Influencer partnerships have been a fundamental element of digital marketing campaigns for brands large and small – across industries and the globe. Yet, several years into the trend, the hype of pursuing influencers with the highest follower count has subsided.
Instead, the industry experienced the growth of a more personalized and meaningful brand-influencer-customer relationship thanks to nano and micro-influencer marketing.
Micro-influencer marketing first gained traction around 2019, when research (as reported by startupbonsai) suggested brands utilize micro-influencers ten times more compared to mega influencers.
Besides the obvious lower collaboration costs, the reasons for such a considerable discrepancy lie in the fact that micro-influencers drive 60% higher engagement rates than average influencer campaigns (as reported by 99firms).
As 4 out of 5 consumers have made a purchase via an influencer recommendation, with a maximum spend of $629 on an influencer-inspired purchase, it’s not surprising that 75% of brand marketers plan to allocate a budget to influencer marketing efforts in 2023.
So, whether you’re a brand looking to leverage the power of influencers or a digital agency seeking to tap into the influencer marketing hype, this article will guide you through everything there is to know about nano and micro-influencer marketing in 2023.
Read on to discover how you can leverage partnerships with niche-focused influencers to get the most out of your social media marketing efforts.
- The Concept of Influencers: Between Misconception & Reality
The notion of influencer is typically equated with young females posting instagrammable photos and sharing their daily musings across social platforms.
Yet, in recent years, the concept has transformed, and today, an influencer is basically anyone who has built a considerable social following, may it be a healthy food Instagrammer, a business professional sharing industry insights on LinkedIn, or a Microsoft Excel guru on TikTok.
Influencers nurture a unique education-meets-entertainment approach to content creation, making and sharing content that consumers find creative, engaging, and valuable.
Thus, influencers establish themselves as credible, trustworthy voices that guide their followers toward becoming members of the community – whether it’s fitness, wood carving, or social media marketing.
- So, who is a Partner-Worthy Influencer?
When it comes to setting out into the world of influencer marketing, many businesses and marketers still get the concept all wrong right off the bat.
Namely, they equate the profession of an influencer with high-profile celebrities and social media personalities alone. This misconception further leads brands’ influencer marketing efforts into a pitfall of either:
- pouring massive amounts of money to hire a celeb to market your company
- getting disheartened to ever venture into influencer partnerships as they cannot pay Kylie Jenner or Ninja as brand ambassadors
What’s crucial for marketers and businesses alike to understand is that to be an influencer, a person doesn’t necessarily need to have a substantial social media following.
Influencers influence their followers into performing a certain action – and they can make an impact even without having millions of followers.
In fact, influencers with a smaller social following, known as nano-influencers and micro-influencers, are growing in popularity in terms of setting up brand partnerships thanks to their power to tap into a niche audience.
- What are Nano & Micro-Influencers?
Nano-influencers and micro-influencers are social media personalities who boast a social media following larger than a regular person’s, yet smaller compared to that of a high-end celebrity.
There isn’t a clear-cut distinction as to how many followers exactly each influencer tier has, but most commonly the definitions are the following:
- nano-influencers – between 1,000 and 10,000 followers
- micro-influencers – between 10,000 and 100,000 followers
- macro-influencers – between 100,000 and 1 million followers
- mega influencers – 1+ million followers
Mega influencers are generally individuals that have become celebrities prior to and outside of social media platforms – athletes, actors, singers, etc. Of course, there are those whose title of an influencer skyrocketed them into stardom.
Macro-influencers are usually specialized in a subject and have thus gathered a large following.
As for nano and micro-influencers, these two are well known for their expertise on a specific topic and, thus, have earned the trust of their followers – they just haven’t hit true celebrity level – yet.
- Nano & Micro-Influencers: When Lesser is Better
Brands that truly understand the influencer marketing game have begun to seek nano and micro-influencers as their brand ambassadors.
As Neal Schaffer, the author of The Age of Influence: The Power of Influencers to Elevate Your Brand, points out, “influencers that have smaller followings are usually easier to work with, have less of a fake follower risk, have a better chance of creating exclusive relationships, and tend to be less expensive.”
Besides, best influencer marketing companies that provide influencer marketing services to brands also tend to work with these low-profile social media personalities, as marketing agencies are more experienced at working with influencers at scale.
This means that fully-managed digital marketing services – that many brands seek nowadays as a way of outsourcing their marketing to professionals – mostly entail all the aspects of nano or micro-influencer partnership – from pitching and contract details, to content ideation and creation.
In the introduction, we tapped into some of the amazing stats on the marketing power of nano and micro-influencers for brands. The following section will explore, in more detail, the benefits of nano and micro-influencer marketing.
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- Lesser Partnership Costs
Influencer partnerships are a fruitful marketing strategy – but only if done right.
Considering that the price per single post varies anywhere between $50 and $1 million, depending on the influencer’s number of followers and engagement rate – poor influencer choice can turn into money thrown down the drain.
Smaller social media influencers generally don’t rely on earning their livelihood from their brand advertising efforts, so they post ads in exchange for a free product or a minimal fee (at least compared to those of mega-influencers).
Besides, many nano and micro-influencers manage their profiles on their own, meaning there are no third-party expenses for the influencer’s agent or agency.
And a pro tip to remember when discussing a brand partnership with a nano or a micro-influencer: small influencers want clout. Influencers looking for their ‘big break’ in the online realm will spare no effort to showcase their creativity in creating content for your brand.
Working with a big-name brand gives rising influencers a stake in the industry, and the opportunity your collaboration offers them goes a lot farther than a mere paycheck.
- Going a Step Further in Making the Partnership Work
In her interview on nano and micro-influencer marketing, Jazmin Gac, Managing Director at Social Studies, points out that her favorite thing about working with smaller influencers is witnessing their genuine care in making the brand partnership meaningful and worthwhile.
“They over-deliver content, they ask questions, they come back for future partnerships, they stay in touch with the brand – it’s more robust of a relationship.”
This goes back to our previous argument that smaller influencers want their “big break” in the digital realm – and running a successful brand partnership is a step closer to shooting to social media prominence.
- Higher Engagement Rates
Although they have fewer followers, nano and micro-influencers tend to have higher engagement rates than high-profile social media celebs.
A larger social media audience makes it hard to keep up with every comment and DM. That’s why the interaction between bigger influencers and their followers is usually one-sided, and, over time, tends to depersonalize.
Smaller social media personalities, however, engage their audience with timely and personalized responses, establishing intimate connections and deepening their followers’ attachment and trust in their content.
Thus, those with smaller followings stand a greater chance to build and foster an authentic and meaningful relationship with users.
Not to forget that social platforms’ algorithms use engagement as one of the top factors in boosting a post’s reach among the target audience.
- Establishing a Meaningful Relationship with Followers
Most small influencers don’t earn much from their content creation, meaning their bread and butter comes outside of social media. Thus, their social media activity is made with passion, not a necessity.
Smaller influencers post about products and services they genuinely use and enjoy, and their followers can feel that.
Generally, smaller influencers’ communities are smaller and tight-knit. Their content appeals to the average user as it depicts a lifestyle that aligns with what most social media users’ everyday lives look like.
Therefore, consumers feel as if nano and micro-influencers are people they can trust, people who use products and services relatable and accessible to everyone.
- Think Big – Go Small
If you’re flirting with the idea of partnering with a smaller micro-influencer, know that more and more brands are achieving success by going with this hyper-focused social media marketing strategy.
Nano and micro-influencers are regarded as more trustworthy, meaning their followers put more faith in the product or service these social media personas advertise.
Contrary to what some business owners and marketers might think, nano- and micro-influencers aren’t valuable to small businesses alone.
Smaller influencers are part of marketing plans, even for bigger brands.
As Gaz notes, many high-end brands leverage the so-called full pyramid approach, hiring mega influencers for nationwide awareness, a couple of macro and micro-influencers who can produce more content for less investment, and then going with nano-influencers for a super-focused touch.
- Is a Smaller Influencer a Good Choice for Your Brand?
When choosing which influencer is best for your brand marketing, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.
Influencer partnerships largely depend on a company’s budget, target audience, and the content and personality of the influencer.
Smaller influencers’ power in generating high engagement and ROI proves that bigger is not always better.
Nano and micro-influencers’ followers are active and loyal, and their content is deemed more authentic.