Marketers Around the World Are Banking on Microinfluencers

Except in China, where macroinfluencers still dominate

Is there such a thing as being too popular? For influencers, the answer may be yes.

To understand why brand marketers across the globe are beginning to work more with microinfluencers, eMarketer's Jasmine Enberg spoke with Laura Brinker, vice president of beauty brand partnerships at Influenster, for the eMarketer report, "Global Influencer Marketing: What Platforms to Use, Policies to Follow and the Paths to Purchase Around the World." The report contains an overview of the state of influencer marketing worldwide, as well as tactics for working with influencers of varying audience sizes in 13 key countries and regions. (We define a microinfluencer as an influencer with 1,000 to 10,000 followers.)

Influenster, which started as a sampling box and is now a product discovery and review platform, works with influencers of all different sizes, but is primarily focused on microinfluencers, or consumer advocates. And Brinker says that's the direction the influencer market is generally headed.

The reason? Authenticity and engagement.

"People connect with microinfluencers because of their authenticity and honest perspective," Brinker said. "They feel as if they are a person just like them. And with authenticity at the core of what brands desire, they've started looking more toward smaller influencers with higher engagement rates."

That's a substantial change from a few years ago when macroinfluencers with millions of followers were the most sought-after by brands.

"It's a continued evolution," Brinker said. "People initially started turning to influencers because they felt they could get the voice of a person instead of a brand, and because—unlike celebrities—they weren't getting paid. Today, brand partnerships are how many larger influencers make a living, so the very reason people started looking to them doesn't necessarily exist anymore."

That's not to say that microinfluencers never get compensated for promoting a product or that macroinfluencers accept every campaign that comes their way. But microinfluencers are likely to charge less for a post and tend to have fewer brand partnerships than larger influencers.

And, it also doesn't mean that influencers with bigger audiences aren't important for brands. "An influencer with 4 million followers has the ability to generate more awareness than someone with 1,000 followers," Brinker said.

What's more, marketing with microinfluencers has not taken off to the same degree in every country worldwide. China is a case in point. There, many of the most effective influencers—called key opinion leaders (KOLs)—have millions of followers, and an endorsement from one (or several) of them is an extremely important marketing tool for brands.

In fact, 67% of marketers in China surveyed by AdMaster and TopMarketing in December 2017 said their social media marketing efforts in 2018 would be mainly focused on promotions with KOLs and internet celebrities.

Interested in learning more about marketing with KOLs? PRO subscribers can read about the state of influencer marketing in China in eMarketer's upcoming report.

Not a subscriber? Find out more here.

"Behind the Numbers" Podcast