Forget what you’ve been told: bigger isn’t always better, especially when it comes to influencer marketing. As digital marketing continues to shift in favor of small, authentic thought leaders over mega-superstars, it turns out that being too popular may actually not be as beneficial for business as one may think.

While it’s difficult to remember a time when social media was a largely advertisement-free space where users could connect with family and friends, it did exist. As social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram exploded in popularity, large corporations quickly adapted to the marketing potential of harnessing both “traditional” and social media celebrities to sell products. Likely you have seen these promotions in the form of the Kardashians promoting waist-trainers, professional athletes like Stephen Curry promoting athletic apparel and social media celebrities like PewDiePie promoting gaming equipment.

Big companies have the big budgets to pay these influencers, but is the money being well spent? Yes, these influencers have millions of followers, but who exactly are they, and how many of them are interested in what they are promoting? In today’s social media landscape, it’s difficult to gauge the demographics of a large influencer’s following (and if it’s a truly legitimate organic following). Given this discrepancy, studies dictate that the real value lies in micro-influencers.

So, what is a micro-influencer?

A micro-influencer is a “real” person with a genuine social media presence. By real, we mean that they might not be a celebrity or a social media celebrity, but they do have a following and fan base beyond friends and family. They have an established personal brand/identity and a real relationship with your brand. They have a small, but loyal following, typically between 1,000 to 10,000 like-minded individuals, although some definitions put their followings up to 100,000.

A micro-influencer for an outdoor apparel company might be an amateur outdoor enthusiast with a passion for rock climbing and camping. Their followers might be outdoor enthusiasts themselves or camping novices who hope to gain knowledge from their posts. Additionally, micro-influencers are more relatable given they don’t have that ‘superstar’ status.

This is the engaged audience that companies should be aiming to identify and partner with to grow their brand.

Why Micro-Influencers?

The modern consumer has become well-versed in tuning out traditional forms of advertisements. That ‘push’ style of advertising is sunsetting, while ‘pull’ advertising that relies on thought leadership and authentic content is taking its place. Online consumers trust brand promotion from real people rather than advertisements from the brands themselves.

In lieu of brand curated content, influencer marketing taps into the most basic (yet effective) marketing strategy to date; word-of-mouth.

Consider for a moment how you act when you find a product that you absolutely love, like a new pair of running shoes. Chances are that you will tell your family, friends, or anyone who will listen about the comfort and stability of your new runners. Now imagine if your praise had been shared with hundreds or thousands of individuals who were already in the market for a new pair of running shoes. You would have promoted the shoe to thousands of potential customers.

This is precisely what micro-influencers are able to do for companies. They represent a powerful, authentic connection between brands and an engaged audience; an exaggerated and digital word of mouth.

In the cut-throat world of marketing, influencer marketing isn’t simply a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. Consumers want to connect with the brands that they love through original content, authentic influencers, and a brand’s unique story. This means that promoting and growing a brand through ‘digital word of mouth’ is more important than ever. It’s imperative to identify and harness the power of these influencers to organically grow a loyal following that is easily converted into customers.

How Gatsby helps

Now that you’ve discovered how brands benefit from partnering with micro-influencers, how do you find them? That’s where Gatsby comes in. Gatsby helps brands identify their own current customers who have the potential to be successful micro-influencers. By identifying and activating the most enthusiastic, influential consumers, brands are able to gain exposure to a powerful network of potential consumers.

The ideal micro-influencers for brands are already out there, all that needs to be done is to identify them.