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Nano, macro and micro-influencers: which ones are best for my brand?

The rise of influencers in virtually every industry has overwhelmed brands, marketers AND influencers forcing them to confront a rather twisted version of what I call the “Goldilocks Paradigm” (yes, I love a big word every now and again).

The paradigm strikes when it comes to the size of the audience of the influencer – which is, in itself, still not that surprising. There are three categories (turn easily into five, but realistically, I like to keep things simple): nano, macro, and micro.

Each of the three kinds is applicable for different needs – however, in recent days the shift in metrics when it comes to the ROI (return of investment) of influencer marketing has shifted.

While there’s not necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution to influencer selection, brands and agencies are now focusing less on the macro influencer – too big – and nano – too small -and targeting the micro-influencer which is, well, just right.

If I may borrow Seth Godin’s words (a man which is in my pedestal of writers alongside Stephen King and Neil Gaiman) marketing on a large scale can sacrifice what makes you special in the first place – and the internet is anything but small.

Instead of going big, says Seth, businesses should look for “the smallest viable audience” of fans, and building meaningful and dedicated communities around them.

One thing I want to note though is that it’s not all bad for macro and nano influencers

Macro-influencers can offer celebrity credibility, and have therefore shifted to working with fewer brands, and longer-term partnerships.  Micro-influencers can convert a small audience and are usually the ones you can now see popping up at events and networking.

Back in the early days, brands would allocate huge marketing budgets for just one celebrity or macro influencer to promote their brand. Today, the rise of micro-influencers has made influencer marketing affordable for everyone.

As go through the list, I wanted to clarify that I count as micro-influencers content creators with between 1k and 100k followers on their social media accounts – which makes their services much more affordable, as well as ensuring a much closer relationship with their audience.

Macro and Mega: Too Big

You can fit into these categories bigger influencers and celebrities with a large social media following (think Kim and all her sisters). They reach more people, and obviously can have a massive impact, but they come with a higher price tag and much less engagement than their micro or nano counterparts.

Another issue is that demographic is much wider, and probably their following is not looking for them to help them with a specific need (may that be fitness tips or cooking inspiration), but following a “celebrity starstruck” trend – I am totally guilty of that, especially with people like James McVoy or Ryan Reynolds. Yet, these are not your top pick when it comes to wider opportunities.

Best for: longer-term partnerships, partnerships, and product co-creation.

Nano-Influencers: Too Small

This category of influencers is made of people with less than 1,000 followers. While they have a smaller reach and a more niche audience, brands are attracted to their cost efficiency and “newness” to space. These are the people that make Whole Influence.

However, brands need to be aware of the significant drawbacks including the fact that due to their small audiences, their performances are harder to analyse (and most platforms do not allow influencers with less than 1,000 followers to join).

This means, as a marketer or a brand, you’ll be spending a lot of time on influencer management and engagement if you want content creation oversight and approval on hundreds to thousands of pieces of content.

If you want to drive quantifiable ROI for brands at scale, this may not be the best place to go – so what, all is doomed?

Best for: events, gifted campaigns

Micro-Influencers: Just Right

Rates for micro-influencers are lower than those with millions of followers, enabling marketers to stretch their budgets further.

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Typically, these influencers aren’t celebrities. They are real people with a deep passion or subject-matter expertise. They are often more relatable than big-time influencers, and their content can feel more authentic and personal.

A lot of them are photographers, content creators and web celebrities that have been authentically and organically born and bred on these platforms and have built an audience over time. Compared to nano-influencers, they have a larger reach and have professional-grade images and video content.

Best for: specific campaigns, content at scale, ambassadorships

What should I choose?

Whilst doing marketing research for our platform Whole Influence, we asked a poll of 500 health and wellness brands how highly do they rank the quality of their influencers’ audience over the quantity.

We ran the same survey two years in a row, and the results were fascinating: in 2018 30% ranked quantity and quality on almost equal grounds, whilst in early 2019 the same survey saw 75% of brands ranking quality of followers over quantity (based on 500 brands surveyed in 2018 and 2019, Whole Influence).

All I am saying is, you have a couple of options. You can either manually check the quality of influencers, or use a platform that has a benchmarking system to make sure the influencers you choose are going to be talking to real people.

Regardless of which “size” you want to go for, understanding the “quality” of your influencers will make a huge difference in your strategy going forward. Understanding new, creative ways to reach a key audience within a budget will help you get results that are “just right.”


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