Teens, YouTube and the rise of the micro-influencers

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

Traditional celebrities may not be what your brand needs.

A recent survey by Google found that a staggering 70% of teenage YouTube audiences are more likely to be influenced by YouTubers than by traditional media celebrities - something to consider if your target audience is in the teenage bracket.

But why do teens prefer YouTubers to their favourite celebrities?

The obvious answer is relatability. Let’s take Kylie Jenner as an example. Yes, she’s an iconic figure in the eyes of impressionable teens, but is her lavish lifestyle something they can really relate to? It’s unlikely that the average teen can find common ground with Kylie, whereas YouTubers represent a more relatable personality and lifestyle.

The survey suggested that YouTube vloggers interact with and listen to their followers, creating the feeling of a friendship rather than a fandom. And that’s the difference. YouTubers create a bond with their fans, leading to a more engaged audience. According to the Google survey, the top 25 YouTube stars generated three times as many views, twice as many actions and 12 times as many comments as videos created by celebrities.

The takeaway to this point is this: it’s not always necessary to splash out on celebs to promote your products. Popular YouTube influencers can be just as beneficial to your brand as celebrities, if not more when it comes to a younger audience.

The problem is, the bigger YouTubers still come with a hefty influencer fee. But if you’ve just started out and don’t yet have the funds to get a popular internet star boosting your brand, don’t close the door on influencer marketing just yet.

Meet the micro-influencers.

What is a micro-influencer?

Micro-influencers are influencers with fewer subscribers and followers than those who have hit the big time online. We’re talking fewer than 10,000, as opposed to the hundreds of thousands that bigger influencers have. But don’t let those smaller figures put you off.

Engaging micro-influencers in boosting your brand and promoting your e-commerce stores can actually be more profitable than using their multi-million-follower peers. That’s because, as we’ve touched on already, audiences value trust and relationships when it comes to engaging with an influencer (and, in turn, making their purchase decisions).

Micro-influencers are relatable

Micro-influencers come across as more authentic and relatable, and their opinions are more trusted by the public. Celebrity and big-name influencers can seem a distance apart from their fans and followers. A micro-influencer who has the same interests and tastes as their followers is likely to get more empathy and understanding from their audience, and therefore the audience feels that the micro-influencer would also understand them and their problems.

Micro-influencers have a small enough following that they can still afford to keep things personal. They are more likely to find time to respond to comments and messages, meaning that they’re building up stronger trust with their audience.

Micro-influencers are cost-effective

Micro-influencers don’t tend to run their blog or social media channel as a full-time job, instead participating as a hobby alongside a regular job. This means that you can usually work with them for a lower cost than you would with a celebrity influencer.

Some micro-influencers are open to being paid in freebies; for example, if you gift them with free lashes or a free pair of shoes, they may then be happy to review your product for their followers.

So, before you categorise ‘influencer marketing’ as too expensive to pursue with your current marketing budget, take a closer look at the micro-influencers out there who may be able to help your brand connect with a whole new crop of customers.

Sarah Wain is an online marketing consultant with Return

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