Why ‘micro-vlogging’ is a big deal

Move over Zoella and Tanya… When it comes to YouTube engagement, it’s time to think small

Claire McDonaldHead of Content (John Lewis)

‘Big hitter’, ‘go big or go home’…  Wouldn’t you want to hit the big time?

When it comes to above-the-line (ATL) advertising, a big audience is best. Your message reaches millions and, like an advert during an X Factor finale, your brand becomes part of the national conversation. It’s easy to see the appeal.

Translate that perspective to YouTube and the world of vlogging, and it’s not surprising that video bloggers such as Zoella and Tanya Burr are so popular with brands. With millions of subscribers and billions of views, their channels are an obvious way to reach a huge audience of female millennials and Generation Zs.

But is might always right? ATL is a tool for a mass market. With YouTube you can reach people with more niche interests, and the conversations you can have there are more nuanced. Rather than shout at the masses from a distance, YouTube lets your brand connect with your audience in a way that makes you part of their lives.

How? Enter the micro-influencer. These vloggers have a much smaller but very dedicated following. Rather than a celeb YouTuber’s silent millions, subscribers see themselves as part of the YouTuber’s world. And this means that when a YouTube micro-influencer talks about a brand, it has a similar impact to a word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend.

Laurbubble, an English comedian with 43,000 subscribers, has collaborated with a variety of brands, including the Aussie Hair range. Her video ads are as well thought out as her regular weekly videos, and as well received by her audience, too. This is because micro-influencers are a trusted source. They’ve spent as much time and effort building up their expertise as they have their audience, and won’t jeopardise that relationship by crassly promoting unsuitable brands. And if a micro-influencer likes a brand, the chances are their audience will too.

How small is micro? That’s debatable. Forbes puts it at between 10,000 and 500,000 followers on social media channels, but the key measure is engagement rather than subscribers. Research (from marketly.com) shows that likes and comments peak on a social media account when it has about 1,000 followers, and flattens when it hits around 100,000, suggesting that while we might want to watch celebrities, we don’t want to interact with them.

One thing that is not small about micro-YouTubers is the level of organisation needed to construct a campaign with them. Working with one Zoella-type big hitter is simpler than galvanising an entire army, but the response will not be as powerful. So, our advice for anyone looking to YouTube to expand their audience? Think big. Go small.

Claire McDonald is a micro-YouTuber and one half of crumbsfood YouTube channel (43,000 subscribers)