What makes an influencer?

For organisations looking to take advantage of the influencer marketing space, it is critical to understand the different types of social media influencers to gain the greatest value from your marketing efforts.

Influencer marketing is continuing to grow, from $1.7 billion industry in 2016 growing to $4.6 billion in 2018, more than doubling in two years. With this growth, more influencers are entering the market, but the actual influence of ‘influencers’ is being questioned as their popularity grows. Previously, a large following and like count equalled influence, however brands can no longer rely on these metrics to dictate influence.

There is more to being an influencer than just having a high follower count. Influencers must be experts in their fields, create behaviour change, have strong character and beliefs and most importantly be a trusted source of information for their audience. This is why we are seeing a shift towards brands using Micro (1-10k followers) and Nano (10-50k followers) influencers.

These influencers are seen by their followers/audience as more authentic than their larger counterparts as they are more are more engaged with their followers than their larger counterparts.

It is critical organisations identify their target audience from the outset and identify influencers who engage and reach these people. Depending on the type of brand, campaign, goals and objectives, organisations need to identify the influencers they believe will achieve their vision. Whether that is reaching a million people through one influencer or engaging with 500 followers in a niche market, you must understand the ‘influencer tiers’ and what opportunities lie within each.

The five tiers of influencer marketing:
  1. Mega influencers (1M+) who are also known as ‘celebrity influencers’ are often categorised as more famous than influential. However, for larger brands with a diverse market who are looking to get their product or services in front of the eyes of millions of people and achieve that maximum reach, this type of influencer is worth investigating for your brand.
  2. Macro influencers (500K – 1M) have a smaller reach than mega influencers however they still achieve a broad reach with a diverse market. Macro influencers are often more accessible than their mega influencer counterparts and can achieve higher and more authentic engagement rates with their smaller audience.
  3. Mid-Tier influencers (50K – 500K) have a broader reach and audience than tnano and micro influencers but generally higher levels of engagement than mega and macro influencers. If your brand wants a mid-level of engagement that reaches a broad audience, this type of influencer could be ideal for your influencer marketing strategy.
  4. Micro influencers (10K – 50K) can be hugely beneficial to work with as they have a more defined audience. This can be beneficial when trying to reach a specific market for your brand. The micro level suits highly tailored influencer marketing campaigns that seek a high level of engagement.
  5. Nano influencers (1K – 10K) have the smallest audience and the least amount of followers/subscribers, yet they can add value to your campaigns through higher engagement rates as they are seen by their audiences as friends that they can relate to and interact with. While they do have limited reach, if your brand’s goal is to reach a niche and specific community, working with a nano influencer should be investigated.

Likes and high followers do not necessarily equal engagement and sales when working with an influencer. For organisations wanting to take advantage of the influencer marketing space, understanding the different influencer types, is critical to achieving a successful influencer marketing campaign.