A great starting point would be establishing what goals you want to achieve through influencer marketing. Do you want to generate mass awareness for your brand, or perhaps you’re more focused on getting a strong return and driving people through your website. Once you’ve narrowed that down, your next challenge is understanding the influencer market as a whole. Not necessarily your own market, but the influencer marketing landscape itself. There are various “types” of influencers, each with their own advantages and limitations. The following article will dive into these particular categories of influencers, and help you identify what influencers are best for your brand, based on your overall business objectives. Something to be aware of though, is that this article is mostly relevant for consumer packaged goods brands with mass appeal. If you own or work for a brand that is more niche, then this article won’t be as relevant or applicable.
A brand’s own customers are potentially the most under-utilized influencer groups out there. Technically speaking, a customer can’t be defined by the number of followers they have. Typically speaking though, they are just your “normal” Instagram users that have anywhere between 10 to a few hundred followers. Sure, a customer could have thousands, or even millions of followers, but that’s irrelevant.
The core difference is that this person has purchased the product themselves, and has written a review or posted about a product- and it’s completely organic. Customers make for the most powerful influencers due to the power behind a friend-to-friend referral. Hearing feedback from someone you know personally, makes the subject seem infinitely more relatable and real, versus hearing something from a celebrity that is very likely to be a paid collaboration post. Utilizing customers and making them “mini ambassadors” for your brand through a referral program can have several benefits such as; leveraging the friend-to-friend referral, generating organic and real content, creating legitimacy and building credibility for the brand. Not to mention, you’re not paying for these posts, so if you’re using a company such as Smile.iO or Referral Candy, paying the monthly fee for that platform is really your only expense. This is key to most start-up brands that are still unable to pull together large marketing spend for influencers at this stage of the business.
The only thing it doesn't do, is put your brand in front of hundreds of thousands of people. So while the results that you might see from this sort of influencer base might be substantial given the uptake, on the grand scale, your brand most likely will not be getting any significantly vast reach.
Nano influencers are the next level up from a customer. They still only have a small number of followers (usually ranging from 1,000 - 10,000), however, the biggest difference being that they reach deep into their niche markets and have the necessary “influence” that is required for influencer marketing. There are many aspects about this category of influencers that make them appealing to businesses. Firstly, they won’t blow out your budget. Most nano influencers only require product in exchange for posts, meaning that all you’d have to do is send these nano influencers the product you want them to post with, and no extra payment is required.
Secondly, they care… a lot. Unlike many larger bloggers and celebrities, nano influencers care very deeply about the content they’re producing. They are usually quick to respond, eager to post, and will be willing to give honest, and lengthy reviews about your products- if that’s what you’re after. They’re a powerful influencer marketing group to explore, and this is due to a few reasons, the main being the level of detail they include in their captions. A well written caption would add huge value because it provides the potential customers with all the info they need to make an educated purchase. You’ll also find that more often than not, the quality of the posts that come from these types of influencers is above the rest. In addition to that, they also have a very loyal following who are generally very invested in their lives, and are eager to try and explore new things that the particular influencer might be promoting. The only downside to these nano influencers (similar to using customers), is that they aren’t able to get you that mass number awareness.
A micro influencer as someone that has more followers than a nano influencer (upwards of 10,000), but less than that of a major influencer (500,000). Micro influencers are usually the first tier of influencers that require both product, and payment for posts. This category of influencers are sometimes represented by agents, or otherwise themselves, and tend to stand firm on what they see as ‘their worth’. They’ve been in the game for a while, and they’re rather selective on the brands that they work with- they can afford to be. It’s not to say that there isn't’ room for negotiation, so never feel afraid to try and sell an influencer on the value of your brand, and propose a price you’re comfortable with, but be aware that you won’t always land the deal. While these influencers might be more expensive, they do produce high quality content, and are usually considered to be credible and legitimate. Most of the influencers have risen to some sort of social media fame for a reason, whether it be fashion, beauty, or health related. They are what some would call ‘self made experts’ in their field, so their following would care what they’re doing, what they’re promoting, and what they have to say. Additionally, they also have more reach than both aforementioned categories, so you’re on track to generating more awareness for your brand.
Welcome to the 500,000 to 1M+ club. The category of major influencer is where we start to get into the elevated costs. There’s some risk, but a lot of potential benefit on the table once you enter into this category of influencers. There’s also more factors to consider. The biggest difference between major influences and any other groups previously discussed are cost, and reach. It isn’t shocking, that these influencers require far higher payments, but if chosen correctly you could benefit greatly from this investment. This is where ensuring influencer / brand alignment is key. In saying this, the return on your investment is not a guaranteed one. There are many important indicators that could help you decide if it’s worth the risk and one of those is the influencer / brand fit.
If your brand has a product that is perfectly aligned with the lifestyle of a particular influencer, then their followers will want to know what it is, and they will want to try it. This niche of followers don’t just follow the major influencers for something to do, they look up to them, take their advice to heart, and essentially idolize them. So many influencers in this space do have a lot of influence over their followers. Now it should be pointed out that there are some big influencers that don’t have a very loyal following, and perhaps their followers only follow them for trivial reasons, such as “they have cool hair.” But it’s important to note, that having that alignment between the brand and the product, generally is a make or break.
Another benefit of working with these influencers is that they have a standard to maintain, therefore the quality of their posts is really strong. If you do your research, and pick the right people, some of these influencers usually work with a team of people, so they have individuals working for them that respond to comments and give potential customers answers to questions about your product which can be very beneficial for your brand. They’re also typically quite professional. For this group of influencers, this is their job, their life, and they understand the importance of establishing and maintaining long standing relationships.
Finally, they also have the reach. If your goal is to get in front of eyeballs of potential customers and generate mass awareness, then this is the first category where you can really start to get the word out. This is the group of influencers where the ‘viral effect’ is more likely to occur.
Some limitations of these influences include the cost, which might be a significant risk to take if you’re a brand just starting out on influencer marketing. You have to face the consequence that you might not always see a return. You have to be committed to trial and error, and you have to use any learnings you come across for next time. Additionally the communication flow between these influencers and a brand can be a little tedious, simply due to the fact that there is usually an agent involved.
The core difference between celebrities and influencers, is that celebrities usually have some sort of fame in their own right, outside of Instagram or more generally, social media. While celebrities and major influencers may have similar follower count sizes, these are people who are famous in other fields; such as acting, music, sports and so on, but have a very strong, and powerful presence on social media. Therefore, when it comes to their presence, and power on social media, it gets interesting.
When we look at major influencers, they’re most commonly famous for something such as fashion, or beauty for example. So pairing a fashion blogger with a clothing company, or a beauty blogger with a makeup brand makes sense. Celebrities are different because people are so used to seeing them in movies, or hearing their music, that when they see a celebrity endorsing a product, it needs to fit seamlessly into their lives to have that key legitimacy factor. The biggest advantage of working with a celebrity, is the amount of awareness they can create around your brand. They have such vast reach that it completely blows any other influencer out of the water. So if your ultimate goal is to get people talking about your brand and remembering your brand, then that’s what celebrity endorsement can achieve. Additionally, the trail effect that is sometimes generated from these endorsements endorsements, especially in the media, can help create even more awareness for your brand and help you reach an even larger audience.
They key to celebrity management is focusing on your goals and ensuring you are aware of all aspects of the celebrities life. For example, depending on what your goals are, you may want to look at how many endorsements a celebrity has with other brands. If you want your partnership to come across as legitimate and credible, and that’s a massive pillar of your business, then don’t go after celebrities that would harm that reputation. However, if you want your brand out there, and you want media outlets to pick up on your brand, then that will also sway you towards other types of celebrities. Regardless of who you want to partner with, all comes back to your goals and your objectives. It’s a way to get your brand out there, build your own social following and build your database.
In conclusion, there are a number of ways to enter into the influencer marketing industry as a brand. However, it all starts with identifying your objectives and what you really want to get out of your campaign. There are positives and limitations that come with each and every influencer category, but what really makes a brand successful in influencer marketing is a strong influencer / brand fit, powerful content, and tight and seamless influencer management and coordination.