By Rahul Bhattacharya
There is a gradual, but imminent shift in the way brands go to market as the digital economy powers on. India, too, is hurtling towards a mobile-first ad economy. COVID-19 has accelerated the use of social media platforms with an increasing number of people watching, engaging, and sharing content they like.
This exponential rise in the use of social media has further given rise to influencer led communities around common themes, interests, and creativity. Given a population of 1.3 billion realising the potential of these communities for reach, engagement and conversion is extremely compelling for marketers in the new world.
Content viewing and sharing platforms: The new way forward!
The prolific rise of the social media platforms brought along this ability for many content creators or influencers to connect with friends, family, colleagues, and well-wishers. With the advent of these simple yet intuitive and accessible content sharing apps, even the common man is finally living this uncommon dream to become an influencer. Easy access to powerful mobile technology has exacerbated this trend. These apps can provide equal opportunity and a level playing field to anyone and everyone.
This universal appeal – to be an active or a passive consumer of content through these platforms – is at the heart of this phenomenon. Take an example of TikTok, which clocked over 800 million monthly active users. (source: as per a Digital 2020 report). Apps like these have absolutely changed the game with short-video content-led platforms ruling the roost.
Powerful video sharing capabilities have also given the rural and regional audiences an unbiased space and platform to showcase their talent. TikTok has been recently banned in India, however, the users who gained fame and recognition from this phenomenon continue to do so using similar platforms.
In the Indian context, Instagram reached 1 billion daily users, after YouTube (1.9 billion) and Facebook (2.27 billion) in 2018, as highlighted by the influencer marketing benchmark report 2019 by Influencer Marketing Hub. In 2019, Instagram accounted for the 4th largest penetration at 64%, after WhatsApp (70%), Facebook (76%), and YouTube leading the charts at 82%, as revealed by Statista.
Let’s talk about the micro-influencers
A micro-influencer is a social media leader with followers ranging from 500 to 25,000 in numbers in terms of an active audience. If we look around our friends’ circle, there may be people who are posting regularly and thoughtfully and, therefore, may have acquired followers who are interested in what they have to say.
People have the talent and the capability to express themselves creatively and effectively. While some are just experimenting through niche channels like pet care, education, etc. others bring more mainstream talent like cooking, singing, or dancing to the fore!
A micro-influencer is possibly at an inflection point in terms of the growth potential sitting between an aspiring influencer and a macro influencer with a follower base of 50,000+ people.
What helps micro-influencers build a strong connection with people?
As modern consumers look for user-generated reviews or one-on-one recommendations, micro-influencers can perfectly fit the spot because of their ability to establish an authentic connection with their audience as real people.
Real people and their experiences are far easier to relate to for the common man. There is an element of trust that comes from the fact that any person who is likely to recommend a product would do so basis their own user experience. These micro-influencers are experts in their craft and therefore a recommendation from them holds a weight. Influencers are also seen as real people who are more likely to use a product or a service before recommending it. Alignment of values, relevance to their audience are essential facets that add to this trust factor.
Why should this work for the marketeer?
As stated earlier, we are a country of 1.3 billion. Imagine the potential of a micro-influencer in this journey!
Categories born out of specialisation and unique skills such as fitness, cooking, travel, and many more allow for many possibilities to be explored. Given the micro-influencers’ follower base is still not that big, the level of engagement is much higher. Beauty, lifestyle, fashion, travel, and technology are leading-edge practice areas with significant traction and measurable impact seen by advertisers. It is this engagement potential within these categories that is seen bringing the value.
Micro-influencers exactly know how to talk to their followers, a skill they have honed over a period of time. These include a good understanding of the demographics and the category they have built over a period of time.
They offer marketing solutions at a much lower cost than celebrities, not to mention the ease of access comparatively. Moreover, micro-influencers are more willing to work with smaller brands instead of only focusing on bigger ones in the market.
Advertisers are looking for optimal and essential tools, including the ability to run such campaigns effectively while bringing in the right systems, processes, and support to measure performance and RoI. The evolution of these social media platforms towards rapid alignment or delivering the right eco-system for an advertiser is a sort of a force multiplier which the micro-influencers can now leverage.
Therefore, no matter what the product is, a clear strategy to target the right audience through a micro-influencer network can provide huge captive and relevant audiences and therefore benefits.
Micro-influencer led marketing has high potential and has gained prominence in India with the popularity of the new content-sharing digital platforms. Progressive marketing strategists are already working to leverage these networks to enable a competitive edge for their brands. As businesses transit to the digital, it is the right time for brands to find their heroes; engage with the micro-influencer and rise to new heights!
The author is co-founder and director (Strategy) of Fun 2.
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