Unless you have been living in an internet black-out zone for the past decade, virtually everyone has heard of social media influencers and how they are professionalizing brand advocacy. Not to be confused with brand advocates, those family, friends, and associates that openly popularize specific products and services they enjoy voluntarily and without expectation of payment, influencers are usually famous, well-known or personable social media champions who are paid by companies to pitch a brand’s offerings.
Most familiar are those popular or famous movie and television stars, musicians, and sports athletes who have garnered significant numbers of followers on social media platforms. Mega, or celebrity influencers, generally have more than 1 million social media followers. Mega influencers can deliver massive numbers of touch points with a broad and diverse audience but generally require a high price for brands looking for endorsement.
Macro influencers have staked out the middle ground in the professional influencer category. Usually receiving 100,000 to a million social media followers, macro influencers are generally popular bloggers, podcasters, and social media personalities with a special and specific interest niche. Offering a more targeted audience approach, macro influencer marketing can deliver considerable benefits to brands seeking to gain notice for a more reasonable cost.
Nano influencers are influencers that have fewer than 10,000 followers but maintain strong connections with fans. Nano influencers produce authentic and personable content to establish trust and credibility among legions of followers. While they offer the smallest reach, nano influencers can be excellent partners for businesses looking to target specific communities and demographics with modest marketing spend. Consumers are increasingly reacting favorably to nano-influencer marketing. A recent study by Defy Media found that 60 percent of millennials say they are likely to make a purchase recommended by favorite social media personalities rather than from a famous television or big-screen celebrity.
Nearly half of consumers report discovering new products through favorite social media personalities every week, and 80 percent admit to making a purchase on the word of a micro influencer. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, the influencer industry reached $16.4 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow to $21.1 billion by the end of this year.
As the influencer marketing space expands in popularity among marketers and consumers alike, identifying and connecting with a suitable influencer partner can prove challenging for many brands. Some very large and notable players are discovering just how dangerous focusing on numbers alone can lead to catastrophic results for once iconic brands. Before choosing an influencer, marketers need to perform critical due diligence to determine who makes up the vast number of influencers’ followers. Failing to identify who the customer is and what’s important to them could lead to very poor, impactful decisions for the brand.
Is the prospective influencer growing followers organically? Does published content align with your brand’s message and promise, and are followers engaging with the personality and their position? These are questions that should be asked before engaging with a new influencer.
Regardless of which category a professional influencer occupies, credibility, authenticity, and transparency are the major factors determining the continued viability of influencers’ impact on consumers. Long-term relationships with brands, influencers, and audiences will only be achieved when confidence in these principles among all participants is reached. Tweaking and perfecting this critical marketing approach will yield benefits to brands, influencers, and consumers alike and will continue to deliver solutions to consumers more effectively and efficiently.