What is an Influencer?

Social media influencers are the advertising element in the influence market. This is quite a specific type of market, where companies hire influencers to endorse their products through testimonial advertising. This tool generates sales and engagement with a brand’s products and services when the influencer’s followers see the content they have created involving that brand. When the collaboration is successful, this marketing strategy can bring in big results for a business. We need to consider this when deciding what the best influencers for your business might be.

An influencer is someone who exerts influence over their ‘followers’ on social media to encourage a certain type of behaviour in them. This can mean anything from product placement and generating sales, to trendsetting and circulating new fashions. A social media influencer is someone who has both the power to change the purchasing decisions of their followers, and a good deal of knowledge and experience about the product or experience they are trying to promote. 

Often, their power to change their audience’s habits comes from having a relationship with that audience, and this is usually through prior knowledge of the influencer (celebrity/ someone who is familiar through culture), by engaging with the followers, or a combination of these methods. 

How do Influencers Help With Marketing?

Macro to Micro The Best Influencers For Your Business

Using social media influencers as a marketing strategy can be a very successful approach for brands big or small. Not only can it encourage a wider audience to engage with and be aware of their products, but influencers can even create trends which in turn generate more interaction with their brand. As long as a business carefully measures their use of social media influence and the campaign they are trying to achieve, it remains a relatively low risk marketing strategy. 

In fact, one of the major advantages of using this type of marketing is that it is such a growing and modern tool, and that almost every business is using it, as it has proven to be successful time and again, allowing wider audiences than ever before to view brands’ products. The fact that the social influence market is growing so exponentially makes it a great tool for brands to take advantage of. In fact, the market is set to be worth a staggering 15 billion dollars by 2022. 

The Different Types of Influencers

Social media influencers can be categorised in multiple different ways, although we tend to organise them in terms of numbers of followers. It is vital that brands understand the difference between the types of influencer, as hiring the wrong type for a campaign can mean all the difference if it is successful or not. Follower size is not the only distinction between the types of followers, although it is a good indication of the different reaches they have. Brands must also consider influencers’ levels of engagement with their followers, the area they are experts in, and the desired length of the campaign. 

The type of media is also a very important aspect to be considered when it comes to social media influence marketing campaigns. Some influencers will only post images, where others will use their platforms to post videos endorsing products and brands. Others still will use a combination of the two in a single post, and many will use specific parts of social media such as the ‘stories’ function on Instagram, which disappear after 24 hours. This increase in  multi-media influencing also has a direct impact on the performance of the campaign, and the use of these different platforms must be evaluated carefully by brands considering using this marketing strategy. 

The main way social media influencers can be categorised is by size, and number of followers: 

Mega Influencers

Mega influencer is a term that typically applies to a social media influencer with 1million+ followers. This type of influencer is often an individual who is a celebrity in their own right, whether in the traditional sense of an actor, singer or TV star, or an internet star. 

Mega influencers, as the largest scale of influencers, are almost guaranteed to have their own agents who will negotiate any marketing deals on their behalf. This is definitely something for companies to consider when they are thinking of approaching an influencer, that they will have to have an effective campaign pitch in order to convince an influencer to work with that brand. 

It is also important for brands to consider the variety of charges when it comes to hiring an influencer. Mega influencers will charge the most, and the ones with the most followers can charge up to an astonishing £1 million per post. Kylie Jenner for example, one of the most famous influencers on the social media platform Instagram, regularly charges this much for an advertisement post on her Instagram, which can be liked by up to 10 million people.

Influencers will claim that these high prices come with a good Return on Investment for the business, as so many people will see the advert and potentially buy the product, but as there is such a large and varied audience, this strategy can resemble old-fashioned advertising techniques. This is something for brands to consider when it comes to mega influencers; their relative success may be low as this is not a very targeted form of influencing. When it comes to followings this large, brands must also be careful to ensure that an influencer’s followers are genuine, as far as possible. 

Mega influencers are very often individuals who have become well known through other channels, especially reality TV stars. These influencers are taking advantage of their extensive followings to endorse and review products of brands they are approached by, and often have a very specific image to keep up. The obvious examples of mega influencers therefore are former TV stars such as the Kardashians. The infamous Love Island is another reality TV show where a significant number of former participants went on to become mega influencers. 

In fact, there is often a lot of online conversation surrounding these participants’ sponsorship deals and the brands they work with after being on the show. This is not always positive, as sometimes people go as far as making fun of the contestants and suggesting they only go on the show in order to get the sponsorship deals that come with that appearance. When considering hiring these types of celebrities as influencers, brands must consider that this is both an advantage and a potential drawback. This can work in favor of the brand as there is so much media attention surrounding the contestants, however it could also hinder them as there is that element of negativity surrounding them and it could affect the relationship of trust between the influencer and their followers if they suspect that the whole thing was a ploy for a sponsorship deal. 

What business type this influencer is best for: 

In conclusion, mega-influencers are most suitable for businesses that have a significant marketing budget and want to increase brand awareness to the masses fast. Pretty Little Thing is a good example of a company who has this range and budget for campaigns on this scale. Mega influencers are not as suitable to campaigns that need to be focussed on a specific or niche audience, and brands must consider the possibility of relatively low ROI if the influencer and product are not well matched. 

Example of mega influencers and successful mega influencer campaigns: 

One good example of a successful campaign involving a mega influencer is the sponsorship between OhPolly and the past Love Island contestant Molly Mae Hague. Her posts can gain up to 500,000 likes.

Macro Influencers

A Macro influencer is usually defined as an influencer who has a following of between 100,000 and 1 million. A significant difference between mega and macro influencers is the source of their following and how they have gained their fame. Where a mega influencer will often be making the most of the fame from a previous or separate career, a macro influencer is often someone who has gained their following from the internet and from influencing itself. 

Brands will often find that macro influencers are the perfect fit for a campaign that needs a wide audience and a relatively specific audience. Because macro influencers have often built their followings on the internet, they are usually already very good at knowing which campaigns to take on and what their brand is. In other words, they are experienced in the world of social media marketing and brands should consider this professionalism when approaching them. 

Macro influencers usually have a very engaged relationship with their followers, as they have built up their following on a bond of trust and communication. While they might not do this as much as the smaller influencers we will go on to mention, they certainly have a higher engagement level than mega influencers, and this is ultimately something that can make or break an advertisement campaign. 

Other factors that brands need to consider when it comes to macro influencers include the price point. While macro influencers are undeniably more affordable for a brand than mega influencers, many of them also have agents in order to secure their marketing deals for them, and this does mean that prices can end up being high in certain cases.  

Another good indicator when it comes to both mega and macro influencers is the ‘blue tick’ verification graphic on both Instagram and Twitter. This feature is shown on the profiles of, in Instagram’s own words, accounts that have been verified to be the authentic presence of the public figure, celebrity or global brand it represents. These profiles tend to have a high number of followers, and can actually bring with them a higher price point for the influencer’s content. 

What business type this influencer is best for

Working with macro influencers is ideal for a brand that has a high advertising budget, wants to increase their brand awareness, and is running a campaign where only a single or few social media posts will suffice to reach their audience. 

Examples of macro influencers and successful mega influencer campaigns

A great example of a macro influencing campaign is Emily Clarkson’s Symprove advertising on Instagram. Emily Clarkson is a well known positive body image advocate, and is sponsored by Symprove to boost awareness of their products. 

Micro Influencers

Micro influencers have between 10,000 and 100,000 followers, and have more specific audiences than either mega or macro influencers. This is currently the most common type of influencer on the social media platform Instagram, and, while they have a smaller reach than larger influencers, micro influencing is far more engaged and specialised. Their audiences are often extremely loyal and engaged. If the brand and influencer are well matched, micro influencing can mean serious marketing efficiency. 

Brands who are considering using micro influencers can reap the benefits of a specific, engaged and trusting audience. However, they must also consider the fact that micro influencers are less likely to be full time influencers, and the quality of their content may therefore be inferior to larger influencers. Brands can get around this with quality revisions in the contract. It is also worth noting that micro influencers’ reach is just smaller in general, so a brand may have to work with multiple influencers in order to gain the same ROI as a larger campaign, which will take up more of their time and be less convenient.

What business type this influencer is best for

Working with micro influencers is the best decision for smaller businesses and those who want to increase their awareness at a relatively low cost. 

Examples of micro influencers and successful mega influencer campaigns: 

Daniel Wellington regularly works with many micro influencers, e.g @sararodriguesss, in order to achieve the same result as a macro influencer, but with a more targeted audience. Here is a link to an article with more information on this. https://join.marketing/blog/watches/#/

Nano Influencers

Nano influencers are usually defined as an influencer who has 10,000 followers or less. Whilst they have fewer followers in number, it does not necessarily follow that nano influencers have less influence over consumers. They can in fact be a very powerful tool of brand awareness and in advertising campaigns, because they usually have a much higher level of engagement with their followers than larger influencers do.

The process of influence is built on trust and relationships with followers, and there is a high level of this with nano influencers. It is also worth noting that nano influencers do not usually require a high level of creative freedom with their posts, and are likely to accept the company’s formatting of the product advertisement. 

However one potential drawback of using nano influencers is that their followers are more likely to become fatigued of adverts, and there is potential there for multiple advert campaigns to erode the trust between influencer and audience if they feel they are just constantly being sold to. This won’t necessarily be a problem though, but is just another factor for companies to consider when deciding on which type of influencer they want to work with. 

What business type this influencer is best for

Nano influencers are an excellent choice for smaller brands who care about authenticity and engagement. Working with nano influencers is also great for local brands who want to advertise in their own city or country, as this very much increases trust in their target audiences. Campaigns involving multiple nano influencers often yield a high level of connection and ROI. Working with multiple influencers across the same campaign can be a very constructive strategy for a business. 

Examples of nano influencers and successful mega influencer campaigns

Spoilt Belle Boutique in Magherafelt, Northern Ireland, successfully used the nano influencer @frans_travels as a Brand Ambassador for their boutique.

The Best Influencers For Your Business – Summary

The fact that there are multiple different types of influencer is both an advantage and a drawback for brands looking to choose one. On the one hand, there is more variety for them to choose from and therefore more chance that they will find a successful ambassador for their campaign. 

However, they must be careful that they are approaching the right type of influencer, otherwise they may find themselves with someone who does not share their values or is not right for the campaign. Some of our other other blog posts show the possible consequences of mismatched brands and influencers. Ultimately though, social media influence marketing is undeniably a very useful tool for brands to use when boosting consumers’ awareness of their products and services. 

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