The Rise of Micro-Influencers in Marketing

As the coronapandamic has pushed many businesses to come up with digital solutions, 2021 is expected to be the year of the micro-influencer. They can show the benefits and usage of products on social media, in a time when people cannot try the products themselves.

Results of a poll created on Instagram
by Denise Overkleeft

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, a micro-influencer is an individual with a reasonable reach – between 1.000 and 10.000 followers – on a social media platform, who has the power to influence the purchasing decisions of others.

Chantal is a micro-influencer on Instagram, on which she has a reach of around 1.500 people. She spends approximatively one or two hours per day, working on her online business. “I promote and sell beauty products both online and offline, while I also supervise several other girls whom I recruited to start their own business.”

Just like Chantal, most micro-influencers are part of Multi-Level Marketing Business. These companies offer “business-partners”, as the influencers are called, two ways of earning money: through the recruitment of new members and through the sale of products. However, when push comes to shove, it’s the businesses that gain most from the cooperation, in terms of money at least. 

“I buy the products at a discount and then I sell them for a higher price”, Chantal explains. She thus earns money per product sold. On top of that, she receives 5 to 15% of the profit made by her “network”, or in other words: the people whom she recruited. “The idea behind this concept is that when you help someone to success, you get paid yourself”, Chantal says.

Micro-influencers have proven to be a good way of marketing: they are cheaper than bigger influencers, authentic and highly engaged. And they are rising in number. According to Harvard Business School, global spending on micro-influencer marketing is expected to rise to $15 billion by 2022, as opposed to $8 billion in 2019. In short, micro-influencers are a booming business.

Source: Harvard Business School

But it’s not as profitable for micro-influencers themselves. “Many girls are being taken advantage of”, says Youki, a macro-influencer on Tiktok with more than 350.5k followers. “They have to do many posts, before they actually earn something.”

Youki herself has always declined invitations by other influencers to promote cosmetic products. “I don’t really take it seriously”, she says. Youki doubts whether she will earn a fair amount of money by becoming part of someone else’s network. “If companies want to cooperate they can contact me directly through my management agency.”

@youkioverkleeft

Started this in the middle of December.. #Quarantineagain 🙄🥺 Dragen jullie casual outfits of joggingskleding in de lockdown? #fyp #foryou

♬ original sound – Josh<3
A post on Youki’s TikTok-account

Chantal is more positive about her experiences as a micro-influencer. “I believe in this project and the partner business I work with.” She doesn’t know how much money she has earned so far, but that’s also not her focus: “I have made new friends, developed myself through workshops and I love cosmetics. Worst case scenario, I am left with products that I would like to use anyways.”

(Chantal does not want her account to be linked to this article, to protect her business)

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