Go big or go home, or so the saying goes. But when it comes to influencer marketing in 2022, a larger following doesn’t necessarily equate to greater impact.
Influencer marketing began with a bang. Reality TV stars and other celebrities led the way in monetizing social media content, endorsing brands and giving us mere mortals a peek into their dizzyingly glamorous lifestyles at the same time. But the influencer landscape has since evolved to encompass people from all walks of life, whose highly relatable content has an even greater appeal.
Micro influencers were the first ‘real’ folk to harness their social media channels to inspire their relatively close-knit circles to get behind a brand. Now we have ‘nano influencers’, whose online following is more select still, overlapping to a large degree with their offline world.
And contrary to what you might expect, it’s the smallest creators who are now making the biggest waves in influencer marketing, relative to audience size.
In fact, as we reported in the State of Influencer Marketing 2023, more marketers (46%) now work with nano influencers than with influencers of any other size. This figure leapfrogs even the 24% of marketers working with micro influencers, who are next smallest in reach.
Spheres of Influence
With a comparatively small fan base, nano influencers typically have between 5,000 to 20,000 followers on Instagram. Nano influencers typically haven’t yet carved out a full-time career in influencer marketing, but their content is still valuable to brands and seen as more authentic than studio-shot creative.
Also classed as smaller creators, micro influencers have a slightly larger reach (20,000 – 60,000 followers) than their nano peers. These are the ‘influencers to watch,’ who are in the process of making a name for themselves. Our State of Influencer Marketing 2023 survey also showed that 70% of marketers today work with nano or micro influencers.
Next come the big hitters: mid-tier influencers (60,000–200,000 followers), macro influencers (200,000+) and those stellar mega influencers (1 million+). These are the influencers to approach if you want to get the professionals in – and have a big budget for it. According to our survey, just 7% of marketers work with influencers at the macro level and beyond.
How the Numbers Stack Up
Working with smaller creators isn’t just a way for brands to make their influencer marketing budget go further. What’s remarkable is that what nano influencers may lack in reach, they more than make up for in impact.
Our own data reveals that nano influencers are the most engaging of all influencer types – achieving an engagement rate of 3.69% on average. This is more than twice the typical engagement rate (1.61%) attained by influencers at the macro level and up.
The effectiveness of smaller creators – nano influencers especially – reflects in part a greater focus on authenticity and relatability over audience size. For influencer marketing to work, followers have to trust the source of recommendations or reviews. Posts need to feel genuine, and it can be easier to believe in these relatable influencers who have very similar lifestyles to their followers.
A smaller following also allows for more direct, two-way communication between nano influencers and their loyal circles. Nano influencers know a higher proportion of their followers in real life – even more so than micro influencers. Ongoing dialogue strengthens engagement and gives nanos plenty of natural opportunities to reinforce brand and product awareness beyond an initial post.
Given that nano influencers are not only the most engaging but also the most cost-effective option, working with the smallest creators offers brands an excellent return on investment (ROI). Marketers can look to smaller creators, and to nano influencers in particular, to leverage their highly engaged audiences for the brand’s benefit – at a low cost per engagement.
Why Nano Influencers Are More Attractive Than Ever
For nano influencers, posting isn’t a job but a way to share their interests and connect, often very closely, with family, friends, and acquaintances who may be only a few steps removed. Nanos occupy a niche and stick to this, building trust in their expertise in a specific area. Their trusted opinions – whether on the likes of family or food, fashion or beauty, gaming or travel – lead to a high level of influence among their followers.
Because nano influencers only seldom recommend a brand or review a product or service, when they do so, it seems more sincere and genuine as a result. Working with nano influencers can let you deftly sidestep coming across as pushy and sales-driven to potential customers. Endorsements feel more like a recommendation from a friend – because oftentimes that’s exactly what they are.
A strong influencer marketing strategy needs a mix of influencers with varying audience sizes to target customer prospects from all angles. By working with nano influencers as part of this strategy, your brand could be seen in authentic user-generated content, as well as among the carefully curated feeds of professional influencers.
Nano influencers work a smaller, more select sphere of influence, and their focused efforts to engage really pay off. Content is relevant and relatable because nanos know their followers intimately. And as the content is influencer-generated rather than professionally put together, it’s also not so wildly aspirational and more like looking up to the girl/boy next door.
Brands can leverage nano influencers’ capacity to create compelling content that really chimes with their audience to propel customer prospects right through the purchase journey. Since there’s no scarcity of nano influencers, you shouldn’t have any difficulty finding brand partners who embody your customer personas.
Gone are the days when your brand might have felt the need to court megawatt celebrities to raise brand visibility and influence sales. Thanks to the small-but-mighty power of nano influencers, effective engagement is now well within reach of most budgets.
Nano naturally means niche, but because you can afford to work with multiple nanos (as well as or instead of other influencer types) you can cover a myriad of niches. As their highly engaged audiences are likely to listen and act, it’s a cost-effective approach to building brand awareness and boosting sales in this time of tightened marketing budgets.
Moreover, as well as generating the greatest ROI in terms of engagement, nano influencers are also at a stage where they are very eager to strengthen their personal brand. Build them up by supporting them with free products, and if they’re a good match, by creating a long-term relationship with them. Fast-moving consumer goods are the most economical fit for product seeding.
Your brand may also be able to repurpose influencer-generated content on your own website and social channels, stretching your investment further.
How to Find Nano Influencers
Influencer marketing is a booming industry with swathes of new creators joining the market all the time. With a seemingly endless supply of nano influencers to choose from, you may need support to build the optimal online community to share your brand stories at scale.
Aspire is the leading platform for influencer marketing, and we can help you to find influencers the easy way.
Our Influencer Discovery Tools can help you discover hundreds of influential people who align with your brand and audience. You can search more than 100 million creators using our Influencer Search Engine. Or harness our one-of-a-kind Creator Marketplace to attract influencers to you.
Social Listening is a tool that lets you see who’s already talking about your brand, so you can invite them to double down on engagement on your behalf. And our Shopify and WooCommerce integrations enable you to engage in affiliate marketing, turning your biggest customers into brand partners.
Nano influencers punch well above their weight, achieving the highest engagement rate of all influencer types. Let Aspire help you connect with individual influencers who are ideally placed to build your brand through authentic, relatable content. Book a demo.