Micro Influencers in the age of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is now becoming one of the most effective ways for businesses to attract customers and clients. The concept is based on the age-old saying, “tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are.” Influencers are those who your target audience trust, respect, and listen to because of their credibility and integrity. Through influencer marketing, brands can leverage the popularity, reputation and trend-setting power of these opinion leaders and get some of their credentials to rub off onto the brand itself.
As a marketing strategy that centers on collaborating with key opinion leaders, it helps in cutting through the noisy online marketplace to place brands as well as their products right in front of the target audience. Another crucial growth lever that has contributed to the rise of influencer marketing is the perceived nature of influencers. Their followers often treat them as real-life consumers who share insightful end-user information about the latest products or services available in the market. 

The global influencer marketing industry is being valued at USD 6-7 Billion in FY 2018-19, with some reports even predicting it to reach USD 10 Billion by 2020. However, it cannot be denied that the Indian influencer marketing industry is still taking shape. Due to the unorganized nature of the influencer marketing industry in India, it remains difficult to ascertain the actual size of the industry but the influencer marketing expenditure in the overall budget is increasing every day. 

Currently, about 10% of the digital marketing budget is being dedicated to influencer marketing initiatives. With marketers increasingly recognizing the effectiveness of influencer marketing in brand building, we expect 25% of marketing budgets to be deployed in the next couple of years.  Part of this growth can be attributed to the rise of the ‘Micro-Influencers’.

We define Micro-Influencers as the people who have a high degree of engagement with their audience, though the follower base is less. In terms of numbers, people with a follower base of 10k to 100k falls in the category of Micro-Influencers. The number of followers or reach is not the only criteria to be a successful influencer. It is equally important for the brands to look at how deep-rooted is the engagement of these influencers, and, in this parameter, micro-influencers top the charts. In India, there has been a rise of great micro-influencers that are creating valuable content and making an impact on society. Increasingly, we are seeing influencers coming up from Tier 2, Tier 3 cities that have a greater connect with the audience in their areas.

There is even a new category called the Nano- Influencer (people with a follower base of 1k-10k) who may have less reach, but a highly engaged audience base and their recommendations are akin to that of a friend which is valuable for a brand. 

Though Micro-Influencers have far fewer subscribers than macro or celebrity influencers, engaging them for brand promotion is more profitable. Research shows, they are 6.7 times more cost-efficient per engagement. Brands can run trials or A/B testing with them without losing too much money. This way they can channelize their resources better.  

For followers, micro-influencers are people with whom they connect with. Because of the small following, they are well connected with their followers and their ideas resonate with their audiences a lot better. Fans can be more vocal about what they like or dislike about the content of the person they are following, and the probability that they will get a response is much higher. They offer authentic experiences to the followers and brands they represent.  In the era of digital natives, authenticity is one of the most essential components to enter the consideration set of consumers.  

The rise of Micro-influencers and Nano influencers has been a massive driving force in modern influencer marketing. They give brands an opportunity to tap into an existing community in a niche. The influencers' audience is highly engaged with the influencer, giving high credibility to any message that is shared through this channel.

That being said, macro and micro-influencers together play critical roles in delivering the brand’s values to their followers. Macro influencers ensure that a large set of audience is reached to maximize visibility, while micro-influencers deliver targeted content to their loyal followers who place a high degree of trust in them. Depending upon the category of the brand, micro-influencers' engaging content and macro-influencers reach can be combined to create a winning communication strategy, something that TopSocial has perfected in China and intends to do in India as well. 

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