While celebrity influencers may be losing their ability to influence, so-called ‘micro’ and ‘nano’ influencers are proving to be effective in crafting genuine messages, authentic engagement and building dynamic communities around an idea or brand.

The rising popularity of celebrity and mega-influencers on social media has prompted many companies to adopt influencer marketing as an integral part of their brand marketing strategy.

A seemingly endless wave of celebrity influencers leverage their follower counts to cash in on major advertising deals. These celebrities use their platform on social media to engage their followers to buy products from hair vitamins to detox tea and support causes such as the recent Australian wildfires.

But has the saturation of celebrity influencers on social media contributed to influencer fatigue?

Recent evidence has pointed to the growing ineffectiveness of traditional top-down influencer marketing. According to a study conducted by the analytics firm InfluencerDB, the engagement rate for sponsored posts fell from 4% to 2.4% between 2016 to 2019.

If social media users are ‘over’ celebrity influencers, what does this mean for brands?

While audiences may have lost interest in traditional celebrity and mega-influencers, a new form of influencer marketing appears to be on the rise.

So called ‘micro’ or ‘nano’ influencers with fewer followers average the highest engagement.

InfluencerDB’s study found that influencers with at least 10,000 followers have just 3.6 percent engagement, influencers with 5,000 to 10,000 have 6.3 percent, and influencers with just 1,000 to 5,000 followers boast the highest engagement rate with 8.8 percent.

These micro- and nano-influencers have emerged as an effective tool in delivering messages in an authentic and genuine way. They have proven to have the ability to build dynamic communities around an idea or brand.

What has inspired this shift in online marketing?

Marketing is inherently linked to the way consumers interact with products and brands. Consumers are no longer a passive audience waiting to be told where to shop and what to buy. Instead, consumers crave brand engagement on a more personal level.

To develop a successful social media marketing strategy, brands should be taking cues from their audience on social media.

Concentrate on Brand Building

Brand giants like Adidas have restructured their marketing strategy, shifting from an emphasis on marketing efficiency to one based on marketing effectiveness. The company has focused on developing an approach that values long-term brand identity and generating what it calls ‘brand desire’ over short-term sales goals.

According to marketing experts Peter Field and Les Binet, brands should function under a 60/40 ration; concentrating 60% of their efforts on long-term brand building and 40% on sales activation.

Adidas’s reevaluation of their marketing approach has led the company to abandon celebrity influencers on social media in favor of a storytelling and brand building digital marketing strategy.

Micro-influencers and consumers themselves can help a brand define their image. These users have more focused interests, the communities they nurture are highly specialized, and they often link their brand endorsements to their persona and values.

Publish Engaging Content

Younger generations of social media users are quick to call out what they see as fake or artificial. Generic posts that lack authenticity aren’t convincing Gen Z or Millennial consumers.

Mega-influencer ads are often cliché and easy to spot before even looking for the tell-tale #ad in the caption. Social media users have grown tired of this cookie cutter-style content that has flooded their feeds. This repetitive pattern of influencer posts has led to a call for more authentic content.

Many influencers who have incorporated ‘real-world’ posts into their feed of carefully curated content have gone viral, celebrated for their honesty, authenticity and vulnerability.

In addition, consumers have gravitated to a new, younger generation of micro-influencers who aren’t afraid to express themselves in unique and often quirky ways.

When it comes to brand social media marketing strategies, it is crucial to take the time to understand your community of consumers.

A brand should model its content approach on the way its audience uses social media, with the ultimate goal of creating a genuine representation of the brand or its message.

Identify with their collective interests and incorporate this into your content. Speak the community’s language and communicate with consumers on their level. Recognize your audience by sharing their posts in your organization’s own social media feed.

Authentic Engagement

Brands live and die in the comments section.

Social media has made brands much more accessible to consumers. Customers can now speak directly to a brand through comments and direct messages, and consumers expect these companies to promptly reply and engage with them.

Meaningful, authentic engagement with consumers helps to strengthen customer relationships and improve a brand’s image. Social media users reward brands for defining their values and upholding them consistently.

Social media users have grown increasingly critical of celebrity influencers appropriating trending social causes for personal gain; playing on public sympathies to increase their follower counts.  This has created an atmosphere of cynicism and mistrust towards mega-influencers.

Additionally, the ability of celebrity and mega-influencers to artificially boost their profiles with fake followers, likes and other engagements has left consumers disillusioned and threatened the relationship between influencers and brands.

These fake followers make it difficult for brands to accurately identify the marketing reach of their content and, ultimately, decrease marketing performance.

Build a Community

Celebrity and mega-influencers represent the classic top-down model of influencer marketing, however marketing performance improves markedly when that model is turned upside down.

Brands that rely heavily on celebrities, who have amassed millions of followers, in their approach to influencer marketing miss the crucial opportunity to engage with their audience on a more personal level. Consumers have high expectations when it comes to interpersonal engagement online.

Instead of seeking out the largest audiences on social media, brands are finding it more effective to build meaningful, dynamic online communities around smaller audiences.

Micro-influencers have higher engagement rates because they have built a dedicated following. They are viewed as more authentic and their views tend to be more closely aligned with a brand’s values and mission. Their followers trust their voice and value their opinion.

Beyond influencers, consumers are often a valuable resource that many companies fail to develop.

Brands that have been able to develop successful consumer engagement strategies have built a loyal following and transformed these social media users into brand advocates.

These brand loyalists have created their own online communities dedicated to awareness and advocacy; sharing their own experiences, ideas, tips, reviews, and recommendations.

Make Your Imprint

Digital marketing done right can help an organization effectively communicate its message to its audience and drive sustainable growth. The ever-changing social media landscape presents numerous challenges, where it is not only critical to stay up to date on trends but also develop a consistent long-term approach that builds brand identity through authenticity, engagement and community building.

There is a lot of noise on social media. By using impactful micro- and nano-influencer campaigns, companies can cut through the chatter to reach their target audiences more efficiently and successfully.