How do I know what size influencers to work with? How big should their following be?
We’ve been in the industry for 15+ years and “how big?” is still one of the most common questions we get. Truth is, there’s a LOT of strategy and thought that goes into answering.
Let’s break it down.
Criteria for Influencer Selection
First of all, there is NO “one size fits all.” Every program is a delicate balance of art and science, taking many factors into consideration.
Budget: Bigger isn’t always better but it IS always more expensive. The larger the influencer's following, the higher their fee will be. So on a very basic level, we need to assess how much you can afford.
Goals: Different influencer levels achieve different outcomes. Generally speaking, if you're looking to build brand awareness you want to consider influencers with larger audiences. If you're trying to drive conversions, however, smaller influencers with highly engaged audiences will likely be more effective.
Brand Recognition: How familiar is your target market with your brand? Introducing a new product may require a different set of influencers than a well-established brand looking to deepen relationships with existing customers.
Engagement goals and messaging points: Depending on your goals, you may want to prioritize influencers who can create a two-way dialogue with their followers, or those who can deliver detailed messaging on specific product features or benefits.
Product type and industry: Are you selling a dream or solving a problem? Aspirational vs. relatable content makes a big difference and the size of influencer following matters when connecting with consumers.
Production and points of sale: Finally, we'll want to consider your capacity to fulfill an increase in demand, as well as how easily consumers can access your product. This can impact the size of influencer you work with and the type of messaging they deliver.
Influencer Tiers and benefits
After looking at all the criteria above, we get to work on influencer selection. While influencers at different tiers accomplish different goals, we often select a ratio of influencers spanning 1–3 tiers for any given program. Once we know what we’re working with, we take a look at the benefits of each tier.
Nano Influencers Are Authentic
Nano influencers have fewer than 10,000 followers and are often referred to as "everyday people." They are the most authentic of all influencer tiers and have built a strong sense of trust with their followers. Due to their smaller follower count, Nano influencers tend to have higher engagement rates and more personalized relationships with their audience. They can be a cost-effective option for brands with limited budgets.
Micro Influencers Are Relatable
Micro influencers have ~10,000 to 100,000 followers and are accessible and relatable. They are like someone you could be friends with in real life, or – and this is the powerful part for marketers – someone you could even imagine being yourself.
Posts from Micro influencers customarily average higher engagement, largely because Micro influencers tend to have much more active communication with their communities. They respond to comments, answer questions, and create follow up posts.
This relatability translates to accessibility: making it seem possible AND desirable for the consumer to enjoy featured products or experiences themselves. This drives purchase intent, and again this content is very effective when used in paid media.
Mid-tier Influencers Are the Goldilocks of Influencer Marketing
Mid-tier influencers have between 100,000 to 500,000 followers and can be seen as the Goldilocks of influencer marketing. They have a larger reach than micro-influencers but are still relatable and authentic. They often have a more specific niche or area of expertise that they cater to, which can be valuable for brands with specific target audiences. Mid-tier influencers tend to have a higher level of professionalism and can be a good option for brands looking for a more formal approach to influencer marketing.
Macro Influencers Are Great for Major Campaigns
Macro influencers have between 500,000 to 1,000,000 followers and can be seen as a middle ground between mega and mid-tier influencers. They often have a strong personal brand and a large following, making them an effective choice for major campaigns and product launches. They can be less expensive than mega influencers while still offering a broad reach and high engagement rates.
Mega Influencers Are Aspirational
Mega influencers have over 1,000,000 followers, making them online celebrities. That means their audiences interact with them the same way they do with “real” celebrities like Kim Kardashian or Serena Williams: on an aspirational level.
Communication from Mega influencers is fairly one directional, from the creator to their community. Those audience members love seeing content about the Mega influencers’ exciting and glamorous lives. This aspirational content plants the seed of desire.
Mega influencers drive consideration. This can be especially powerful when this type of content is used in paid ads with optimized target marketing to reach your ideal potential customer.
Where’s the influencer Sweet Spot?
Conventional wisdom says that you have to reach a customer 5–8 times to make a sale, but consumers today are too sophisticated to sit through five, never mind eight, of the same type of touch. A savvy brand finds multiple ways to get their product in front of a consumer at all stages of the sales funnel, from creating demand to supporting purchase.
When you work with multiple tiers of influencers at the same time, you can create an environment where your ideal target client sees content – organically or through paid media – that creates consideration. Then in the same time period when they see related content optimized for purchase intent, it acts as a second or sometimes even third or fourth touch.
Simply put, integrated influencer programs that combine a mix of influencers across platforms is the most effective way to move influencer audiences through the funnel from awareness to purchase.
Which influencers are right for your brand?
Influencer selection is crucial to running a great program. We have over 15 years of creating winning strategies and sourcing the best influencers for each distinct program. If you'd like us to take a look at your influencer strategy, drop us a line below.