Which Is Best: Micro, Power Middle Or Celebrity Influencers?

April 11, 2017

Holly Pavlika

SVP, Marketing & Content at Collective Bias
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The latest declaration in marketing is “micro influencers” versus “power middle” influencers or celebrity influencers. Which is the best option for your brand?

But first, there needs to be a standardization of what constitutes the difference. MediaKix says micro influencers are anyone with between 10,000 and 100,000 followers. However, 100,000 followers does not constitute micro-influencer in our opinion.

We would consider power middle influencers anyone with over 20,000 followers. We studied our 9,000+ influencer community and found that, at about 100,000 followers, the engagement drops off considerably. The sweet spot for reach and engagement from our study is typically between 35k and 65k in followers. This would leave the micro influencer definition as any influencer with less than 20,000 followers. It’s not about the size of the following; marketers should be looking for engagement with the audience.

The sweet spot for reach & engagement is between 35k - 65k in followers. #influencermarketing Click To Tweet

Here’s how to define the spectrum of influencers:

• micro-influencers: < 10,000 followers
• power middle influencer: 20,000 to 250,000 followers; perhaps as high as 250k but varies based on category. An automotive influencer with 250k would be considered a  web celeb while beauty influencer with 250k in followers would fall into the power middle.
• web celeb: 250,000 to millions of followers
• celebrity: millions of followers

The truth is it’s neither micro, power middle, web celebs or celebrity influencers alone are the way to go. The truth is it can, and should be, any combination of the above.

Influencer selection all starts with determining objectives and KPIs. 

If your objective is brand/product awareness:

If you’re looking to drive tremendous buzz then a celebrity might very well be the way to go. There is no doubt with millions of followers a celebrity possesses the reach to create tremendous awareness. But as is true for every influencer, celebrities must be chosen for their authenticity and brand fit.

I happen to adore Chrissy Teigen. She has a very engaged audience, and she speaks her mind in a fresh, honest way, often with disarming humor. Plus her audience loves her. Do they believe Chrissy uses Tresemme? I can’t honestly attest to that. But I would place bets, and I’m not a betting woman, that micro and power middle influencers would use the products before they write word one about the product.

Chrissy’s success as a brand isn’t tied to the success of the product, and her personal brand is so much bigger than that of the brand. However, a micro or power middle influencer needs his/her relationship with each brand they work with. Each relationship builds her stature as an influencer. If a power middle influencer recommends a brand and the audience likes the brand they have recommended, the more his/her audience learns to trust his/her opinion. It is this trust with audiences that makes micro and power middle influencers so valuable to brands. These influencers have the ability to get audiences to listen to messages a brand often misses the mark on. 

RELATED CONTENT: Is Your Brand Staying Authentic?

If your objective is to drive purchase consideration and sales:

If you are looking to drive or impact purchase decisions, a study Collective Bias conducted showed that celebrities are not the path to take. In fact, 30 percent of consumers said they were more likely to consider purchasing a product when the product is endorsed by a non-celebrity influencer. That said, you could have a multi-tiered influencer plan using a celebrity for buzz and awareness, and layer in a combination of micro and power influencers. Each type could be part of a channel strategy and content strategy. We often have brands who will utilize a power middle influencer’s video or content on their social channels, website and even in-store.

Micro #influencers have less reach, but better engagement b/c they are close to their audience. Click To Tweet

Micro influencers have much less reach, but can garner tremendous engagement because they are closer to their audience. As an influencer’s audience grows, it becomes much harder to keep that personal touch that is all-important for building trust. Many brands tend to go for the bigger numbers but, in truth, micro influencers with their smaller, niche communities can have a big impact if you can enlist enough of them at scale. It’s also important to remember that the micro influencer might be the macro influencer a year from now, so building a relationship early on can instill a sense of loyalty that may be very important down the road. So building a plan with a mix of types of influencers just makes sense.

If your objective is a successful new product launch:

If you are launching a new product, shoot for a  mix of all the influencers if you have the budget for it. Start with a celebrity to kick start brand awareness, but be sure to negotiate some “extras” with the celebrity.

For example, interaction between your celebrity and the key macro influencers you are considering can be a great way to build tremendous excitement for your new product. Jessica Alba had this advantage when she started Honest Company. She played the role of celebrity and attended many blogger events where she interacted with both micro and macro influencers.

Christy Turlington did the same with the launch of Every Mother Counts. She started following and interacting with hundreds of moms on Twitter prior to her launch. She enlisted an army of moms well in advance who shared her passion. Both Jessica and Christy leveraged micro, power middle and their own celebrity very successfully. 

RELATED CONTENT: How to Use Instagram to Launch Products

If the objective is content creation:

Looking to employ influencers where the objective is to create content? Then celebrities are definitely not the answer. Celebrities will require tremendous sums of money per piece. In this case, again, a combo of micro and power middle influencers is the answer. Often these micro influencers are hungry and will go the extra mile to create content outside the scope of your request. We see this all the time. This extra effort makes them memorable to the brands and companies they work with. And influencers learn very early on that it’s all about content and sharing across channels to build their personal brands.

In conclusion, influencers can bring tremendous value to brands whether they are micro influencers, power middle influencers and even celebrities. It all starts with a deep dive at the start of any campaign into your objectives, KPIs, channel and content strategies and even audience strategy. It’s time for influencer marketing to be given a seat at the table with other marketing disciplines because influencers can play a role with everything from corporate initiatives, to shopper marketing to traditional advertising.

Want to learn more about the “Sweet Spot of Influence”? Get your free copy of our white paper here

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Holly Pavlika

SVP, Marketing & Content at Collective Bias

Holly oversees marketing and PR. Holly, also a blogger, founded MOMentumNation while serving as the Executive Creative Director and Managing Director at Big Fuel, a pure play social media agency. She is an award-winning creative marketing industry veteran who was recognized in 2012 by Klout as the “most influential agency person” and uses her voice for social good with 10X10 Educate Girls, Every Mother Counts, Global Poverty Project and the UN Foundation Shot@Life campaign.