A digital “influencer” is hard to define. Sure, influencers can be celebrities that often post paid ads for certain brands, but they can also be people who have earned fame solely via online platforms. People, heck even dogs, can attract millions of followers due to their unique style or interests and brands can and should take advantage of these influencers and their massive audiences.
Recently, “micro-influencers” have garnered a lot of attention, again, the definition of a micro-influencer is a little murky. A 2016 Digiday article defined a micro-influencer as “an influencer with a following in the 10,000 to 100,000 range.” Micro-influencers tend to have a higher percent like rate than influencers with a million or more followers, making them an attractive draw for brands trying to draw in online audiences.
If we were to take a less mathematical look at micro-influencers, we could say that their authenticity or their more specific audiences are why they’re “gold” for brands. When a micro-influencer advertises a given product, audiences might be more likely to believe that influencer truly stands behind that product over a mega-celebrity who does tons of ads per week. Again, much has been written about why micro-influencers provide a great ROI for companies trying to market their products online. However, the best evidence of micro-influencers’ power actually comes from major influencers.
Influencers are building their own brands online using curated “communities” of micro-influencers to advertise their own products. Because influencers have such massive online audiences, major brands are smart to take a page out of these celebrity playbooks and work with micro-influencers to get the word out about what they’re selling. Let’s take a look at a few influencers who are working with micro-influencers to see what’s working.
We can look to Khloe Kardashian and Emma Grede’s denim line Good American as an example of heavy micro-influencer promotion. This relatively new company already has over 457,000 followers on Instagram. Many of Good American’s posts feature members of the #goodsquad, a community of micro-influencers wearing the company’s various denim offerings. One of the top ten most-viewed Instagram videos in the last 90 days features #goodsquad member @palomija talking about how to perfect your selfie game:
Paloma Elsesser, or @palomija, has over 75,000 followers on Instagram and is known for her unique style and beauty looks. Not only does it benefit Good American to have Elsesser rock their clothing, but @palomija’s Instagram followers are on the rise, which can only benefit the brand.
Yeah, the relationship between Elsesser and Good American is clearly mutually beneficial. Yes, many members of the #goodsquad have more than 100,000 online followers, like Denise Bidot and Chantel Jeffries, however, one could say they do fall into the gray area between micro-influencers and influencers. Whatever the case may be, there’s no doubt that influencer Khloe Kardashian knows how to market online and she’s working with many, many micro-influencers to sell her Good American clothing line.
Huda Kattan first gained fame via social media and has now built a bonafide beauty empire, with over 22 million Instagram followers. Kattan’s cosmetic line, Huda Beauty, is wildly popular and Kattan’s posts often feature micro-influencers using her products. In fact, Kattan’s most-viewed video post in the last 90 days features Olivia DeVries (@mrs.oliviadevries) and uses the hashtag #hudabeauty.
The video has over 6.9 million views (!) although DeVries herself has just over 34,000 Instagram followers. Of course, we can’t say for sure that DeVries was paid to create and post a video for Huda Beauty or show that the video views explicitly affected sales of the products. However, what is clear is that videos by micro-influencers are capable of getting a TON of views and those views have power. One can assume that brand might not pay as much for an ad by DeVries than they would to work with Kattan, but as we can see, that micro-influencer definitely has influence over a large online audience.
Food & Beverage Micro-influencers
Yes Casamigos Tequila is a brand started by George Clooney and Rande Gerber and as far as we can tell, Clooney has no social media presence. However, Gerber, who’s married to Cindy Crawford and is a successful bar, restaurant, and nightclub owner, has over 84,500 followers on Instragram and as a micro-influencer in his own right uses other micro-influencers to promote his tequila label.
With almost 69,000 Instagram followers, Casamigos’ online presence is still growing. The Casamigos feed features videos from multiple celebrities, from golfer Rickie Fowler (@RickieFowler) to actor/musician Chord Overstreet (@ChordOver). However, Casamigos’ 10th most-viewed video on Instagram in the past 90 days is a repost from filmmaker @taylorcutfilms.
While Taylor Cut Films has just over 30,000 followers on Facebook, his video only had a few thousand less views than a Casamigos post featuring Nick Lachey (@nicklachey). This shows that someone with a considerable online following can make almost as big an impact (or in some cases, an even bigger impact) online than a celebrity most-often associated with traditional media. Again, this goes to show the level of ROI micro-influencers have the potential to provide as well as offering that inference of authenticity.
Brands working with influencers to promote their products online is nothing new. The conversation surrounding what makes a micro-influencer isn’t new either. What should be looked at is influencers working with micro-influencers to promote their own business endeavors.
Influencers have huge social media followings and should be looked to as marketing guides when it comes to online platforms. And what these influencers are doing is creating communities of micro-influencers to advertise their products both on their own pages and via the micro-influencers’ own handles. Micro-influencers don’t necessarily ask for as much money to advertise as influencers do, they provide a level of authenticity that influencers may not be able to, and research has shown they have a higher likes per post percentage. All of these factors make up a great ROI opportunity for major brands. So start looking for the next hot micro-influencer before they get too big!