4 Factors to Consider When Measuring the ROI of Micro-Influencers vs. Engaged Fans

Factors to Measuring ROI of Micro-Influencers vs. Engaged Fans

Grab your calculators, today we’re talking return on investment (ROI). Marketing is an investment. The goal is to have your marketing efforts to earn revenue/conversions/donations (whatever the target) greater than the amount spent. This ratio (Earnings/Marketing Investment) is your measurable ROI. Today, we’re pulling back the ROI curtain to dive deep on the potential-return from two different advocacy marketing efforts: a micro-influencer campaign vs. a content marketing campaign populated with your average, engaged brand fans.

Before we can start our ROI comparison, let’s make sure we set the stage with a baseline understanding of the critical differences between these two campaign efforts.

The Key Differences Between a Micro-Influencer Campaign & An Advocacy Marketing Campaign  

Campaign Structure

For the sake of this comparison, we’re looking at these two campaign efforts with the following structure in mind: 

Micro-influencer Campaign: When you proactively reach out to micro-influencers on insert social media network of choice here, to create a relationship wherein these micro-influencers then promote your brand to their audience. 

Advocacy Marketing Campaign: In an advertising marketing campaign, the audience heralding your brand is your average brand fan. Individual fans choose to become a member of your advocacy marketing campaign where they then have the opportunity to share your content onto their personal social media feeds. Think of it as your own personal army of advocates.  You can read more about the mechanics of an advocacy marketing program here

Audience Makeup

Micro-influencer Campaign: Micro-influencers tend to build their audience around a specific niche (beauty, rock climbing, whatever). This niche alignment is what makes micro-influencers so appealing for brands that share the same target audience as the micro-influencer’s audience. 

Advocacy Marketing Campaign: Your advocacy marketing campaign, on the other hand, is made up of your biggest fans and advocates. They join your advocacy marketing campaign by signing up with their personal social media accounts. Their audience makeup is dependent on the specifics of their friends and family. This provides your brand with access to both a broader range of demographics but also does allow for a bit more of a niche approach (though not as niche as a micro-influencer)  as many people tend to connect with individuals that share a similar demographic or interest. 

Audience Size

Micro-influencer Campaign: Micro-influencers have larger audiences. We’re talking a minimum of 10,000 followers up to 100,000. Over 100,000, and we’d classify them as influencers. Over a million and they’re celebrities. 

Advocacy Marketing Campaign: Each advocate that joins your program will have a unique audience size, but in general, the average SocialToaster advocate has a network size of around 600. 

Program Scale

Micro-influencer Campaign: Unless you put a micro-influencer on a retainer, most micro-influencer campaigns tend to focus around a single post or content share. 

Advocacy Marketing Campaign: One of the most attractive features of an advocacy marketing campaign is that once your advocate joins your program, they’ll have the opportunity to share content and post on your behalf continuously. The only limitation is the amount of content you can create. 

The more advocates you recruit, the more content they share, the greater your potential ROI. 

Cost Dynamics

Micro-influencer Campaign: Each micro-influencer commands their own price tag. That price can range from free product/swag, to a couple of hundred dollars, to several thousand dollars. It all depends on the size of the micro-influencer’s audience, the engagement of that audience, and how many other brands are lining up to hire them. 

Advocacy Marketing Campaign: There’s no negotiating with (and paying) individual micro-influencers with an advocacy marketing campaign. Instead, with an advocacy marketing campaign, your total cost is dependent on three core expenditures. 

  • Platform Cost: Fixed cost (for more information on SocialToaster costs, click here)
  • Recruitment Cost: Variable cost depending on your advocate recruitment strategy (media spend, on-site deployment)
  • Incentive Cost: Variable cost depending on what incentive you’re providing your advocates to increase their engagement in the program. 

Comparing the ROI of a Micro-influencers Campaign vs. an Advocacy Marketing Campaign

So, which campaign type presents the strongest ROI potential? The answer is that it can vary. There’s no hard and fast rule that influencer marketing campaigns outperform advocacy marketing campaigns and vice-versa. Instead, you need to take into account the following variables to determine which campaign presents the stronger ROI. 

What Specific KPIs Are You Trying to Drive? 

Is it sales? Impressions? Awareness? Engagement? To calculate ROI, you first need to determine the “return”. By ensuring you have a crystal clear understanding of your primary KPI, you can then have an apples-to-apples comparison between the two types of campaigns. 

Even more important, if you’re not seeing the desired returns from your campaign efforts, you have a clear indicator that you need to pivot on your strategy. 

Evergreen versus Campaign Focus

Most micro-influencer campaigns are built around a specific campaign. If that’s your focus, then you’d calculate the ROI at the end of the campaign effort. 

Advocacy Marketing Campaigns tend to be more evergreen in focus. Brands can leverage the sharing power of their advocates year after year. As such, you want to determine both historic ROI of your program efforts as well as some sort of trending ROI analysis to ensure that your campaign is providing short-term ROI as well. 

Factor In All Soft Costs

We talked a bit about cost dynamics earlier in the post, but there are other cost considerations that need to be part of your ROI calculations. Specifically, soft costs. 

What does it cost your brand in salary or time to manage your campaign efforts? If you or your staff are reaching out and negotiating efforts 1-on-1, then that time can quickly add up and have a strong impact on your expected ROI. 

Keep In Mind The Auxiliary Benefits 

Hitting your primary KPIs is critical, but to determine the true ROI of your campaign efforts, you should also consider your auxiliary benefits. This includes hard metrics like conversions/sales, but also softer metrics like impressions/engagements. In other words, the earned media value of your efforts.

In a nutshell, earned media value is the monetary worth (aka value) of these soft metrics. What would it cost your brand if you were to purchase the same number of impressions or engagements? If your earned media value is greater than your investment in your advocacy marketing or influencer marketing campaign, then congrats, you have a positive ROI. 

For more info on earned media value, check out our blog post here

Fun fact, the SocialToaster platform automatically calculates your advocacy marketing program’s earned media value. Simply set up the average value of your engagements and let our platform do the hard work of keeping track of the performance of every post shared by every advocate. 


Bottom line, you can’t invest in any marketing endeavor if you can’t show a positive ROI. Whether your aim is to drive short-term action through a micro-influencer campaign or sustained growth via an advocacy marketing campaign, your first step in any endeavor is to determine the specific return you need to see from your investment in order to justify the investment. 

Want some help determining if an advocacy marketing campaign is the right fit for your marketing efforts? We can help you put together the right strategy built on your specific needs. 

Schedule a demo with an advocacy marketing program specialist today.

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