What Are Nano-Influencers?

December 15, 2018

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Nano-Influencer Definition

A nano-influencer is defined as an Instagram influencer with between 1,000 and 10,000 followers. Nano-influencers’ audiences are small, niche, and highly engaged— the smallest following of all tiers of influencers (with tiers defined based on the total number of Instagram followers).

Compared to everyday Instagram users, nano-influencers might not seem distinct. Nano-influencers are users who post sponsored Instagram posts by partnering with brands.

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“Everyone who’s on Instagram has that friend who is just really popular and is racking up ‘likes’ and comments and has great content,” explained Obviously CEO Mae Karwowski in a recent New York Times story. These Instagram power users are prime candidates for becoming nano-influencers.

The Nano-Influencer: How To Spot Them

Here are telltale signs on an Instagram user’s profile page that make it clear they’re a nano-influencer (or aspiring to become one):

Interests & Specialties In Instagram Bio

Bricely includes a summary of interests and areas of specialty within her bio to help brands understand how they might partner with her.

Photography

Bricely’s Instagram feed is filled with beautiful photos with aesthetic consistency and high-quality editing.

Highlights

nano-influencer-highlight-reel-instagram

Her profile features well-curated highlight reels showcasing her verified social reach and past brand collaborations.

Contact Information

She explicitly solicits brands by welcoming them to DM her or email her directly with collaboration opportunities.

Breaking Down A Nano-Influencer Campaign

For example, haircare brand Remington executed a nano-influencer campaign to promote its curling wand. In exchange for receiving the product, nano-influencer Leticia Collins [@leticiajcollins] created this branded content piece featuring her using the wand to style her hair. We can infer Remington’s nano-influencer guidelines were as follows:

  • Take a photo of yourself using the curling wand, ensuring the entire product is in the shot
  • Tag the brand’s handle (@RemingtonUK)
  • Use the brand hashtag (#HairToBeDifferent)
  • Include an FTC disclosure (#Sponsored)
  • Share the product’s value proposition (“the barrel of the wand is infused with keratin and almond oil”)

What Makes Nano-Influencers Appealing To Brands?

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What makes nano-influencers appealing to brands despite their small following?

Nano-influencers’ lack of fame is, in fact, part of their appeal. Reasons brands work with nano-influencers include:

Authenticity

Nano-influencers are “normal” people who don’t use influencer marketing as their main source of income, which makes them relatable and approachable. It’s easy for Instagram users to put themselves in the shoes of a nano-influencer. The nano- lifestyle is completely in-reach and mirrors everyday life. In contrast, the lifestyle and polished content of micro- and macro-influencers can feel unattainably glamorous.

Plus, nano-influencers have earned credibility since they organically grew their social media following and don’t rely on brand deals as their main source of income.

Higher Engagement Rates

Nano-influencers have a smaller, more concentrated audience that includes many followers who they know personally. This intimacy between influencer and follower leads to a higher social engagement rate per Instagram follower. On the other hand, someone with millions of followers might only reach a small subset of their following with each post. Nanos can respond to every comment and direct message, fostering a deeply engaging experience for their followers.

Word-Of-Mouth-Effect

Nanos know many of their followers personally, meaning their endorsement acts as a word-of-mouth recommendation. Word-of-mouth holds great weight in consumer purchasing decisions, which can help to drive conversions for your brand.

Less Expensive = More Return-On-Investment

The majority of nano-influencers are not “professional” influencers—-they treat social media like a passion project or a side gig. This means that nanos are willing to create branded content in exchange for product or a nominal fee (<$500). This low upfront investment means that even a moderately successful nano-influencer activation can provide a solid return-on-investment (ROI).

Easy To Work With

 

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Nano-influencers tend to be agreeable to the terms set forth by a brand. This means they are easy to work with compared to established influencers who may have their own set of demands.

Pro Tip: Completely new to influencer marketing? Try launching 2-3 nano-influencer campaigns as a low-investment way to test out the tactic for your company!

Easy To Recruit

Most nano-influencers proactively reach out to brands they love to secure sponsorship deals. Brands can attract nano-influencers by promoting their nano-influencer program via Instagram or other outlets. There’s no shortage of willing and able nano-influencers, which allows brands to quickly launch and scale their influencer programs.

Questions About The Outlook of Instagram Nano-Influencer Marketing

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Are contracts still necessary for nano-influencer campaigns?

Yes. You should get everything in writing and craft a basic contract for your nano-influencer campaign. Put together a basic statement of work which outlines a timeline, fees (whether the fee is a product exchange or a payment), and what each party is responsible for doing. A contract holds both parties accountable and ensures everyone’s expectations align.

Do nanos demand creative freedom?

Usually no, but it depends. Nano-influencers generally do not demand a high level of creative freedom. Nano-influencers are amenable to following specific posting guidelines, like how the product must be depicted in a photo and mirroring talking points in the caption. It’s common for brands to require “sign-off” and revisions before allowing the nano-influencer to publish the sponsored content.

Like anything, of course, some nano-influencers demand greater creative control over their content (and they might lose out on brand deals as a result).

In contrast to most nanos, bigger influencers are much more likely to have creative constraints and the clout to refuse to work with brands who infringe on that artistic vision.

 

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Will nano-influencers breed a “sell out” culture among Instagram users?

No. We would argue that for better or for worse, there’s already a consumerist culture on Instagram. This is due to several factors:

  • The influencer marketing industry as a whole has already transformed the culture of Instagram. The rise of Instagram influencers has blurred the line between a normal person and spokesmodel—nanos are just the latest iteration.
  • The presence of brands on Instagram is ubiquitous. Companies of all types (consumer brands, B2B, startups, local businesses, media outlets) are on Instagram and millions of users voluntarily opt to follow official brand accounts. Instagram reports that there are over 25 million business accounts on the platform. The popularity of brand accounts on Instagram demonstrates that branded content is something that consumers accept and even seek out.
  • The bulk of Instagram users have grown up with social media advertising. Most of Instagram’s users are from the Millennial and Gen Z cohorts, which means they are digital natives who are desensitized to promotional content on social media. Nano-influencers are not changing this conversation—they are an extension of this trend.
  • The concept of being a brand ambassador isn’t a new thing. Nano-influencers commoditize the “word-of-mouth” brand evangelism that has occurred since way before social media. Everyday Instagram users post about products and travel experiences that they love, without being paid. A well-executed nano-influencer sponsored post isn’t substantively different than what’s already out there.
  • The idea of providing something in exchange for written coverage also isn’t new. Within the world of traditional media, journalists at newspapers or magazines receive “freebies” as part of their everyday job. Critics receive free restaurant meals, movie passes, and theater tickets in exchange for news coverage in the form of reviews or editorial. Given the naturalness of this transaction, users aren’t likely to see nano-influencer promotions as a foreign concept. There’s a precedent that this type of exchange is an acceptable business promotion tactic.

How will brands measure nano influencer ROI?

The principles of measuring ROI on nano-influencer campaigns is the same as any other influencer marketing campaign.
roi formula
Download our Marketer’s Guide to Influencer Marketing ROI ebook to learn more.

Will nanos end up reigning the influencer market?

It’s too soon to say, but most likely no. There’s still a big divide between nano-influencers and the other influencer tiers, most notably in terms of:

  • Number of followers (remember, nano’s have 10k followers or less)
  • Quality of content, meaning image quality and artistic ability

Bigger influencers with follower counts in the tens of thousands have been doing content creation for a while. It requires dedication and very consistent posting over months or even years to amass that many Instagram followers.

Nano-influencers are still relatively new to the world of influencer marketing and have yet to prove their longevity. It’s likely that many nanos will go back to being “commoners” on Instagram when their life gets really busy or when doing brand endorsements become too taxing (or a million other reasons).

In addition, brands all have distinct goals, customer profiles, and business models, so they’ll continue to work with the types of influencers that fit their objectives. The jury is still out on nano-influencers, but it’s unlikely that they will ever solely commandeer the Instagram influencer market.

The Potential Of Partnering With A Group Of Nano-Influencers

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Nano-influencer campaign by Olay

On a campaign level, marketers with a set budget might have to choose between 1-2 macro-influencer activations or dozens of nano-influencer collaborations.

Choosing to go the “nano-influencer route” is akin to following the wisdom behind the cliche “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.”

The benefits of working with a large group of smaller nano-influencers are:

Diversity

Brands can partner with many types of influencers, which can help them reach a wider audience and experiment marketing to new demographics.

Range of Perspective

Having an assortment of influencers helps to showcase many facets of the product or service. For example, a brand that sells sunglasses benefits from each nano-influencer styling their own unique look around their shades.

Ability to Test

Brands benefit from the volume of data that comes from working with a larger group of nano-influencers. You’ll be able to see what types of content works by analyzing metrics like purchases, clicks, and social engagement. Each learning will help you improve the design, messaging, CTAs, and audience targets for future influencer marketing campaigns.

The Industry-Established Instagram Influencer Tiers

what is a social media influencer

The number of influencers on Instagram is constantly growing. If you’re looking to promote your brand on Instagram, it can be difficult to distinguish between the millions of Instagrammers out there. Marketers are posed with the challenge of partnering with the right influencer who can drive results for their company. Established influencer tiers can help differentiate the size and reach of different influencers:

  • Nano-influencers: 1,000-10,000 followers
  • Micro-influencers: 10,000-50,000 followers
  • Mid-tier influencers: 50,000-500,000 followers
  • Macro-influencers: 500,000-1 million followers
  • Mega-Influencers: 1 million+ followers

How Nano-Influencers Compare To Micro-Influencers and Macro-Influencers, and Other Tiers

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Comparing Micro &. Macro Influencer Aesthetics

Nano-influencers are tiny when compared to larger, more established macro-influencers or mega-influencers. Influencers with a massive following have been increasing their fees based on the growth of opportunities for brand sponsorships in the past few years.

With so many brands vying for the most popular influencers, the top tier has become an increasingly saturated space. This has caused the influencer sphere to become an expensive playing field, worsened by the rise in phony pay-to-play influencers who will endorse any brand that’s willing to sponsor them. These insincere brand endorsements are obvious to savvy audiences.

Different Price Points For Influencers

Mid-tier, macro-, and mega-influencers can charge anywhere between $1,000-$50,000+ for a single sponsored Instagram post. With growing concerns of over fake followers and paid-for engagement, brands risk wasting precious media budget on influencer activations delivering no return-on-investment. Brands are now shifting towards working with micro-influencers and nano-influencers, who are noted by smaller, but more engaged, audiences.