And as marketers experiment with increasingly large budgets, the definitions of what constitutes an “influencer” continue to change.
A report from The New York Times highlights a sub-group of creators that have traditionally been glossed over in the influencer marketing world: the “nanoinfluencer.”
Defined as those with 10,000 or fewer followers, “nanos” are poised to offer fresh feed and lower sponsorship rates -- which means higher returns on campaigns. To be clear, companies are not abandoning tried-and-true activations of larger creators; they are, however, widening their strategic net to include nanoinfluencers as a part of their campaign roster.
The Rise of Nanoinfluencers
It seems counterintuitive for companies to seek out relatively unknown and untested personalities, especially in niches where proven digital stars are in abundance. However, the shift towards creators with smaller audiences, as ZDNet points out, has been an industry trend since 2017.
Say a creator’s follower count and potential reach increase. As audience metrics grow, the creator’s core niche audience will dilute, and her original relationship with fans will often become estranged. When a creator’s content changes to cater to the masses and their audience broadens outside of a single targetable interest, the integrity of their audience can be called into question for campaigns. Fans may no longer believe in the the creator’s authenticity, resulting in a decline of influence due to perceived lack of trust.
Meanwhile, nanoinfluencers’ lack of fame bolsters trust with their base. Followers perceive sponsored content from nanoinfluencers as more genuine and authentic compared to their larger counterparts. This gives off the impression that, just like their followers, nanoinfluencers are an approachable, trustworthy, and by all accounts mostly ordinary person. The performance effects of a nanoinfluencer and micro-influencer-driven campaign speaks volumes; nanoinfluencers can drive average engagement rates of ~8.7% versus ~1.7% percent for celebrities.
Trust is the key component in what gives nanoinfluencers an advantage over their larger counterparts. According to social analytics company Shareablee and Fullscreen, one in three respondents engaging with smaller creators trusted creator-driven messaging about a brand more than what that brand has to say about itself. Reach is not enough to create a measurable -- there must be trust and authenticity. For advertisers, a mix of nanoinfluencers and microinfluencers are an extremely viable source of purchasable trust.
The Value of Nanoinfluencers
A celebrity may charge a company millions of dollars to endorse a single product. A nanoinfluencer, on the other hand, may charge just a nominal fee -- or may not request payment at all! Nanoinfluencers are more likely than traditionally activated creators to agree to a review in exchange for free product.
At scale, the use of nanoinfluencers can spell enormous savings for companies piloting influencer marketing campaigns. Collaborating with hundreds of nanoinfluencers rather than a single celebrity means more hooks in the water, more authentic audience engagement, and -- sometimes -- significantly higher success rates.
According to Tubefilter, nanoinfluencers are more flexible around collaborations and campaign guidelines. Companies can exercise more control over timing, creative, and follow-ups. Larger creators are less likely to agree to amiable rules and restrictions, placing their own schedules and business priorities above the engaging company’s.
With buzz around a whole new tier of creators on the market comes founded uncertainty. Will the trend toward smaller followings continue? Since the number of influencer marketing campaigns doubled in 2018, there is no reason to believe momentum will slow anytime soon.
Advertisers are hungry for purchasable trust that the space provides, and the efficacy of influencer marketing as a direct response channel continues to be proven as well. Advertisers will always be interested in maximizing profits while driving down costs -- in this way, the nanoinfluencer delivers.