You may have heard that social influencers are changing the media landscape, but how?

“How” is the big question circulating among the brands and small businesses nurturing a half-baked idea of what it means to be an influencer. How do influencers drive purchase decisions? How do they stand out to their peers who follow a mix of brands, celebrities, strangers, and friends? What exactly do they offer? For starters, a micro-influencer possesses three enduring qualities which give them an edge over big brands and high profile social media celebrities.

The micro-influencer offers organic reach

 Influencers offer a natural means of circumventing traditional ads and paid promotions by creating their own content. Whether it’s blogging, tweeting, posting a photo, leaving a comment, or writing a review, we are constantly producing and sharing content. It’s a big part of who we are as a society. An influencer is a person who creates their own content which in turn influences their followers. Whether a product review inspires a purchase or a social post inspires someone to follow another company — influencers affect organic, word-of-mouth marketing. User-generated content on average gets 4x higher click-through rates and a 50% drop in cost-per-click when compared to paid promotions. Not only do their followers engage with this original content, but they amplify it.  Social influencers produce what marketers refer to as the Multiplier Effect. Every time one person shares a post from someone else network, that post is exposed to their friends, families, and friends of friends.

The micro-influencer offers brand trust

In April of 2012, Nielsen found that “ninety-two percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.”  Audiences are smart. We’re quick to sense false enthusiasm and will just as soon point it out in the comments of a particularly transparent over-the-top blog post or celebrity endorsement of their “favorite” new skin care line  on Instagram. Just this past year, Real Housewives of New York star, Ramona Singer accidentally posted the instructions for her promoted post alongside the intended caption: “Here is the draft with some language  for the post- if we could have Ramona add something personal in about why she feels confident going makeup free that would be great.”  It’s no wonder that consumers trust the opinions of smaller social influencers. When your friend shares a compelling article on Facebook or a picture of a tasty bagel on Instagram, you know that their opinion is authentic.

According to AdWeek, 93% of consumers find user generated content to be helpful when making a purchasing decision. Consumers trust recommendations from influencers because influencers maintain an objective distance from their business partners to maintain credibility, and they have enough cache with their audiences to where their recommendations are trusted. We like to defer to authorities.

The micro-influencer speaks to millennials

You don’t have to be under thirty years old to be an influencer, but your audience likely is young, active, receptive, and vocal according to a 2012 study by the Boston Consulting Group. According to BCG research, millennials are more likely than non-millennials to trust and follow a company with a Facebook page and mobile site — 33% to 17% — and will have more spending power than any other generation by 2017. Not only do millennials frequently review products or services by their own volition in addition to creating their own material content online but their definition of expertise has shifted.

An expert or someone with the credibility enough to recommend a brand, has slowly evolved away from professionals toward close friends and peers. In other words, where their parents would have taken Dr. Phil’s advice, a millennial will turn to their Facebook friends.

The proof is unequivocal. Micro-influencers embody the most credible voices in our current media landscape where often, the smaller the audience, the more engaged, the better for your brand. The audiences of influencers are loyal and the opinions of influencers carry weight, meaning the biggest secret of all is that influencers are accessible to brands and small businesses like you!

Choosing the right influencer wisely is half the battle. The perfect partner is out there — it’s up to you to connect.  Dig into these blog posts more for tips and ideas on how to get there. Check ‘em out!

Colleen Patterson is the content marketing manager for Muses, the only digital growth app focused on building long­-term relationships. She’d love you to get involved.