The Age of Micro-Influencers

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The Age of Micro-Influencers

Oct 27, 2023

As you walk around Pepperdine’s Mullen Square, you will likely encounter some really hot people. No, I’m not kidding. Pepperdine, a place with sunshine about 360 out of the year, mesmerizing, sparkling ocean views, and secluded, but easy access to Los Angeles, brings in a special crowd of individuals. In each graduating class, there are a few influencers and models sprinkled throughout the seats, among the children of billionaires and actors… and regular students as well. A recent growth of micro-influencers has also touched campus, changing the culture of this tiny place on a hill, as well as all social media sites and cities, creating a shift in how brands reach their audience.

Micro-influencers, defined as anyone between 10,000 - 50,000 followers (though some websites write 10,000 – 100,000), have taken the social media world by storm (Forbes, 2021). In the era of oversharing, it is now easier than ever to grow a follower base or go viral and reap the benefits of being an influencer. During COVID-19, there was an unusual rise in the informality of social media, with people sharing anything and everything, such as TMI about their relationships, their favorite soda brand, finance guidance, political drama; the list goes on. The ease of many social media accounts is evidently appealing to brands of all types, due to the ability to reach many niche audiences, while doing so at a lower cost. To some, a larger influencer may do more obvious influencing/advertising, whereas micro-influencers come off as casual or authentic, which makes it easier for brands to change public opinion without spending thousands of dollars on one figure. Micro-influencers may have a smaller follower account, but on apps like TikTok, they’re able to have high engagement due to the algorithms on modern apps. According to Forbes, “micro-influencers boast up to a 60% increased engagement rate compared to macro-influencers”, meaning they have no issue with producing personal value for brands.

 While micro-influencers are beneficial to brands for a variety of reasons, they also present as a risk to many brands (and their personal platforms), due to guidelines regarding endorsements and brand partnerships. It is perfectly legal to post on TikTok saying they like a certain lip gloss, but as soon as an individual is paid or reimbursed by a brand, they must disclose that clearly on their post. In addition, influencers are not allowed to falsely endorse a brand, which means they are not allowed to state that a product is great if they’ve never used it (Council for Creators, 2022). Although the regulations are usually followed by macro influencers, attributed to the fear of being caught by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), the issue becomes murkier with micro-influencers. There is a chance that some micro-influencers are not aware of the rules, or they don’t believe they’ll get caught. The FTC usually issues warnings to brands and influencers who fail to follow the rules but will take further legal action if the situation warrants (Council for Creators, 2022). In addition, there are tricky regulations regarding copywrite infringement, so influencers and brands must be careful of pairing certain music, photos, movies etc. with their paid brand partnerships. Lastly, there are usually brand – influencer contracts that are formed to ensure compliancy between parties.

The list of legal issues continues and changes as more apps are introduced and as social media continually evolves, but the basic regulations stay consistent. The inconsistent nature of social media (societal expectations and legal troubles) doesn’t deter influencers from staking their claim to fame. Brands and micro-influencers seem to be closer than ever, expanding upon the potential that either of them presents.

Works Chited

Ehlers, Kelly. “Council Post: Micro-Influencers: When Smaller Is Better.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 9 Nov. 2022,

“Top Social Media Influencer Legal Issues.” Counsel for Creators LLP, 21 Nov. 2022,

Caroline Peterson, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s media law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the following question: ""The Age of Micro-Influencers": Examine the rise of micro-influencers, their appeal to brands, and the legal considerations for these collaborations." Caroline is an Integrated Marketing Communication major.

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