For a while, players within the influencer marketing space have noticed a gradual shift from the steady use of mega influencers for brand campaigns to more brands betting on smaller influencers for success with their campaigns.
In the minds of many, working with influencers has always been a game of the highest numbers in the sense of follower count, and while that holds some truth, recent events show that some metrics are more important.
Most brand managers have had to struggle with follower fraud on the part of influencers, which is basically influencers using unethical means to bump up their follower numbers in order to get more gigs. This challenge was probably the first indication that time might be running out for mega influencers.
Follower fraud, non-performance with campaigns, and other issues opened the doors for brands to reevaluate what they were getting by working with most influencers, as their large audience often didn’t convert to sales or brand visibility for them. What most found was that while follower count was important, engagement rates were much more important.
Engagement rates are basically a ratio of real interactions on a piece of content to the number of people who were reached by that particular content, and with micro-influencers, that ratio often appears higher than it does for mega-influencers.
Using SocialCred, a recently released social media ranking app, any user can easily see how their numbers stack up and what drives these numbers. The app designed as a ranking app rather than just another analytics app does a fine job of stratifying content creators, influencers, and other social media users by measuring some key metrics and allocating points to each of them.
The app measures four key metrics which are follower count, the ratio of original content to shared posts, engagement rate, and audience sentiments. The measure of these four metrics adds up to 100 points for each user, with the engagement rate being where a lot of revelations are made and probably the metric with the most points.
SocialCred allows anyone to check the stats of whatever account they like, on YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter, and doing this, the first thing that hits you is that most of the users who appear on the ‘A-List’, ‘Socialite’, and ‘Big Shot’ ranks, have a lower engagement rate compared to those on the ‘Crowd Controller’ or ‘Trend Setter’ rank. These ranks are part of 10 different ranks that the app heaves on anyone who uses it, and the one thing the A-Listers and Big Shots have in common is that they are most likely verified with followers that run into millions or hundreds of thousands.
On the flip side, Trend Setters and Crowd Controllers all seemed to have fewer followers, usually between tens of thousands, and lower range hundreds of thousands. Interestingly, as the follower numbers went up for people within the rank, the engagement reduced. They also seemed to have more original content to their names than the content they shared or retweeted.
A clear indication here would be that a large audience doesn’t directly imply fans or people that a user has some influence over, rather just people who are fine with your personal brand and your type of content. This is because while most of the highly ranked users had poor engagement rates, their audience sentiments tilted more to the positive and neutral than it did to the negative.
With all these stats that the SocialCred app lays bare for everyone to see, it wouldn’t be out of place for a brand manager to use the app for a search for who their next influencer partner should be and end up picking a micro-influencer over a mega-influencer. They have the engagement within their niche and are better streamlined to create content that thrives within that niche.
In today’s marketing and advertising world, brands are searching for true fans, and niches are the best place to find them. When brands decide to reach everyone, classic digital ads might seem a better way to go, because the mega-influencers are constantly proving that they might really not have that personal connection or influence over their audience that a brand could decide to pay more for.