Russian YouTube and Instagram bloggers made RUR 11 bln ($150 mio) last year, making bigger advertising profits than print media. The top bloggers who may charge from RUR 1 mln ($13.6K) per post account for the major share of that amount. However, advertisers are increasingly reaching out to microbloggers who have only tens of thousands of followers and post about a niche topic like cooking, fashion or car maintenance. This trend has been prominent in Russia and beyond. Microbloggers are in great demand all over the world.
A king for an hour
Businesses in Asia and the United States were first to turn to microinfluencers (another name for microbloggers) — partly because the outcome of partnering with bigger accounts was disappointing. Brands staking on major influencers would often succeed in building their following overnight but that number would drop eventually. Most importantly, the explosive growth did not always convert into expected metrics — primarily, higher sales.
Apparently, very few subscribers blindly believe their internet idols; they can easily recognize a paid partnership, which they know better than to fall for. MuseFind estimates that 92% customers trust influencers much more often than celebrities and even brands themselves. Microinfluencers bring higher conversion as well, or 20% more, according to Social Bakers. Keller Fay Group further specifies that up to 82% of users will follow a microinfluencer’s recommendation.
“Many of us follow celebrities, show business personas and television hosts. But we mostly just watch them and rarely even like their posts. It is almost never that we go and buy what they promote,” comments CMO of Epicstars Leila Salieva.
Western marketing gurus warn that there is less and less trust on the internet in general. There are plenty of sophisticated methods to drive up following that even multi-million accounts do not shun. Also, it is very unlikely that a brand will offer an exclusive deal to a major influencer, which means that tomorrow, the same blogger may partner with a competitor. Not every business will be pleased to see that.
“We have seen cases when promotion by a famous influencer brought much lower conversion than promotion by a small but honest blogger. Currently, our brand is seeking out small (10K to 50K followers) and medium-sized bloggers (50K to 200K),” says founder of BUkidz Tatyana Burtseva.
Tatyana Zaitseva, partner, head of lifestyle communications at PR Perfect, notes:
“Trends are increasingly shifting towards working with micro and nanoinfluencers, as well as medium-sized bloggers.”
On a friendly footing
Just a couple of years ago, only a few market players in Russia were interested in promotion on micro-platforms.
“Russians didn’t seem to believe that a blogger with 10,000 followers, probably their neighbor or colleague, could really benefit their brand,” Leila Salieva explained.
But the situation has changed, and it is becoming more and more obvious that microbloggers do have a trump card up their sleeve due to their close contact with the audience. Top social media influencers might have an army of followers. But do many of them even care about the content the celebrity posts? Apparently, according to Influencer DB, engagement rate — a figure that actually shows that the message has reached your audience — is noticeably higher among microbloggers’ following.
More often than not, over-million-strong audiences aren’t entirely real, engaged or active, Tatyana Zaitseva adds. Small niche bloggers with 5K-30K followers, as a rule, have a better audience, agrees Anastasia Zdornova, head of the SMM competence center at Mendeleyev Marketing. You can pay less and get a wider, and most importantly, a more targeted response. In addition, you can choose a niche microblogger based on your brand’s target audience.
“An influencer does not post for specific segments of their following that fit the brand’s age bracket. With million-plus audiences, the age range is just insane, from children to elderly women,” Salieva confirms.
Mikhail Dokukin from OR GROUP comments:
“The most effective strategy would be to build a pool of influencers, which can include popular bloggers and those with only a few thousand followers. A microinfluencer may not be a media persona, but they can deliver good audience engagement.”
The price factor
Online retailers are vigorously using the microblogging channel to market clothing, other products, training courses, etc. But offline businesses are also making forays into this segment. VkusVill, Decathlon, Bayer, and UniCreditBank are already using microblogger services finding cooperation with them easy and convenient.
“Microbloggers rarely have agents, the entry threshold is lower, and they are easier to negotiate with,” Leyla Salieva says.
They are more willing to give access to their accounts for analytics and automation. This has paved the way for the launch of digital platforms that automate cooperation with microinfluencers, including in Russia. Brands can use these platforms to choose influencers for partnerships and then evaluate the delivered result and adjust the pool.
The price certainly remains an important market driver, as few can really afford paid partnerships with major influencers. Although celebrities do not disclose their fees (for obvious reasons), Ksenia Borodina (more than 17 mio followers) said in 2019 her post on Instagram cost RUR 300K-400K ($4K-5.5K). Nastya Ivleyeva‘s fees are even higher. A company could hire a whole pool of microbloggers with this budget, or even a smaller one. The Epicstars platform offers deals from RUR 300K which include publications by ten influencers or more, because a microinfluencer’s post can cost RUR 1K-1.5K.
Some small influencers offer barter deals — beauty salons, apparel brands and drinks producers often resort to this kind of promotion. Some agree to free partnerships. An influencer planning on growing and making money in a niche might join less than profitable projects at the initial stage. This way, you can foster a future ambassador of your brand without wasting tens of millions of rubles on partnering with verified accounts.
By Olga Blinova