When you start with influencer marketing, it’s tempting to go after big influencers. You want to work with the biggest names, it’s natural. But it won’t bring the most results for your business. I’ll tell you why, and explain what you should do instead. First, let’s clarify who classifies as a microinfluencer and who classifies as a big influencer.
Who is a Micro-influencer?
It depends on whom you ask, I put my micro influencers between 20k to 100k followers. This also depends on your niche and industry. If there are a lot of huge creators in your space (eg: beauty), the definition of “micro” would skew higher. Conversely if there aren’t many creators talking about your niche (eg: sleep improvement), the definition of micro skews lower than the ranges you’ll often find online. Generally, anyone who’s 1/10th to 1/5th the size of the average “popular” creator in a space can be called a microinfluencer.
Here’s a useful table I made just for you:
Now that semantics are out of the way, let’s get to why you should not focus on big and celebrity influencers to start.
Why Big Influencers don’t work
Lower Engagement Rates
As a creator gets larger, their engagement rate naturally drops.
It’s never just about the numbers, but the quality of their audience also keeps going down. This is because, after a point, some people just follow influencers because they are influencers, or for superficial reasons like looks, clout, etc.
You don’t want to get in front of an audience who doesn’t really care about the creator’s original message.
Broader Audience Demographic
As someone gets larger on social media, a more broad group of people starts following them.
They no longer only have their “1000 true fans” audience, they now have a large number of people following them that may not be related to their initial niche.
At 5M+ followers, it’s almost like advertising on a billboard. You don't want that as a mid sized ecommerce brand. You need specific followings in a specific niche.
Broader audience also brings with them a lower level of trust. You don’t trust celebrities as much as you trust your brother. Why? Because your brother has an audience of one (you) and more skin in the game whereas the celebrity has an audience of millions and practically 0 skin in the game.
Sales and marketing is a game of trust. Your influencer partners need to transfer the trust they’ve earned with their audience into your product. If their audience doesn’t already trust them with a certain topic, collaborating them is not going to help you much.
Spending too much
Surprise surprise! Bigger influencers are also costlier and you risk overspending with them.
They’ll charge more simply due to their follower count, and you will likely not see a return on that investment.
There is a caveat that’s worth mentioning here. Bigger influencers can work for you if they have great brand alignment and if they are niche enough. There are influencers with 1M+ followers that talk about very specific topics like the Keto diet or ADHD.
So don’t shun them completely. There may be a few good ones that will work for you, note them down for later but always start with micro influencers. Here’s why 👇
Why Microinfluencers work
To know the answer to this you just have to flip every reason why bigger influencers don’t work.
Higher engagement rates
Smaller influencers have a better relationship with their audience. This means their engagement rate would be higher (check this in the Saral chrome extension).
They tend to reply to comments, engage with their fans in the DMs, do live sessions frequently, etc. They really care about their audience, and their audience really cares about them. That’s what you want.
They likely have a focused audience with niche interests. When creators start out, they do so by creating content for a very specific niche of people who are highly interested in a topic.
If this niche aligns with the raving fans of your products, you’ve struck gold! Your aim should be to find influencers with an audience that aligns with the kind of buyer that buys a lot from you.
You’re only able to do this with micro influencers!
Their audience tends to have a higher degree of trust in them. Since they’re small, they seem relatable. Their audience also sees them more frequently in authentic live sessions or replies to comments. Their feed is less on the curated side and more on the authentic side of things, increasing trust. They likely don’t have bots and spam accounts following them, which means their authentic fans percentage is very high.
This is the kind of creator you want to work with, someone with a high degree of trust built up with their audience.
Keep your program profitable.
How many microinfluencers exist?
You may think there are too little micro and nano influencers in your niche. You are wrong.
According to this report by Mention, 6.2% of Instagram’s users have between 10k to 50k followers, right in the range of nano and micro influencers. We can do some simple math and calculate that of Instagram’s 1.3B users, over 80M creators fall in this category.
You can be pretty sure that number covers every small little niche there is, including yours.
How to find and vet microinfluencers
To start with, do a simple hashtag search on Instagram/TikTok or a keyword search on Youtube.
You can look at the posts that pop-up and do a qualitative analysis, then use tools like Saral’s chrome extension to look at some metrics and save them to a list.
I wrote a detailed post on how to vet creators, use those pointers before you decide to work with someone.
To make thing faster, you can also use database tools like Heepsy or Modash to find influencers for you. Don’t forget to check their profiles and run the qualitative analysis I wrote about. Never bulk add influencers to your list, it only leads to poor outcomes.
That’s it for this one. Hope you now understand why smaller creators are more important for your brand as opposed to big celebrity ones.
Start off with smaller ones to get the momentum going, then build towards the big ones.