Influencers Get 'Micro' And 'Real' As Trust Dips

Interesting research came out this week from Socialbakers, which backed up some of the conversations I have been having with people about social media getting a little more "real" and focussing on so-called micro influencers.

It coincides with some rather damning findings from UM, which show that this getting "real" is exactly what the channel needs to do because just 4% of internet users trust influencers. 

In a nutshell, micro influencers are people with generally 10,000 or fewer followers with whom brands can work on a long-term basis at reasonable cost. If you typically think of a Kardashian as an influencer, this is very much at the opposite end of the spectrum.

In fact, four in five influencers have followings under 10,000, the research finds. In America, things are more skewed toward celebrities, but in Europe, it's the micro influencer who is now ruling the roost. 

It may come as very little surprise, but the majority of influencers are millennial females who, in turn, get most of their attention from women in their twenties and thirties. 

This is the interesting point for me. When I talk with marketers, they believe that while a huge pop star loving your product is great, it's also very expensive, and nobody is under any illusion they have been paid to say they like it.

That is why the smart money has moved to forging lots of relationships with numerous micro influencers. The point has come up several times, but essentially, an Instagram user is believed to associate more with someone who is a little more like them -- someone who is an expert in what they do but isn't unreachable and uses equipment that is affordable and accessible.

Surprisingly, the more normal the photo or video looks, the better. A slick production is now believed to run the risk of coming across as inauthentic, but a micro influencer talking into their smartphone is far more believable. 

It's social media, so of course there are some big figures about the market in general. There were 25,000 Instagram posts featuring the #ad hashtag, which denotes that there is a commercial relationship in place between an influencer and what they're talking about or showing on screen.

In fact, use of #ad is up 133% year-on-year on Instagram -- which is, the researchers conclude, the number one influencer platform. Facebook has a bigger audience but, they claim, Instagram users are more engaged. 

There are a tonne of graphs to look at in the research, but for me, the most interesting part is confirmation that we have entered the age of the authentic micro influencer. People always say they want to associate with brands that are just like them, so it appears logical that they would want to hear about them from people they identify as being a little more like them than a pop star. 

Considering that trust of influencers is so low, it is reasonable to suggest this is exactly what they channel needs to be do to establish a more authentic conversation with internet users. 

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