When you think of an influencer, what comes to mind? Someone with millions of followers on social media, whose content is glossy and polished, and who appears to live a celebrity-style life? Well, you’re not wrong with that idea. Some influencers do fit that mold. But there are other influencer types, too.
Influencers can be organized into five tiers based on their follower count. And marketers now know that influencers from even the lowest tiers can be valuable assets in their campaigns. People with just 10K followers can be Instagram influencers, or just 5K subscribers could put content creators into the ranks of Youtube influencers.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the five influencer tiers and what defines them, as well as some tips for working with each.
Before you start
Keep in mind that before making any decisions about which influencers to collaborate with, it’s absolutely necessary that you plan out your campaign. You need to define key aspects, like your objectives and the key performance indicators you’ll use to track your progress. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I hope to gain from this marketing campaign?
- Which metrics will I use to see how I get along with it?
- When do I want to run the campaign?
- How much am I prepared to offer influencers (product + cash)?
- Who is my target audience?
Also, think a bit about the sector and niche you’re targeting. Are you a fashion brand? Fitness brand? Beauty brand? And do you have a more specific niche, like slow fashion or vegan cosmetics?
Mapping out the answers to these questions will help guide you when deciding which influencers to reach out to for collaborations.
The influencer tiers
Now, let’s understand the different influencer tiers and what each brings to the table. The tiers span follower counts from 1K to 1M+, so there are obviously some big differences between them.
Nano influencers: 1-5K followers
Nano influencers are the bottom tier and have the fewest followers. But what they lack there, they make up for with the highest average engagement rates in the industry. Engagement shows the level of interaction between an influencer and their followers.
Nano influencers come across as very authentic, like real people, not celebrities. Furthermore, they generally produce content for specific niche areas, which attract intensely focused followers. These two factors combined create trust among the audience, and therefore, high engagement.
When working with nano influencers, keep these tips in mind:
- They’ll generally agree to a collaboration in exchange for solely free products.
- Most aren’t full-time social media experts. They have other day jobs, which means they may take more time to produce their content.
- They might not have the same content creation resources as professional influencers.
- Contracts could end up being conversion killers that overly complicate negotiations and scare off these less experienced influencers.
Micro influencers: 5-50K followers
These influencers rose to prominence in the marketing industry because they hit the sweet spot between affordability and effectiveness. While still being budget-friendly options, micro influencers are relatable, knowledgeable about their niche, and able to connect well with their audience.
Like nano influencers, they have high engagement rates. However, they’re also more experienced working with brands and creating content for social media.
When you want to work with micro influencers, consider this advice:
- Some will collaborate in exchange for product alone, but others may ask for a fee of around $100-200. This is still much less than what you’d pay an influencer with a higher follower count.
- Even if they’re more professional than nano influencers, most micro influencers still have jobs outside of social media, so take this into account when scheduling.
- Micro influencers most often belong to some specific niche market, so make sure you properly identify the niche you want to reach with your campaign.
Medium influencers: 50-100K followers
This is the tier where influencers start to become more professional. Medium influencers often leave their day jobs to devote themselves fully to social media. They’re no strangers to brand collaborations. And their higher follower count means greater reach.
However, as reach increases, engagement decreases. With this many followers, it’s much harder to maintain that personal touch in your relationships with them. This, combined with potentially coming across as less authentic, causes engagement rates to drop off.
Here are some tips for working with medium influencers:
- Forget about collaborations paid in product. Expect to always pay a fee, from around $200 up to about $1,000.
- Some influencers in this tier will have a manager, who can drive up fees by around 20%.
Macro influencers: 100K-1M followers
Macro influencers have made it into the big leagues. They collaborate regularly with brands, and some may have even launched their own product lines with top brands in their sector. As they’re full-time influencers, they also tend to have heavily edited content and professionally managed accounts.
So what’s the downside to macro influencers? Their follower count can definitely help your campaign reach lots of people from around the world. But those audiences aren’t as laser-focused as the follower bases of nano or micro influencers. So while some followers may care about your brand and its products, others simply won’t.
If you’re working with macro influencers, take these points into account:
- These influencers sometimes work with more than one brand at once. This means you may have to be more flexible with your campaign schedule if you want them to fit you in.
- Fees vary a lot in this tier, based on if the influencer is closer to 100K or 1M followers.
- Make sure that macro influencers are following any relevant advertising disclosure guidelines. All influencers should do this, but it’s especially relevant here due to greater reach and incentive.
Mega influencers: 1M+ followers
Mega influencer is just another way to say celebrity. These are the most famous and most expensive types of influencers on social media today. Their reach is unrivaled. But they can also come across as fake, as their profiles sometimes look like digital display cases. Moreover, they have the lowest average engagement rates on social media.
Many mega influencers are also famous for their work outside of social media. So a considerable amount of their followers only follow them for their famous name or for a peek behind the curtain of fame. Followers don’t flock to these profiles specifically because of the content they create for social media.
- For many mega influencers, social media isn’t their only source of income. This means they may be less interested in collaborations.
- Expect to pay very high fees. So before you invest in a mega influencer, make sure it’s the absolute best choice for your campaign.
Gone are the days of needing millions of followers to be deemed an influencer. With an audience of just a few thousand, content creators get noticed by brands. And when it comes to influencer marketing, bigger isn’t always better.
If you’re looking for maximum reach, head for the higher influencer tiers, and be prepared to pay. But if you’re looking for someone who can connect your brand to its target audience in a meaningful, authentic way, consider working with the lower tiers.
All in all, regardless of the tier you choose to work with, make sure you find influencers who align with your brand and its campaign objectives.