Even trusted brands aren’t credible when it comes to their own products and services – though of course, they think that what they create is fantastic, it won’t ring as true because we know how advertising works.
Influencer marketing is a replacement for the traditional types of advertising that consumers have grown to hate (or at least mistrust). Smart brands and marketers are working with Instagram influencers to encourage audience members to make a purchase.
Influencers combine specific characteristics and skills:
- Social media astuteness,
- Targeted audience reach,
- In-context credibility,
To be an Influencer, an account can have a large social media following, though it’s not always necessary. In order to have influence, an individual doesn’t have to be widely popular. They just have to be able to change the behavior or thought process of their fans, regardless of how large that fan base is.
“Influence” is right there in the name. Think about your childhood – your sibling or first friend had a ton of influence over you, whether you liked it or not, and you were just an audience of one.
What is a Nano Influencer?
Influencers are often categorized by the size of their following. According to the New York Times, traditional (i.e., large) influencers have over 1 million social media followers. Micro influencers have anywhere from tens of thousands to the low hundreds of thousands. Nano influencers may have as few as 1,000 followers and usually no more than 5,000.
Brands and marketers are finally catching on to the old-but-true adage: quality over quantity. A small fan base of highly-engaged users is far from valueless.
How Brands are Using Nano Influencers
Some brands like to work with nano influencers because the stakes are so low. Big brands barely have to tap into their marketing budget, and if the post flops, it probably won’t make much of a difference.
Small brands have limited budgets to start with, and nano influencers let them test the waters. At worst, they’ll learn what kind of partnerships, content and promotions don’t work, which can:
A. Lead them to pick better influencers, or
B. Help them decide what they need to demand from influencers – how the products should be photographed and presented, which hashtags to use, description must-haves, etc.
In four months, it only acquired 54 likes and zero comments. It’s also not an enticing ad (who drinks coffee on a bookshelf?), which is a risk companies take when working with inexperienced influencers. For the brand, though, this may have been a lesson in what not to do – a sort of marketing test that only required a small output.
Keep in mind, though, niche brands get the most traction out of nano influencers.
Since nano influencers aren’t turning their #ads into a job in the same way larger influencers are, there’s less of a chance that they have or will have worked with your brand’s competitors, which may or may not be a concern. Sometimes they’ll have worked with brands indirectly in your field, which can be a benefit.
Here’s a great example of a niche nano influencer promoting two complementary brands within one post:
Cloe Benoliel (@cloe_benoliel) is a health and swimsuit ambassador who offers bikini posing training. BIOHM Health, a probiotics company that helps with digestion issues (and getting that flat tummy), has given her a code to offer so her followers can get a discount on their order. Cloe is also promoting @suitsyouswimwear in the ad, a company that sells bodybuilding competition bikinis.
According to Forbes, “Nano-influencers are generally ‘super fans’ who are passionate about certain brands or topics, and in some instances even initiate a conversation with brands they’d like to promote.”
On the other hand, they may love getting gifts so much that they post an assortment of products, then mix those in with personal photos or selfies, creating a disjointed Instagram feed.
An example of an influencer who loves getting gifts is @meg.mxrie, a nano influencer with a little over 3,400 followers, who has “Makeup, skincare and fashion lover,” listed in her profile. Many of her posts are #gifts (with the random #ad thrown in), and you can’t help but notice that what she’s gifted may be more just exciting for her to post about than purposeful and targeted for her audience.
There are art supplies, detoxifying coffee, a dress, a makeup brush, and skincare products for acne as well as novelty face masks that you probably wouldn’t try if you have problematic skin.
With less than 100 posts total, there are already three different styles evident in her feed, too – a number of crisp, slightly overexposed photos with high contrast, followed by a small period of yellow-hued images, then the current pink-hued images.
High-Contrast Instagram Style
Yellow-Hue Instagram Style
Pink-Hue Instagram Style
This is representative of a rising influencer finding her style, but not necessarily the type of Instagram account a brand would want to work with quite yet.
Nano Influencer Pros
- Approachability: Brands feel that nano influencers are more approachable than larger influencers because they don’t have as much fame; they haven’t reached social media celebrity status yet, at least not among the masses. The influencer may even reach out to the brand first as a super fan and ask about marketing opportunities.
- Easy Relationships: Nano influencers are easy for brands to work with. The influencer will often do whatever the brand wants in exchange for a minor payment of some kind (monetary, commission or freebie). With larger influencers, getting them to do what they say they’ll do, even after they’re paid, isn’t always easy. In 2018, Snap Spectacles sued influencer Luka Sabbat for not following through with their agreement – Sabbat had been paid $45,000 upfront (of a total $60,000) for one Instagram feed post and three Stories, but he only made two posts total.
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- Low Cost: Nano influencers charge much less than larger influencers if anything at all. The larger an influencer grows, the more money they demand. Instagram influencer @mattcrump told Later that his peers with more than 1 million followers might charge $10,000 or more per post. For nano influencers, though, free product is usually enough to get them to post on the brand’s behalf.
- Trustworthiness: Audiences trust nano influencers because they feel their advice is genuine – the assumption is that there’s not much to be gained or lost from an audience of just 1,000 people, so why lie or mislead? Also, nano influencer feeds aren’t jammed with ads like larger influencers are, which adds to their credibility.
- Dedication: Nano influencers truly love creating Instagram content – they do it in their free time, for themselves and their followers, often without worrying about if or when their account will blow up. And if they do have a goal of becoming a full-time influencer, that just means they have a strong entrepreneurial spirit driving them. For brands, it’s like having a totally dedicated, hardworking marketer on their team.
Nano Influencer Cons
- Lack of Expertise: That high price tag that major influencers charge isn’t based on nothing – it’s representative of their experience as well as their follower base. Celebrity-level influencers know how to stage a photo, write a description and pick the right hashtags, and how to naturally work a sponsored post into their feed without alienating followers. Yes, as the brand you’ll provide guidance or a list of requirements, but you still want someone on the other end who knows what they’re doing.
- Diluted Audience Reach: An Instagram account that gets the attention of every single follower with every single post doesn’t exist. The 1,000 followers of a nano influencer doesn’t account for a wide reach and can include friends and family who are engaged out of obligation or relationship, not because they’re interested in the ads.
- Minimal Data: It may be hard for brands to measure influence on smaller followings or to end up with metrics that clearly communicate, “Yes, this is something we want to do more of.” When it comes to larger influencers with massive followings, the numbers do speak louder. Part of this is because many nano influencers use regular accounts instead of business accounts, which don’t provide robust analytics.
Wrapping Up The Importance of Nano Influencers and Brands
Whether or not working with nano influencers is worth it is for each individual brand to decide – and you may not know the answer until you give it a shot.
In the real world, influence happens in different ways. Sometimes an entire generation is influenced by a famous musician or actor. Other times, word-of-mouth can spread because someone you know tried a restaurant, beauty product or new clothing line and told you about it, and then you told someone you know, and so on.
Whether a David or a Goliath of an influencer is more valuable to a brand, or if both have their place, is for the marketing department to mull over and test out.