In influencer marketing, many assume that sponsorships and brand partnerships are reserved for the elite. It makes sense that companies would want to partner with the most well-known personalities who can reach the biggest number of followers, right?
Influencer marketing has radically expanded the world of sponsored endorsements. These days, companies partner with personalities of all kinds—even those with modest followings.
Popularity Means Influence
As we’ve discussed in previous articles, an influencer can be defined as anyone who has built a substantial following on social media. How they did it doesn’t really matter—they can be athletes, musicians, vloggers, gamers—all that matters is that they’ve grabbed the goblet of fame and intend to keep it.
Companies team up with these influencers and pay them to create a series of sponsored posts that will inevitably show up in the feeds of every follower the influencer has. This is the basis of influencer marketing.
Of course, there’s much more to it than finding those with the highest follower counts. These days, influencers are separated into one of two categories based on their popularity and what they can bring to the table: macro influencers and micro influencers.
Macro influencers are influencers with more than 100,000+ followers, and celebrities like Taylor Swift, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Rihanna. They can be online celebrities too; most serial YouTubers are familiar with the likes of Smosh, Pewdiepie, or Jenna Marbles, all of whom have followers in the millions, despite not being household names.
The defining characteristic of macro influencers is just that: They have Influence, with a capital I. Macro influencers millions of fans watching their every move and make waves in our cultural landscape with their antics.
What’s their benefit?
Naturally, macro influencers are popular choices for influencer marketing campaigns:
• Reach: You can’t beat the reach of macro influencers. These folks live in the public eye and bring serious visibility to every influencer campaign.
• Positive Associations: As macro influencers are so recognizable, they tend to create powerful associations in consumer minds. For example, if Steve Vai were to recommend a certain brand of guitar, you can bet that endorsement would carry weight beyond what any stranger could provide.
• Campaign Control: It might sound counterintuitive, but brands typically have more control when dealing with big influencers. Macro influencers rarely deal with brands directly—they often work through arrangements made by their managers or talent agents. As such, the terms of each influencer agreement are always spelled out clearly with little variance in what’s delivered.
Micro influencers have smaller follower counts than their macro counterparts, usually under 100,000 followers. These influencers don’t make the news and they aren’t generally well known outside of their niches, but nevertheless command respect from the industries in which they work.
Micro influencers are a relatively new concept, as their rise to popularity works differently than macro influencers. Historically, most macro influencers found their fame in the real world and then transitioned to social media later. On the other hand, micro influencers build steady followings on their social channels by promoting the hobbies they love and achieve recognition as they grow.
This limited amount of fame isn’t a drawback for influencer marketing—in fact, it’s the biggest advantage micro influencers have.
What is their benefit?
The benefits of partnering with macro influencers are obvious, but micro influencers can bring just as much heat to an influencer marketing campaign:
• Niche Targeting: Micro influencers, by definition, operate in smaller niches. In the marketing world where targeted messaging is paramount, this offers a serious advantage over macro influencers. Influencers with millions of followers tend to lack defined audience segments, but micro influencers come equipped with highly defined markets.
• Personal Connections: By virtue of their smaller followings, micro influencers tend to make more personal connections with their fans. They engage with posts more readily and their content features higher engagement—a statistical trend backed by research on Instagram.
• Cost: Understandably, micro influencers come with more affordable price tags. The key benefit here is that brands can hire several micro influencers to operate in multiple niches for the same cost as one macro influencer, who may offer little in the way of market segmentation.
Is One Better Than the Other?
The macro vs. micro discussion isn’t a question of better and worse—it’s simply a difference in style. Big brands that have invested in influencer marketing usually leverage a combination of the two, while smaller companies get by with a selection of carefully-cultivated micro influencers.
**Each option brings different benefits to the table, and each can bring serious value to your influencer ROI. **As always, the question to ask isn’t which is best—it’s which is best for my brand?