Quality trumps follower count for today’s marketers. Source: Shutterstock

Why the brand’s obsession with influencer reach is over

One of the biggest changes in influencer marketing hasn’t been the hiding of likes. Or cracking down on fake followers. It’s been the monumental shift in marketers’ priorities.

Finally, they are realizing that, when it comes to influencers, the quality of their content trumps their follower count. In a survey by Vamp, 43 percent of marketers said that the quality of an influencer’s content was their prime concern when choosing a collaborator. That’s over their relevancy, engagement or reach — which actually came last.

It’s been a long time coming. Brands used to chase influencers with large followings, paying over the odds for access to their audiences. It set the tone for the whole industry. The sliding scale by which influencers were paid and the shortcuts some creators took to falsely inflate their following with bots.

But the industry is evolving and marketers are learning from their experience. Results come from quality creative, shared by relevant advocates, with engaged audiences — not necessarily the reach of a campaign.

Algorithms ignore mediocrity

A key driver of this shift has been the change in social algorithms, which have made it harder for the brand’s ads to be seen. One of the things we do know about the Instagram algorithm is that it prioritizes quality content. Images and videos that other users have spent time with and engaged with.

In such an oversaturated, competitive space, only the most beautiful, imaginative and exciting content has the opportunity to cut through. You can’t trust mediocre content to stop social users in their tracks. They’ve seen it all before and the bar is set far too high.

If you invest in a quality content creator, not only do you have a better chance in your content being seen, engaged with and remembered, but you’ll be left with an asset you can re-purpose. In the same survey, 84 percent of marketers said they had re-used influencer-generated content in everything from social ads to out-of-home.

Micro influencer merit

Another reason the obsession with reach is waning is the merit of micro-influencers. With their smaller audiences, they can’t offer the same levels of reach big-name influencers can. But they do offer a smaller price tag — and impressive results.

With micro-influencers representing niche interests, every brand has the opportunity to find highly relevant collaborators. Influencers can feel more relatable. Campaigns can feel more authentic. While ‘authenticity’ has become a bit of a buzzword in the industry, it is an essential component of influencer marketing. Marketers are favoring influencers with engaged audiences because this close connection with their followers usually leads to higher levels of trust – and higher conversion rates.

Of course, reach remains an important attribute for some. For awareness spreading campaigns, it’s an essential deliverable. However, there are now far more sophisticated ways to achieve it than hiring the influencers with the highest follower count.

Brands can now boost influencer’s posts through Instagram’s Branded Content tool. If influencers use the Paid Partnership tag — and link their account to the brand – marketers can then amplify that post. They can show it to social users that fit their specific customers’ profiles, even if they don’t follow that influencer. This specific targeting is a highly effective way to have your content seen by the right people – not just lots of them.

Marketers shifting priorities are a natural progression within the industry as we learn more about what works and refine strategies. Micro-influencers have been gaining popularity for a while now but this renewed focus on quality and creativity will see the sector prosper further.