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As we look ahead to 2017, it’s hard to ignore the fact that recent Nielsen data shows that that 92% of consumers still trust word of mouth above all other forms of advertising, while the Word of Mouth Marketing Association claims that word of mouth recommendations are five times more effective than advertising.

shutterstock_358251353Now that influencer marketing has turned from a buzzword to a must-do, most companies, agencies and clients are discussing what the best approach is. As a relatively new phenomenon, few companies are able to harness the power of influencer marketing based on business experience as opposed to speculation and supposition. At Come Round, on the other hand, we have so far put brands in the hands of over 100,000 influencers for a wide range of clients from Lady Gaga and Doctor Who to Dyson, Birds Eye and LEGO.

The term micro influencers is another term that is becoming more and more familiar among marketers. But what exactly does this mean? Well, it’s a term that defies the phrase ‘bigger is always better’. A micro influencer is someone who has a relatively small (say under 100,000 compared to global stars like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry) number of followers on a social media platform, who are highly engaged and enjoy meaningful interactions.

If you were to view the Google trend chart on the search term ‘Instagram influencer’, you’d think that marketers are now looking into the possibility of utilising more micro influencers and adding them into their influencer marketing strategies – however the actual lay of the land is that most of us are still absolutely smitten with celebrity influencers. The search term Micro influencers is still nothing compared to the search term celebrity Instagram. Why?

This is because when brands look for partnerships – they are still on the hunt for reach. ‘’What is their reach’’ and ‘’how many followers do they have?’’ are questions many of you may be overly familiar with, whether agency or client side. I understand the value of having Zoella mention your product – or having Kim Kardashian attend one of your events, (apparently this puts you back a whopping $700,000 . While I see the value of having Kim and co mentioning your product, most brands simply do not have the money to invest in this type of celebrity endorsement marketing once, let along on an ongoing basis!

Jonah Berger – the author of “Contagious: Why Things Catch On “has conducted research on micro influencers and described them as ‘’the sweet spot‘’ that brands should divert their attention in order to spread the word about their products. His research states that (unpaid) micro influencers have 22.2 more conversations per week than the average consumer when it comes to recommending brands to other people. The research also states that 82% of respondents surveyed in the research were ‘’highly likely to follow a recommendation’’ made by a micro influencer.

Authenticity is something that has become increasingly important. I don’t need to show you the example of Scott Disick who foolishly simply copied his instructions (the fact that there were instructions is a big no-no for me, personally – content creators should be allowed creative freedom, that’s how they earn their money, not just for copy-pasting your copy.) into his post. Oddly enough, there are still brands that think working with him is a good idea after his authenticity has taken a massive hit. Presumably this is because they are chasing the numbers of a high follower count instead of focusing on grass-roots micro-influencers and higher, more relevant engagement rates.

When it comes to the measurement of engagement, research by Markerly shows that when an influencer’s following rises, their engagement decreases. Data suggests that influencers with <1,000 followers have a ‘’like’’ rate of around 8%, those with 1,000 > 10,000 followers tend to have a ‘’like’’ rate of 4% and those with a following of between 1,000 – 100,000 offer the best combination of reach and engagement.

I firmly believe that with the right strategy in place, you can achieve even better results than the studies predict. Existing brand advocates will boost your results – and I believe that building a relationship with the micro influencers and working with them consistently in order to create longevity will increase the engagement rate figures even further.

So next time you’re trying to generate brand advocacy, or even sustainable and relevant reach – why not look at implementing a strategy that involves micro influencers? Scan through your brand or product’s Instagram page and you may well find that some micro influencers already ‘like’ your brand and may already own your product.

I believe that influencer marketing should focus more on building relationships with micro influencers and equipping them with the tools to become genuine brand advocates for your brand, rather than just identifying influencers that are all numbers and no action, so to speak!

Instead of yourself doing all of the influencer marketing why not hire an agency, Redpill are one of the best agencies around for this.

By Philip van den Braak, head of influencer marketing and influencer relations at Come Round