At VidCon 2018 it wasn’t uncommon to hear the term, ‘as an influencer…’ when someone was giving their answer to a question.
Most of the content creators or influencers on the panels had followings in the hundreds of thousands to millions, but it turns out that when it comes to using social platforms for a cause, smaller followings can have the greatest impact.
At the 'Social Media to Social Change' panel moderated by Tara Gosling, PR & Content Coordinator at JustGiving with Anna Akana, Hank Green and Caspar Lee, it kept coming back to the impact of micro influencers.
Caspar Lee, who has 7.5+ million subscribers on his YouTube channel and has recently been raising awareness about growing up with Tourette’s, said it’s those with smaller followings who can potentially have a larger impact.
“Micro influencers have bigger opportunity to make change. They have smaller communities of followers that know them and are engaged and listening so there’s opportunity for greater impact.”
Essentially, while one of his videos could reach and create greater awareness to over 7 million people because it’s such a large following, it’s hard to push the call to action.
Influencers with smaller followings - in the thousands to tens of thousands — tend to have a better sense of connection with their audiences so when it comes to campaigning a cause their followers are more likely to be engaged to whatever the call to action might be.
It’s not to say that for macro influencers like Caspar the message is lost because, as Hank Green mentioned, the raising of awareness is still a form of change because it gives people a different or new point of view and encourages them to think more broadly.
Hank has been running a community driven charitable movement on YouTube since 2007, which utilises the power of both micro and macro influencers. Project for Awesome (P4A) lasts 48 hours where users are encouraged to upload a video on a charity they care about and money is raised through donations.
At the end of the 48 hours Hank and his brother donate money from the first day to two chosen charities and the rest of the money from the second day is distributed to the top community voted charities. In 2016, they raised over $2,000,000.
What makes P4A unique is it takes advantage of the YouTube algorithm through all these different influencers — micro and macro. With so many people posting the same type of content in a short period of time it would flood the home page of YouTube with P4A content.
Hank said more often than not the top voted videos were not coming from those big YouTubers, but from those with small to moderate followings because of that better engagement with their smaller communities to get them to vote and share.
It goes to show that spending $600,000 on macro influencers to promote a cause or social change is maybe not the best avenue to take, but that doesn’t mean the idea of influencers is invalid
With new platforms like Tribe that allow people with smaller followings in the thousands to connect with brands to do sponsored posts it really shows this strong shift towards micro influencers to enact change and spread the word with better engaged audiences.
As Anna Akana said, “Everyone is in control of micro change at your own level.”
So regardless of your follower count, we all have an audience through social media and can be an influencer on our own micro level.