Bigger isn’t always better in the social media sphere
10 August 2022
Micro-influencers are proving more influential than those with significantly larger followings, says Dr Yuri Seo.
Micro-influencers are sealing the deal on social media, selling everything from fashion to food, often with more success than those with a million plus followers, says University of Auckland associate professor of marketing Dr Yuri Seo.
Dr Seo, who shared a condensed version of his co-authored research paper David and Goliath: When and Why Micro-Influencers Are More Persuasive Than Mega-Influencers at the 2022 Business Research Translation Competition last month, says that contrary to what some companies think, micro-influencers are typically more persuasive than mega-influencers.
The marketing expert says micro-influencers, those with 10,000 to 100,000 followers, are more effective than mega-influencers at encouraging their followers to buy products if they are associated with fun, pleasure, and excitement, such as premium hotels, restaurants, perfumes, or high-end electronics.
So why are micro-influencers much more successful in this arena?
Seo and his fellow researchers found that people perceive micro-influencers as more intimate and authentic, and these positive perceptions can rub off on the products they promote.
“Consumer psychology has previously taught us that this rub-off effect usually occurs only when people think about fun and pleasurable things and that it doesn’t occur when people think about practical and serious (utilitarian) things such as basic kitchen appliances, motels, or financial services.”
Despite this, Seo’s behavioural experiments, which included over 700 social media users, found that micro-influencers perform just as well as mega-influencers when promoting such utilitarian products and experiences.
“Big is not always good when it comes to social media influencer marketing. In fact, across all the tests we conducted, micro-influencers either completely outperformed mega-influencers or were at least as persuasive.”
As such, says Seo, businesses keen to market their offerings online via influencers must consider the type of product they’re trying to sell.
“If your product is one that generates experimentation, enthusiasm, satisfaction and pleasure, or is described in this way, businesses should consider working with a larger number of micro-influencers rather than a smaller number of mega-influencers.”
Meanwhile, Seo says that working with mega-influencers could still be the easiest option if a company is simply looking to grow marketplace awareness.
“However, if you want to grow sales, improve perceptions of your product, or build brand relationships – micro-influencers are more effective.”
Sophie Boladeras | Media adviser
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