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Micro-Influencer Marketing: the Pros and Cons

July 07, 2017

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You’ve just wrapped your head around influencer marketing, which is something so new that the word “influencer” still has a red squiggly line under it as I’m typing this. And yet, there’s already the next big thing in affiliate world: micro-influencer marketing.

Think of a micro-influencer as an undiscovered Kardashian just getting his/her first Instagram account. Meaning they have cultivated a small, but fiercely loyal, following on social media. How “small” is a matter of a) the niche the micro-influencer is in, and b) the trajectory of where social media as a whole is headed; but the number ranges from between 2,000 to 15,000 followers on a given platform.

Now that we know what micro-influencers are, let’s examine the pros and cons of developing a relationship with these digital pioneers.

Pro: There are probably a few square in your niche.

Andy Warhol is claimed to have said “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” That’s the general gist here. In any product/service niche, there is most likely a handful of mini-celebrities that are very knowledgeable in that one area. For example, how about something pretty random like decades old army rations that are still semi-edible? Well there’s a guy on YouTube that goes by “Steve1989” with 350,000+ followers who eats and reviews them.

And he is far from the only one.

If there’s a thing, there’s probably micro-influencers who love that thing. This means that you don’t have to try to get a mega celebrity to tout your products; you can find a few micro-influencers who are not only passionate about your niche, but also more affordable to work with.

Con: They have a lot fewer potential customers.

The good news is that according to a survey by Markerly, “influencers with less than 1,000 followers have a ‘like’ rate close to 8% while those with 1,000 to 10,000 followers have a ‘like’ rate of 4%.” And the like rate continues to drop as followers go up. This means micro-influencers potentially have a stronger “influence” on their followers.

Take-away: smaller, niche influencers have more dedicated followers.

But wasn’t this supposed to be a con? It is if you do the math: 8% of 1,000 is 80. 4% of 10,000 is 400. So yes, micro-influencers are more targeted, but a small reach is a small reach. This is why it’s a good idea to work with multiple influencers in your niche, to make up for this disparity in numbers. And this leads us to…

Pro: They beget other micro-influencers.

Like the army rations YouTuber above, micro-influencers in a niche not only know the other “celebrities” in that niche, but also already have established relationships with them. They’re experts in the space and know who the other movers and shakers in their niche are. They probably have shared content or popped up on each others’ feeds.

This is great for you, the merchant, because now through just one micro-influencer, you have access to many more. If you cultivate a great working relationship with one, that positive experience should directly translate, via your influencer, to others in his/her circle. This is a fairly easy way to quickly grow your reach and business.

Con: But these take more time.

Remember, not investing time into the relationship with your affiliates is a rookie mistake, and having many micro-influencers exponentially increases the time you’ll need to put into cultivating these partnerships.

And each one wants a free sample.

Especially for SMBs with tiny marketing teams, monitoring the effectiveness of many influencers can be more than you can realistically handle. In this case, you should seek to keep the number of affiliates you work with to a manageable number.

Pro: They reflect great on your brand.

Maybe the best benefit that comes with working with a micro-influencer in your niche is the boost of confidence and stamp-of-approval for your brand. According to a Twitter survey from 2016, 49% said they relied on influencers when considering a product or service. And remember, micro-influencers have even higher rates of “likes.”

These are people probably not making a living (yet) off their niche of interest, which brings with it a level of trust from their followers. Their fans know them, know their passion, and swear by their recommendations. If you can tap into that loyalty without disturbing it too much (there’s a certain Heisenbergian uncertainty principle at work here), you can become a trusted brand for their followers as well.

Con: They often don’t stay “micro” for long.

Social media, as mentioned above, is an ever-growing monster. We’ve all seen someone take off in popularity overnight and become megastars on Twitter or Instagram. There’s a very real chance that either quickly or slowly your group of micro-influencers will graduate to the big leagues. And that usually means paying up, or finding smaller influencers all over again.

To be fair, this is a good problem to have. If they’re on their way up, so is your reach. At the end of the day, every influencer is “micro” until they’re not, and that’s just something you’ll have to deal with as an affiliate marketer.

All said, the pros outweigh the cons. But it will help you know what you’re getting into so you are aware of the pitfalls in courting and having a relationship with these micro-influencers.

Happy micro-influencer hunting!

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Written by

Ruthie Carey
Ruthie Carey