Influencer Marketing’s higher engagement lies in power middle

The power middle can outperform big-hitting online stars in terms of impressions and engagement when marshaled at scale – writes Scott Guthrie.

There’s a gold rush into influencer marketing within the PR, advertising and marketing industries.

Last year, a report by Augure, an SaaS influencer marketing company, stated 84% of PR professionals and marketers will be using influencers in a campaign in 2016.

Altimeter Group’s “State of Social Business” report put the figure at 86% of social media professionals who plan to use influencer marketing.

With such unprecedented growth it becomes a seller’s market for established influencers – those with both a huge fan base and longevity.

Big-hitting influencers are able to pick and choose which brands they will work with – and at what cost.

A combination of blocked access to these influencers, through scant availability and high budget, have pushed many influencer marketers into thinking more laterally about their communications and business objectives and how to meet them without a big ticket influencer name in the campaign.

They turn to the power middle.

Defining the power middle of influencer

Influencers within the power middle have an audience of between 10,000 and 250,000. Though size differs country by country depending on relevance and language.

What the power middle lacks in reach it makes up for with a more intimate, engaged following. For their audience the power middle are more relatable fulfilling the role of trusted friend with similar values to them rather than the sense of aspiration they get from following a celebrity online.

Power middle audiences don’t merely consume the content; they feel part of the conversation. Part of a community. They feel power middle influencers are one of them.

Socialchorus, a social advocacy firm, analysed over 200 influencer campaigns. It concluded that because power middle communities are so loyal, “these Power Middle influencers drive an average of 16x higher engagement rates than paid media and owned alternatives–and at a much lower individual cost than professional influencers.”

Gaining impressions by marshaling the power middle at scale

If your Influencer marketing campaign calls for plenty of eyeballs you can gain reach by marshaling the power middle at scale. The added benefit is increased engagement compared with contracting with one heavy-hitter influencer.

The relative lower cost of contracting with the power middle enables brands to think more laterally about meeting their communications and business objectives.

Instead of selecting one influencer with an enormous following brands can use a blended approach to influencer marketing.

Brands can harness influencers with different perspectives working across different categories and territories to carry a brand’s key messages from different angles whilst achieving deeper engagement levels.

ZEFR co-founder/co-CEO Zach James told PRNewser:

“Social influence is a contact sport–it involves staying very close to your audience, commenting back to them, and using their ideas. It’s more personal and therefore the foundation of their influence is engagement.

The best influencers have to earn every fan, and they keep their fans by staying engaged with them and retaining their voice.” 

Benefits of using power middle in influencer marketing

  1. Cheaper than big-reach influencers
  2. More available. Less likely to be being used by competitors
  3. Higher engagement levels compared with high-flying influencers
  4. May be motivated in different ways to work with brands over purely financial compensation
    • They may feel a relationship with your brand may benefit their personal brand
    • Gain experience and exposure through a working relationship with your brand that they wouldn’t gain elsewhere
    • Unique access to product, product information or speaking events
  5. Meet your communication objectives by carrying your brand’s key messages with authentic voices from different perspectives.

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About the Author Scott Guthrie

Scott Guthrie works with companies to drive business growth in the social age through strategic insight and technical know-how. Read my full bio here.

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Leave a Comment:

Alex Yong says June 12, 2016

Hi Scott. Such a breath of fresh air to hear the word “cost” being used within an advice piece FOR PR about influencers! For years, the PR world held on much too tightly to the (now flawed) notion that earned media what PR is all about.

    Scott Guthrie says June 12, 2016

    Thanks for reading and commenting Alex. Yes earned is a very important element of PESO but in today’s fragmented and complicated media landscape and marketing mix, it is not the only element.

    Media’a business models have had to evolve. Often influencers have a higher, more engaged audience than old-school media mastheads. Brands need to compensate these influencers for access to that creative story-telling and audience. But paying is not the same as paying off.

    Brands have to respect the authentic voice and intimate knowledge of its audience an influencer brings. You have to pay for this stuff.

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