Micro-influencers are the most valuable marketing tool of 2018

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‘Marketing’ used to mean spending large sums of money on TV spots, ad spaces and a large creative team to make the vision a reality. But since social media has taken over all our lives, ‘influencer marketing’ has turned the process on its head. According to The State of Influencer Marketing Report last year, approximately 86% of marketers have used influencers in their campaign and that number has undoubtedly risen since then, with the likes of Coca Cola, Mercedes-Benz and UBER taking to Instagram. The difference on entering into 2018 is that momentum is building not behind celebrity macro-influencers, but behind smaller, micro-influencers who are producing higher-quality content and boast a more engaged and responsive following.

Micro-influencers’ value lies in their reliability and authenticity…

If all of those terms sound a little daunting, an influencer is an individual who carefully crafts specific content surrounding a particular interest, which they then share on a social networking platform such as Facebook or Instagram. This content is viewed by those who ‘follow’ that influencer’s activities; hence they can be ‘influenced’ by it. When it comes to advertising products, this offers a unique opportunity for brand exposure to the right people, who are likely to buy that product. ‘Macro’ or ‘micro’ refers to the number of followers an influencer has. A micro-influencer, therefore, is somebody with between 1,000 and 90,000 followers, which is generally considered to be a relatively modest audience.

Using a portfolio of selected micro-influencers is also cheaper…

Micro-influencers’ value lies in the reliability and authenticity that they bring as honest ‘everyday’ users of social media who are simply reviewing a product. The content they create is actively sought out by their followers, rather than immediately dismissed like other forms of advertising that are forced upon the user. Their views are far more trustworthy than major celebrities, whose opinions are deemed fake as they are most likely part of a larger product endorsement deal. Using a portfolio of selected micro-influencers is also comparatively cheaper and a fairly low-risk endeavour for companies, with room for worthwhile marketing experimentation that can lead to a more efficient campaign in the future.

Change in marketing is reflective of the fast-paced environment we now live in…

But how do companies go about finding the most appropriate micro-influencers to review and expose their product offering? This question leaves a gap in the market that is being filled in the UK by Australian company, TRIBE, following a £3.2m Series A investment round to fund international expansion. Launched by TV personality Jules Land in 2015, it is an online marketplace that connects brands to micro-influencers. It does this by asking brands to formulate a ‘job’ post to which influencers respond with the piece of content they would use to advertise the product, the amount they would charge and the size of their social media following. The company is then faced with a selection of individuals who have genuine passion, which sells. They are passionate enough about that particular brand to craft positive content, and passionate enough to risk bringing that brand’s presence to their social media audience if selected. So far, TRIBE has an impressive line-up of British clients, including Selfridges, Moët Hennessy and Burt’s Bees, but as 2018 rolls on, TRIBE is finding itself within a more crowded space than it did in April of last year. Start-ups HooZu and HypeTap are also getting noticed, but we are yet to spot an obvious UK market leader in this field.

Marketing’s future lies in a return to the basics of persuasion and promotion…

This rapid change in the way companies approach marketing is reflective of the fast-paced environment we now live in, surrounding the development of technology and its ability to affect absolutely everything. In an interview with Web Summit in November, Sir John Hegarty, co-founder of global advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty, said that “while technology may be cool, marketing’s future lies in a return to the basics of persuasion and promotion”.  He suggests that the creative voice is being drowned out due to the mass of platforms being utilised for marketing. While product promotion, either genuinely by micro-influencers, or arguably less genuinely by celebrities, is going to mean more of a blurred line between honest ‘creativity’ and ‘advertising’, I believe there is a lot of potential left in social media before that becomes a problem. There is potential due to the surprisingly small amount of companies successfully utilising it as a tool by transitioning their marketing efforts to social media channels with persistence, and due to the small price charged for highly effective advertising within that space. Until micro-influencers recognise their worth as part of a marketing campaign, and charge a truly reflective price, an invaluable opportunity remains for companies to diffuse their brand’s presence throughout the digital ecosystem quickly and cost-effectively.

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