Influencers tend to come in two primary varieties — the gonzo type, with up to millions of followers, and those with smaller, but dedicated fan bases. Large-scale influencers may get most of the glory, but there’s a shift afoot, said Sonia Summers, chief executive officer of Beauty Barrage.
Her agency, which helps retailers boost customer relationships and spark sales, believes micro-influencers are becoming a force for marketers, particularly those looking to drive traffic to their store’s doors.
Summers made the case during a panel at WWD’s Style Lounge during SXSW in Austin, Tex.: “What’s really unique about them is that they’re experts,” she said. “They are makeup artists, aestheticians, they’re hair stylists. They understand their craft. And because they do, they post a lot of their opinions, and they guide their followers, so that’s very different than what we see with the way the other influencers came out.”
She’s observed that micro-influencers have high levels of engagement with their followers, and because they often have deep knowledge of their core areas, they have solid cred and authenticity. Think of it as quality versus quantity.
L.A.-based e-commerce clothing company Revolve hired Beauty Barrage for a special pop-up event, and according to beauty buyer Kandice Hansen, the micro-influencer factor played perfectly into it. “It was invite-only, very exclusive in a very Instagrammable space that really allowed us to bring our brand to life,” said Hansen.
The fashion company had started to explore beauty and wanted to hire candidates who were knowledgeable. The company decided to hold the equivalent of a casting call. “We got a really nice turnout,” she said. “We were looking for people who were experts, were very socially savvy and had a following. We were really looking for micro-influencers, and that’s who showed up.”
Their familiarity with the ingredients proved helpful for simplifying the training process, and during the pop-up event, they pumped out social content to their followers, driving traffic.
The audience had numerous questions about the fake-follower plague on the Internet. As macro influencers, from Rihanna to Pat McGrath, battle those issues, there are no easy or pat answers. But Beauty Barrage argues that the intimate ties brands can have with micro-influencers — and the close connections they maintain with their followers — helps establish trust and even long-term relationships, which may be the best defense against the bot epidemic.