As a small business owner, there’s likely one thing on your mind that’s more important than almost anything else (except revenue): growth. In today’s economy, it’s a simple fact that brands that fail to grow are often left behind, and if you want your business to succeed, it’s not enough just to maintain your current audience—you need to expand it.
There are a lot of ways you can expand the reach of your business. And one great way to grow your business and increase the size of your customer base is by using influencers to help promote your brand.
Influencers are people with a large audience that takes their recommendations and opinions seriously. Some are celebrities and household names (we call them macro influencers), while others are people you’ve likely never heard of (micro influencers). You might think that the only influencer worth partnering with is an A-list celebrity, but depending on what you hope to achieve from your campaign, that’s not always true.
Each type of influencer comes with unique benefits, so today, we’re going to take a closer look at macro and micro influencers to help you figure out which is the best option for you.
As their name implies, macro influencers have the ability to influence large segments of the population by being well-known and respected by their (usually large) audiences. Not all macro influencers are movie stars like Tom Cruise or household names like Kim Kardashian, but they are all celebrities in their respective fields.
A perfect example is YouTube star PewDiePie—he has a massive following and is respected by those who know him, even though he’s not instantly recognizable like other traditional celebrities. Top influencers can have millions of followers on social media, which means that any endorsement from them is going to reach the greatest number of people.
Micro influencers, on the other hand, are much less well-known and recognizable to the general public. They typically have a much smaller audience than macro influencers. While a macro influencer can have millions of followers on social media, micro influencers usually have audiences in the 10,000-90,000 range.
Just because their audience is smaller doesn’t mean that your campaign is limited, though. With the right fit, an endorsement from a micro influencer can be just as powerful—and in some cases, more powerful—than one from a macro influencer. The reason for this is simple: Micro influencers are, generally speaking, perceived as more authentic than macro influencers. Their audiences are smaller, but their followers tend to feel a closer personal connection to the influencer.
The next question is, how do you decide whether to partner with a macro influencer or a micro influencer? Each type of influencer has its benefits and drawbacks, so it’s really a matter of what’s most important to you. To help you decide, here are a few key questions you should ask yourself before planning your influencer marketing campaign.
Before you start the process of finding an influencer, the first thing you need to know is how much you can afford to spend on a campaign. As a startup or small business, it’s likely that you don’t have a bottomless marketing budget, so any money you spend needs to yield positive results.
There are a couple challenges that come with pricing out an influencer marketing campaign, whether it’s for macro or micro influencers. The main challenge is the lack of transparency when it comes to influencer fees—no two influencers are alike, and their prices reflect that. And, because influencer marketing is still a relatively new field, there’s no preset price structure.
Generally, macro influencers are going to cost more than micro influencers—access to an audience as big as theirs doesn’t come cheap. As we mentioned above, whether they’re worth the extra cost depends on your goals for the campaign. If your goal is to increase brand awareness and you have the budget for it, a macro influencer is a safe investment. Micro influencers are typically less expensive than macro influencers, but that lower cost does have its limitations—micro influencers don’t have the same reach.
One of the most common objectives of influencer marketing campaigns is to leverage the influencer’s reach to increase awareness of your brand. This is why macro influencers can be so useful for startups and small businesses. They give brands access to a wider audience than they might find with a traditional ad campaign.
On top of that, the connection a macro influencer’s audience feels with the influencer makes them more receptive to hearing about your brand. To put it in sales terms, a traditional ad campaign is like a cold call, while an influencer marketing campaign works more like a referral.
If reaching the largest possible number of people is your goal, then macro influencers are a great option. While micro influencers are great at getting their audience to take their recommendations seriously, the fact is, they just don’t have the same reach as their more well-known counterparts. But remember, it’s not just about getting your brand in front of as big an audience as you can—it’s about what comes after you get the audience’s attention.
Adding to that, you also need to be precise in the markets you target. Large brands (like Wal-Mart, for example) can benefit from a wide set of potential customers. For one thing, there is no specific target demographic for Starbucks customers. And for another, a brand like Wal-Mart has the global reach to match that of a macro influencer—in other words, they’re equipped to take on business from anybody around the world who wants to buy Starbucks.
As a small business, however, the reach of a macro influencer might not do much for your brand, especially if you’re a local business that focuses more on in-store transactions than e-commerce. For example, if your small business is in New York and your entire customer base consists of people who shop in-store, there’s not much value in someone in Montana hearing about your brand.
This is where micro influencers can offer greater benefits to a small business. Not only are their recommendations viewed as more authentic by their audience, but their audience is also highly targeted. So rather than blowing your budget on a campaign that will introduce your brand to people who might never interact with it, you can spend your money promoting your brand to the people who are most likely to become customers.
Before you start your search for an influencer partner (but after you figure out your budget), you have to set expectations for the campaign. If all you’re looking for is brand recognition for your small business, then a macro influencer is a safer bet. But if you want to directly leverage the influencer’s audience to improve your sales or increase your revenues, both micro and macro influencers are viable options.
Sure, macro influencers have a bigger pool of potential customers that you can draw from, but followers of micro influencers may be more engaged with the influencers’ posts. And that’s the key: It’s not just about the size of the audience, it’s about their engagement rate—not just their willingness to listen to an influencer’s recommendations but to act on them.
If you want people to listen to the influencer’s recommendation, they need to view the recommendation as authentic and genuine. It’s worth checking out an influencer’s previous endorsements. If they’ve endorsed brands that are in your field (or even your competitors) in the past, then there’s a good chance their recommendations are taken seriously by your target audience. As a small business owner, the margin between you and your competitors is incredibly thin, so you need to do everything you can to set yourself apart.
This is another example when picking a macro influencer can be tricky. Yes, they have a huge following, but the effectiveness of their endorsement depends on what their fans know them for. Take Rachel Zoe, for example. She’s well-known for fashion and beauty, so a brand that specializes in either area would likely benefit from a partnership for her. On the other hand, a home security company probably wouldn’t—even though Zoe has millions of followers on social media, they’re not expecting (and probably don’t want) home security recommendations from her.
When it comes to influencer marketing campaigns, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Some brands might need a macro influencer to get them to the next level, while others would benefit more from a micro influencer’s endorsement. The influencer you target is up to you, but if you keep these tips in mind, it’ll help you decide on an influencer who will have the greatest impact on the success—and future—of your business.