One of the most indispensable tools of communication in recent times are social media platforms. According to the Global Web Index report 2020, people in India spend two hours and thirty-six minutes on social media every single day! Given the increasing prominence of this medium, brands and Public Relations (PR) cannot shy away from their presence on it. Social media serves as a great platform to establish a direct connection with a brand’s audience and communicate its positioning and messaging very effectively. Hence, besides airing sponsored advertisements on social media platforms, brands and PR are increasingly engaging with their audience directly, as well. Social media had led to the growth of a noticeable medium of communication – influencers. Influencers are usually classified as people who have a high number of followers on social media, whom they engage with regularly, and have the ability to influence the notions and decisions (including purchase) of their followers with their content.
So, who’s a micro influencer?
With the growing popularity of influencers, it was found that not all followers of influencers could relate to the content posted by celebrities or prominent public figures. Further, the very high number of following of these influencers could be assumed as suspicious by certain other followers as bots, thereby directly questioning the influencer’s credibility. To add to the woes, there is a general perception that celebrities endorse purely because of commercial reasons and not because they believe in the product, brand or idea. This led to the rise of micro-influencers. Typically, a micro-influencer is an individual who has a following between 10,000 to 1,00,000 on their social media platforms, though there is no consensus on the exact number of followers required to be identified as a micro-influencer. More often than not, a micro-influencer is cognizant of the majority of its followers’ tastes and likes and creates relevant content, accordingly.
Why engage with a micro-influencer?
While it is established that both influencers and micro-influencers could be critical to communicate the brand messaging, it is imperative to distinguish between the two in terms of when a brand should engage with each. Micro-influencers typically specialise in a particular segment, be it beauty bloggers, mommy bloggers, food bloggers, gadget bloggers, to name a few. Hence, there is a degree of knowledge on the theme of interest to the audience, as well as the niche factor at play. While a micro-influencer may not as “popular” as celebrities or other prominent public figures, and may not enjoy as much of an outreach, it is commendable to note that they are perceived as more credible and relatable than the former for the very same reason! Given this attribute, this emerging category of influencers enjoy direct and high rates of engagement with their followers, be it due to the personal experiences they share or the same demographics they enjoy with their audience. The reach of micro-influencers is not just limited to social media, but may also result in offline conversations with some of their followers they are familiar with, thereby increasing the avenues of outreach. In addition, micro-influencers can be engaged by a brand or PR at a more affordable commercial, as opposed to established celebrities, thereby automatically increasing the return on investment by the brand.
How to maximise ROI from micro-influencers?
The micro-influencer must be chosen basis how much they resonate with not just their audience, but also the brand image. For example, a blogger who advocates healthy, clean and natural eating, may not necessarily be a great choice for endorsing a synthetic health supplement. Similarly, a car blogger cannot be relied on for reviewing the latest Bluetooth headset by a brand, irrespective of the popularity or reach they may command. Hence, brands should engage with niche micro-influencers for relevant affiliations and endorsements, in order to drive credibility to the target audience. This can be established by doing a thorough data analysis of the parameters required to drive a successful campaign or association.
Since the influencer is an individual, their temperament, views, demographics and ideologies should be in sync with the brand image and reputation. If the micro-influencer and the brand ethos is not symbiotic, the collaboration may result in a failed effort for both parties. Furthermore, the micro-influencer must be selected depending on how unique their content and audience engagement is, in a bid to avoid getting lost in the clutter. In order to amplify the outreach, brands should engage with a network of micro-influencers to establish the messaging more effectively.
There is no denying the critical role of micro-influencers for brand communication in today’s age, irrespective of the sector a business may be in. Brands must deliver engaging and powerful content to their end audience to successfully drive a campaign. Brands can also engage in affiliate marketing with the micro-influencer, wherein they give monetary or other benefits once an engagement converts into sales, thereby increasing their propensity to endorse the product or service, at hand. In a nutshell, the biggest highlight of a micro-influencer is their ability to be unique and hyper-personal, which must be leveraged by brands to maximise the returns on engagement.
The author is founder and director, Value 360 Communications.
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