Detailed Insights: The Impact of Micro-Influencers

By Pieter Groenewald
Years of experience in influencer marketing inspires the call for a shift in the allocation of marketing budgets between content creation and its distribution.
When people learn that I work in the world of influencer marketing, I usually get asked a few questions, like what IS influencer marketing? And does it really work? Over the years, I’ve written a number of Op-Eds that detail my views on such queries (and if you ever want to grab a coffee and discuss the potential benefits of influencer marketing for your business, the teams at theSalt and Webfluential are always willing).
Today, I want to focus on what I believe to be the biggest change that’s taking place in influencer marketing currently. A change I’ve witnessed personally, that is making a big impact in terms of how businesses approach influencer marketing, as well as the choice of individuals with whom they work.
That change is the allocation of budget between content creation and the distribution of that content. And it’s a change that theSalt and Webfluential uses to motivate our approach to every influencer marketing campaign we devise these days. Allow me to explain.
In the earlier years of influencer marketing, specifically between 2015 and 2020, brands chose to collaborate almost exclusively with big name influencers, such as celebrities or other well known personalities. Their intention was to gain access to the influencer’s significant audience size by being featured in some way within the content shared on their social media platforms.
Overwhelmingly, as a result of the expensive costs associated with working with such individuals, influencer marketing was predominantly the domain of brands with big budgets, which they could allocate without too many questions to the influencer collaborations – even if the results sometimes left much to be desired.
At the time, organic reach (which is defined as the portion of an audience you can reach without putting any advertising spend into promoting their content) was relatively significant. However, as algorithms were updated, and the potential for significant organic reach declined, the performance of big influencer campaigns also reflected a downward trajectory, as a result of the link between reach and performance. The saving grace was the quality of the content that was produced, and shared, by the influencer because this did, to some extent, have a role to play in terms of the organic reach that was achieved.
For the purposes of an illustrative scenario to elaborate upon what I mean, let’s imagine: a BIG influencer, whom we’ll refer to as X, charges a brand an amount (often up to, and more than, R100 000 – so we’ll use this amount for the example) for a collaboration, which includes a post on their Facebook Page. If Influencer X has a following of 1.5-million people, it was safe to assume that only a percentage of their following would be exposed organically to the post. Certainly, the post wouldn’t have been distributed to every single one of their followers, but a percentage (such as the 10 – 15% organic reach we used to see) was a possibility. In light of this, the organic reach would then be around 225 000 people, based on a generous 15% organic reach.
Independent of the influencer’s activity, a brand could then also set up their own adverts on Facebook using their own content. The bidding for such advertising works on a CPM rate, which means the platform charges a number of rands per engagement or per 1 000 people reached, depending on the objective. If the brand chose to spend R9 000 on their own advertising, at a rate of around R25 per thousand impressions (often, it’s significantly less than this), they’d easily reach a similar amount of people as those they might have reached organically with the post by the influencer.
This scenario seems complicated, but it’s important because it demonstrates the need to conduct a cost analysis when it comes to content creation vs. content distribution. In the scenario, the cost for the brand to reach an audience equal to the audience they might reach through the influencer’s content was around R9 000, which meant that the balance of their R100 000 budget would go into content creation. The split was ultimately 91%/9% for content creation vs. content distribution.
In 2022, with many years of experience in the influencer marketing industry, the teams at theSalt and Webfluential have been able to put our learnings to work devising alternative strategies and approaching influencer marketing campaigns, such as the one above, a bit differently, in pursuit of more meaningful results.
Let’s say, for example, that the brand has made the decision upfront to split the budget 50%/50% between content creation and content distribution. By working with theSalt and Webfluential, this empowers the brand to make use of several micro- and nano-influencers, as opposed to a single big name, and benefit from the improved organic reach that smaller influencers’ content enjoys. It also gives the brand access to more affordable content, and an even greater array of content assets, as micro- and nano-influencers could create multiple pieces of content for the same investment, compared to a big name who might only create one piece of content.
By using niche influencers, the brand would be able secure 5-10 content pieces for R50 000, and still have the balance of the budget (the remaining R50 000) to distribute the influencer content beyond the organic reach it would see on their platforms. Additionally, the brand’s own social media pages would benefit from direct investment into paid advertising, rather than relying solely on influencer affiliation. So, at an estimated CPM of R25.00, the brand could access an audience of around 2 000 000 people – which ensures the influencer content goes a lot further than it would just existing on the influencer’s platform.
For illustration purposes, refer to the table below:
Description: Historically: In 2022:
Number and Nature of Influencers 1 x Macro Influencer 10 x Micro- & Nano-Influencers
Campaign Budget R100 000 R100 000
Content Cost R91 000 R50 000
Distribution (Performance) R9 000 R50 000
Reach (Result) 225 000 (Organic) 2 000 000 (Performance)
With a multitude of content options, and the ability to benefit from better distribution through the use of micro- and nano-influencers, and paid media, a brand today is empowered to generate better results by allocating their budgets differently between content creation and content distribution.
For the team at theSalt and Webfluential, it’s expertise like this that puts us in the perfect position to collaborate with your brand, and get the best possible return-on-investment for both your budget and your business.
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s talk.
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Pieter Groenewald
CEO and founder of theSalt, (a Nfinity Media company) a micro influencer marketing platform.