With retailers clamouring to sign social media influencers ahead of Black Friday, it seems logical that those with the biggest followings will achieve the best results.

However, brands are beginning to question how valuable exposure to a wide audience is when it’s not targeted.

If Zoella is selling the latest Prosecco range to her audience (average age 11-17), for instance, this is not effective influencer marketing.

Many brands are now reaching out to micro-influencers, individuals with 10,000 to 100,000 social followers.

These influencers are perfectly aligned to deliver tailored brand messaging to the right people and achieve a better ROI for retailers.

Iceland, for example, which famously used celebrities such as Kerry Katona and Peter Andre, has now collaborated with Channel Mum, a network of ‘mummy vloggers’ who post videos every week to their YouTube channels for a modest 11,000 subscribers.

“We’ll give the products and [they] can tell us if they like them. It’s a risk because they might not like it and we’ll have to react to that, but that grittiness is what we’re getting”

Nick Canning, Iceland

“The way customers are shopping now, they want to hear from a credible source that they can trust, and the best [source] is real mums and customers,” Iceland joint managing director Nick Canning says.

“We’ll give the products and [they] can tell us if they like them. It’s a risk because they might not like it and we’ll have to react to that, but that grittiness is what we’re getting.”

Canning is spot on. As the government cracks down on ensuring influencers are giving clear disclosure when they’ve been paid to talk about something, consumers are increasingly able to spot sponsored content by themselves.

Less is more

If a number of reality TV stars and top-tier bloggers working in different verticals are all promoting the same product, this can often do more harm than good to a brand’s image.

Consumers are now craving more authentic influencers that they can trust and this is where micro-influencers come in.

Micro-influencers tend to be typically more engaged, as are their audience. They have built a specific group following so are highly influential. Their followers feel like their friends.

A recent study, for example, has shown that engagement rates drop from the 1,000 followers mark (where influencers hold an 8% like ratio) to as low as 1.6% where the following reaches over one million users.

Retailers and brands need to remember the main reason they look to influencers – to see results.

By working with micro-influencers they will be able to expand audience outreach by providing relevant, authentic and more impactful content.

  • Megan Dado is senior director at Rakuten Marketing