Why Brands Invest in Micro-Influencers on YouTube

Mackenzie Scott

Mackenzie is a copywriter at Soundstripe, a royalty-free music company that provides filmmakers, creators, and advertisers with a range of music licensing options.

To ensure that your influencer marketing strategy is sustainable, you have to ask yourself some difficult questions.

Is it sustainable to spend a large portion of your marketing budget on partnerships with a select few mega or macro-influencers? (To put this in perspective, a single post or endorsement in a video with a top influencer could cost your team $2,000 or more.)

Even if this amount of ad spend is manageable, will your team still have enough funding to optimize and grow your brand’s other channels (i.e., email, blog, website, etc.)? 

While partnering with macro-influencers might seem compelling, more followers do not necessarily guarantee more engagement. Micro-influencers have been known to generate 6.7 times more engagement than macro-influencers in marketing campaigns.

The question then becomes, How?

In this article, we take a closer look at why brands choose to invest in micro-influencers as opposed to influencers with millions of followers:

  • A detailed comparison of mega-, macro-, micro-, and nano-influencers
  • Reasons why micro-influencer partnerships produce a better ROI  
  • How brands initiate and strengthen relationships with micro-influencers

Micro-Influencers And Marketing Campaigns

Brands are investing in influencer marketing like never before. So much so that influencer marketing spend is slated to reach $15 billion by 2022.

And it makes sense why. 

The majority of consumers (81%) that your brand is targeting consider trust a non-negotiable when it comes to making a new purchase. Since influencers have already put in the work to build relationships with their followers, this sense of trust carries over to you when influencers recommend your brand.

Not only do people trust the influencers they follow, but influencers also have the unparalleled ability to market a brand’s services in a way that comes across as authentic and appealing to their audience. And if the sponsored and/or branded content is picked up by social media algorithms, even more people can see and engage with the content. 

But there’s a caveat. 

Influencers with large followings — we’re talking 100,000 followers or more — are difficult to relate to on a personal level. This lack of relatability often creates a disconnect between followers and influencers, which can negatively affect engagement rates and marketing efforts. 

With that said, let’s take a closer look at the four main categories that influencers usually fall into.

The 4 Core Influencer Tiers

Mega-Influencers

Mega-influencers are those influencers with hard-to-wrap-your-head-around follower counts. By that we mean one million followers at minimum. 

As you probably expect, mega-influencers make up only a small percentage of the influencer population. For context, 81% of influencers fall into the micro-influencer category. 

Because these influencers have such a massive following, their average engagement rate on Instagram is 1.21%. In contrast, micro-influencers on Instagram have an average engagement rate of 3.86%.

It can also be difficult to get in touch with mega-influencers for partnership deals, not to mention notoriously expensive ($550,000 in this case).

Macro-Influencers

Macro-influencers make up the second-highest tier with anywhere from 100,000 to one million followers on social media. 

Partnership deals with macro-influencers will typically cost your brand $2,000 to $50,000 for each piece of content that the influencer shares with their audience. 

Though macro-influencers tend to have higher engagement rates than mega-influencers (at or around 3%), the rates are still lower than micro-influencers.

Micro-Influencers

The term “micro-influencer” can seem misleading at first, especially since an influencer with 50,000 followers doesn’t seem very micro. 

To provide more context, any active influencer with 10,000 to 100,000 followers typically falls into the camp of micro-influencer — though some sources claim that 50,000 is the cap.

Brands choose to work with micro-influencers for several reasons, but the main reason is that these influencers have highly engaged and invested followers. (And this shows in their engagement rates.)

Because the follower count is smaller, the audience is more niche. From a brand perspective, this makes it easier to personalize the ad messaging and be more relevant to an influencer’s followers.

Nano-Influencers

With 10,000 followers or less, creators belong to the nano-influencer tier. 

They operate on a similar but smaller scale than micro-influencers. And their main advantage is that they can connect with and build a dedicated niche community on YouTube.

A word of advice: nano-influencers are the ones you should keep an eye on, even if you don’t intend to partner with them just yet. 

And that’s because nano-influencers have the potential to become effective micro-influencers, given some time.  

Why Brands Partner With Micro-Influencers on YouTube

Your brand might have the marketing budget to make five or six-figure deals with macro-influencers. But just because you can make those deals doesn’t mean you necessarily should.

One of the major takeaways from the previous section is that, statistically, your campaigns will get more engagement if you work with micro-influencers instead of macro- or mega-influencers.

A higher engagement rate is a compelling reason for brands to invest in micro-influencers, but it’s certainly not the only reason. 

If you’re still on the fence about micro-influencer partnerships, here are a couple of ways that this type of partnership can pay off:

1. Lower Costs, Higher Returns

It’s common for influencers on YouTube to charge brands a set price based on how many subscribers they have. 

As a general rule, you can expect to pay at least $20 per video for every 1,000 subscribers. 

So when you partner with a micro-influencer, you could invest anywhere from $200 to $2,000 for each video that you sponsor — instead of $20,000 for a macro influencer.

With the money that you would spend on one macro influencer partnership, you could partner with 10 micro-influencers. 

And because micro-influencer audiences are highly engaged, they’re more likely to convert at an influencers’ recommendation.

2. Mutual Benefit For Brands And Influencers

There’s a reason why partnerships with macro-influencers are usually one-time ordeals, instead of ongoing working relationships. 

If a single endorsement can be five figures or more, can you imagine the costs involved to form a retainer agreement with a macro- or mega-influencer?

When you work with micro-influencers, it’s possible and also strategic to nurture your partnerships in the long term. 

And, if your team has experience with YouTube SEO, you can give your micro-influencer partners the resources and direction they need to grow their platform even more. 

When you invest in micro-influencer partnerships, your partners feel valued and enthusiastic about endorsing your brand. In turn, their followers have more of a reason to trust your brand and convert into customers. 

How Do Brands Find And Negotiate With Micro-Influencers?

In this article, we’ve outlined why brands invest in micro-influencer partnerships. But the question remains, How do you find the micro-influencers that are most compatible with your brand? 

There are many different methods and tools that you can use to isolate potential partners. A good place to start is always with your brand’s current consumer base. 

Which influencers on YouTube do they subscribe to? What types of content do they engage with daily?

Providing the largest influencer database on the market, HypeAuditor gives you the tools you need to find influencers that meet your brand’s standards and appeal to your audience’s interests. 

After you compile a list of prospective partners, the next step is to familiarize yourself with their content. The intent here is to 1) make sure that the partnerships would benefit you and 2) find ways to align your brand’s services with the micro-influencers’ content.

By getting to know the influencer’s work before negotiations, you have a better understanding of their subscriber base. And you can speak directly to why a partnership with your brand would be well-worth their time.




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