Are micro influencers the right solution for small businesses?

Few marketing strategies have gotten as much attention in recent years as influencer marketing. An arguable evolution, or side-product, of social media marketing, it’s seemingly everywhere and has everyone’s blessings. But isn’t it fruitless for smaller businesses with typically tighter digital marketing budgets? Don’t those mid, macro, and mega influencers really present the only path forward? As one of the top digital marketing agencies in New York, we at Digital Dot are here to claim otherwise. Today we’ll argue that micro influencers are the right solution for small businesses, with ample proof in hand.

Mega influencers or micro influencers – is there a point to it all?

First and foremost, let us briefly dispel any understandable doubts over influencer marketing’s effectiveness. Despite the global influencer marketing market value having more than doubled between 2019 and 2021, some still shy away. It may just be a passing trend, after all.

That’s not quite a safe assumption to make, however. The eCommerce giant Shopify finds some excellent statistics to convince business owners otherwise – which we will cite later too.

First, strictly in terms of Return On Investment (ROI), influencer marketing yields “comparable or better” results than other channels:

A graph on influencer marketing's Return on Investment.

Yes, it doesn’t quite match the undisputed marketing kings like email marketing, but it still warrants attention.

A primary reason for that lies in influencer marketing’s humanizing nature. It doesn’t simply raise brand awareness or enhance sales, even if it succeeds in those pursuits too:

A graph on consumer trust in influencers.

Rather, the keyword is “trust”. Audiences trust influencer recommendations, whether those simply raise awareness or promote a product or service. When audience trust has declined to an all-time low, one cannot overlook this primary benefit.

Measuring the efficiency of influencer marketing

Still, one may fear that influencer marketing may present more challenges as regards measuring success. Especially with micro influencers of smaller audiences, returns might simply fly under the radar.

The inverse holds true, in actuality, and here micro influencers’ advantages will begin to show. Initially, consider how marketers measure influencer marketing success, according to an oft-cited Influencer Marketing Hub study:

A graph on how marketers gauge influencer marketing success.

Unlike early beliefs, held when influencer marketing first boomed, audience sizes rarely tell the full story. They do hold value, but meaningful engagement dictates success much more often – like social media marketing New York trends show.

For proof beyond our own experience, we may cite MediaKix’s polls of fellow marketers that substantiate it further:

A graph on marketers' criteria for working with influencers.

As you can see, the perceived disadvantage of micro influencers’ smaller audiences only ranked 7th. The stark difference in prioritization, rankings aside, also aligns with IMH’s findings above. It does hold some significance, by all means, as we’ll also discuss next, but it hardly dictates success in itself.

The advantages of micro influencers

Now we may finally see why micro influencers are the right solution for small businesses.

On this note, let us briefly clarify that “micro influencers” might often include nano influencers as well. Exact definitions and follower counts may vary, especially across different platforms. For instance, the aforecited IMH categorizes them as follows:

  • Nano-influencers: 1,000 to 10,000 followers
  • Micro-influencers: 10,000 to 50,000 followers
  • Mid-tier influencers: 50,000 to 500,000 followers
  • Macro-influencers: 500,000 to 1,000,000 followers
  • Mega-influencers: over 1,000,000 followers

Others like Shopify, as we’ll see just below, use slightly different follower brackets to define tiers.

In either case, what do these smaller influencers offer that their constituents don’t? Put simply, and inarguably, engagement rates:

A graph on influencer engagement rates by tier.

As you can see, influencers’ engagement rates are inversely proportional to their audience sizes across all platforms. For such platforms as rising star TikTok, micro influencers get more than thrice as much engagement as their mega counterparts.

So, here we may consolidate the advantages of micro influencers into the following:

  • Engagement rates. Where a mid or larger influencer would reach wider audiences, micro influencers incite meaningful engagement with their smaller, more tightly-knit ones. For most influencer marketing campaigns, engagement will vastly outperform reach or impressions.
  • Affordability. By default, micro influencers offer distinctly more affordable prices than any other segment. Exact ones will vary across industries and platforms, of course, but one can expect unmatched affordability.
  • Lower risk. In turn, micro influencers present far fewer risks as regards monetary losses. With such modest fees, one can expect far lesser odds of foul play – and far fewer damages, should it occur.

Other factors like creative freedom, message alignment, and so forth will of course depend on the individual influencers one works with. Those we cannot easily measure among influencer tiers, and they will naturally vary quite notably.

Micro influencers for small businesses: what do you need?

With the above context in mind, however, the final choice of influencer tiers requires one final criterion. Namely, what your campaigns seek to accomplish, and thus what they need from your influencers.

This bears noting, because influencer marketing campaigns often do rely on larger audiences to meet their goals:

A graph on common influencer marketing campaigns' goals.

Understandably, such popular goals as brand awareness and audience expansions do hinge on tapping into influencers’ large audiences. For all their advantages, micro influencers can simply not offer the best solution for those specific campaigns.

So, you may instead consider each tier depending on your exact goals at hand. You may opt for larger influencers for such campaign goals as:

  • Brand awareness
  • Audience expansion
  • Lead generation

For such campaigns, you will of course also need a larger strategy and more business partners to back them up – a web design company NYC for website improvements, SEO services for search engine rankings, and so forth. Influencers alone will rarely support such efforts by themselves.

Micro influencers may still offer the ideal choice for many other campaign goals, such as:

  • Sales
  • Brand advocacy
  • Lead acquisition
  • Reputation management
  • Customer satisfaction

For all such campaigns, micro influencers’ decidedly better engagement rates should prove much more effective than larger, unengaged audiences. Still, they’re not a universally better fit for every campaign, so you may best approach each under this scope.

Conclusion

To summarize, micro influencers are evidently the right solution for small businesses in most cases. Indeed, campaigns that seek visibility will require larger audiences – but those a small business may redirect to local SEO, traditional advertising, and even plan, tried-and-tested social media marketing. For all others, including ones that seek sales, advocacy, and customer satisfaction, micro influencers will deliver manifold.

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