I thought I’d skip the core definition by simply posting the image I put up on Twitter earlier today.

If you’ve read my posts on Influencers here and here, you know that this phenomenon / channel is here to stay particularly in emerging social media markets like Dubai, the GCC and Pakistan.

What’s interesting, though, is the backlash against celebrity endorsements which is visible across all channels is now paving the way for a new level of influence that is borne out of the peer-led marketing social media so depends on.

The micro influencer, in other words.

You know who they are, actually. You just haven’t realised it yet. It’s those people on the popular platforms who don’t boast massive numbers of hundreds of thousands of followers, however command a high engagement rate. People who post a photo on Instagram and get perhaps 50 or 100 likes, yet have engaging comments other than ‘nice shot’ or ‘wow’. People who post a tweet and get more comments than retweets which in my humble opinion is better, considering ‘reach’ is no longer a revenue-focused KPI.

Also, consider this: an influencer who has hundreds of thousands of followers and gets hundreds of comments will NOT engage with those comments. He or she won’t have the time for it, nor is it possible unless you’re being handled by an agency. If you’re handled by an agency, then it isn’t worth it because the executives replying on the influencer’s behalf are middle-men, they’re not the celebrity themselves. Hence, one-way engagement and no actual satisfaction for the follower.

Flip this, and consider the micro influencer: they visit a fashion brand, pick up a great design and wear it. They post a photo of themselves and their followers like it, comment on it and ask where they bought it. The micro influencer replies with the name and has now planted the seed in an engaging follower who appreciates that they received a reply.

Two replies that actually convert $$$s are more valuable to 100 that don’t even get a reply.

Markerly, an influencer marketing platform, conducted a survey of 2 million social media influencers and discovered:

For unpaid posts Instagram influencers with <1,000 followers have a ‘like’ rate of about 8%, while those with 1,000 to 10,000 followers have a like rate of 4%.

The more the follower base increases, the ‘like’ rate decreases, with the following as an example from Instagram:

10,000 – 100,000 followers: 2.4% like rate

1 million – 10 million followers: 1.7% like rate and more. It’s a similar pattern for comment rates.

It isn’t just applicable to non-promoted posts, the survey found. Sponsored Instagram posts fell into similar patterns, suggesting if you wanted high engagement you need to target influencers with a following in the 10,000 to 100,000 range.

Look at these incredible graphs!


Sarah Ware, CEO and co-founder of Markerly, said that when her company engaged with the Jenner and Kardashian sisters on Instagram on behalf of a weight-loss tea company, the celebrities helped bring hundreds of conversions. Which was nice. But by activating 30 to 40 “micro-influencers,” the brand was able to convert at an even higher level!

Business Insider, in its Digital Media Briefing in December, says:

“There’s a clear strategy driving this trend.

Posts from people with small followings get strong engagement, and bring an air of authenticity and trust. This helps brands skirt any negative perception tied to more blatant forms of advertising.

And obviously, employing micro-influencers is much cheaper – free even – than tapping a celebrity.”

In the Middle East, there are 3 levels of influencers currently occupying a large segment of social marketing for brands:

  • Celebrity/high-value influencers: These are people like the Nancy Ajrams (celebrity) or Huda Kattan/Joelle Mardinians (social media) who command millions of followers on various platforms
  • Mid range influencers: These are people like Kris Fade who command not as many followers as Huda or Joelle, but who have a high engagement amongst them due to their local celebrity status on radio and at events
  • Peer influencers: These include not just bloggers, instagrammers and vloggers who have between 5K and 50K followers/fans and post content on a regular basis but also the regular, daily Joe who gets very high engagement on most of their social posts without having a large following. These are people who, when they say ‘I love this restaurant, great cheesecake’, see at least 10 or 20 of their friends or peers visit that restaurant. They are not celebrities, and are not household names, but within their sphere of social influence they are name dropped regularly for recommendations

This last segment, the peer influencers, are the Middle East’s micro-influencers.

Have a look at Zomato UAE’s review pages, or the leader board, or the stories coming out of Lovin Dubai among others which are based on peer stories. These are viral stories coming from people you know who are probably sitting at the desk next to you or live across the door from your home.

We are surrounded by micro-influencers in Dubai. We just need to harness them for our brands. Which means, we need to educate our agencies and PR companies on this.

Later this week I have a post coming which details 5 ways to engage micro-influencers you otherwise wouldn’t know about. Until then, keep an eye out for the people in your social circles who may be micro influencers.