Unpacking the era of influencer marketing

This kind of marketing uses the influence or reach that an individual has on social media to create awareness or hype around a particular brand.

In the last few years, influencer marketing has grown exponentially, from being a mere tactic to being an important part of a company’s marketing budget.

Globally, this marketing tool is being hailed as the next big thing in the marketing industry, with one of the biggest advantages being authenticity.

The desired target market is more receptive because it is coming from an ‘ordinary’ person they have an established social media relationship with, making the product placement seem more like a referral from a friend rather than an ad.

There are two main types of influencers: micro- and macro-influencers.

A micro-influencer will often ‘apply’ to become an influencer. Platforms such as Tribe and Takumi are communities of individuals who pride themselves on aesthetic social media accounts. These kinds of people usually have a good eye for photography and promoting content.

Image sourced from Takumi

Macro-influencers are the famous household names. These kinds of people are often celebrities who have tens of thousands or even millions of followers.

So, now you know the difference, let’s go through the pros and cons of both.

The pros of micro-influencers

They’re authentic: micro-influencers work in a similar way to word of mouth. When they share a photo on Instagram of them enjoying a nutribar snack after a workout, you don’t question it (even if their photos are sometimes a little staged).

It’s often easier to believe that a micro-influencer has actually bought or used a featured product. They tell you the nutribar is delicious and it’s high in protein, so you make a mental note of the brand.

This kind of authenticity attracts engagement, awareness and brand recall. It’s cost-effective and more affordable than macro-influencers.

The cons of micro-influencers

Capped visibility and reach. Micro-influencers obviously don’t have the vast followings of macro-influencers, and with most influencer platforms setting a 10 000 follower limit, the visibility and reach of content is capped.

Brands have less control over a micro-influencer’s output. Often, the way influencer platforms work is that brands submit a brief stating what product needs to be featured, some information about the product and a general sense of how it should be represented.

A micro-influencer is trusted to post a quality piece of content, without any form of sign off from the client.

Image sourced from Freepik

In many cases, you put your trust in the quality of influencers recruited by an influencer platform and ‘get what you’re given’.
ROI is often hard to prove.

While visibility, reach and engagement can all be easily measured and reported on, it can be somewhat harder to directly attribute influencer engagement to direct sales.

This is because influencer posts are great for driving awareness, but not at directing site traffic – especially as Instagram doesn’t allow links to be posted in captions.

The pros of macro-influencers

Brands have more control when running a macro-influencer campaign. They can often choose the exact celebrity and give them precise instructions on what to post, meaning the outcome can be almost predicted. 

ROI in a macro-influencer campaign is often easy to define – well, easier to define than that of a micro-campaign at least. This is because many brands will set up a unique offer code for a macro-influencer campaign.

The influencer will then post this along with their content. This makes it easier to attribute sales to a precise post or macro-campaign as brands can easily track how many times an offer code was used online.

The cons of macro-influencers

People don’t believe or trust macro-influencers as product placement is often obvious, and not very authentic.

While this kind of marketing is great for reach and awareness, people often don’t trust that the influencer really uses the product.

Macro-influencer campaigns are more expensive. These celebrities will also generally require much higher payments than micro influencers.

Although their audiences might be bigger, and your content will, therefore, see a much higher reach, you may also be able to get a lot more out of lots of single posts with micro-influencers, as opposed to one expensive macro-influencer post.

Macro-influencer campaigns are a little harder to execute as they’ll often take longer to organise, and may require a PR agency. 

Celebrities can also be picky about which brands they endorse, so demonstrating how your product will raise their profile and personal brand is also important.

So, which one should you go with? Both macro- and micro-influencer campaigns have their pros and cons.

If your budget allows, it is recommended to trial both a micro- and macro-influencer campaign, starting with micro-influencers to elicit a response.

Report on which does better in order to develop your future strategy. Then assess your KPIs, and choose accordingly.

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Want to know how to find influencers that are the right fit for your brand? Read our article, Brand influencers: How and why to look for them.
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