Content creation: Marching with an army of micro-influencers

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani | Updated on: Feb 06, 2022

Instead of riding on a few, brands are using a big tribe of creators for more authenticity

When snacks and beverage major PepsiCo India recently forayed into the ₹1,000 crore flat cut wafer-style chips category, launching its “thinnest” chips, it had the usual dollop of Bollywood celebs — Alia Bhatt and Siddhant Chaturvedi in this case — promoting the product. But at the same time, Lay’s also onboarded as many as 3,000 micro-influencers to push its new range.

PepsiCo is not the only one. For its #DettolSalutes campaign last year, consumer goods giant Reckitt used over 4,500 influencers, of which a majority were micro influencers.

There has been a noticeable shift in the influencer marketing strategy of brands.

From riding on a few, brands across categories — from beauty to smartphones to food — are now reeling in a veritable army of content creators, who put out more authentic and relatable content everyday.

As Dilen Gandhi, Regional Marketing Director, South Asia - Health & Nutrition, Reckitt explains, “Micro influencers are a key driver in scaling influencer-led campaigns, especially when we are reaching out to engage with consumers at a local or regional level.”

Gandhi describes how each one of the influencers in the mega #DettolSaltutes campaign played a part in building scaled awareness with their audience. “It definitely is a bonus that the outcome can be measured and monitored real-time,” he says.

Chips in Shailja Joshi, Director Marketing - Potato Chips Category at PepsiCo India, “Through our recent digital campaign — #TheThinPossibleChip — we’ve engaged with over 3,000 micro-influencers and fans of Lay’s, to bring alive the playful thinness of the Lay’s Wafer Style chips with entertaining illusions and tricks. The consumer response has been truly overwhelming with many netizens joining, performing and sharing the fun and quirky magic trick challenge using the Lay’s Wafer Style.”

Communities and cliques

Payal Sakhuja, Founder, Ripple Links believes this trend is only going to pick up pace across categories. “A lot more brands are now shaping their strategies to involve micro-influencers, and it is going beyond just Instagram to other platforms such as YouTube. “

There are multiple advantages of using micro-influencers. Foremost is their followers’ base is a goldmine of small online communities and cliques and gives brands access to those tight knit groups who swear by each other’s advice. In an increasingly fragmented internet, this is a big win for the brands.

It is also cost effective as it typically involves a barter deal or a small payout and sometimes also involves an affiliate code for product purchase and influencers can get a percentage of the sales. Sakhuja however believes that more than the cost-effectiveness, brands want to leverage on micro-influencers’ more authentic and relatable content and also to get a larger share of the voice.

Brands may use micro-influencers as part of a bigger campaign, but also sometimes their entire campaign relies completely on them.

Shrenik Gandhi, CEO and Co-founder, White Rivers Media says that micro-influencers connect much better with their communities even if small.

“A lot of times, we have observed that the new micro-influencers are supported by the community by choosing the products they endorse. It’s a way of giving-back ‘community love’ to the micro-influencer. Also with micro-influencers, a lot of ancillary costs of influencers are completely brought down to zero or negligible, which basically includes an entourage of makeup, security, and other shoot-related costs. Also, micro-influencers are full of jugaad. So, not only can they shoot faster and with less costs, they are also much more relatable,” Gandhi adds.

But brands are not just partnering with this growing tribe for promotions. “We are also seeing brands leverage on the authentic knowledge of some of these micro-influencers to gauge feedback for their new products,” explains Sakhuja.

A leading smartphone player, for instance, regularly engages with micro-influencers to get content for their own social media platforms. “This is much cheaper for brands than setting up their own content-studio and also helps them get access to diversified and creative content made by using their devices,” she adds.

But there are also pitfalls in engaging with micro-influencers, especially as exclusivity is sometimes sacrificed in the arrangement. Ambika Sharma, Founder and MD, Pulp Strategy warns it could be a double-edged sword. She points out that what a brand gets by partnering with a micro-influencer with an engagement rate of 10 per cent is the same as what one will get with a big celeb with millions of followers with an engagement rate of about 1-2 per cent.

“Take for instance: the beauty category. Since micro-influencers have limited opportunities, they may end up partnering with one beauty brand after another. In that case, their followers may just treat it as any other piece of content, see no differentiation and disregard their advice,” she adds.

Indeed, if you go on to some of the micro influencers’ timelines they can be seen promoting multiple apparel brands or beauty products. This could work for D2C brands seeking trials, but for mega brands, exclusivity is paramount.

With India’s influencer marketing spends growing at a CAGR of 25 per cent and expected to touch the ₹2,200-crore mark by 2025 (GroupM INCA report), the party is just beginning for content creators, who can surely look out for more opportunities to earn big bucks.

Published on February 06, 2022
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