Mega, Macro, Micro and Nano-Influencers. What’s the difference?
In 2019, a survey conducted by MediaKix revealed that the influencer marketing industry was on the rise to becoming one of the most lucrative industries and tools for marketers. And now, 2021 has been dubbed the year of South Africa’s influencer economy. As digital marketing continues to lead the advertising industry away from traditional marketing strategies, the influencer industry has become key in driving campaigns and advertising products and services. A social media trends report released by GWI Core Q4 2020 reveals that influencers have a strong relationship with their followers, particularly with younger generations. It states that “Gen Z’s are almost as likely to follow influencers as Brands”.
With the limitations and difficulties COVID-19 presented to marketers globally, the move towards digital has become even greater with companies and organisations choosing to invest their marketing spend budgets in channels that perform without the consumer ever really having to leave the comforts of their home (read more about this trend in our blog here). MediaKix, 2019 key findings in a 2019 survey showed that influencer marketing proved to be 80% more effective than traditional forms of marketing, was 89% more effective in driving ROI and drove sales and traffic up by 71% (MediaKix, 2019). The fact that marketers believe influencer marketing generates better quality leads and customers than other communication channels, makes it vital to understand what exactly “influencing” means and how as marketers, we can best utilise this marketing communication process. What makes this form of marketing so attractive to consumers is the relatability of their marketer – the influencer. There’s a trust factor already attached to the person, so when influencers endorse a brand, product or service, people are easily swayed towards their word.
Image source: Neil Patel
But what is influencing? And how is it related to marketing?
‘To influence’ is the simplest way to explain what influencing means. As a verb, the act of influencing (in a marketing context) is to shape the ideas of an audience on what products and services best suit their lifestyles, in turn, encouraging them to try or use those same products and services. Influencing is a new-age form of ‘brand activation’ with the only difference being that it relies heavily on individuals with a large social media following to endorse products, services and organisations publicly, in the hopes of humanising brand names to their audiences with the purpose of stimulating brand awareness, product trial or brand switching. Influencer marketing involves the promotion of products through endorsements and product placement from influential people or organisations who are deemed experts in their fields. These range from tech and DIY to beauty, photography, scrapbooking and cooking. The GWI Core Q4 2020 report also reveals that those who follow influencers are varied in their interests.
The influencing industry itself is multileveled and consists of individuals with a diverse set of media and PR skills. While many aspire to become influencers, behind the glitz and glamour is plenty of hard work. For one, it is becoming an increasingly competitive industry. Those that are able to create a following on social media, must work hard to maintain it. Earning trust from followers requires persistent effort. As such influencers can no longer endorse a brand for the sake of making a quick buck. Bombarding an audience with unrelated sponsored content is the quickest way to ‘kill the vibe’ and the influencer’s credibility with it.
As a marketer, it is important to understand this. Influencers typically align to a category such as travel, lifestyle, fashion, food, beauty, sport, gaming, entertainment, tech or health and fitness. While some influencers may focus on or overlap some of these categories, it is vital to choose an influencer that also aligns to your brand’s positioning and tone. It is likely they will be doing the same.
There are four types of influencers:
Mega-influencers are the “celebrity” of influencers. These people typically have diverse audiences without any real influence, but rather, have a strong popularity amongst different groups of people. They aren’t necessarily experts in the industries of the products or services they’re advertising, but they do have a higher audience reach. When thinking mega-influencers, CMS Wire notes the likes of ‘A-list celebrities’ such as Will Smith who uses all sorts of social media platforms to entertain his fans and in some instances, fits in a sneaky promotion here or there.
Image source: @WillSmith on Instagram
Macro-influencing as described by Social Media Today suggests that this level of influencing is the level before the ‘celebrity’ status of notoriety. Macro influencers are usually household names, the ones trusted by thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands or millions of followers within their regions. They are typically approached by brands and companies first to explore avenues for advertising a brand, product or service. These avenues always include using their platforms to reach their wide audiences for greater visibility for the brand.
Source: influenceforimpact.com (2021)
Micro-influencers are the ‘newbies’ or the more ‘ordinary’ type of influencer that is more attainable and accessible by the audience than the macro influencer. A micro influencer is usually someone with less than 15,000 (fifteen thousand) followers, but this is dependent on the brand as they determine how far down the line of micro they wish to go.
Source: influenceforimpact.com (2021)
Nano-influencers are the newer influencers coming up who are typically popular amongst their own community and generally smaller audience. CMS Wire describes nano-influencers as your “regular, everyday people” whose family and friends love to see and hear from and who trust their opinions on products and services. Their influence reach is much smaller than that of the higher tier influencers, but this should not be misunderstood as less valuable when nano-influencers tend to have the highest engagement rates with their audiences. The drawbacks of nano-influencing really is just that their reach is not always further than their following which is usually below the 1000-follower threshold.
Influencing as a whole is an incredibly attractive and innovative tool for marketers to use. The outcome of which type of influencer to employ when delivering a campaign or wanting to advertise a product is entirely dependent on the type of influencer the brand wants to align themselves with, and who the influencer themself wishes to work with. It also depends on the objectives you are trying to achieve for your organisation.
Influencing is incredibly effective because of the reliability and accessibility consumers have to these people, so looking at engagement is much more favourable than reach. The percentage of an influencer’s engagement is worth much more than their reach as the engagement shows just how many people are actually engaging with their content and what they have to say. All four types of influencers, mega-, macro-, micro- or nano-influencers have something to offer.
Joe Sinkwitz, CEO at Intellifluence sums it up well. “One generally needs to understand that the larger the audience, the less focused it is likely to be, and therefore the broader the offer will probably have to be.”