Analysis: Why marketers are preferring to work with micro influencers despite budget stability

Over the last 16 months, approximately 40% of all brand partnerships were with micro influencers with a following size of 10,000 to 50,000, according to a recent report by Socialbakers. Titled “State of Influencer Marketing Report: Effects of Coronavirus”, the report also found that the next largest share of partnerships was with nano influencers- those with less than 10,000 followers. It is added that this a trend that started growing again in 2020. At the other end of the spectrum, macro influencers were involved in the least amount of brand partnerships, at less than 3%.

Socialbaker’s report added that in times of economic hardship, marketers have turned toward less costly partnerships for their campaigns. In a conversation with Marketing, Kexin Tan, head of marketing at Titan Digital Media, agreed that cost is a factor when marketers are considering which influencers to work with. One of the most prominent reasons brands choose to work with smaller influencers would be that due to the price tag attached, compared to working with macro influencers, the talent management agency found.

According to Tan, an influencer with approximately 100,000 followers would charge an average of about SG$1,000 to SG$3,000 per post. With that same budget, brands can engage a mix of up to 10 nano or micro influencers. Therefore, brands with smaller marketing budgets but still wish to tap on influencer marketing may find engaging micro influencers a more affordable option. The company, which also manages social media influencers, has seen its fair share of brands and agencies looking to engage micro influencers more than macro influencers. However, it is not only due to the difference in cost. Most of the time, brands understand the choice of influencer depends on the nature of the brand itself.

Brands also see other merits when it comes to engaging micro and nano influencers, such as having higher engagement and for more niche products and services.

Although Titan Digital Media did see a couple of projects and events being cancelled or postponed during the COVID-19 period, Tan attributed it to the new regulations and restrictions placed, rather than a cut in budget alone.

Meanwhile, Malaysian YouTuber Jin Lim, also known as Jinnyboy, said he has not seen clients making the shift to nano influencers. According to him, the clients his talent agency, JinnyboyTV Talents, currently works with still prefer to work with micro, macro, and mega influencers. However, they are becoming more picky when it comes to choosing which influencer to represent the brand. 

Lim also agreed with Tan's sentiments about the difference in cost and engagement when it comes to micro and nano influencers. "Brands may look to work with micro or nano influencers as they are more affordable," he said, adding that a mega influencer may be really expensive and targeted towards one niche, but with the same budget, brands could hire different micro influencers who speak to 19 different types of audiences. Lim has also seen an increase in demand for influencers during this period, with its clients asking for more influencers to market their products and services. Additionally, budgets from clients seem to be picking up, with brands being more willing to enquire and spend on campaigns after the RMCO in Malaysia.

Brand side marketers Marketing spoke to also revealed that the pandemic did not affect its budget when it comes to influencer marketing.

“If anything, we actually worked with more influencers during COVID-19 as we realised how important it was for us to continue building brand engagement,” Jean Thomas, chief marketing officer, Pomelo said. Thomas also added that there was more of a shift in budget rather than a decrease. Pomelo allocated its budget to different streams, pivoting to other social media channels that would allow it to reach to a wider pool of audience.

Echoing a similar sentiment, Roy Lan, regional marketing communications manager, ASICS, said its budget allocated to influencer marketing did not drop this year. “Influencers remain at the forefront of our marketing strategies,” he said, adding that although the retail industry has been adversely impacted by the pandemic, ASICS’ strategy remains the same. “We are looking to grow our pool of nano and micro influencers that cater to more niche audiences and resonate better with our targeted communities.”

Not cost, but quality

When it comes to choosing influencers, cost is not the main factor for brands. Instead, finding the right fit for the campaign or product promoted should be the most important consideration. For ASICS, its choice of influencer depends on the nature of the campaign. According to Lan, while macro influencers are helpful in generating awareness, micro and nano influencers are aimed at driving more engagements and conversations with its consumers.

“These [micro and nano] influencers have a highly engaged and relevant group of followers that share similar interests which are effective in driving quality conversations and conversions when it comes to call-to-action campaigns,” he added.

Tiger Wang, head of marketing, Shopee Singapore also agreed with Lan, adding that brands should engage influencers that are well-versed in the subject matter pertaining to the campaigns or products. The influencer’s followers should also be potential consumers who would be interested in the promoted content. Shopee Singapore regularly engages a mix of influencers with various follower counts, catering to different audiences, depending on its campaigns. “Increasingly, brands are realising that successful marketing does not come about from large follower counts alone. Instead, it is important for influencers to possess an engaged follower base - in an era of greater distractions, engagement is just as, if not more important today,” Wang said.

Meanwhile, Pomelo’s Thomas also said the company works with a mixture of mega, micro, and nano influencers across its campaigns. Similar to Lan, Thomas finds that collaborating with macro influencers can help the fashion brand get more exposure and create more awareness around its campaigns. However,

Working with micro and nano influencers allows it to experiment as a brand, and can help it foster meaningful connections with its community as well.

“Influencers with a smaller group of followers can often provide brands with higher engagement, with audiences perceiving their content as more genuine and attainable. It can also be a good way for brands create a more approachable image with their consumers,” Thomas said.

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