2020 has been the year that has put a whole new and extremely unwelcome spin to the expression: levelling the playing field, by having actually gone ahead and decimating the old normal right to the ground. With COVID-19 keeping people under lockdown, it lumped the Influencer with a humongous following and a micro influencer with a close-knit loyal community that lacked glitter but had substance, into the same bin. And with the world now dusting itself and getting on to its feet, resolute for growth, this this equal footing for all is a welcome change.
Ankit Agarwal, Founder of Do Your Thng, a tech platform that aims to disrupt the influencer marketing industry, takes a closer look at how Covid-19 has spurred the growth of Micro-Influencers. Ankit, an experienced digital marketing professional who has spent more than a decade in digital marketing, advertising and social media management, also discusses some takeaways from the scenario. Read on.
A brief look at how COVID-19 has led to the perceptible growth of micro-influencers.
Facebook-owned apps usage surged by a whopping 70% in March, as per eMarketer. In the first three months of 2020, Twitter reported 12 million more daily users when compared to the last quarter of 2019.
Distil the figures and it’s clear that social media became ground zero for discussions, arguments and escapism after the health crisis hit the world.
A rise in the number of people using networking platforms is not the only change the new climate that COVID-19 created brought about. It also altered who holds influence, fuelling the growth of micro-influencers.
Usually, influencer growth is in terms of number of brand collaborations. From that perspective, few creators grew during the lockdown because financial hardship pushed the marketing efforts of most verticals out further in the year or nixed them altogether.
The creators who did continue to get work were the ones who had some means for quick campaign turnaround or switched to creating uplifting and helpful content.
The power creators have originates from followers and the engagement they generate. If it drops, they become worthless in a brand’s eyes – Ankit Agarwal
But brand collaborations are only one side of the equation. The other, and equally important, is the audience. The power creators have originates from followers and the engagement they generate. If it drops, they become worthless in a brand’s eyes.
So, growth here is defined in terms of audience and engagement rates. With that lens on, it’s apparent that micro-influencers bloomed during COVID-19 because the average user is now more inclined towards real stories told by real people now, instead of mega-influencers and celebrities.
The change in influence
Before the novel coronavirus up-ended lives, Linqia estimated 57% of marketers planned to increase influencer marketing budgets in 2020, and 78% were ready to consider micro-influencers led campaigns.
Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report estimates that the use of micro-influencers has risen by 300% in the past four years and 47% of influencer budget is spent on micro-influencers.
While these numbers are most definitely different after the outbreak, the fact remains that the bend towards influencer marketing, and especially smaller creators, had already begun.
The reason micro-influencers won favour was engagement rates.
As per the analytics firm InfluencerDB, the average Instagram engagement rate for sponsored posts is 2.4%, and non-sponsored posts is 1.9%. For Facebook or Twitter, the corresponding figure is only 0.5 – 1.0%.
But when you take a look at smaller creators, the stats are eye-popping. Influencers with 10,000+ followers show 3.6% engagement rate. For micro-influencers (5k to 10K followers), the rate is as high as 6.3%.Influencers with 10,000+ followers show 3.6% engagement rate. For micro-influencers (5k to 10K followers), the rate is as high as 6.3% - Ankit Agarwal - Founder of Do Your Thng @MediaBrief_ @DoYourThng_ Click To Tweet
That’s a leap no brand could continue to ignore, driving the change in influence.
The rise in growth
During the lockdown, micro-influencers grew to greater heights as engagement rates jumped further. A solid 90 to 95% of the audience got hooked to small creators for a plethora of reasons.
Some wanted a taste of the new normal, and others wished to escape from the relentless coronavirus news, but underlying it all was the need to consume content from “people like me.”
There are three primary reasons creator audiences have become more involved and show higher attention metrics:
Smaller creators are still individuals. They don’t have a crowd of management people dictating content creation. It makes their content personal, quirky and most of all, authentic, which reels in more audience and engagement.
Micro-influencer content is intuitive and created through the eyepiece of what people see and feel at a given time – Ankit Agarwal
While celebrities have lifestyles detached from the general audience, smaller creators don’t. Therefore, when uncertainty struck, they knew what to post, what not to post, and how to respond to followers sensitively.
A key trait in small creators is interaction. They reply, comment and re-share the content of their audience more. With people bound to home, everyone craved such personal connections and micro-influencers provided it.
A brand’s takeaway
If I have to find a silver lining in the harrowing times we live in; then it’s this. COVID-19 took influencer marketing to its grassroots.
Creators restored their focus on delivering content that adds genuine value to their followers and conversations between a creator and the community they build became paramount.
I expect this renewed spirit of influencer marketing to continue. So, whether you are doubling down on marketing spend or stretching an already tight budget, leverage this power.
Micro-influencers can enhance your output in a manner prominent creators simply won’t allow – Ankit Agarwal
Micro-influencers can enhance your output in a manner prominent creators simply won’t allow. With them, you’ll create more engagement and achieve more conversions.
Edelman’s research says that 58% of internet users have bought a product because an influencer recommended it. Imagine what that number would look like in the current world where their authority is even greater?