Aided by the popularity of Instagram Stories, Instagram has quickly grown past 700 million monthly active users in 2017. Instagram influencer marketing spend is projected to reach $2 billion by 2019 with brands eager to leverage social media influencers on Instagram to impactfully reach and message millions.
The popularity of influencer marketing has quickly given rise to “micro-influencers,” social media users and personalities primarily categorized by their smaller audiences (10,000-50,000 followers). Conversely, “macro-influencers” are power users and widely recognized tastemakers and trendsetters, with followings between 500,000 and 1 million. Brands typically partner with macro-influencers for their reach, visibility, shareability, and lower CPMs (cost per impression).
Macro-influencers are social media influencers with the largest followings on major social networks such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and in some cases, individual blogs. As more and more people join and spend time on social media and as more individual users aspire to become influencers themselves, a group of veteran social media influencers and leaders has emerged.
Macro-influencers are distinguished primarily by a high relative number of followers or subscribers on a specific platform and their ability to engage and message on an impactful scale. The number of followers defining a macro-influencer differs across platforms. On Instagram, a macro-influencer will generally have more than 500,000 followers but no more than 1 million. On YouTube, a macro-creator has 100,000-1 million average video views.
Macros represent a popular, high-reach influencer tier. As today’s trendsetters, macro-influencers are experts and KOLs in many areas and categories, making them powerful tools and advertising channels that brands and marketers can leverage.
There are many factors marketers should consider when determining which size influencers are the right fit for their influencer marketing campaigns. Here we break down the advantages and disadvantages of macro-influencers and micro-influencers across six points of comparison:
Reach: Macro-influencers reach significantly larger audiences than micro-influencers. In a recent study, Mediakix examined 288 macro-influencers and 367 micro-influencers and found that the macro-influencers reached 22 times as many people. The profound reach of macro-influencers gives a huge advantage to brands that want to maximize the visibility of their campaigns.
Audience: Macro-influencers and micro-influencers each bring different advantages when it comes to audience. Macro-influencers reach broad and diverse audiences, which is ideal for brands who want to target and include a wide variety of consumers and niches. Micro-influencers are known for more niche-specific audiences, which is valuable for brands that wish to only reach an extremely specific target audience.
Time: Macro-influencers are the best option for brands who wish to optimize the time spent on influencer selection and campaign management. When leveraging micro-influencers, brands must select several influencers (hundreds or thousands) in order to achieve the same total reach as a single macro-influencer.
It takes a significant amount of time and research to select appropriate influencers for a given campaign. Furthermore, each additional influencer a brand leverages requires additional time spent on email communications and content coordination. While there are tools and platforms that seek to consolidate certain micro-influencer processes, working with vast numbers of micro-influencers does increase the likelihood of errors and missteps (e.g. fake Instagram followers). As a result, marketers who choose to work with micro-influencers may end up budgeting significantly more time and resources for influencer selection, scrutiny, and management.
Risks: Micro-influencers may be more likely to have fake followers and engagement than macro-influencers, posing a major risk to brands who choose to work with them. Influencers of all sizes are suspected of purchasing engagement, but the practice is much less financially sustainable and under greater scrutiny with macro-influencers. In a previous experiment, Mediakix created two completely fake Instagram micro-influencer accounts and was able to secure paid brand deals from influencer marketing platforms.
Experience: Another advantage macro-influencers bring to the table is years of experience working with brands to create sponsored content. With this comes a high level of professionalism. Smaller influencers who are just starting out, on the other hand, have less experience creating sponsored content and may have a lower level of professionalism.
Cost: While macro-influencers come with a higher price tag, they tend to be significantly more cost-effective than micro-influencers. As a general rule, the higher an influencer’s follower count is, the lower their CPM will be. This means that in many cases, macro-influencers are a more efficient use of marketing resources than micro-influencers.
Macro-influencers connect with audiences across several social media channels and maintain enormous follower counts on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and YouTube. Frequently, these larger than life influencers publish content tailored for each platform and also use each social network to cross-promote content. Common to all is the consistent creation of high-quality content that is oftentimes shared ongoing by their millions of followers.
Rachel Levin, known by the pseudonym RCLBeauty, started on YouTube in 2010 and has since amassed more than 12 million subscribers. The Pennsylvania native is best known for makeup tutorials and DIY hacks, but has expanded further into comedic skits as of late. Levin appeals heavily to millennial and Gen Z audiences and deals with topics like prom and back to school that are most relevant to her core audience.
California-based creator, Austin Evans, creates technology videos dealing with anything from the latest smartphone to the gaming system most worth your money. Evans maintains more than 2.4 million subscribers and regularly delivers valuable tech intel to his audience. He has also collaborated with AT&T, Blue Apron, Castrol, and more.
German lifestyle influencer Daniel Fox, also known as @magic_fox, regularly shares fitness, fashion, and travel content with his Instagram audience of 1.3 million. He draws both male and female millennial audiences and also maintains a blog, The Modern Man, which covers men’s fashion. Whitney Simmons
As per request ?? outdoor full body workout at sunset here at the @ritzcarlton… ow, my eyes much beautiful holy wow 1️⃣ 10 reps | tricep to decline push-up. A lot of core, shoulder and arm work here 2️⃣ 10 reps | alternating superman 3️⃣ 10 reps each | single leg hip thrust with knee crunch left then right leg to hip thrust with both legs 4️⃣ 20 plank hip drops Complete all 4 movements without resting, repeat circuit as many times as you’d like ??? Song: Reaction | Wolfe & Dathan #rcmemories #rcpartner #workoutmotivation #workoutvideo #workoutmotivation #fullbodyworkout A post shared by Whitney Simmons (@whitneyysimmons) on
Top fitness Instagrammer Whitney Simmons maintains an impressive following of 952K and delivers both workout inspiration and routines to her followers nearly every day. She also maintains a YouTube channel, which offers health advice and further promotes her message of body confidence and a healthy lifestyle. Simmons has partnered with top brands like The Ritz Carlton and Ulta Beauty.
American Internet personality Logan Paul started his career by making comedy videos on Vine and has since expanded to Facebook, YouTube, and mainstream television. Best known for daily vlogs and humorous music videos, the creator was named one of the top 10 biggest social media influencers of all time in 2017 and also maintains 15.7 million page likes on Facebook alone.
Famous for her slapstick humor and hilarious video skits, 21-year-old Lele Pons connects with millennial audiences across social media channels. Though she started on Vine, the actress and internet personality boasts an impressive 5.4 million YouTube subscribers and 3.7 million Facebook page likes. She regularly posts sponsored content to Facebook in partnership with brands among the likes of Sprint and Snickers.