Who would you trust more, a celebrity with millions of followers or someone relatable with a few thousand? Increasingly, companies are putting their money towards micro-influencers as a way to get their marketing message out. But what is a micro-influencer and why are they talked about as the second coming of influencer marketing?

What is an Influencer?

The traditional definition of influencers is typically people with large followings on social channels who charge equally large sums of money for a branded social post. Through the popularity of this type of advertising, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of influencers who “sell out” their opinions to promote a product or a brand. Kylie Jenner famously earns $1 million for posting an Instagram post to her 150 million followers. There is an argument around the fact people know how much money big influencers get for endorsing a brand which in turn could make the endorsement seem less genuine and credible.


Introducing the latest marketing golden bullet, Micro-influencers. They are smaller influencers who have follower numbers in the thousands rather than hundreds of thousands or millions. They often have niche audiences who are highly engaged with the content they post.

Adidas Tango Squad

The senior director of global brand communications at Adidas argued that a message would be more genuine if spread to 500 kids with 2000 followers instead of one influencer with 1 million followers. Which comes back to the notion that you would probably be more influenced by your friend endorsing something than a known full-time influencer, who earns their living on saying nice things about brands. The argument by the senior director at Adidas references their Tango Squad initiative where they use 17-19-year-old “up and coming” football stars to be part of their influencer group. The thinking behind it is giving micro-influencers the tools to grow their own social channels while at the same endorsing the Adidas brand.

Genuine Endorsement

Influencers have had a bad rep for the past couple years due to a lack of transparency around what they were being paid to say and not. With new regulations around influencers needing to disclose whenever they post branded content, brands have had to look into new ways of ensuring the content is perceived as genuine. The transparency debate has opened up the market for these smaller influencers, as they often have a closer relationship with their follower base.

That said, both macro and micro-influencers have their strengths and weaknesses. Micro-influencers have the ability to reach out to a targeted group of people but with a lower overall reach, whereas macro-influencers have a more widespread reach with less ability to target.

Today saw the launch of the 2019 John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners Christmas Campaign, #teamslap were big fans, but we wanted to explore and monitor the social performance of the ads first few hours... #ExcitableEdgar

You aren’t alone if you find it more difficult to gain social followers today than a few years ago. Competition for the consumer’s time and attention is increasing, with more and better content available to choose from. Does your follower count matter though?

What matters?

To improve your social media performance, you must first of all measure key metrics. Which key metrics to use depends on which goals you are trying to achieve with your social channels.

  • Engagement – Likes, Comments, Shares, Clicks One of the best ways to judge whether your consumers and followers are consuming your content is to look at the engagement metrics. This can be measured in likes, comments, shares and clicks. Engagement metrics like these tell us how many people are actually interacting with the content rather than passively scrolling through it.

  • Awareness – Impressions, Reach If increasing awareness is the main goal it will be useful to also throw impressions and reach into the mix in order to see the number of people who saw the content. This will be useful if trying to increase brand awareness.

  • ROI – Referrals, Conversions The return on investment can be measured by looking at referrals or conversions in order to judge whether social media effectively influenced a sale. This is easier to measure for companies which operate in e-commerce than a typical B2B interaction, since the latter often involves a longer process of influence and can be hard to track back to social.

Followers don’t matter.

There are evidently many different social media metrics that can be used for different purposes. Following count has not been mentioned so far though, which might be surprising since this is what people like talking about. We believe that there are multiple other metrics that matter much more than followers, as the number of followers doesn’t always translate to higher engagement or awareness.

There are examples of companies trying to apply a quick fix to their social media engagement by purchasing followers. This might give the impression of having a large audience who sees your content, however if your followers aren’t real or care about the content it won’t help your social performance.

Building a smaller number of dedicated followers is far more effective than having a large number of inactive followers who don’t care about your content.



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