More and more businesses are taking part in influencer marketing. Launching campaigns with influencers can help brands increase awareness, traffic, and sales. And with so many social media networks available these days, there’s no shortage of options.
Want to target Gen Z? TikTok influencers can help you with that. Want consumers to be able to shop your products directly on social media? Look into Instagram influencers and Instagram shopping. Is long-form video the best way to connect to your target audience? Turn to YouTubers!
But apart from the different social networks, influencers can be broken down into different tiers, too. This type of classification looks at how many followers and influencer has, and each tier has its own pros and cons. Let’s examine each.
These influencers have between 1K and 5K followers. They are brand new and are building an audience for their content. These influencers are great if you own a local business or your product is targeted at a very specific, niche audience.
These influencers might not be as meticulous or perfect as other types, but they do have great credibility. People trust them because they come across as regular people with authentic opinions. This causes them to have extremely high engagement rates, which your brand can leverage.
These influencers are affordable for campaigns with a low budget. Most often, you just need to send your product. This is a great way to connect with engaged audiences for a relatively small investment.
Due to their low followers, the con is that they have lower reach than other influencers. This isn’t their primary job, so don’t expect them to dedicate 100% of their time to your brand’s campaign. But, if you plan thoroughly, working with nano influencers can yield fantastic results.
They are a great resource as they have between 5K and 50K followers. They are passionate about their subject and have a respectably-sized audience. Like nanos, micro influencers tend to work in niches: slow fashion, vegan baking, and van life are just a few popular examples.
Because their audience trusts them and the brands they endorse, these content creators enjoy high engagement rates. They are more accessible than other top influencers and you can generally communicate with them more easily, without having to go through managers or agencies.
@valeskaschneider is a German surfing micro influencer. She has 28.5K followers on Instagram.
Micro influencers are usually less expensive than top influencers. Sometimes they will just ask for free products so that they can test them out and write a review. Other times they’ll ask for a fee, but this will usually max out at a few hundred dollars. Moreover, this is very cheap compared to the fees that top influencers charge.
Working with micro-influencers can increase brand exposure. They can also help you increase sales, especially if you incentivize your sales with influencer discount codes. Create a unique code, and give it to the micro influencers to share with their followers. Combining micro influencer’s high engagement with an incentive for their followers means you have a better chance of people shopping your products.
These influencers can have 50K-100K followers. They’re better known on social media and may have already collaborated with some top brands. Medium influencers give off a more professional vibe than nanos or micros, but this can be good and bad.
On the one hand, they’re more experienced at influencer marketing, so you’ll probably have to guide them less. On the other hand, at this tier, engagement rates begin to drop off.
At this level, influencers also start to professionalize. That means they might leave their “day jobs,” get a manager, or sign with an agency. Expect this to hike up fees, as managers will often tack on a percentage to what the influencer charges in order to make sure they get their cut. So, prices are higher here, but so is reach.
These influencers have 500K-1M followers. They’re playing in the big leagues now, and aren’t strangers to frequent collaborations. A downside of this is that they may not be free to work on your campaign during your desired dates, as they might have already pinned down another collaboration.
Macro influencers have great reach. So if you’re looking to get your campaign in front of as many people as possible, they might be the right choice for you. Just be prepared to pay, as fees start to take off here.
@scultzzie is a macro influencer with 329K followers on Instagram. She works in the fashion and mommy categories.
Nearly all macro influencers will have some type of management. You’ll also probably need to put the deal into writing, so have an influencer contract template on hand during negotiations with macros. Make sure to address disclosure guidelines as well to ensure that the collaboration doesn’t get any pushback from regulatory agencies.
Engagement rates among macro influencers tend to be lower. This means that while a lot of people might see your brand’s content, they might not be genuinely interested in it. Keep this in mind when deciding whether to work with macro influencers for maximum reach or micro influencers for max engagement.
Mega influencers, or celebrity influencers
With over 1M followers, these influencers are celebrities. Mega influencers can fall into two types:
- Creators, who became famous for their work on social media
- Personalities, who are famous outside of social media, too
Creators are people like TikTok creator Charlie D’Amelio or Instagram influencer Chiara Ferragni. Both started on social media and built their way up to have millions of followers.
Meanwhile, personalities are people like Cristiano Ronaldo or Selena Gomez. They have social media and huge followings, but originally got famous for being athletes, actors, singers, and more.
Unless you’re a massive brand, or a brand that the mega influencer happens to love, it can be very difficult to collaborate with these influencers. They’re extremely busy—both on social media and off it—and are very expensive.
And while campaigns with mega influencers can bring tremendous boosts to brand awareness and encourage sales, you might find that you don’t convert a lot of followers into loyal customers. Mega influencers promote so many products that in a few weeks, the audience might forget about your brand because they’re focusing on another one the influencer is promoting.
What is a KOL, you might ask? It stands for key opinion leader, and it’s kind of like a super-influencer. KOLs don’t exactly fit into the influencer tiers, but they’re worth talking about, as they can make huge impacts on your campaigns.
KOLs are people who are widely recognized as experts in their field. Or, they’re people whose recommendations can drive massive change in people’s opinions and decision-making.
Remember Jennifer Aniston’s haircut on FRIENDS? How many women asked for “the Rachel” at their salons? This is an example of a KOL. It goes beyond the reach of a regular influencer, and can affect real change in people’s lives. Another example is the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex, who regularly cause garments to sell out within minutes of being seen on them.
Think of it like this: KOLs are the people who influence the influencers.
@oprah, a KOL, has 20M followers on Instagram.
Now, those examples relate to fashion and beauty, industries which are also full of influencers. But some industries tend to focus less on influencers and more on KOLs. For example, in Marketing, you might look to Rand Fishkin, a KOL and the founder of Moz. Or in healthcare, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to the President of the United States, is a good example of a KOL recently in the international spotlight.
KOLs don’t have to have any certain threshold of followers, because their influence goes way beyond social media. This means that it can be very difficult to collaborate, or even get in touch, with them. Make sure your pitch is spot-on, direct, and short so as to not waste their time. Further, it’s critical you only pitch to KOLs who very closely align with your brand or organization, if they’re not interested in what you do, there’s no chance they’ll collaborate.
There are lots of types of influencers out there, and choosing the right one depends totally on your brand and its goals. Do thorough research, establish your target audience, and outline your timeline and budget before beginning your search. This way, you can decide which influencer tier to target and find the right collaborators for your campaign.