been a point of friction within the industry, but with the introduction of creator sampling tools like Vamp’s CAST feature, it’s become much easier for everyone involved.

Brands win because all they have to do is tell the platform what creator and aesthetic type they’re interested in, and the software presents the best fit. 

For Vamp’s microinfluencers, the matching process is much more democratized, and they benefit from seeing campaign briefs from a broad array of brands across different sectors. 

The matchmaking gives creators access to businesses that suit their own personal brand, ensuring they’re motivated to create compelling content that complements their aesthetic and values. 

Shaping the future with microinfluencers

To cut through the noise, authenticity is now seen as the hallmark of effective influencer marketing across social channels. The shift from celebrity to micro talent has made a big impact on perception and acceptance from within brand circles. 

Human connection is more powerful than ever before. Microinfluencers are helping brands find new ways to creatively promote themselves, as the mediator between what brands want and what social users crave.

Creator talent can be a strategic differentiator for a brand; they’re media experts, can offer access to a large pool of enthusiastic consumers who want to be heard, have a valued point of view as social strategists who can build engaged communities, and can help shorten time-to-market cycles when it comes to getting new products on shelves.

Brands have an opportunity to gain a real competitive advantage through influencer marketing. It’s affordable, quick to turn on and doesn’t require endless planning cycles or the need to locate the perfect focus group. 

Measurement is no longer a fuzzy black box. There are real opportunities for brands to optimize their customer acquisition spend, in a world where traditional digital advertising in a cookieless world is fast becoming defunct.

Authenticity and creativity will continue to define the trends within the influencer landscape, with micro talent coming into their own as real people with influence, who truly believe in the brands they’re promoting. 

Brands need to capitalize on this further. 

Ready to start your influencer marketing journey? Take a look at some of our success stories and get in touch with Vamp to book a demo. 

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