smartphone-1701096_640Americans are obsessed with size. Bigger is better. Brands love celebrities with millions of social media followers, and willingly pay them huge amounts to access those fans.  That could be a mistake. In influencer marketing, bigger is not always better. That’s especially true in B2B marketing. The bigger the number of followers the more likely it reaches way outside the target market, resulting in wasted expenditures. Seeking influencers with fewer followers — typically in the thousands or tens of thousands – may be a better option, even in consumer marketing.

Seeking influencers with fewer followers may seem counter-intuitive. But research reveals that micro-influencers have several advantages over traditional celebrity-like influencers.

Benefits of Micro-Influencers

Their audiences are more targeted and engaged. As an influencer’s number of followers increases, their engagement rate falls, according to a Markerly analysis of more than 800,000 popular Instagram users. Those with fewer than 1,000 followers generally received likes on their posts 8% of the time. Users with more 10 million followers only received likes 1.6% of the time.

Micro-influencers have more credibility among their followers. They inspire greater trust and their recommendations carry more weight.

They are more affordable. Marketers might be able to compensate some micro-influencers with free products.

Markerly says influencers with 10,000 to 100,000 followers offer the best combination of engagement and reach. “These micro-influencers will move the needle for your brand and cost a fraction of what you would pay a mega-celebrity,” its states.

Instagram may offer the most fruitful venue for micro-influencers. They can easily post images on the platform, and Instagram’s Explore tab helps users find and interact with micro-influencer content, explains Sophia Bernazzani at HubSpot. It’s essential to monitor Instagram for users who tag your brand or use a brand’s hashtag.

Successful Micro-Influencer Marketing

Bernazzani cites brands employing effective micro-influencer marketing with tips on how to emulate them. All the examples are consumer brands.

La Croix Sparkling Water finds micro-influencers on Instagram, asks them to share product awareness posts, and offers them product vouchers. Specifically targeting profiles with fewer followers helps the brand appear more authentic – important for appealing to millennials. Marketers who promote visually appealing products can engage micro-influencers by sending free products for Instagram promotions.

Boutique hotel chain Kimpton allows what’s called Instagram takeovers. It lets micro-influencers post their own content on the brand’s Instagram account. Takeovers connect new audiences with the brand and help generate new followers and more engagement. A micro-influencer take-over can provide behind-the-scenes posts or unique views of a brand or product.

Personal shopping website Stitch Fix invites micro-influencers to contribute content that the brand then promotes on Instagram. Publishing followers’ content and cross-promoting it on social media can generate engagement from their followers and drive traffic to a brand’s blog and Instagram profile.

Hawaii’s Department of Tourism partnered with Instagram users who are travel bloggers or Hawaiian natives to share content promoting events and destinations in Hawaii. After the campaign, 65% of people who saw the posts said they wanted to visit Hawaii. Reaching out to micro-influencers to promote an event or a location that might interest their followers can attract new followers and increase engagement.

Bottom Line: Partnering with social media influencers with few followers, or micro-influencers, can be more effective and is certainly more affordable than working with celebrity influencers. Brands can successfully engage with micro-influencers in multiple ways on social media.