From Micro to Nano: Why Influencer Marketing is Downsizing

In our latest report, Influencer Marketing 2020, it was revealed that influencers with under 100,000 followers are the group in highest demand from brands, with 55% of survey respondents believing them to have a better connection with their target audience in comparison to their high-profile peers. Additionally, 61% of consumers say micro-influencers or niche influencers produce more relatable content.

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In a recent article, the New York Times drew attention to the rise of a new generation of influencers taking relatability to the next level – ‘Nano influencers’. To increase margins and fully leverage the power of peer-to-peer recommendation, brands are pursuing influencers with smaller followers. Whilst exact figures differ across companies, the general consensus is that ‘Hero influencers’ are those with over 1m followers, ‘Macro influencers’ are those with over 100,000, ‘Micro influencers’ are those with over 10,000 and ‘Nano influencers’ are those with over 1,000. It may seem counterintuitive, but individuals with smaller followings can prove important assets to a brand’s social media strategy. Nano influencers are every day, ‘real’ people, the ‘you and me’ of social media, if you will. Their audience is traditionally made up of friends and family, or people who know them personally, so there exists a built-in trust in their opinion.  According to Brian Solis, Principal Analyst at Altimeter Group quoted in PR News – only 30% of consumers follow big influencers, compared to 70% who are more heavily influenced by family members or friends online. Users are more likely to trust their word over a celebrity or top-tier influencer who may have been financially motivated to endorse a product.

As influencer marketing evolves, the holy grail for brands looking to have a genuine impact on their consumers is to collaborate with a digital creative who delivers authentic testimonial and who drives credible advocacy for their brand. Nano influencers followers are linked by family, affinity, industry or common interest, comprising individuals who are organically interested in what that influencer has to say. For this reason, they could prove instrumental in forging meaningful connections and inspiring purchase.

According to Sarah Evans, Head of Digital at Bottle PR, the motivation for embracing low-tier influencers could be a financial one: ‘Clients are being more tactical with budgets…With celebrity or top-tier talent collaborations, you’re renting their audience for a single post, but for the same price, you could take the time to co-create something of meaning with multiple micro-influencers where the content is more likely to resonate.’ Incorporating Nano influencers into your marketing strategy could enable you to place smaller bets across the board, harnessing the voices of multiple creatives who can drive word-of-mouth amongst the mainstream public. Indeed, for some Nano influencers, money isn’t part of the equation. Instead, these individuals will sample and review in exchange for free product. ‘Gifted’ items or nominal commissions are seen as fair compensation for content. This is particularly attractive, given the fact that as bigger influencers grow in popularity and following, they are steadily beginning to demand higher fees.

Nanos tend to post more regularly, and content may be less polished which again can add to the relatability that brands a striving for. Additionally, smaller creatives are able to spend more time responding to comments and likes, truly driving discussion forward and encouraging a two-way narrative with their followers.

This move comes at a time when confusion over correct advertising disclosure is at a peak and concerns about transparency are ongoing. Brands and consumers alike are discouraged by growing instances of fake followers, bots and wider fraud-detection issues. In fact, another key finding of Influencer Marketing 2020, is that fake followers ranks as the number one concern within influencer marketing at present. Now is the optimal time for brands to change tack and steer well clear of any blurred lines. Nano-influencers are inherently less likely to have bought followers and therefore possess added validity in the talent landscape.

Nano-influencer content is for all intents and purposes, user-generated content. They are customers and fans, rather than experts, authorities or celebrities. Nanos use social media to express sincere affinity for a brand or product. Brian Salzman, the founder and CEO of relationship marketing agency RQ, wrote for AdWeek that “the fan is the ultimate influencer, and leveraging their power is the best influencer marketing tactic around.”  Facebook announced earlier this year their new algorithm will prioritize ‘meaningful interaction’ among friends and family and reduce unwarranted content from brands and media. As a result, brands need to revise their strategy and consider partnerships with ordinary users. Some brands including GlossierASOS and Converse have acted ahead of the curve in this respect, dedicating resource to a network of low-tier creatives in order to foster long-term support.

So, what does this mean for the future of influencer marketing?

If the status quo gets on board with the ‘everyone’s an influencer’ mentality, the ability of top-tier talent to demand extortionate fees will undoubtedly dilute. If brands can prove that employing a group of impassioned individuals with ‘true’ influence in their community can deliver the same – if not better – engagement results, it will become harder and harder to justify the spend. Moving forward, brands will have most success with a tiered marketing strategy, embracing a layered approach when it comes to talent selection. Collaborating with a number of Nano or Micro influencers in conjunction with one or two big names, should enable maximum reach plus optimum impact.

To choose from a pool of over 110,000 digital creatives for your next collaboration, ranging from Nano to Mega influencers, including detailed data performance analysis, please set up a product demo.

You can download the full Influencer Marketing 2020 report here.

Influencer Intelligence

With over 30 years industry experience, Influencer Intelligence combines data science and social analytics, with specialist advisory and best practice training to equip marketers with the data, insights and skills they need to deliver successful talent-led campaigns.