Until recently, often the key metric for identifying an influencer’s ‘value’ was follower count. The thought being: the more followers, the bigger the exposure and the better the ROI. However, brands have now clocked on to the fact that the quality of an influencer’s followers carries far more value than the quantity. 

 Cue the rise of the micro-influencer; Bloggers/Instagrammers/YouTubers with a relatively small following (10-100,000), who are creating genuine engagement and traction from their smaller, loyal circle. These influencers are a trusted resource for authentic, knowledgeable information to their highly-engaged audience. 

As it turns out, once an influencer reaches a critical mass of followers their audience engagement begins to fall. Brands and agencies have noticed that once an account is over a certain size fewer people bother to engage – on Instagram, the ratio of interactions to followers peaks when an account has around 1,000 followers.  

Users just aren’t as keen to interact with a ‘celebrity’ as with someone they find relatable; someone who is a peer as opposed to someone in the papers. A poll by Experticity found that influencers with 1000-4000 followers average 4.5% engagement, while Influencers with more than 100,000 followers average just 1.7%. As the follower numbers increase, the engagement ratio keeps on decreasing. 

A couple of points can explain the engagement drop. The more followers you have the more likely your account will attract ‘bot’ accounts; increasing numbers without contributing engagement. Or perhaps you’re a celebrity of the world, attracting ‘fans’ far and wide who don’t really care what toothpaste you use, but want to keep an eye on what you’re up to (much like they would with gossip-style publications). 

With more than 700 million people scrolling through their Instagram feed each month, the price of engaging a mega-influencer has hit stellar levels. So, brands have a choice: engage one Kardashian-type name and expose your product to millions of (potentially disinterested) followers, or activate a pool of micro-influencers for the same price and reach a highly-targeted demographic with a better engagement. 

These micro-influencers are seen to represent a more authentic, creative voice than the ‘big names’. The trick is finding an influencer with the most relevant audience (dissecting their demographic and genuine reach potential), and then getting the tone right – presenting your brand or product in an authentic way. According to Bloglovin, 61% of women said they won’t engage with an influencer’s sponsored content if it doesn’t feel genuine. We’re of the “school of thought” that people only object to sponsored content if it is out of sync with the usual content they signed up to see when they choose to follow an account.  

So, the good news here? It’s no longer just a (high) numbers game. Some campaigns will always be about getting a brand or product in front of as many people as possible and the mega influencers will win out. BUT savvy marketers, focused on delivering practical ROI, recognise that if you want to have an impact and convert sales, Micros are the way to go. 

Daniela Rogers