Influencer marketing: why micros are better than macros
If you’re a millennial that had an internet connection in 2017, you’ve likely heard of the Fyre Festival. The failed music festival was once again brought into the spotlight by this year’s Hulu and Netflix documentaries, which gave the general populous more insight as to what happened and why.
The films explained how entrepreneur Billy McFarland enlisted Ja Rule to provide a hyper-luxurious Music Festival in the Bahamas. The duo had commissioned top-tier influencers to promote the would-be event, however, lacked the skills to do perform the necessary planning and ultimately failed to deliver the promised experience to consumers. The train-wreck of an event continued even as festival-goers continued pouring into the island, and management had no choice but to cancel the event.
After a year of investigation ensued, following the failed event, Billy McFarland was sentenced to six years in prison on convictions of fraud and charged $26 million in restitution. The documentaries, debatably, brought Fyre Festival more anti-hype than the actual event, given the in-depth storytelling nature of the films, and were actually nominated for several awards.
The majority of Fyre Festival’s ‘success’ (before its eventual downfall) can be attributed to the managers’ use of social media influencers to fuel its marketing campaigns, which is where a lion’s share of the event’s money was spent. Fyre was marketed using primarily macro-influencers, which are generally categorized as celebrities with a social media following of more than 250 thousand people, as opposed to micro-influencers, which are seen as ‘regular’ people with a following of 10 thousand or less.
While a majority of the blame can be attributed to the event-runners’ outright fraudulent marketing strategies, featuring blatant lies regarding the actual event venue, falsified ads regarding housing, and misleading claims about the festival’s performing talent, the influencers themselves are not entirely blameless in this case. Ethically speaking, it is important for an influencer to properly vet the brand deals that they are signing up for, and as in the case of Fyre Fest, whether the product exists at all. Likewise, for brands that actually do have a product, it is equally important to analyze which influencers they will be working with to promote said product.
As macro-influencers usually have management to take care of their brand deals, and more often then not, that very same management’s job is to secure funds and not actually vet the brand, outside of superficial characteristics such as industry, micro-influencers are gaining traction as the go-to marketing strategy. Because of micro-influencers’ tighter relationship with their target audience, and an established trust, the products they recommend are more likely to be purchased or used by their followers. According to a nationwide Expertcity study, 82% of consumers report that they are “highly likely” to follow a recommendation made by a micro-influencer.
Another important factor to consider is how the influencers will promote the brand. A point made by one of the documentaries is how a conflict can arise from a lack of clear instructions or guidelines for the influencers. This point was made when at a certain turn in the marketing campaign, some influencers failed to tag the Fyre Festival in some of their posts. In contrast, micro-influencers take more care in vetting their sponsors, if a clear strategy is not outlined by the brand, the influencer has free reign over the strategy, which can lead to a disconnect between the brand and consumer.