Behold The ‘Micro-Influencer’ — The Trusted, Unsung Work Horse Of Social Commerce

Social Media Influencer

When Taylor Swift officially joined TikTok last week, practically every corner of the internet took notice. Her first video, recapping recent album releases, reached over 14 million views and launched a viral trend of people recreating it.

Perhaps most noteworthy, though, is that a $218 Reformation dress that Swift wears for approximately two seconds in the video almost instantly sold out — which is one reason why Keith Nealon, CEO of Bazaarvoice, says social commerce should be a priority in brands’ eCommerce strategies. “A strong social commerce presence is no longer a ‘nice to have’ — now it’s a necessity,” he told PYMNTS.

Once a social commerce strategy is in place, Nealon said, brands also need to make sure the social shopping abilities are as simple as possible. “Consumers like social commerce because of its ease of use and how quickly they can go from discovering a product to purchasing it,” he noted.

And while celebrity influencers and social media stars are important in promoting products (Bazaarvoice research found that 31 percent of U.S. consumers mostly follow celebrity influencers), the more important influencers for brands to work with are the everyday social media users.

Authentic Unofficial Ambassadors

Two in five consumers say that friends, family, peers and wider networks are now among the most trusted sources for authentic content, and 56 percent of consumers say that the everyday social media user has become the preferred influencer to follow.

Additionally, when it comes to unbiased reviews of promoted products, 36 percent said that everyday social media users are the most trustworthy, and 30 percent named subject matter experts. Only 12 percent said celebrities and 9 percent said social media stars were most trustworthy.

“This presents brands with a huge opportunity to utilize UGC (user-generated content) throughout their marketing efforts, giving them access to unofficial ambassadors that are authentic and trusted by their followers and customers,” Nealon said.

Shoppers like to share what they buy, he noted, and therefore brands can usually look to who is tagging them or using their hashtags to find these “micro-influencers,” or influential users with fewer than 50,000 followers. These are also perfect candidates for brands to sample products with, Nealon added.

He also said that brands should reconsider to whom they send “PR packages,” or branded boxes for influencers to open and post on social media. Almost half of the people surveyed by Bazaarvoice said they don’t find value in watching influencers open the boxes, but 44 percent said that everyday social media users should be receiving these packages.

“And honestly, it’s not a bad idea,” Nealon said. “Everyday social media users are the ones consumers trust the most.”

Social Networks Jumping In 

As social commerce grows increasingly important for brands, so does the amount of money spent. According to eMarketer, $2.8 billion was spent on influencer marketing in 2020, a 14 percent increase versus 2019. This year is expected to see a 34 percent jump to $3.7 billion, and by 2023, the total spent on influencer marketing in the U.S. is projected to be over $4.6 billion.

And it’s not just brands that are using social media and its features — Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok and Pinterest have all jump-started their own commerce integrations to take advantage of the attention they get from consumers. According to PYMNTS’ Connected Economy research, 44 percent of consumers who are highly connected in their social engagement are also highly connected shoppers.

Related: Commerce Is Fast Becoming The New Battleground For Social Media Giants

Last week, Shopify and TikTok unveiled TikTok Shopping, which adds organic Shopify product discovery and shopping tabs to TikTok. Shopify customers with TikTok For Business accounts are able to add shopping tabs to their TikTok profiles and sync their product listings into a mini storefront that links to their online store during the checkout process. The partnership is currently in a pilot phase in the U.S and U.K.

Read more: Shopify Launches TikTok In-App Shopping

Nealon said he was surprised to see that 72 percent of consumers don’t care about how many social media followers an influencer has. He added, though, that this doesn’t mean consumers don’t want to see beautifully curated brand content or any sponsored content at all.

“Quite the opposite,” he said. “Consumers want to see a mix of content types, and brands need to be strategic and targeted in their approach.”