The answer is a resounding yes!
For sure, if you have the budget for an online superstar – they’re great.
Your product will be featured on a video watched by millions.
But to secure a big name creator costs a lot of money.
Maybe you are working with a smaller budget, or maybe you want to test an influencer marketing campaign before committing to spending tens even hundreds of thousands of euros.
Guaranteed there are a number of influencers out there who cost less but have similar attributes to your ‘if money was no object’ influencer – the trick is figuring out who they are.
No doubt there is at least one stand out heavy weight creator you have in mind to represent your brand – the one you’ve heard of, the one everyone wants to work with.
And if not a few minutes on Google will tell you exactly who the Internet stars in your industry are.
These guys are good at what they do, this is how they built their following and why they are so in demand with brands.
But they come with price tags to match – usually in the region of 85 euros per thousand views. That would be 85,000 euros for a million-view video.
Take British fashionista Zoella, who reportedly gets around 15 million monthly views on her YouTube channel (1.4 million views per video). Based on these numbers, we calculated her engagement rate to be 7.3 per cent.
So if you sponsor Zoella and managed to negotiate a price of lets say one euro per engagement you’d be paying 100,000 euros overall. And Zoella would be giving you a very good deal!
So the question is, what can you do if you don’t have or don’t want to risk 100,000 euros but still want to try influencer marketing.
One way forward is to look at what makes the superstar special and find a cheaper creator with similar attributes.
Specifically check out performance indicators including demographics, frequency of uploads and engagement rate (likes plus comments divided by views).
You want another creator, probably with a smaller following and therefore less cost, with the same level of performance.
They are in fact a mini version of your big name influencer.
Not only is this a good test comparison to gather data to pitch for more budget, but it will allow you to try out what kind creator, engagement rate or briefing works to get the results you want.
And bonus – it should be at least half the cost.
Approaching a small creator with up to 10,000 followers or a medium level influencer with between 10,000 and 500,000 followers, you are likely to be communicating either directly with the creator or using an influencer platform.
But with the superstars – who are essentially online celebrities – you will have to go through as a minimum an agency, a talent manager and finally the influencer. Possibly even an influencer platform on top of this.
And all the middlemen will take a cut. The big influencer might only get 50 per cent of the money spent to sponsor the content.
Therefore, simply by going to a small or medium sized creator should instantly save you that 50 per cent.
You could pay 1,000 euros for a video that gets 6,000 views and 1,000 engagements – still a one euro cost per engagement.
More than likely you will be able to reduce this cost per engagement – we’ve seen companies achieve costs per engagement of under 20 cents working with small and medium influencers.
The influencers engagement rate is the most important performance indicator for influencer marketing.
It is the best indicator for what click through rate you can expect from sponsored content with that creator.
Therefore, it is a good predictor of return on investment – the better the engagement rate, the better the click through rate to your brand website or product, the better your return on investment.
Bigger assortment of small and medium influencers with high engagement rates
Most YouTube celebrities do not have high engagement rates – their audience is simply too large.
Small and medium influencers tend to have much higher engagement rates. Look at the interactions under their videos – is the influencer responding quickly to comments, calling followers by their names, sharing in-jokes with their audience?
So you have a greater choice of small to medium influencers with your desired engagement rate.
*data via Sponsokit based on a sample size of 50,000 beauty, food and lifestyle YouTubers
Finding these mini versions of big names can be difficult and time consuming.
Mainly because to make wise choices you will have to collect the content creator’s data and calculate the engagement rates.
When brands opt to do influencer marketing campaigns with small to medium influencers, they often turn to influencer marketing platforms for help.
The platform will contain a pool of creators and if the platform is good, it will include all their relevant statistics and allow you to search via specific attributes.
While the immediate attraction of sponsoring a small or medium influencer is probably the size of your budget or test budget, there are long-term pay offs too.
If your chosen mini version of a big name has the same attributes and they are growing their followers at a rate of something between 30 and 60 per cent, there is a good chance they will progress to online celebrity.
These guys, also known as “long-tail influencers”, are the next generation of online superstars – getting them when they’re near the beginning of their trajectory might mean you can negotiate deals that pay back dividends when they become the household names of social media.
If you are set on working with your industry’s superstar, working with a little fish first can help you see what works for you without putting all your eggs in one basket.
You can test out the process – perfect your briefing, measure how effective your tracking is, identify what relationship with the creator delivers the best results for your brand.
You can also gather the relevant data to pitch for a bigger budget to go after a bigger name creator, and you’ll have a much better grasp of what kind of cost per order you should be aiming for with subsequent campaigns.
Small to medium creators don’t have the same reach as the heavy weights of social media, but if you find ones with similar attributes to your favoured big name they make perfect test subjects and can deliver the same ROIs with much cheaper costs.