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Instagram 'micro' influencers are helping fuel a rebound for the industry after a rocky spring and summer

  • A high percentage of brands usually work with Instagram influencers between 5,000 to 100,000 followers for sponsorships, according to a new survey from HypeAuditor, an influencer-marketing platform.
  • Brands working with micro and nano influencers has been a continuing industry trend, which the pandemic has bolstered, said Alexander Frolov, the CEO and cofounder of HypeAuditor.
  • Several months into the pandemic, and after a rocky spring and summer for influencers, the industry appears to be rebounding as some brands report an increase in influencer-marketing spending.
  • Here are a few key takeaways from HypeAuditor's recent survey of about 1,000 respondents, including both influencers and brands.
  • Subscribe to Business Insider's influencer newsletter.

When the pandemic began to surge in the US in March, the influencer-marketing industry rapidly retreated, and as a result, many social-media stars saw brand deals canceled or postponed. The future of the industry was in limbo.

But the situation seems to have rebounded for some brands and influencers. 

About 50% of the brands surveyed in October by HypeAuditor, an influencer-marketing platform, reported an increase in their influencer-marketing spending since the pandemic began. And 59% of the influencers surveyed reported seeing an increase in brands wanting to work with them during this time. HypeAuditor surveyed a mix of 803 influencers and 163 brands for this report.

As some brands ramp up their influencer-marketing spending, they are also relying heavily on "nano" (generally under 10,0000 followers) and "micro" (generally between 10,000 and 100,000 followers) influencers on Instagram.

Here's a breakdown of the responses from brands about what size followings the Instagram influencers they usually work with have (respondents in HypeAuditor's survey could choose more than one response):

  • 1,000 to 5,000 (Instagram followers): 27%
  • 5,000 to 20,000: 50%
  • 20,000 to 100,000: 44%
  • 100,000 to 500,000: 37%
  • 500,000 to 1 million: 13%
  • Over 1 million: 12% 

This has been a continuing trend in 2020. Earlier this year, a survey by the influencer-marketing agency Linqia revealed that 77% of the marketers surveyed said they would be working with more influencers between 5,000 and 100,000 followers this year.

"I would say the pandemic probably made this trend faster, but in general, it's kind of an evolution of the market because more and more influencers appear every year," said Alexander Frolov, the CEO and cofounder of HypeAuditor.

Brands are turning to these smaller creators for several reasons, Frolov said. For brands that are just entering the influencer-marketing space, working with micro influencers may allow them to test out different types of integrations, he said.

Micro influencers can also have more niche audiences, which is beneficial to brands with a niche product, Frolov added.

For some creators, these trends have helped them carve out careers. While many nano and micro influencers are still only working part time as content creators, others have turned it into a full-time business.

Emma Cortes, who has about 38,000 followers on Instagram, went full time as an influencer this year.

"It just happened to time out this year that I was financially ready to do it," Cortes told Business Insider in October. 

She makes most of her income through sponsorships and usually charges brands between $1,500 and $2,500 for an in-feed Instagram post and a few story slides, she said in October.

Britney Turner, an influencer with about 27,000 Instagram followers, charges a similar rate of $1,500 to $2,000 for a package of a few story slides and an in-feed post, she told Business Insider in August.

"Their audience is so loyal and it's easier for them to convert to the website or drive purchases for brands," Turner said of micro influencers in general. 

Even some nano influencers with fewer than 10,000 followers are making thousands of dollars.

Laur DeMartino, an influencer with a few thousand followers on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, recently contracted a brand deal for $4,000, which included a $1,000 gift card to purchase the product. The deal included an array of deliverables across all three of her primary social-media platforms, she said.

HypeAuditor's survey reported that 69% of brands said they'd seen an increase in the number of influencers who they could potentially work with since the pandemic began. About 64% of the influencers who responded also said they felt more competition among their peers. 

The increase in micro and nano influencers means more novice creators trying to make money from brand deals, and having to navigate the potential perils of the business early in the careers.

This is not an idle concern. Last month, over a dozen influencers spoke with Business Insider about a talent management agency called IQ Advantage, which required influencers to pay a $299 "deposit" before the managers would do work for them (like pitching or negotiating brand deals). But many of those influencers said they never saw any deals come out of this, and also never received their deposits back when they asked.

Still, while there are potential pitfalls, there are also reputable talent managers emerging who are taking an interest in representing micro influencers and helping them grow their careers.

"Micro influencers often have more intimate relationships with their audience than someone with millions of followers," said Annelise Campbell, the CEO and founder of CFG, a talent management firm that emphasizes diversity and manages 15 micro influencers.

For more stories about the influencer industry, check out these Business Insider articles:

  • A TikTok exec who holds 'growth strategy sessions' with brands explains her key takeaways for using the platform effectively

  • How much money nano influencers can get paid on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok, according to 4 creators

  • 8 media kits that got influencers brand sponsorship deals on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok

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