What Are Nano-Influencers?

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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. Nano-influencers have the smallest following of all tiers of influencers (with tiers defined based on the total number of Instagram followers).

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

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How Many Followers Does A Nano-Influencer Have?

While follower counts may vary, a nano-influencer typically has between 1,000 and 10,000 Instagram followers.

Compared to everyday Instagram users, nano-influencers may not seem too different. Nano-influencers are oftentimes everyday users who have cultivated a highly engaged following and post sponsored Instagram posts by partnering with brands.

Nano-influencers and their followers share common and usually niche interests. In contrast to their larger counterparts (i.e. mid-tier, macro or mega influencers who wield broad, general or mainstream appeal), nano-influencers appeal to very specific groups oftentimes niche categories or sub-categories.

Why Are Brands Working With Nano-Influencers?

For a quick look at how brands are working with nano-influencers, please visit the section “A Look At Nano-Influencer Campaigns” below.

There are a number of reasons why brands are now working with nano-influencers (in addition to micro-influencers and larger influencers) in spite of their smaller following. Oftentimes nano-influencers’ smaller follower count or lack of fame is, in fact, part of their appeal.

Other major reasons why brands are working nano-influencers include:

  • Authenticity – Nano-influencers are essentially “normal” people who don’t use influencer marketing as their main source of income, which makes them more relatable and approachable. It’s easy for many Instagram users to put themselves in the shoes of a nano-influencer.
  • Higher Engagement Rates – Nano-influencers have a much smaller following which includes many people they may personally know. This first-hand relationship between a nano-influencer and their followers oftentimes leads to a higher social engagement rate per Instagram follower. Additionally, because of their smaller follower count, nanos are better able to respond to every comment or DM (direct message) fostering a deeper level of engagement.
  • Word-Of-Mouth Effect – Nano-influencers know many of their followers personally, meaning their endorsement or promotion acts as a direct word-of-mouth recommendation. Word-of-mouth holds great weight in dictating consumer purchasing decisions, which can help drive conversions for brands.
  • Less Expensive = More Return-On-Investment – for the most part, nano-influencers are not “professional” influencers treating social media as a passion project or side gig. As such, many nano-influencers are willing to create branded content in exchange for product or a nominal fee. This low upfront investment means that even a moderately successful nano-influencer campaign can provide a solid return-on-investment (ROI).
  • Easier To Work With – Nano-influencers tend to be much more agreeable to the terms set forth by a brand. In other words, they are easier to work with compared to more established influencers who may have their own set of demands and terms.
  • Easier To Recruit – some nano-influencers proactively reach out to brands they love to secure sponsorship deals. Brands can also attract/enlist nano-influencers by promoting their nano-influencer program via Instagram, social media, or their website. There’s no shortage of willing and able nano-influencers which can allow brands to quickly launch and scale their influencer programs.

How Much Do Nano-Influencers Make?

Nano-influencers on Instagram can make on average $100 per Post, $114 per Video Post and $43 for an Instagram Story according to a 2019 study that surveyed over 2,500 social media influencers.

In contrast, macro-influencers (500K+ followers) from the same study averaged $2,085/Instagram Post, $3,138/Instagram Video Post and $721/Instagram Story — a difference of nearly 200X, 265X and 158X more, respectively.

Micro-influencers averaged $172/Instagram Post, $219/Instagram Video Post and $73/Instagram Story — nearly double what a nano-influencer could make from equivalent sponsored posts.

While it’s unclear whether the study accounts for non-monetary compensation, nano-influencers oftentimes accept the sponsoring brand’s product, service, or event invitation in direct exchange for their promotion and endorsement. Additionally, nano-influencers may also be compensated in part or entirely from affiliate commissions — i.e. they receive a percentage of sales from what they are able to generate for a brand (usually accounted for by customers using the nano-influencer’s specific promo or discount code).

For most nano-influencers, compensation is not top of mind when posting to their Instagram. Any sort of compensation will likely be a first for most nano-influencers and occuring on an irregular basis.

Nano-Influencers vs. Micro-Influencers

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Comparing Nano- & Micro-Influencer Differences & Similarities

Micro-influencers (10K to 50K Instagram followers) sit between nano-influencers (1K to 10K followers) and their mid-tier counterparts (50K to 500K). Numbers aside, there are a number of differences and similarities between nano-influencers vs. micro-influencers.

At 10K to 50K Instagram followers, micro-influencers have definitely hit their stride with engaging content discovering what types of posts resonate best with their audience(s) and have begun to amass a critical follower base. Their posts carry an elevated level of quality (i.e. perhaps better camera quality and editing capabilities) and are posted on a fairly regular schedule (e.g. once every other day or every day, Monday through Friday).

Many micro-influencers at this stage have done several sponsored Instagram posts, may be contracted for recurring sponsorships and/or be a brand ambassador for companies they’ve worked for — sponsorships may be consistent or sizable enough to count towards a viable income stream.

In contrast, nano-influencers may not have the fit and finish of a micro-influencer nor the recurring content engine and posting schedule however because of their niche or hyper-focused content and smaller avid followings, nano-influencers may have higher and more meaningful levels of engagement.

How To Find Nano-Influencers

Aside from leveraging existing lists (e.g. see below for a look at some top nano-influencers), searching and subscribing to specific hashtags on Instagram can be a good way to surface up-and-coming nano-influencers.

In recent years, Instagram enabled users to “follow” hashtags. From there, users can also explore related hashtags in addition to toggling between “Top” and “Recent” photos posted with the hashtag. Search both and related hashtags to find nano-influencers. One hashtag example is #discoverunder10k which many nano-influencers use on their posts. Refer to our guide on detecting fake influencers for tips on how to spot inauthentic engagement.

In addition to searching and subscribing to specific hashtags, users can also find nano-influencers through related accounts. Oftentimes nano-influencers follow and engage with similar nano-influencers. When following an account, note how Instagram will serve other related accounts — take notice of these when finding nano-influencers. Additionally, users can also search which other accounts nano-influencers follow to find related nano-influencers.

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

  • Interests & Specialties In Instagram Bio
    Nano-influencers usually include a summary of interests and/or areas of specialty within their bio to help brands understand how they may partner or collaborate.
  • Photography

    While this may vary depending on the nano-influencer niche, aspiring nano-influencers may have an elevated, consistent photography aesthetic with higher-quality editing.
  • Highlights
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    Currently appearing in the bio section below the website URL option and before the profile posts/feed, Story Highlights can be used by nano-influencers to further define/share their interests or showcase past collaborations with brands.
  • Contact Information
    Nano-influencers oftentimes are explicit when displaying contact information and asking brands to contact them direct.

For marketers or teams who don’t have the bandwidth or knowledge to find nano-influencers, there may be influencer marketing platforms or agencies that specialize in nano-influencers. As with all influencer marketing platforms, nano-influencers would either have to opt into the platform (in order to be discoverable or searchable) or the software would need to be sophisticated enough to pull public search data (via APIs) from Instagram or other socials.

When working with influencer marketing platforms or agencies, request case studies that show how the agency specifically strategized and leveraged nano-influencers for brand marketing campaigns.

Examples Of Top Nano-Influencers

1. Megan Vadnais – 8,284 Followers

Megan Vadnais is a fashion and beauty influencer with just over 8,000 followers. Her profile features a “Collabs” Story Highlight which is a great indicator of her influencer status. Her social presence may be small, but she has collaborated with notable brands like Forever 21, Diff Eyewear, and Dolce Vita.

2. Whatwouldreado – 5,891 Followers

Better known by her instagram handle, whatwouldreado, Reannion Jean is a stylist and fashion blogger. Her carefully curated feed showcases hundreds of small-brand partnerships, as well as more established brands like Lyft, Dunkin’, Target, Evian, Absolut, and more.

3. Hailey Knott – 4,034 Followers

Her bio states that she is a “social media wiz” and while she only has around 4,000 followers, she has the partnerships to prove it! Based in San Diego, Hailey has worked with Neutrogena, Bumble, and has a long-term influencer partnership with The Body Shop as shown from over 10 sponsored posts. Long-term partnerships are especially beneficial with nano-influencers as the price for multiple posts is much more cost-effective than that of a larger influencer. Hailey also boasts an impressive engagement rate, at around 21%.

A Look At Nano-Influencer Campaigns

1. Remington

Haircare brand Remington executed a nano-influencer campaign to promote its curling wand. In exchange for receiving the product, nano-influencer Alessandra Leonard [@alessandraleonard] 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, in this case #gifted)
  • Share the product’s value proposition (“the new product’s heat settings protect against hair damage”)

Dunkin’ paired with hundreds of nano-influencers and micro-influences in order to raise awareness of its coffee-first focus as part of its rebrand. The nano-influencers created natural and authentic posts which helped Dunkin’ appeal to the sensibility of small influencer followings. Take a full look at the nano-influencer campaign case study to see the results of over 25 analyzed sponsored posts, and see how Dunkin’ reached over 1 million users with nano-influencers.

The Outlook of Nano-Influencer Marketing On Instagram

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.

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.

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.

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

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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