UPDATE January 29, 2019 — By 2019, spending on Instagram influencers is projected to reach $2.3 billion in 2019. Brands of all types are trading traditional advertising for influencer marketing to acquire customers online with measurable success.
As influencer marketing has swelled to a $5-10 billion market, two primary terms have emerged to distinguish influencer tiers: micro-influencer and macro-influencer. Micro-influencers are social media users, typically on Instagram, who have 10,000 to 50,000 followers. Macro-influencers are those with between 500,000 and 1 million followers.
Micro-influencers surged in popularity during 2017 as more brands adopted influencer marketing as a strategy. Search interest in the term “micro-influencer” peaked in November 2018, jumping more than 5X since the same time period in 2017.
While interest and popularity of micro-influencers have spurred many brands to test the waters with them, campaign results have been mixed. Micro-influencers have previously been touted as a catch-all influencer marketing solution, however, they’ve had their share of pitfalls and cautionary tales — namely, the ability for anyone to become a fake micro-influencer overnight.
Here we break down the evolving consensus of micro-influencer effectiveness and examine how five major brands, many who are known for macro-influencer campaigns, are incorporating micro-influencers to drive success.
Within the influencer marketing industry, a debate has long persisted regarding the effectiveness of micros vs. macros. Many marketers believe that working with micro-influencers is most effective because they come with a lower price tag and typically have more engaged audiences than macro-influencers.
Proponents of macro-influencers present the argument that influencers with 500,000 to 1 million followers reign supreme due to their audience size. Though sponsored content made by a micro-influencer may sometimes garner a higher engagement rate than a content created by a macro-influencer, who cares if only 1,000 people see the post?
Furthermore, the costs and hardships of coordinating and monitoring the content (safeguarding a brand’s messaging and reputation) of several or thousands of micro-influencers could be significantly higher than it would be for a single macro-influencer with equivalent reach.
To settle the micro versus macro-influencer debate once and for all, Mediakix conducted a study measuring the effectiveness of micro-influencers versus macro-influencers. To do so, sponsored campaigns from 16 top brands that used micro and macro-influencers concurrently were examined.
The results demonstrated that macro- and micro-influencers perform comparably in terms of engagement rate, but macro-influencers overwhelming win when it comes to total likes, comments, and reach.
In total, 742 sponsored Instagram posts were analyzed. The average engagement rate for the micro-influencers’ posts was 2.75%, only slightly higher than the macro-influencers’ average engagement rate of 2.65%.
The results suggest that marketers should partner with macro-influencers to achieve nearly the same engagement as micro-influencers while reaching significantly more consumers.
In lieu of our findings, micro influencers still offer a level of specificity and relatability and may provide unique value to certain brands and campaigns. To take advantage of the benefits of both influencer types, top brands are increasingly using both micro and macro-influencers to reach campaign goals. Here we’ll analyze five standout examples of micro-influencer content in partnership with top brands.
Comedic skits are Australian micro-influencer Alan Tsibulya’s (@alantsibulya) trademark. In partnership with Coca-Cola, Tsibulya created one sponsored Instagram video promoting an upcoming Coca-Cola event. In the video, Tsibulya hilariously impersonates 13 types of people you might meet at a party.
By using the video skit format that characterizes his Instagram feed Tsibulya ensures that the brand integration appeals to his niche audience. He also encourages user engagement beyond his follower base using the CTA, “tag someone who is one of these!!!” effectively expanding the reach of the campaign and informing more people of Coca-Cola’s upcoming event.
Results: The post received 5,568 likes and 483 comments for an engagement rate of 23.9%.
Kelsey Macdermaid and Becky Wright are the influencers behind the DIY Instagram page @thesorrygirls. Last November, the pair ran a laptop giveaway in partnership with Google using one sponsored photo and instructed users to like the photo, follow @thesorrygirls, and comment what they would do with Google’s new Pixelbook to qualify.
The influencers tied the laptop into their DIY focused feed by showcasing its drawing capability within the photo. In doing so, Macdermaid and Wright help Google reach a highly targeted artistic audience that is likely to be interested in the drawing feature. Additionally, by using the phrase “Google’s thinnest and lightest laptop,” within the caption, the duo presents the product in a positive light, describing what sets it apart and potentially inciting laptop purchases beyond the giveaway.
Results: The sponsored Instagram post generated 11,137 likes and 7,916 comments for an outstanding engagement rate of 59.4%.
Jesse Driftwood’s (@jessedriftwood) Instagram is an amalgamation of breathtaking landscapes and beautiful family moments. The photographer and filmmaker created one sponsored photo in collaboration with Audible, a brand historically known for partnering with public figures and macro-influencers, to promote its audiobook service.
In a heartfelt caption, Driftwood expertly presents Audible as a learning tool that has helped him progress as an artist. He also highlights specific book genres he prefers to listen to, offering information that will be useful to followers who choose to try Audible. His personal anecdote comes across as conversational and relatable, giving his relatively small and highly engaged audience the sense that they are receiving a recommendation from a friend.
Results: Impressively, the sponsored photo garnered over 10,700 likes and 300 comments for an engagement rate of 30%.
Husband and father of six Alan Lawrence (@thatdadblog) collaborated with Chrysler to create one sponsored Instagram video promoting its new Pacifica minivan. Lawrence’s daughter stars in the ensuing video and showcases the vehicle’s many features in a hilarious skit.
In the comedic video, Lawrence’s kids choose to stay in the minivan even after being bribed with ice cream, showcasing the car’s appeal with kids. As a micro-influencer operating within the family niche Lawrence is well positioned to promote the Pacifica minivan to its core demographic of busy families.
Results: Lawrence’s video generated over 31 comments and 1,308 likes for an engagement rate of 2.9%.
Watchmaker Daniel Wellington is well known for its influencer partnerships and collaborated with @canadianbros, a pet Instagram account featuring two dogs named Jasper and Louie. In the resulting sponsored photo, Louie is seen looking up at his owner who wears the Classic Bristol watch.
Notably, by working with a pet influencer, Daniel Wellington expands its reach beyond the fashion and travel focused audiences it historically targets using influencers. Additionally, @canadianbros executes the integration seamlessly by including Louie in the photo and sticking to the account’s standard caption style of speaking from a dog’s point of view.
Results: The photo received more than 1,500 likes and 30 likes for an engagement rate of 7.9%.