Influencers have impacted the way brands approach marketing in a huge way. According to Collabstr, the influencer marketing industry was worth $13.8 billion USD in 2021 and is only set to grow in 2022. The last few years have even seen the rise of agencies purely dedicated to connecting influencers with brands.
Influencers can be split into categories: mega influencers, celebrities in their own right with upwards of 1 million followers; micro influencers, with 1,000 – 100,000 followers; and macro influencers, who fall in between. Micro influencers are likely to be more effective in reaching specific groups and having a higher impact, as opposed to mega influencers who have huge reaches across a massive cross section of society.
The rise of micro influencers in marketing efforts is nothing new and has been well-documented over the past few years, but the decreasing trust and engagement we are starting to see with brand partnerships and mega influencers is a telling sign of the times. In short, advertisers that engage influencers are losing authenticity as they struggle to balance local and enterprise marketing.
Consumer attitudes towards social media show rising levels of distrust, with Tik Tok seeing a low 54% favorability rating in The Verge’s 2021 Tech Trust survey of Americans and 33% of respondents reporting less trust in Facebook since the start of the pandemic. Although data privacy was a big part of the reasoning, we can also see trust decreasing when it comes to general business practices; in the same survey, 43% of respondents who don’t use Facebook said it was because they don’t like the way it does business and 31% said Tik Tok has a negative impact on society. Because social media platforms are the primary vehicle for influencer activity, mistrust in the companies that own them may lead to knock-on effects on the influencers and the brands they partner with.
It does very little to stem this trend when it has been well-publicized over the past few years that some mega influencers do not use, or even try, the products and services that they share. From the influencers who agreed to promote a made-up weight loss drink containing cyanide to the promotion of get-rich-quick schemes and cryptocurrency being banned on Tik Tok due to concerns over misleading users, it’s understandable why there’s growing skepticism over the sincerity or motive of some influencers. This is why marketers need to go against the tide of this trend and portray genuine trustworthiness in their activity.
A key part of portraying this trustworthiness is by forging relatable connections to audiences—and this is where micro influencers have an edge over mega influencers. A 2021 poll of users in Canada, the UK, US, Germany, France, and Australia found that 56% of them would rather follow “normal” people on social media than celebrities due to the authenticity of their content. There are a number of rising trends we can point to that also embody this; body positivity, realistic beauty standards, and the online movement against toxic positivity are just a few of them.
Promoting a product or service to millions of people through one influencer certainly succeeds in reach, but it raises the question of the relevancy of your brand to this huge number.
- Is your product or service available in all the areas represented by followers?
- Your followers may be of different genders and age groups; is your product or service targeted towards them?
- They will likely have vastly different interests, values and priorities; are they aligned to your product or service?
- Overall, can your brand really relate on a personal level to all these people?
Micro influencers offer the opportunity to target a much smaller and more closely related group of people (whether that’s due to interests, demographics, or values) who are more likely to relate to your brand due to these unifying factors.
So, we can see the important of being strategic in establishing who your audience is and how to use influencer marketing to most effectively target them. DAC’s Strategic Insights team approaches audience targeting from a data-driven and research-focused perspective, specializing in working with enterprises operating across many locations and catering to the unique local needs of audiences.
Influencer marketing isn’t going anywhere
According to eMarketer, influencer marketing spend will surpass $4 billion USD in the US alone and Gen Z, the rising younger generation, are incredibly connected to and reliant on their promotions; 58% of them say that influencers expose them to new products or services and 38% say that influencers make them more likely to purchase new products or services.
Brands are also casting their nets wider than social media platforms, and we can expect to see more of this coming up. Sponsoring special-interest podcasts, for instance, can be an effective tactic to promote products and services to a relevant audience and it doesn’t appear to have the same negative connotations that some sponsored posts on social media by mega influencers generate (for now, anyway…).
As part of any marketing strategy, it’s crucial to chart out different opportunities for reaching your audience with and without influencers across all channels based on the needs of local groups. DAC’s Content Strategy services include influencer marketing strategy and management, content distribution, social media strategy, and more to support with this and lead to an effective omnichannel approach.
Micro influencers will be increasingly favored by brands for partnerships, and the growing distrust in social media platforms will drive demand for other avenues to reach relevant audiences. It is clear how the success of narrow-focused campaigns—with the smaller audiences of micro influencers—relates to the need for localized targeting to more effectively hold the attention of audiences increasingly searching for relatability and authenticity. It’s more important than ever for brands to prioritize this in all marketing efforts and develop their influencer strategies in focused, data-driven ways.