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The Rise of the Nano Influencer

By Shaina Travis on May 04, 2020

Phone on a selfy stick

With influencer marketing, the tried and true practice is to throw money at the biggest influencer to get the biggest bang for your buck. Bigger audience, more reach; it makes sense, right? Not necessarily anymore. More and more, influencers with ‘smaller’ audiences have been staking their claim in the greater influencer landscape. The nano influencer is rising.

It’s hard to pin down the exact number of followers you need to be considered a nano influencer. It’s generally considered to be between 1,000 and 10,000. This differs from a micro-influencer, categorised around 50,000 up to 100,000 followers. It’s worth noting, and to round out the influencer hierarchy, that macro-influencers are around 100,000 up to 1 million plus. While the mega influencers, those of celebrity, are in the astronomical numbers of the tens and hundreds of millions. However, what nano influencers lack in followers, they make up for in impact, especially if tapped into correctly.

Here are what I believe to be the top four reasons nano influencers are on the rise and should always be considered:

  1. More niche audiences, can tailor to your key consumer

    One of the most appealing aspects of a nano influencer is that their audiences are typically more niche. Not all nano influencers are just stars that have yet to be discovered, some just speak to a very specific audience. They represent their communities and can speak to them in a genuine way. This can be super helpful to brands because sometimes projects and products aren’t for the everyday consumer. It wouldn’t be authentic to have a macro influencer trying to sell a niche product (think a lifestyle skateboarding shoe). In a way, it devalues the product’s equity. If you have a special product that is specific to a certain consumer, why not market it to that consumer first. Place it with a nano influencer who can speak to that specific audience authentically because, in most cases, they’re still very much part of that audience. In this day and age, authenticity is so valuable as no one and nothing wants to be deemed a ‘poser or a ‘try hard’. For example, the art community is a world that many brands are trying to crack. In art, the nicher, the cooler. So, to go after the biggest influencer is going after the obvious. Why not try tapping that artist’s favorite artist? They may be obscure and have a smaller audience but their impact and influence within the community is greater. Then, with the weight of that kind of project behind them, the nano influencer can organically grow into something bigger.

  2. Higher engagement as they are more personal with their followers

    In relation to the first point, not only can nano influencers speak more authentically to their audiences, but they can actually speak to them. With less followers, it’s easier to connect to each of them. It might not be one-on-one interaction with each and every one, but there is more opportunity/higher chance a nano influencer can make their follower feel like they’re actually there for them. This in turn can lead to higher engagement specifically more comments as a follower might be obliged to comment as there is a better chance their comment will actually be seen. It seems like nano influencers are acutely aware of this and often comment back, shout out their followers, engage with them because they have the capacity to do so. Having this more personal connection with followers creates loyalty. People like to feel like they’re being seen by the influencers they follow and be part of the conversation. It’s kind of the same model with brands. For example, a brand like Glossier started off as a small company that valued and built itself on having a connection with each of their consumers. Those initial consumers, having built a relationship with the brand, have followed it relentlessly. Even as it became a major company with investors and equity. Glossier still markets itself as having open and personal communication with each of its followers, all 2.8 million of them.

  3. Nano have the potential to become macro and you have the relationship already

    Once again piggybacking off of the previous point, in the world of influencers, anyone has the potential to blow up. One day someone can have 1,000 followers and the next they’ll have 100,000. After all, most influencers started off as a nano at the beginning of their careers. Working with nano influencers early on and truly supporting them (key word is truly) establishes a relationship that works two-fold. First, in the beginning, you can authentically reach the audience you want to reach as outlined above and second, you can establish loyalty between you and the influencer. If a nano influencer becomes a micro (and then a macro), having an existing positive relationship could mean they’re more willing to work with you again. Taking a chance on a nano influencer can pay off once on that level and then potentially even more on other levels.

  4. Low costs

    And finally, one of the most common-sense reasons why nano influencers are on the up and up for projects is that they come at a lower cost. They’re the most budget friendly influencers. A high number of followers usually raise fees because no matter if they don’t have that personal connection or reach that niche audience, regardless they will get eyes on your product. Nano influencers however typically have lower fees but still have just as much impact. You are investing less money but still getting the impact of an influencer. You are getting a return on an investment.