Small Yet Powerful: Why Micro-Influencers Are Gaining Traction

I’ve worked in influencer marketing for over 10 years, and the most notable shift I've seen in the last few has been the rise of micro-influencers.

Back in 2022, HubSpot’s research showed that micro-influencers were the most popular type of influencer used by marketing professionals. In my experience with clients, colleagues, and industry peers, that preference has only deepened since.

One platform that aligns its infrastructure well with micro-influencers is Instagram. The platform runs on an algorithm that favors new content and boasts specific features, including Reels and the Explore page, that help connect users with relevant micro-influencers who align with their interests.

Instagram’s preference for fresh content and options for helping users discover their new favorite content creators lead to increased interactions, which brands can capitalize on by working with influencers who offer smaller, more tightly focused audiences and an ability to produce content quickly. Given Instagram’s immense reach (2 billion monthly active users) and targeting capabilities, influencer marketers have been able to use micro-influencers to find profitable pockets of users for just about every product or industry, no matter how niche.



TikTok is of course another natural home for fresh, unvarnished content, and although its paid targeting options aren’t as robust as Instagram’s, TikTok makes it easy for advertisers to boost posts already gaining momentum organically.

In influencer marketing in general, users and brands are showing an increasing preference for authenticity and genuine content instead of staged content. Today's audience values relatability over the previously dominant trend of highly polished and produced content; this is especially pronounced with Gen Z-ers, who are gaining purchasing power as they go deeper into their careers.

Because today’s users are more drawn to down-to-earth individuals rather than scripted personas, big stars with carefully constructed and tightly maintained reputations don’t offer the same ability to connect as micro-influencers with a more relatable, everyday presence. The more authentic and trustworthy the influencer, the deeper the appeal of their recommendations and their content. Even for users who don’t have the intent or means to purchase right away, the trusted association that micro-influencers help establish for the brand carries value for the long term.

Brands can use micro-influencers as low-cost options to connect with tightly defined audiences. Particularly for SMBs without the budget to bet big on larger, more established influencers, micro-influencers help extend the brand’s reach into relevant, potentially net-new audience pockets.

For brands, the keys for successful micro-influencer campaigns are clearly communicated expectations (number of posts, products to highlight, etc.), clearly defined KPIs, and upfront research to identify a short list of micro-influencers who can offer an authentic connection to the brand and an audience in the brand’s target demographic. (For instance, if you’re selling barbecue equipment, you wouldn’t necessarily work with an influencer in the vegan space.)

And finding the right micro-influencers is easier than ever. There’s a healthy industry of platforms with directories of micro-influencers that brands can use to find and engage new partners.

Ultimately, with the right goals and research in hand, micro-influencers are a low-cost, high-engagement option for brands to expand their footprint with precision. In a world where AI content is starting to become more prevalent, brands that can leverage authenticity and real human connection have a good chance to build long-term relationships with new users.

This post was previously published in an earlier edition of Marketing Insider.

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