The Rise of Micro Influencers on College Campuses

In every culture and each generation, influencers have shaped the perceptions and preferences of their peers, affecting everything from fashion trends to political opinions. Influencers decide what is or will become cool. Nowadays, it’s easier than ever for influencers to digitally share what they’re excited about—and savvy marketers have taken notice. Instead of focusing on their target market as a whole, brands are identifying “micro influencers,” or individuals who have influence over potential consumers, and building campaigns around those individuals.

Unlike “Instagram celebrities,” who may have millions of followers, micro influencers typically reach an extremely targeted group of other students. While they tend to have fewer followers than Instagram celebrities, they normally enjoy a higher level of engagement, likely because they are more relatable. They aren’t strangers—they’re your sorority sister, your lab partner, your class president.

It’s no surprise that influencer marketing has exploded on college campuses as micro influencers have emerged. Here are three reasons why smart brands are including this tactic in their marketing strategies.

Distrust of Traditional Advertising

The college demographic consumes media differently than its older counterparts. Today’s college students grew up with social media and they’re accustomed to receiving messages through social platforms. In fact, research shows that students today are more likely to notice ads within mobile apps and pay less attention to traditional advertising.

micro influencer taking pictures for social media

Students Trust Other Students

Students don’t want to feel like they’re being “sold to.” In fact, a report found that 83% of people trust the recommendations of peers over traditional advertising. Influencer marketing is a powerful tool for reaching Millennial and Gen-Z consumers. With this marketing strategy, brands are harnessing the innate social capital that micro influencers have online. These micro influencers have already built trust with their social followers; when they create content about brands they believe in on their social channels, they’re speaking directly to the their loyal community of peers.

Students Are Authentic

Having an influential student posting about a product they’ve used and loved resonates much more with their peers than a polished piece of marketing—it’s authentic. And authenticity is a huge part of a brand’s image on social media. By partnering with micro influencers, your brand can deliver content during key lifestyle moments. Additionally, each student is different, allowing them to put their own personal mark on the brand and show how they incorporate the brand into their lives.

College campuses are where influencers thrive because students are extremely interconnected. By bringing your brand to campus and leveraging micro influencers, your potential reach goes well beyond an event or an ad. Micro influencers have the status and the personality to affect their peers’ behavior—which ultimately drives brand growth and sales.



Want to leverage micro influencers on campus but aren’t sure how to get started? Finding the right partner is key to your success. Here at YMC, we’ve been helping brands connect with 15- to 29-year-old consumers for two decades—we’d be happy to share our wealth of knowledge with you. Contact us today!

Why Your Brand Should Invest in College Marketing

College marketing is a huge opportunity. While big brands like Google and American Eagle have taken notice and launched multifaceted campaigns targeting this demographic, many brands have yet to step foot on campus. And if your brand isn’t trying to authentically connect with students, you’re leaving money on the table.

Not only do college students fall into the coveted Millennial and Gen-Z demographics, they’re also individuals who haven’t yet formed brand loyalties. For many, going to college is the first stage of their independent lives away from their parents. This is their first time making buying decisions for themselves. Maybe a student’s mom always did the laundry with Tide, but when the student stands in front of dozen of laundry detergents at the grocery store, which one will she buy?

Without formed brand loyalties, college students are highly susceptible to new products and services—especially if those products and services are well received by their peers. According to a Nielsen report, the most credible form of advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust. The same report found that 83% of people trust the recommendation of a peer over traditional advertising. Reaching consumers during their college years is an opportunity to win their loyalty by authentically inserting your brand into their lives. By being on campus and building college marketing campaigns around the lives of students, your brand becomes a part of their story and something they want to share with their peers.

students that are targeted via college marketing

Luckily for brands, college campuses are the perfect environment for peer-to-peer communications. Because students are concentrated in one place and every semester offers fresh opportunities to meet new people, the awareness of popular brands and services quickly spreads. Word-of-mouth takes on new power in the college environment.

Additionally, college students are digital natives. They never knew a world without smartphones and social media. They have the desire to share their lives and promote the brands and experiences that excite them. This gives your brand the potential to reach a national, and even global, audience.

But wait—aren’t college students poor? Don’t they survive on ramen? Some are—but that doesn’t mean they aren’t buying things. With money from parents, jobs, and student loans, their purchasing power isn’t something to scoff at. In fact, college students spent $523 billion dollars in 2015, 39% of which was discretionary spending (food, entertainment, clothes, transportation).

If brands can successfully connect with students and capture their loyalty during these key years, they will be able to retain their loyalty as they transition into new life phases. And trust us, the students who weren’t rolling in disposable cash will have the potential to spend a lot more after they graduate and enter the workforce.



You know you want your brand on campus but aren’t sure how to get started—what next? Finding the right partner is key to your success. Here at YMC, we’ve been helping brands connect with 15- to 29-year-old consumers for two decades—we’d be happy to share our wealth of knowledge with you. Contact us about college marketing today!