In recent years, there’s been a shift in marketing: People are not as interested in celebrities as they used to be. Or at least not when it comes to the way products are being marketed.
The 90s and early 2000s marked the reign of celebrity gossip mags, talk shows, and endorsements, but COVID-19 revealed just how out of touch celebrities are with the regular people who looked up to them.1 Along with the disillusionment with traditional stardom, social media is further devaluing the celebrity by providing a much more accessible path to fame. Everyone is watching everyone, and everyone is broadcasting everything. Because of this combination, celebrities are much less shiny than they used to be.2
This doesn’t mean advertisers are no longer using big names to sell products. Consumers will always prefer to buy things from people they trust; why change a strategy that works time and time again? The only thing that’s changing is where the consumers are putting their trust.
As social media became more and more of a platform where regular people could achieve fame, brands started looking to content creators for promotions that used to go to celebrities. This created a new problem of content creators becoming too well-known. While more fame equals a bigger audience and more eyes on your promotions, it also means a higher price point and – most likely – relatively less engagement. Brands also must keep in mind that, once an influencer reaches a certain level of internet stardom, they may begin to lose their audience’s trust as they become less and less relatable.
Now, in 2023, we’re beginning to see shifts away from larger influencers as they reach higher levels of fame.
So, let’s think a little smaller; what is a micro-influencer?
Within any on or offline social ecosystem, there will always be a big fish in the pond, and that includes these micro-subcultures emerging from the seemingly endless stream of content that is modern social media. Micro-influencers are the users in these content spheres who are the most knowledgeable and respected, whether that’s because they were one of the first people in the space or because of the quality of their content. They often have less than 25k followers, but because their content is catered towards a niche topic, their audience is often extremely interactive.
Companies are finding that investing in these smaller content creators has a relatively higher ROI compared to macro-influencers – and all for a much lower cost. This includes Parade, an underwear start-up founded in 2019 that took over social media seemingly overnight. Their brand ambassador program, Parade Friends, favors “people who have a smaller following, and often aren’t influencers at all” instead of a typical paid influencer campaign.4 With the company growth and brand recognition that they’ve fostered since 2019, Parade has been able to expand their business from a few basic underwear pieces to sleepwear and swimwear as well.
With this transition from general big names to niche content creators, it’s important to carefully choose who represents your brand. One successful project we’ve worked on that included mico-influencers was NatureSweet®’s Snack Like a Champ campaign. PR boxes containing NatureSweet® merch, Super Bowl party supplies, and (of course) tomatoes were sent to foodie, health & wellness, and sports influencers to generate content. It was a great way to create buzz and reach an audience that wouldn’t have otherwise been reached – especially since the content creators were chosen specifically with this campaign in mind.