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Why You Should Think 'Micro' When Planning Your Next Influencer Campaign

04/15/2016 04:56 pm ET

With the global explosion of social media over the last five years, the topic of social influence has become a hot discussion as celebrities grow their online followings to astronomical amounts. Consider this - the top 10 largest Instagram accounts today have nearly 600 million combined followers. For perspective, the state of California currently has 38.3 million citizens, which is less than Miley Cyrus' 38.9 Instagram followers - and she's only the 18th highest follower account on the social network. We love social media.

But do high follower counts really result in greater influence? Are the millions who follow these celebrities doing so because they find them to be trustworthy sources whose views and interests align with their own? Or is it simply because they are celebrities and us "normal" folks want an intimate look into a famous person's every day life? Are these celebrities really the most influential, or just the most interesting?

Here's the thing - as sexy as those follower numbers are, utilizing a mega-celebrity just isn't the best option for the majority of brand influencer campaigns. If you're looking for mass appeal, sure. But what about when you're looking to market a product or service that is meant for a niche audience and you need a trusted and influential member of that circle? That's when you turn to micro-influencers - people with smaller, more loyal followings who have significant clout within their respective communities. Here's why:

Better engagement. The simple assumption is that more followers means more engagement, right? Markerly has data that shows otherwise. According to a recent study on Instagram engagement, as follower totals go up, rate of engagement actually decreases. Influencers with 1K-10K followers have a like rate of 4%, compared to 1.6% for those with 10M+ followers. Comment rates also decline significantly, as those in the 10K-100K range are four times more likely to get a comment than those in the 10M+ range.

As you decrease followers, you gain engagement but lose reach. Conversely as you increase followers you gain reach but lose engagement. The sweet spot for influencers is in the 10K-100K follower range. This provides you with a broad reach but also a solid amount of engagement.

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More for your money. Activating a celebrity as part of your influencer campaign is super expensive. For $25,000, you can activate several micro-influencers within your chosen verticals and get in front of roughly five million combined followers. That same amount will barely get you in the door with a celebrity - it costs into the six figures to work with the Kardashians or Jenners - and all you're really paying for is bragging rights. Why pony up all of that cash if it isn't going to move the needle?

Consider a major athletic brand that is launching a line of shoes, clothing, and accessories specifically for serious runners. Do they pay into the hundreds of thousands of dollars to have Justin Bieber (61.6M followers) post a photo to Instagram with a shoe in the background? Or is it more valuable to activate someone like Meb Keflezighi (30K Instagram followers), one of the most successful marathon runners in the world? If the brand wants to engage with a loyal audience that they know is in the market for their products, they go with Meb.

As a brand, you want to engage with audiences that are really passionate about the things you are selling. It doesn't matter if it's athletic wear, beverages, clothes, or electronics - identifying your key micro-influencers will drive visibility and engagement, and ultimately brand loyalty and sales, proving good things do come in small packages.

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