The Million-Follower Question: Are Macro Influencers Really More Influential?

To answer the age-old question: does bigger really mean better? In the context of influencer marketing, not necessarily. Far too often, businesses get caught up in vanity metrics and lose sight of what truly matters, so today we will be exploring the difference between different influencer groups and whether or not there is a ‘better’ choice. 

What’s the difference?

Influencers come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from nano right up to mega macro. By definition, influencers are typically categorised into four groups based on the size of their following, these are:

  • Nano: less than 10,000 followers
  • Micro: 10,000 – 100,000 followers
  • Macro: 100,000 – 1,000,000 followers
  • Mega Macro: more than 1,000,000 followers

Each group has different benefits and drawbacks; some more obvious than others. The choice of which to use will be dependent on a number of factors, including the aim of the campaign and the budget.

Finding the right influencer for your campaign

A key factor that will impact your choice of influencer will be the aim of your campaign. If your goal is to raise awareness, then naturally, mega macro and macro-influencers will be a great fit thanks to their enormous followings. On the other hand, if your goal is to reach a more targeted audience, influencers with smaller, typically more niche communities – such as nano and micro-influencers – will likely be a better fit for your campaign. 

Another key consideration is your campaign budget. If you’ve got limited funds available, then you will likely opt for a more affordable nano or micro-influencer, whereas if you’ve got more money to play around with, you will perhaps want to consider investing in an influencer with a larger following. With that being said, it’s worth noting that more often than not, you will be able to recruit several smaller influencers for the same price as one mega macro or macro-influencer, so again, it’s worth doing your research and weighing up the costs and benefits of each. 

Some other key considerations to keep in mind when selecting your influencers are:

  • With larger influencers typically partaking in more partnerships, there is a risk that their content may be viewed as inauthentic leaving their audience feeling sceptical about their recommendations
  • Micro-influencers are more relatable and therefore tend to be more trusted by consumers, with just over 70% of consumers saying they prefer their content and opinions
  • Brands choosing to partner with nano-influencers are typically deemed to be more authentic
  • Different influencers will have different specialist areas with varying levels of influence and expertise surrounding each topic, so before engaging with any influencers you should think about the area you want to focus on promoting 
  • Whilst choosing to partner with several smaller influencers as opposed to one larger one may seem like a more effective solution, you must always bear in mind the management side of things. For some brands, dealing with a lot of influencers at one time can be difficult and cause issues to arise
  • More established influencers with (typically) larger followings will have more experience working with brands thus will likely have better insight into the type of content they need to create to get the best results from the campaign
  • Whilst smaller influencers may have less experience, they are generally more dedicated to producing high-quality content with the desire to grow their account. Additionally, because they tend to have fewer brand partnerships, they have more time to spend creating content for those who do choose to work with them

Reviewing the (right) numbers

Whilst follower count will undoubtedly have an influence on your decision, there are several other metrics that are equally (if not more) important to consider when choosing an influencer to work with, this includes:

  • Engagement rate: this includes any interaction made on an influencer’s post or story. Generally, as follower count increases, engagement rates decrease. But of course, it’s important to note that whilst a nano-influencer with a 4% engagement rate may sound more promising than a macro-influencer with a 1.2% engagement rate, this figure should not be viewed in isolation. When you step back and take a look at the bigger picture, you will see that the nano-influencer with the 4% engagement rate has just 8,000 followers, which equates to just 320 interactions, whereas the macro-influencer has 400,000 followers meaning 4,800 engagements. A pretty sizeable difference.
  • Reach: this refers to the total number of people that have seen a post or story and includes both followers and non-followers. We’ve touched on this above, but whilst smaller influencers typically have more engaged audiences, this is capped by their visibility and reach.
  • Growth rate: as the name suggests, an influencer’s follower growth rate will provide an indication of how much they are growing and will allow you to assess their performance over time. In some cases, you may uncover spikes in the growth rate; this could be due to a number of factors including giveaways (in which following the influencer is an entry requirement) and the purchase of fake followers.
  • Audience: if you are planning to work with an influencer across multiple platforms, you will need to review their audience on each.
  • Cost per post: we’ve touched on this earlier, but this metric will vary between influencers and platforms and will likely be influenced by factors such as follower count and the type of post.

Influencers are comparable to David and Goliath: although on the surface it may seem those with the largest followings will yield the most power, it’s clear their smaller counterparts should never be underestimated. The key takeaway is to avoid placing too much emphasis on size: in reality, it’s usually nothing more than a vanity metric. Instead, focus on selecting influencers based on your goals and values; there is no one-size-fits-all solution or quick fix. Remember: research is key.

To learn more about influencer marketing, be sure to check out our ultimate guide here, or head over to our influencer marketing page to discover how we can help your business create a strategy that sells.