Modern humans process more information in one day than our 18th century ancestors did their entire lifetimes. Yet, our brains haven't been able to evolve at the same pace. The result? We only actually pay attention to a minuscule amount of what we see.
Collectively, we now only have an eight second attention span. That's less than a goldfish! This goldfish brain is the outcome of a complex sorting system our brains use to prioritize what goes in and what stays out. The first, and probably biggest, cut are things that have nothing to do with us. I don't wear makeup, so no need to pay attention to that cosmetic's ad. Next, and more subtly, are things that run counter to our worldview. If you're a vegan, watching the Dairy Council's commercial isn't going to be a priority. Lastly, is it something that will have a direct impact on me either now or in the future? These could be immediate threats to our wellbeing - the ship is sinking...how do I get out? Or, they could be part of our hopes and dreams - let's see how much that Tesla is so I can start saving money today.
Traditional marketing, though, takes very little of this into account. The focus for marketers is still on macro campaigns that cast a wide net in hopes of catching a few fish. This is a colossal waste of time, money, and creativity, not to mention the cause of information overload.
A New Era of Engagement
We are entering a new era of marketing and stakeholder engagement. Savvy companies have learned that traditional influencers - celebrities and key opinion leaders with millions of fans - just aren't having the returns intended. As such, they are moving from macro campaigns to micro influencing, using what Australia China Connections calls "...everyday, relatable individuals [with] knowledge around a specific subject matter." These micro-influencers may not have the reach of Kim Kardashian or Xue Zhiqian, but they have a much stronger sphere of influence over their own groups of followers.
Organizations use micro-influencers for three main reasons. Consider how these are not only changing the face of marketing, but will have an impact on your own business and competitive landscape.
Micro-influencers have more targeted audiences. This fact alone cuts through our goldfish brain to grab our attention. It also means companies can create truly targeted campaigns to generate conversation, engagement, and advocacy.
Consider the Internet influencer, Zhang Dayi. She has millions of fans, and
gets paid a royal sum, to promote her lifestyle and unique sense of fashion. Not all her fans, though, care about clothes. Maybe some are into travel, and love watching as she flits around the world. That means apparel companies using her for marketing are only really hitting a sub segment of her fan base. A better bet would be to approach influencers like rally car driver and author Wang Tao. If you're Ford or Jaguar, it's a sure thing automobile addicts will listen to what he has to say as his audience is smaller and more targeted.
Targeted audiences have better conversion rates. Thanks to their close relationships with followers, micro-influencers can generate higher engagement and conversion than their macro counterparts. Studies have even shown that the more popular someone is, the less influence they actually have.
Just how influential are micro-influencers over their followers? Findings from Expertcity reveal they are 10% more likely to use direct calls to action and are seen as 12% more credible than normal influencers. As such, 82% of followers would act on a recommendation from a micro-influencer, resulting in 22.2 times more conversions per week.
Micro-influencers make better financial sense. To say key opinion leaders are expensive is an understatement. On the mainland, influencers with over one million followers usually start out at RMB300,000 (US$50,000) per post. Big names can get into the millions. Micro-influencers are considerably less, usually only asking for a few thousand RMB. Some are even happy to take free product and exposure for their brands. Given they are exponentially more influential, and considerably less expensive, micro-influencers just make better financial sense.
Going Beyond Marketing
Although we've discussed micro-influencers through the scope of marketing, their application goes well beyond just converting consumers.
For stakeholder engagement, whether that's getting a sustainability initiative approved or just trying to win a piece of work from a client, developing advocates is key. But, who do you approach? Do you ask the CEO for a reference letter in the next company newsletter? Sure, that might help raise your influence levels in the organization, but how likely are they to agree, and how likely are people to listen? This is the same as asking Michael Phelps for an endorsement.
Instead, look to the micro-influencers in your organization. Maybe that's a line leader in the next department, or a key sales person, client, or manager. What about the morning security guard who has access to everyone and usually loves chatting? Consider the micro-influencers in your own sphere the next time you are trying to build advocates and convert what's important to you and your KPIs.
Who's Doing it Right?
Micro-influencing is a relatively new concept, but there are a few organizations leading the way. Take a look at these case studies from L'Oreal and the Hawaiian Department of Tourism to see what micro-influencing looks like in action.
When you're done with that, give Fulcrum a call to see how developing a micro-influencer approach to your sustainability communications strategy can help differentiate your work and gain a stronger consumer base.