Editor’s note: This was contributed by Miranda Tan CEO and founder of Robin8 , China’s leading influencer marketplace powered by big data and AI. Robin8 has profiled over 30 million influencers across 12 social platforms in China. Robin8 helps brands find the best influencers for their campaign and provides end-to-end performance attribution.

As media results become more decentralized, every person becomes a source of traffic. Brands generally devote a significant portion of their online marketing budget to traditional KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) – that is, the social media celebrity with hundreds of thousands or millions of followers. But research from social scientists and an analysis of the actual ROI on completed campaigns in China shows that brands might get a better ROI by including micro-influencers in their spending.

The idea that a smaller network might be better dates from long before social media. It started with Dunbar’s number. That’s the theory that says our brains can’t maintain more than about 150 stable relationships, with influence declining as the number of relationships grew. Social scientist Robin Dunbar wanted to test whether or not online social networks shattered this limit, so that individuals could maintain more relationships by using social networks.

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TechNode Guest Editors represent the best our community has to offer: insight and perspective on how technology is affecting business and culture in China