With more than 170 million Instagram followers and 65 million Twitter followers, Kim Kardashian might be the world’s most powerful social media influencer. But it doesn’t take a following of that size to make an impact. Creators with much smaller audiences can be effective influencers, too.

Influencers fall into different categories, and most don’t operate anywhere near the same scale as a mega-influencer like Kardashian. Macro-influencers, for example, have follower counts ranging between 100,000 and 1 million, and micro-influencers have between 10,000 and 100,000 followers. As social influence continues to evolve, nano-influencers — who have between 1,000 and 10,000 followers — now increasingly drive strong performance for brands. Micro-influencers in particular offer a sweet spot for marketers; they’re still sizable in scale, but they tend to enjoy a more engaged audience. Knowing the difference between macro- and micro-influencers can help you decide which kind would best fit your company.

Deciding Between Macro- or Micro-Influencers

Large companies often opt for macro-influencers simply because of the reach they have. Macro-influencers are able to reach more than 20 times the audience of micro-influencers, which helps when brands are trying to broadcast a message to a large, often diverse group of people. That’s what Samsung was thinking when it partnered with South African rapper Cassper Nyovest, who currently boasts 2.8 million Twitter followers.

But having more followers isn’t always better. Although macro-influencers are capable of casting a wide net, micro-influencers can home in on a specific niche — and audiences often view them as experts in their particular fields. Over the last 10 years, Mitchell has taken a data-centric approach to helping our clients identify and collaborate with micro-influencers to drive results across the funnel. Our audience-first approach puts emphasis on finding authentic voices that will resonate in specific markets and communities. As you determine which mix of influencers makes the most sense for your company, you must also consider whether you want to reach a large group of people or tap into a specific market.

Influencers don’t need to have hundreds of thousands of followers to be helpful to marketing efforts. In truth, the larger the audience, the lower the engagement rate tends to be. Although celebrity endorsements alone typically move only 3% of consumers, micro-influencers are able to build trust with an audience through thought leadership.

Indeed, micro-influencers have become increasingly popular as consumers grow more skeptical of macro-influencers. A study from Uproar PR found that around three-fourths of consumers prefer marketing that comes from micro-influencers. Marketers also find micro-influencers especially helpful because they can provide unique views, are often cheaper to work with, and tend to garner higher engagement figures on their posts — thanks in part to the authenticity of their followings.

Every program requires specific strategies to identify the right mix of influencers, so evaluating micro-influencers versus macro-influencers will depend on campaign objectives. Macro-influencers might be more appropriate for brands looking to maintain reach, but micro-influencers can help with brand awareness in a specific market or community. Our data-centric approach to influencer identification ensures our clients apply the right mix of creators designed to drive business results that are critical to their efforts. In short, it’s not necessary to keep up with the Kardashians — influencers with all audience sizes can make effective partners.

 

Sadie Schabdach is chief content officer at Mitchell, a leading integrated PR firm that creates real connections between businesses, brands, and people. Mitchell is the flagship PR agency of the Dentsu Aegis Network, which is the 2017 and 2018 MediaPost Holding Company of the Year.