Influencers aren’t actually influential?

Written by Ben Leach on

Whether you’re a business owner, marketer or business manager, you’ve probably been told that influencers are the way forward when it comes to marketing. But how influential are influencers?

Someone taking a photo of someone using a phone

What is an influencer?

Influencer as a term is often widely debated in the digital world – no one can quite decide who is classed as an influencer. But in the simplest terms, and an influencer is a person with the ability to convince people, via recommendation or endorsement, that a product or service is worth purchasing.

To most, this definition portrays influencers to be an incredibly effective resource in the marketing mix. And if you work in marketing, it’s close to impossible to get away from the metrics involved in influencer marketing. But are they really all they’re cracked up to be?

The influencer misconception

With online influencers being a fairly new phenomenon, it’s easy to understand that there are some misconceptions about how influencers work and how lucrative they are expected to be.

There are plenty of business owners who expect to be swimming in a room full of money after one influencer with hundreds of thousands of followers shares their product, however, this probably isn’t the case.  Why?

There are limits to influence

There’s more to influencer marketing than paying one influencer to share your product and believing that it’ll be a lucrative deal for you. It won’t. To successfully market to an online audience, you need to put yourselves in their shoes. Ask yourself, will the audience of this particular influencer be interested in my product?

Take a bodybuilder on Instagram with 120,000 followers, his posts are split between weight exercises, pictures of his muscles, and gym photos. Whilst, a product promotion of whey powder or gym accessories wouldn’t go amiss, if this influencer decided to promote an accountancy service, the chances of anyone being influenced is incredibly slim.

You need to focus your approach down to micro-influencers, rather than super-influencers.

What are micro/super influencers?

It’s important to understand the difference between a micro-influencer and a super-influencer. It’s roughly based around the audience that these people are influencing. And as you may have guessed, a super influencer has the ability to speak to a larger audience than those who are classed as micro-influencers.

A super-influencer is someone who has a huge following, of different interests and the audience’s common interest is that specific person. Take, for example, American talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres, with a cool following of 70+ million people. Her audience varies hugely, with their demographics spread across the board.

A micro-influencer, however, is someone with a very focused group of followers; for example, a cookery expert who consistently posts about cooking is likely to attract those who are interested in baking. Whilst they may only have 15,000 followers, they’re all actively engaged and take what this person says as gospel when it comes to baking.

Micro-influencers are better

Yes, it seems illogical that something that is ‘micro’ is better than something ‘super’ but often with influencers, this is the case.

Whilst large ‘super-influencers’ have a lot of followers, with people who are spread across many demographic ranges, those who have a focused group of followers are perhaps more influential to those specific groups of people.

You’ve also got to think about cost, to get a super-influencer to post an advert on their social media accounts you’re looking at a fee of at least £100,000+. Whilst this is likely to reach millions of people, it’s difficult to assess their audience’s interests, and it’s a huge risk as to whether you’re likely to recoup your money – sometimes you will, sometimes you won’t.

A much safer bet, however, is relying on micro-influencers with a very obvious group of followers. Thinking of costs, if your product is directly related to what they do, a payment may not even be necessary, just give them a free product or service and if they like it, they’ll give kudos to your brand without money changing hands. Alternatively, a brand promotion will be no more than £5,000 for an account with 20,000 focused followers (that’s a worst-case scenario)

Which is best for business?

If you’re looking to purely boost your brand awareness and followers, you might be better to opt for the super-influencer promotion. If you’re looking to recoup your ad costs, increase brand awareness with relevant audiences and generate profit from the adverts, it’s definitely recommended that you try your luck with micro-influencers.

Whilst they both have benefits, using micro-influencers is definitely the strategy that is going to be more sustainable for businesses.


At HeX, we understand social media, if you need help or support with promoting your brand or products on social media, then get in touch with us. 

Skip to main content