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In the world of marketing, having great content is only half the battle. You also need to ensure that the right people see that content. Partnering with an influencer is a great way to tap into a ready-made audience rather than trying to develop a following for your brand from scratch, which is one of the reasons why 75 percent of the most successful B2B companies place great significance on forging relationships with influencers. It may seem like teaming up with a celebrity influencer with a huge audience would get the best results (which would make developing a successful influencer marketing program unfeasible on a limited budget), but partnering with nano-influencers can be just as effective (and sometimes even more so) than working with big names.

Defining Nano-Influencers

Not all influencers have the same reach and celebrity status, and it’s possible to divide content creators into three sub-groups based on the number of followers they have:

  • Mega-influencers: Sometimes known as power influencers, this category includes celebrities (think of the Kardashians) and those content creators who have risen to celebrity status (such as YouTube sensation PewDiePie, who has 84 million subscribers). Mega-influencers have the biggest audiences, and therefore the largest reach, but they also have the lowest engagement rates.
  • Influencers: Most influencers are professional content creators who have worked hard to gain the trust and respect of their audiences, and have the knowledge and skills to talk in-depth in an entertaining and authoritative manner on a particular subject. They don’t have the same celebrity status as mega-influencers, but may have thousands or even millions of followers on social media, and usually have a deep understanding of their chosen subjects.
  • Nano-influencers: Also called micro-influencers, nano-influencers are niche content creators with audiences as small as 1,000 followers. While nano-influencers have the smallest reach, there are many benefits to working with them. In some cases it may actually be more beneficial for a brand to work with a smaller influencer.

The Benefits of Working With Nano-Influencers

Working with an influencer who only has a few thousand followers may not seem at first glance like a worthwhile opportunity for building your brand, but there are some very good reasons to consider partnering with such influencers:

  • They’re cost-effective: You might want a huge celebrity endorsement for your brand, but how much do you think it’s going to cost to get a famous rap star to put on a pair of your sneakers? The costs involved are often prohibitive, and many businesses don’t have enough bargaining power to open a line of dialog with a big star. Conversely, nano-influencers are much more approachable. They may be just starting out, or working as influencers to supplement their income from regular jobs. Therefore they’re more likely to support your brand for a small fee, or even just in exchange for free products to showcase. For the cost of a few free samples, you could start working with influencers immediately.
  • They’re authentic: Nano-influencers are usually just regular people who have an interest in a subject matter and an engaging way of talking about it. Their personalities shine, and their down-to-earth natures make it easy for viewers to relate to them. It’s becoming more and more apparent that consumers value this authenticity over celebrity. When consumers see someone famous sporting a new brand of clothes in a staged photograph with professional lighting and backdrops, they immediately perceive that image as an advertisement, and may even think, “Well, I’m not going to look like that when I wear it.” When the same consumers see a nano-influencer with a new look in a natural environment, it’s easier for them to picture themselves wearing those clothes, and they’re more likely to believe the influencer genuinely likes the brand. In fact, statistics reveal that 70 percent of teens trust influencers more than celebrities.
  • They generate high engagement: Since nano-influencers seem more approachable, they tend to generate higher levels of engagement with their audiences. Research into engagement levels on Instagram revealed that content creators with less than 1,000 followers receive likes on their posts 8 percent of the time, while content creators with over 10 million followers only receive likes 1.6 percent of the time. Similarly, content creators with fewer followers receive more comments. The increase in engagement is likely due to small influencers seeming more authentic and easy to relate to, viewers feeling like the influencers are more likely to read their comments, and small influencers having more time to respond to those comments.
  • They work hard: A nano-influencer is often at the beginning of his or her journey. In these early stages of their careers, influencers are trying hard to build fan bases, so every video, article, or photograph is the best it can possibly be. Furthermore, they tend to respond to comments and queries from their followers to show a willingness to engage.

When to Use a Nano-Influencer

Whether or not you use a nano-influencer depends on your marketing goals. If your focus is increasing brand awareness by getting your products mentioned in front of as many people as possible, then you need to consider working with a large influencer who has a big audience. However, if your focus is on building a rapport with an audience and getting a good return of revenue on your investment, a nano-influencer may be a better option.

Of course, cost is an essential component in any content marketing plan, and working with nano-influencers is typically much more cost-effective. In the early stages of working with influencers, partnering with those who will accept product as payment is a good way to minimize expenditure while still getting good results.

In Conclusion: Think Big (or Don’t)

Sometimes, thinking big means thinking small. As you develop your influencer marketing program, don’t immediately assume you need to find content creators with large audiences. A nano-influencer has the potential to engage with a small but loyal fan base, generating some buzz for your brand without significant expenditure.