Influencers can be broadly split into four categories: mega-influencers, macro-influencers, micro-influencers and nano-influencers; with the differences between the four categories being so much more than just their amount of followers and how much money they command for promoting a product, service or offering on their social platforms.
We have analysed the four different types of influencers, looking at the benefits of working with individuals that fall under each term, whilst providing expert tips on how brands can successfully utilise partnerships and make the most out of collaborations with each:
Mega-influencers usually have a following of at least 1 million and most often fall into the category of ‘celebrity’, with many of them being actors and actresses, musicians, reality TV stars, comedians or sports icons. The other type of mega-influencer is the social media influencer like @zoella that have worked their way to the top of the social ladder after years of connecting with their audiences and in turn, gained their own celebrity status and normally other entrepreneurial business ventures along the way.
Benefits of working with a mega-influencer
Instant brand awareness
One post from a mega-influencer - especially if it’s organic content - has the ability to elevate a brand to new realms of fame, and will make your offerings a hot topic amongst followers and fans looking to emulate their favourite influencers’ lifestyles.
Your product or brand has the opportunity to reach millions of people and potential new customers that you’re currently not able to tap into. You also have the opportunity to grow your own social followings significantly with a well-executed mega influencer collaboration, especially if you make the choice to work with individuals who share similar core beliefs and focuses to your brand.
Due to their large following, mega-influencers usually have very diverse audiences that have aligned with them for a multitude of different reasons. This allows you as a brand to connect with a totally new range of audiences and demographics through the partnership.
Less time consuming
One post from a mega-influencer, although likely to cost you a significant amount of money, can achieve instant results for your brand, which makes it an appealing option for brands that want effective results but don’t have the time to put into an influencer marketing strategy.
How to work with them
- Understand the need for mega influencers - Outline the reasons behind why your brand and influencer marketing campaigns require the presence of a mega influencer.
- Choose your mega-influencer wisely - If you have a particular influencer in mind, it’s important to gauge if and why they are right for your brand. You can do this by analysing their content, looking at the types of brands they are currently working with, the tone of the content they are promoting and the type of audience they are already successfully targeting with their paid promotions.
- Be prepared to pay the price for a mega-influencer - Collaborating with a mega-influencer can be extremely costly, so it’s important to evaluate your budget and set a realistic cost likely to be accepted by your influencer and their wider management team who will be communicating on their behalf.
- Set a clear brand objective and brief - If your mega-influencer is fully aware of your objective it will help them to post the right type of content that will create the desired message and (hopefully) results you are expecting from the partnership.
- Cover all areas - When using a mega-influencer the magnitude of the detrimental impact to your brand if the collaboration goes wrong is huge, so it’s important to give your influencer clear instructions on the promotion to avoid any social blunders.
Macro-influencers have a lower level of fame than mega-influencers but are still very popular and famous on social media with a following of 100,000 to 1 million followers. This type of influencer has usually built up their social media presence over a matter of years through continuously sharing content and building connections with their audience, a good example of this is the Mancunian style blogger @meganellaby (222k followers).
Benefits of working with a macro-influencer
A macro-influencers large following allows their message to have a wider reach and present your brand’s message to a number of potential new customers.
Due to having built their career on the basis of brand collaborations, macro-influencers have a highly professional approach to brand partnerships, making them an ideal and straightforward choice for many brands.
Easy to work with
Macro-influencers are extremely easy to work with and need little guidance as they already know what they’re doing and what’s expected of them from a brand, making the process smooth running with minimal effort required brand side.
After continuously connecting with their audience for years, their following often feel like they’ve been on this journey of growth with them and have a lot of trust in the macro-influencer and what they promote, especially when promoted content looks organic and fits in seamlessly amongst their platform's current aesthetic.
How to work with them
- Find the perfect match - A macro-influencers audience follows them solely because they love the content and community they have curated from scratch. So when collaborating with a macro-influencer, it’s a good idea to partner with one that shares similar interests and core values as your brand.
- Do your competitor research - Macro-influencers often promote a variety of brands and ads on their social platforms as it’s their primary source of income. It’s therefore important to do your research into the influencer you’re choosing to ensure they aren’t working with any competitor brands.
- Prepare your budget - Whilst macro-influencers aren’t as expensive as mega-influencers they can still come at quite a hefty cost depending on their level of fame, followers and engagement, so it’s important your budget can accommodate this before contacting any mega-influencers.
- Decide your goals - Are you looking for brand awareness, engagement, conversions to sales? It’s important to be clear about what you want to achieve from a partnership with a macro-influencer upfront. They are highly professional and will be very experienced in making the most out of what a brand needs, so be clear on your intentions.
One of the most common types of influencer is the micro-influencer, an example being @BronteKingg with 53.1k followers who posts about fashion, beauty and all things university related as she’s the founder of @galswhograduate.
This type of influencer is a common choice amongst brands due to them being extremely cost-effective and having a more engaged and niche following. Their communities are usually smaller, at between 10,000 and 100,000 followers, but they have fiercely loyal, dedicated and often regional followings which can benefit brands immensely.
Benefits of working with a micro-influencer
Collaborating with a micro-influencer is a more affordable way for a brand to work with an influencer, due to their smaller following meaning their collaboration costs are lower. Often, if a micro-influencer is passionate about your brand, product or offering, they will accept payment in the form of a gift.
High engagement rate
If you’re looking for a high engagement rate from the partnership, micro-influencers usually have a higher engagement rate than bigger influencers. That’s because they are much closer and more engaged with their audience, often responding to direct messages and comments and developing personal friendships with their ‘fans’.
Credible and trusted
Micro-influencers are deemed trustworthy and credible by their audience due to the majority of their content being organic and them not collaborating with too many brands, this makes them a great choice to begin a partnership with due to how authentic the content will look amongst their feeds.
If you want to target a specific audience then micro-influencers are the gateway. They will usually have a topic or category their content falls into that their following is interested in, this can be anything from mental health, fashion, baking, gardening, home interiors, parenting or travel.
How to work with them
- Establish a connection - You need to develop a connection with them before you begin working with them. Show your interest by following them on social media first and engaging in their posts as a brand before you promote your own product or partnership to them.
- Define the collaboration - It’s important to be clear on the type of content you want them to create, from an Instagram video to a TikTok, and that they have an understanding of who you are as a brand.
- Create a campaign-specific hashtag - One way to run a successful micro-influencer campaign is to create a hashtag and work with a lot of influencers to promote your products using the hashtag. This is a great way to tap into a lot of different audiences and get your brand trending.
- Longer collaborations - When working with micro-influencers, longer partnerships are more successful than one-off promotional posts. Their audiences are more likely to engage with the promotion if they see the influencer consistently discussing your brand or product over a period of time.
Newly recognised as an important influencer on the scene is the nano-influencer. This type of influencer is very close to the small community they have built and whilst their audience is significantly smaller than other influencers with only 10,000 followers or less, they have arguably the most engaged audience. @carlajian and @kandiewanderlust are great examples of nano-influencers that have their own niches and highly-engaged audiences. @carlajian (8,503 followers) is a mommy and wellness blogger that regularly discusses both topics on her posts, whilst @kandiewanderlust (8,129 followers) is a travel blogger that combines her love of travel with her signature pastel colour scheme that’s primarily lilac on her social platform.
Benefits of working with a nano-influencer
Due to nano-influencers building a close relationship with their following, their posts are considered to be more authentic and trusted, making the promotions they deliver appear to be of genuine interest to the influencer.
As nano-influencers have smaller followings, they also have a lower price point for collaborations, making them a low-cost way for you as a brand to work with influencers.
High engagement rate
Nano-influencers have a first-hand relationship with their followers, which results in a much higher engagement rate, as their following views them almost like a friend and is supportive of their content.
Nano-influencers are more flexible to the terms and conditions of the partnership you are presenting as a brand, making them easier to collaborate with.
Go the extra mile
As many nano-influencers are quite new to partnering with brands, they will often go above and beyond to create high-quality content that will really impress the brand they are working with.
How to work with them
- Finding your nano-influencer - You can search for your nano-influencer on social platforms by using niche-specific hashtags, for example searching #nanoinfluencer followed by the word travel, to find influencers in that category.
- Give more guidance - As nano-influencers are newer to partnering with brands, it’s important that you plan your collaboration in detail, defining the offer and your overall expectations from the partnership.
- Instagram takeovers - This allows the nano-influencer to take over the brand’s social media channel, posting stories and posts as themselves, alongside advertising the takeover on their own channel. This is a great way to generate new followers for your brand and help your brand connect with new audiences.
- Convert them to brand ambassadors - As nano-influencers haven’t usually taken part in many partnerships previously, it’s a great opportunity for your brand to turn them into a brand ambassador, growing your brand and theirs together at the same time.
Written by Sam O'Brien, CMO at marketing platform affise.com
If you enjoyed this article, you can subscribe for free to our twice weekly event and subscriber alerts.
Currently, every new subscriber will receive three of our favourite reports about the public relations sector.