Hands up if you have had a cheeky scroll through Instagram today? Keep your hand raised if you have ever - either advertently or inadvertently - purchased something because you have seen it on the 'gram? With over 700 million active monthly users, Instagram has become marketing's biggest super-tool, and according to MediaKix, influencer marketing on Instagram is now a billion dollar industry. That's a hell-of-a-lot for a filtered image and a punny hashtag.

A study conducted by Forbes earlier this year analysed the earnings of top influencers on Instagram and found that an Instagram user with 100,000 followers can ask for as much as $5,000 per post. For an account with over one million followers, brands would be looking at forking out as much as $50,000 for a sponsored post. I'll pause so you can let that settle in/reassess your current career choices.

@jmiller14 / @lenamaria.s

However, despite what influencers with followers in the millions can (and do) ask for, marketers have noticed that once an account reaches a certain following, fewer people begin to engage via likes and comments. Marketing research agency Marketly looked at patterns in followings and engagement and found that users with less than 1,000 followers received likes on posts 8% of the time, compared to those with 10 million + followers, who received likes on only 1.6% of posts. The data was true for Instagram comments as well, which drew researches to conclude that followings of 10,000 - 100,000 offer the best combination of engagement and reach. Less really is more when it comes to influencer marketing.

Enter the micro-influencer, a niche breed of influencers that you're about to see a lot more of in your feed. Those who follow micro-influencers generally have the same values and aesthetic, and therefore allow brands to get a lot more out of their marketing through the generation of authentic content. Brands are also becoming a lot smarter in the ways they spend their marketing dollars, finding ways to highlight and weed out accounts with fake followers and paid for engagement. The micro-influencer trend could see influencer marketing spend reach $2 million by 2019, according to MediaKix.

The rise of the micro-influencer follows news this year that paid posts fall under most countries' (including the States and Australia) advertising and communications laws, and must therefore be labelled as such. You may have seen #ad and #spon appearing in your feed a little too frequently as a result.

Images: @robertapecararo | @izisimundic | @jmiller14 | @lenamaria.s

The rise of the micro-influencer