Social media has given us a lot. Cloud eggs, fancy G&Ts, young girls with make-up abilities to rival any #MUA and of course, skateboarding dogs. Let's not forget the insatiable wanderlust it inspires also.
In this always-on digital world, macro-influencers became the core drivers for product placement and brand endorsement. We watched them, hung on their every word and we put the newest-shiniest-need-to-have-now detox teas, teeth whiteners, beauty blenders, protein powders and furry loafers (guilty) into our digital shopping baskets.
In a nutshell, they influenced us and our purchasing behaviour. Brands and marketers rejoiced.
Influencers are everywhere. You will find them in the palm of your hand, on any and every screen, having brunch and even sweating it up in the gym. They've infiltrated all aspects of online and offline life and they've mastered the art of digital word-of-mouth like nobody before them.
But, times are changing - like too much of any good thing - macro-influencers have lost their meaning and their audience's trust. Some influencers have become so over-saturated that it feels like they are EVERYWHERE. We're being bombarded by #ads masquerading as genuine moments and finally, we're getting sick of it.
This is why the macro-influencers with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of followers are losing power. While people still may “follow" these insta-famous, celeb-like influencers, they aren't listening to what they have to say anymore. They have become passive rather than active followers. Scrolling past, rather than clicking through.
Loyalty is a fickle thing. With the shift away from macro-influencers came the dawn of the micro-influencer. They have now taken up the mantle of brand endorsement. They're regularly being employed to restore love, lust and interest in products and build brand awareness.
So, why and how has this happened? Well, although micros possess smaller audiences (1,000-10,000) they're made up of loyal, interested and engaged followers. They aren't oversaturated, they aren't too popular. They are trusted.
Is this the death of the macro-influencer? Probably not. There will always be a place for them. After all, big brands and marketers will always see a draw towards these celeb-like- 'grammers and their supersized reach. But, one thing is certain; the use of micro-influencers is a growing trend that's gathering momentum. According to Forbes, in January 2016, micro-influencers consisted of 38% of Instagram disclosed activations. A year later, in January 2017, they command 90% of the activations.
So, what's to come in 2018? Will macro-influencers try to combat this shift? Is being “too popular" a thing now? What will happen when a micro becomes a macro-influencer? Will they try to regain trust, authenticity, and real and meaningful conversation with their audience?
There are too many questions that we just can't answer yet. For now, I will just have to keep scrolling (and shopping) to see.
Nicky O'Flanagan is a Content and Social Specialist at McCannBlue.