There’s no question that influencer marketing has been a gold rush, both for brands and influencers. Go onto Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube, and you’ll quickly see a plethora of advertisements for different products and services. Although some are traditional “paid social” advertisements or banner ads, many more are made by ordinary people. Referred to as influencers, they’re part of a growing trend.
However, what is surprising is the extent to which brands are looking for people with smaller and smaller numbers of followers. While it was once a given that brands waited for someone’s following to reach into the tens of thousands, the number needed to do sponsored posts is getting ever smaller. With the COVID-19 pandemic going on, the push for value is getting even greater. After all, there’s nothing like falling sales numbers to reduce those marketing budgets. So, brands are turning to people with tiny numbers of followers. The catch? They need to have high engagement rates, because that’s what sells things. Now, people are finding it’s never been easier to monetize influence. In this post, we’ll talk about this rising trend: the nano influencer. Who are they, and why should we marketers work with them? Most importantly, how do you manage multiple influencers with tiny follower numbers?
Who and What are Nano Influencers
At the end of the day, nano influencers are everyday people.
Maybe the work as a secretary during the day but enjoy playing with makeup. Perhaps they are a businessman who loves to drive cool cars on the weekend. Others might be students that can’t wait to tell you about those super comfortable lounge pants they’re wearing. Because they have what the influencer marketing industry generally defines as having between 1,000 and 10,000 followers, they haven’t had time to get famous yet. When you think about it, this is quite valuable, because their advice is not unlike what you’d get from your best friend. Even when they start getting sponsorships, these nano influencers aren’t the “advertising gurus” that you think of with macro influencers and beyond.
Another way to think about nano influencers is that they’re the social butterflies.
Social media is where they love to be, and their followers enjoy looking at the content they produce. For instance, some of them are really passionate about showing off their vacation photos. Being a social butterfly can also involve talking about hobbies, such as sewing or making models, and reacting to the posts of other people. Pinterest is a great gathering place for this particular niche. Right now our country is involved in an election campaign, and we have a lot of social issues being discussed. A nano influencer might talk about politics or which businesses support their causes. All of these angles can be monetized.
Finally, nano influencers are great at networking.
Think about it this way: at some point, influencers with more followers will get more just because other people are recommending their content. However, nano influencers have done at least a large part of their network building the old-fashioned way. Followers are often friends or relatives, and their friends. By the time you get to 1,000 followers, you’re just moving beyond that tight knit community. As a result, nano influencers tend not to be people who can grow their accounts just by being awesome. They have to work at networking more intentionally.
The Benefits of Working with Nano Influencers
Once upon a time, nano influencers were largely ignored by brands, and that was especially true of big ones. Influencers started at the bottom, working for free and trying to grow enough to get brand’s attention. While everyone needs a network and a niche to become an influencer at all, getting on the sponsorship ladder isn’t as hard as it used to be. In fact, there are even some apps and influencer marketplaces out there to help brands and influencers find each other. However, the explosive growth of influencer marketing leads us to ask a simple question: why work with the little guys?
First, you should consider that nano influencers often have very high engagement rates.
One reason for this, of course, is that a higher percentage of followers tend to be people that they’re connected to personally. However, there’s another reason: the social butterfly effect. Because they don’t have as many people to keep track of, nano influencers are better at responding to their fan’s posts. This creates a feedback loop that encourages engagement.
Another consideration is that nano influencers are cost effective.
It’s well known in our industry that some influencers are very expensive to work with, and that’s largely due to their huge following. Only big brands can afford to work with people like Kylie Jenner. However, nano influencers will often work for free product or proceeds from an affiliate link. In both cases, this is a low-risk way to compensate the influencer. Giving away free product lets the influencer work with it, and in turn, produce the kind of content you need. This is especially true with things like software, beauty products, or sports equipment: experiencing the product first-hand helps people describe it. Affiliate links are cheap for nano influencers, too. That’s because there aren’t very many people who are likely to click on the link and make a purchase. At the same time, you’re only paying for results.
With nano influencers, there’s a lot more authenticity.
After all, they’re used to sharing their passions in a relaxed sort of way. Nano influencer profiles haven’t become a hugely commercial concern. They aren’t used to using marketing jargon yet, either. Most people who pay attention to nano influencers take what they say more seriously than they might with the bigger name, as well. Who do you trust more: a big shot or someone who’s more of a passionate amateur? In commercial situations, it’s likely to be the passionate amateur. As the following of an influencer grows, they tend to be less like an amateur.
Finally, nano influencers have a lot more enthusiasm.
At this point in their “career” as an influencer, most of them are enjoying the job of simply…promoting something. Even if they aren’t getting paid yet, the attention is highly rewarding. Remember how enthusiastic you were at your first job? It didn’t matter if you were sitting on the lifeguard’s crow’s nest or flipping hamburgers. You were doing something and getting rewarded for it, right? Nano influencers are similar: they’ll work hard for the “customer.” When customers…er…brands start competing for their endorsements, it becomes more of a business arrangement. At that point, influencers aren’t as enthusiastic.
How to Find the Right Nano Influencer
Ready to try working with nano influencers? Your first step is to find the right one. Since there are so many nano influencers out there, it may seem overwhelming to even look: the choices seem endless if you don’t know where to start. In fact, 40% of social media influencers have followings in this size range, and the people who want to become influencers all start here. Fortunately, hunting down the right nano influencer isn’t as hard as you think. That is, if you know where to look.
Who already knows, likes, and trusts you?
For those of you who have read The Age of Influence, you know that the first place to look for nano influencers is to look around you for people that already like, know and trust you and have reached the threshold of being a nano influencer: Your employees, partners, customers, email subscribers, and social media followers.
It should be noted that employees and their families are often awesome nano influencers. Why? Often friends and family know where they work, and if your employee brags about your company it does a lot of good. In this case, of course, you’ll want to handle any compensation somewhat differently than you would with an outsider. However, nothing beats an enthusiastic employee talking about the products they make or the services they provide.
Look for published authors in your industry.
Many of them have professional websites where they talk about their lives and books. In addition, they’ll often start to promote their work on Instagram and other social media channels. Better yet, they have a certain amount of marketing experience, because they’re learning how to sell their books. Especially for B2B brands and professional services, published authors are a gold mine of subject matter authority that you shouldn’t overlook.
Follow related hashtags on Instagram or Twitter.
You do know what those are for your industry, right? If not, you should do some hashtag research right away. By following hashtags, you’ll get the chance to see who is producing content that is relevant to your industry or brand. For instance, you might find a superfan of your brand who has been posting regularly about how awesome your products are. If this person has decent engagement rates, you have a potential winner. Alternately, they might be casting themselves as a subject matter expert who can pivot into an influencer role.
Conferences, seminars, and trade shows can be another way to find nano influencers.
While top conference speakers often have larger than nano followings, that may not be the case for their assistants. Or understudies and admirers. Industry gatherings are a great way to meet and greet, and you never know when someone has a social media account where they have some influence. As an added plus, they know you personally and will treat your company accordingly.
Don’t be afraid to check out influencer marketplaces
Still having a problem finding nano influencers? Check out influencer marketplaces. These companies make it their job to find people who are willing to leverage their influence for compensation. Generally speaking, you can find influencers with many different sized accounts, from nano up to macro. While it’s certainly true that at some point the account will get big enough that an influencer doesn’t need to list themselves in a marketplace, it can still be convenient to use one.
How to Leverage Nano Influencers for Influencer Marketing
Once you’ve found the right nano influencers, it’s important to know how to make the most of their capabilities. Among the challenges you may face is a reduced amount of experience, but their main job is to produce quality content that sells. Chances are that they’re already doing that, with the exception that they might not have monetized their talent yet. Here are some tips to make the most of your nano influencer campaigns.
While we’ve touched on this before as a method of compensation, it’s also an effective way to help them help you. Why? Because getting to work with a product or experience a service helps influencers describe it. Furthermore, for visual mediums like Instagram, it’s essential to use the product: how can you take a picture of something, or illustrate its use, without having it in your hands? Asking an influencer to recommend your product without compensating them in either product or cash isn’t going to get you anywhere. In fact, it might get you put on blast.
Have them offer promotions to their followers.
This can be a coupon, an affiliate link with discount attached, or even just a sale announcement. Here, the idea is to encourage their audience to experience your products and services for less money. Alternatively, you could offer a gift with purchase while making the sale itself at full price.
Encourage them to market to family and friends.
This is a great one for local brands in particular, because people are always asking their social circle where to buy something. For instance, car owners need a mechanic, and everyone likes to get their hair cut. Alternatively, you can have a parent promote the local franchise of a kid’s restaurant.
Turn them into brand ambassadors.
In many ways, this is easy with nano influencers. They haven’t gotten a lot of offers yet, so they’re excited to monetize their influence. Plus, with the higher level of authenticity, their followers will be more trusting. Finally, since brand ambassadors grow their brand along with yours, it’s a bigger win-win for nano influencers.
At the end of the day, nano influencers are an important way for brands to reach potential customers. With their high level of engagement, enthusiasm, and authenticity, these everyday people are well equipped to help your brand grow. Best of all, they’re easy and economical to work with during a down economy.
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