By now, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “the rise of the micro-influencers.” Although they may not have the reach of the celebrity influencers with millions of followers, when it comes to audience engagement, these micro-influencers are niche celebrities who are giving the big guns a run for their money.

As reach alone is becoming a far less important metric, the idea of these engagement-driving micro-influencers is looking even better for brands looking to connect with their audiences. As well as micro-influencers are typically much more affordable to brands. Instead of spending USD 10,000 on one person, a brand can hire 100 micro-influencers. 

But what exactly is a micro influencer?
The short (and frustratingly vague) answer is, “an influencer with a smaller audience than a macro-influencer." Some in the industry relate this to influencers with under 10,000 followers. Others say between 500 and 5,000. Rather than drawing an arbitrary line in the sand and getting caught up in the details of definitions, it’s best to take a look at micro-influencers in terms of what they can do and why they are beneficial for you.

What do wedding-proposal announcements and micro-influencers have in common?
When you see an image of a diamond ring on the finger of a proud and happy woman on your facebook feed, you think of one thing: engagement. And when you think of micro-influencers, the same word should pop to mind.

Although its importance is not news to anyone in the industry, engagement rate is now muscling its way into the spotlight. Standing behind it are legions of micro-influencers—influencers who, despite a smaller reach, deliver great bang for the buck when it comes to engagement.

recent study reported in Digiday states that Instagram followers with under 1,000 followers have a like rate of about 8 percent. Those with 1,000 to 10,000 have a rate around 4 percent. As the follower rate grows, engagement drops even further.
Those with fewer followers are often seen as more trustworthy and more authentic.

Their opinions carry weight and their audiences are loyal. Many of them have grown along with the influencer–all of this leading toward all-important engagement. Although engagement rate is undeniably important, influencer marketers aren’t yet beating down their door with paid engagement offers at hand. The reason?

It's in the name - micro means smaller reach
In an ironic twist, despite superior engagement rates, they simply don’t have the reach that many brands need. The obvious solution for brands is to engage with multiple micro-influencers, spreading that influencer marketing investment across a range, rather than investing it all in one big-gun celebrity. Think hiring 50 micro-influencers for a campaign instead of hiring on celebrity to get similar amount of reach cumulatively. 

Effective? Yes, but a big drain on resources. Running such a volume of campaigns requires time. It takes effort. Simply put, the more influencers you work with, the more work is involved. Best part of this is most efforts required to work on micro-influencer campaigns contribute to non-billable hours of agencies - meaning they can't charge their clients for work done. 

From finding the right influencers, to developing and managing campaigns, to measuring results, you can almost see the stress weigh in on the poor social media manager’s face as he or she considers the mountain of work ahead to execute this micro influencer plan - the more manual the work involved, the less benefit it actually has.

But it appears that there may be a solution to this problem.

Making influencer marketing much easier
As influencer marketing becomes more sophisticated, we continue to see it fracturing into smaller and more granular niches. The spheres of influence are becoming smaller and more effective. But juggling more influencers in any campaign takes more effort, even though the results may be better.

Enter the influencer marketing analytics platform: A relatively new development in our industry, these platforms provide a series of tools to help automate and simplify the process of influencer marketing (from finding to reporting). By making it easier for marketers to find the right influencers and manage entire campaigns within a single platform, we can expect brands to spend significantly less time on profiling influencers and preparing reports, thus more time developing good campaigns. 

For agencies, this means better and bigger campaigns with much less non-billable hours required. Hence making it a service worth providing to all their clients. 

Most important, it will make it easier to find and manage multiple micro-influencers in single campaigns, thus making them an even more valuable part of the influencer marketing landscape. Although grade-A celebrities with mega-reach are still important, influencer marketing analytic platforms are a natural response to the need to manage this growing group of micro-influencers.

Throw in a little creativity and collaboration and we are beginning an exciting new phase in the industry.

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