Monday, 13 august 2018 | Redacción CEU
They have an exorbitant number of followers, know the recipe for success and are the new idols of the digital world. Their sector has been professionalized and their hiring is on the rise. Influencers are aware of their power and exploit it, they increasingly negotiate harder with brands and companies. It is not surprising, since their profitability seems to be confirmed. However, are all kinds of influencers equally effective? Is the number of followers an useful criterion for their hiring? What have marketers learned in recent years?
"Less is more". This is the new line that influencer marketing experts defend. Until recently, when brands or firms decided to use influencers in their marketing strategies, the decisive criterion which had guided their search was the number of followers that the personality in question had. In other words, the effectiveness of the influencer was measured in popularity terms. Over time and with the accumulated experience, this theory has been refuted by a considerable number of brands. They are aware of the fact that these figures do not necessarily translate into an engagement which is proportional to them or reflect their real capacity of influencing.
All influencers are not the same
Naturalness, visibility and credibility are terms which are used frequently to define these personalities. However, not all influencers are equal, and these adjectives are more or less adequate according to the kind of influencer being considered. Before getting into detail, we consider that it is necessary to narrow down the different types of influencer according to their level of popularity:
- Celebrities (+500,000): Their sphere of influence is usually found both inside and outside the social networking sites. Their success on the digital world may be related to the one that they already had outside before or because their fame has served as a springboard to gain strength on this territory. When brands work with celebrities who adapt to their values and strategies, the campaign in which they participate is very likely to be a success. With regard to their real ability to influence, a point to bear in mind is that users can follow celebrities by inertia or due to their notoriety, and not because they have a real interest in them.
- Macro-influencers (100,000 - 500,000): These influencers do not necessarily have to be relevant outside the digital world, for sure, they have a high profile on online platforms. They have turned their experience on the Net into their profession, and, therefore, they face the brands' assignments with due diligence.
- Medium influencers 10.000 – 100.000): They are in a preliminary phase to become macro-influencers. Their activity cannot be considered a job, because they do not earn a regular income from it. Therefore, they do not have much experience dealing with brands. However, they usually have a high level of specialization, which, on the other hand, gives them more credibility in their field.
- Micro-influencers (up to 10,000): Compared with the rest, their audience is small. However, they are very specialized, and they are treated as opinion leaders by their hundreds or thousands of followers. They also keep a very close relationship with their fans because the size of their community makes it possible.
When developing this classification of influencers, especially when we had to delimitate the figures, we took as inspiration the event Influencer Marketing: how to use it efficiently to reach your audience which took place a few months ago at the headquarters of CEU IAM Business School and which had as a guest the singular intervention of Francesc Pumarola, Head of Digital Go To Market of Hijos de Rivera SAU (Estrella Galicia, 1906, Cabreiroá). To be precise, it is necessary to clarify that when he talked about "potential influencers" in this conference, he referred to what we called "micro-influencers" in this article.
Although other analyses present a different categorization, they also agree on the same premise: when influencers have more followers, they generate less engagement. On the contrary, small influencers have more possibilities when it comes to reaching their target, that is, they have an extraordinary ability to influence. It is not surprising that these personalities, which were previously ignored, now come to occupy the center of attention of brands.