Influencers. The unavoidable, ever-present face of social media. We all know about them, we probably follow a few of them. They make up a very real and accepted form of digital marketing these days. But have we had enough? Is our feed so full of the endorsements and #ad #spon posts that we’ve become numb to their messages?
In some ways yes. Social media influencers represent a path for brands to increase their brand awareness, to gain traffic to their websites, and to increase sales. Depending on the size and demographics of the influencer’s audience, brands can choose a big-name influencer to invest in to boost what they’re selling at any time. Positive impact from this strategy is however dropping. Data from analytics firm InfluencerDB reports that engagement stats on Instagram are falling, with rates dropping by nearly half from 2016 to 2019.
When social media influencers first hit the scene, brands were all about big names. The bigger the following, the better. The more famous the influencers, the better. But no longer is bigger seen as better (and no longer is bigger working better). Brands now are looking for authentic connection. They’re looking for targeted audience groups and high engagement rates. This plus genuine communication that can endorse their message in an honest way while driving ROI. Enter the micro and nano influencers.
Micro-influencers, operating with a follower count of less than 10K and nano influencers, wielding a following of between 1K – 5K, are the talk of the marketing strategy. Offering niche, dedicated, and highly engaged audiences all at a much lower investment for brands, it’s no wonder that the macro influencer is out.
These patterns are taking place in all regions globally. But few are quite so well set up for the micro and nano surge as Northern Ireland. Given our small population (around 1.8 million), it’s no surprise that even with a thriving influencer scene, follower numbers tend to be low. Yes there are some national and international level influencers whose numbers tip well into the macro, but on the whole, the numbers of small bloggers and influencers with specific and committed audiences is high.
For brands in Northern Ireland or those looking to expand their market share in NI, the influencer market is ideal. Social media users recognise and relate to their local nano or micro influencers. They buy into their posts, they converse, they engage. As a result they offer brands the most effective influencer marketing strategy around. Reports show that micro and nano influencers are receiving far higher engagement rates than influencers with a larger following. This change offers brands access to more opportunities, dedicated audiences, at a lower cost.
Statistics show that influencers with between 1-5K followers enjoy engagement rates of 5.60%. Those with 5-10K, 2.43%. Those above 20K, 2.1% and lower. It, therefore, makes sense that brands are choosing to operate with several micro or nano influencers to reach fewer, targeted audiences. This way they develop great community conversation and raise the profiles of their products and brands.
So what is it that draws consumers towards the smaller influencer? The answer is simple: connection. In most instances, nano influencers start with a following of actual family and friends. This network may grow but on the whole, they start by engaging online with individuals who they also engage with in real life. That’s compound influence. Spreading the word online, and then doing that in real life.
Even when this network expands, it’s been built on personal relationships. Habits have been formed to encourage responses to comments, answers to questions, real and true engagement that can never be replicated at a macro level. Influencers with 100K followers are simply unable to direct message, respond to every comment, and give that level of community care that encourages commitment and real buy-in. By contrast, micro and nano influencers are mostly not famous, they seem more ‘like us’ because we often genuinely know them, or know people who know them, so buying into what they promote seems far more like a friend giving you a much more relatable recommendation in real life.
Combine this with the fact that the followers of nano or micro influences are by nature a targeted audience. We have things in common, we share something. And by extension, the products or services that they choose to endorse are more likely to be something that is relevant to us. Their endorsement is authentic. Their feeds seem approachable and less polished. In short, we trust them.
But what will we see next? We’ve moved from macro to micro, micro to nano but who knows how long before this shifts? Digital marketing and all things influencer based is fluid, minds change, and markets move. We’ll be interested to see what we should prepare to buy into next. We are getting a strong sense that the tide is turning, watch this space.