Smaller Numbers, Greater Influence: The era of micro-influencers
The common image of a successful social media influencer is one with millions of followers across multiple online platforms, numerous brand deals, etc. But there is a newer group of influencers rising to fame online, known as micro-influencers. They can have between 10,000 to 100,000 followers. Big influencers often referenced in traditional media are those like Zoella, who have been able to amass millions of followers across social media, publish best-selling books and go on tours. However, not all influencers necessarily reach this stage of success. The micro-influencer is a kind of social media influencer which Abidin (2018) does not acknowledge in their book, and I believe that this group deserves recognition as a new form of small-scale DIY celebrity (Abidin, 2018).
Why use a micro-influencer?
Micro-influencers are used not for their high statistics but their highly engaged audience (Venkataramakrishnan, 2020). Abidin (Local Search, 2019) says in this video, that “internet fame is not restricted to people with high numbers of followers instead, there is a greater focus on resonance ”. That is, the impact that they have, measured through their ability to persuade an audience and convince them to make certain purchasing decisions. The micro-influencer is favoured by brands for partnerships, as a result of this. Their focus on niche interests such as farming, gardening and cleaning pique followers’ interests, attracts brands looking to target a specific group with certain interests.
Features of Micro-Influencers
- They have real influence but are often not regulated to disclose their sponsored content or gifted items, due to their smaller numbers (Venkataramakrishnan, 2020).
- Micro-influencers develop and hold a closer relationship with their followers because of the smaller number. There is more trust involved with the reception of their content, as opposed to the bigger influencers, who have millions of followers. As for the latter group, some of their followers may not actually be interested in their content. Influencers and social media engagement have an inverse relationship; meaning that the higher the followers, the less engagement and vice versa.
- Many people are more likely to purchase products based on personal recommendations from those close to them. It is easy for followers of influencers to engage in what Abidin (2018) refers to as a para-social relationship, in their book. This is one where a follower believes that they are in a close relationship with an influencer or know everything about them because of the highly emotive and personal content published by the said influencer. When the influencer then pushes a certain product, the follower is more likely to buy it.
The rise of the micro-influencers is indicative of a welcome shift in the marketing industry, where “more people will seek to commercialise their personal lives working as social media influencers” (Abidin, 2015, p. 6). As mentioned in my previous blog post, these influencers must be regulated, and ensure that they are ethical in disclosing sponsored content to their followers.