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Remember the time Bobby Boucher showed up at halftime and the Mud Dogs won the Bourbon Bowl?
OK, never mind.
The point is, bigger isn’t always better. And sometimes, the “underdog” can perform just as well as the stars—especially when it comes to influencer marketing (and Adam Sandler movies).
Over the past couple of years, nano influencers have been on the rise as more and more marketers move away from the larger, more expensive names and start winning with smaller, more targeted creators who genuinely love their brands and products.
In this blog, we’ll get to know some of these niche creators and the pros and cons of working with them. Then, we’ll look into some brands making the most of their nano influencer partnerships.
Nano influencers generally have between 1,000-10,000 followers on a given social media channel.
Although their audience size is the smallest of all influencer types, nano influencers tend to have higher engagement rates than their larger counterparts. The ideal engagement rate for a nano influencer varies by platform but should always be more than 2%.
Nano influencers also give brands access to extremely targeted audiences. These smaller creators usually fall within a specific niche, meaning any company they align with has a high chance of converting with their like-minded audience.
A recent Nielsen survey found that 77% of global respondents said word-of-mouth advice from family and friends was the most persuasive source of new product information. While audiences might not know their favorite creator personally, nano influencers feel far more like friends because of their smaller follower count and shared niche interests with their fans.
Nano influencers aren’t going to spread awareness nearly as far as their maco and celebrity counterparts. That means you’ll likely need to scale your nano influencer team at some point to maximize impact.
The good news about scaling a team of nano influencers is that it likely won’t cost an arm and a leg. Most nano influencers are willing to post in exchange for free products or a low flat rate.
Organizing all the content you get from a large team of nano influencers and nurturing relationships with each one can get messy. Luckily, some great options are available to help manage your influencers’ content, perform outreach at scale, automate busywork, and more.
Nano influencers have a small but targeted audience, meaning their followers will always pay close attention to what they have to say. These niche audiences will help you build a community of like-minded individuals and lead to better long-term trust.
Many smaller influencers might be new to influencer marketing, so it could take a few tries to get the exact content you’re looking for. But this isn’t all bad. A fresh creator is an opportunity to teach the “right” way of doing things without having to deal with any bad habits.
There is just no way someone with 100,000+ followers can interact with everyone. It’s way more feasible for smaller influencers to respond to comments and answer any questions their followers have about their lifestyle or content.
When influencers are beginning to grow their audience, there could be some temptation to buy followers or engagement to help boost their vanity metrics and seem more appealing to brands. Regardless of size, always do an influencer audit before partnering.
Social media companies have finally begun to realize how critical creators are to the success of their platforms.
YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest have invested the most into making their platforms creator-friendly. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and TikTok have also launched campaigns to stimulate high-quality creator content on their platforms. Expect all platforms to roll out more payment and growth opportunities for creators in 2023 and beyond.
Nano influencers have grown in popularity over the last few years, largely with the help of TikTok. The platform’s organic content from “everyday” creators has proven its ability to go viral overnight and far extend the reach of its original intended audience. And because of nano influencers’ increased viral potential, more than 90% of U.S. marketers said they want to form partnerships with influencers who have between 5,000 and 100,000 followers this year.
Most nano influencers produce content at the same level as some of the most popular macro and celebrity influencers. Additionally, smaller influencers almost always have far superior engagement rates.
As a result, brands have begun to lock these high-performing creators in for long-term partnerships. Not only do they produce content at an amazing clip, but they are also seen as an investment with plenty of room for growth.
If someone genuinely loves your products, they will post about it. And brands should always be on the lookout for user-generated content (UGC) from quality creators singing their praises online.
The easiest way to track who is talking about you online is by creating an accessible hashtag people can use to get your attention and show you off on their channels. But you can also use social listening tools to listen in even when you’re not tagged.
Sometimes when you find a creator hyping you up online, all it takes is a simple shoutout to make their day and solidify a lifetime fan.
Will Padilla—a nano influencer on TikTok—recently found himself in a similar situation.
While Will’s content generally centers around tech advice for young professionals, he couldn’t help but share his love for the “world’s greatest pants” from Lululemon.
Shortly after posting, Lululemon “dueted” Will’s post from its branded channel.
@lululemon #duet with @sellthatsaas We’re flattered. #lululemon #abcpants ♬ original sound – GiveMePinkEye
“[The original post] was a 100% authentic post,” Will said. “I was literally shocked when they dueted me.”
And what did he do after the feature? He bought some new Lululemon pants, of course.
“I have always been obsessed with Lululemon’s ABC pants and honestly just felt the need to tell others about how great they were! The feature made me realize they really do value their customers.”— Will Padilla, TikTok nano influencer
Before accumulating UGC of your own, take a minute to brush up on some best practices for sourcing content and obtaining usage rights.
Sparkling water brand La Croix sources quality UGC from nano influencers using hashtags like #LaCroixlove and #LiveLaCroix and features its favorite posts on the company’s various social media channels. The company also has an option for fans to upload photos to its website to be featured in a virtual scrapbook dedicated to brand love.
Coca-Cola was one of the first major brands to jump on the nano influencer train. The company gives all its fans a chance to become a #cokeambassador and boosts the best quality content to its 2.8 million Instagram followers.
Sperry regularly partners with nano influencers, even giving some of them a budget to promote their favorite products to their followers online. The brand keeps a vigilant eye out for quality collaborators who are already uploading content using the brand’s official hashtags #sperry and #sperrystyle.
Katryna Ton is a GRIN senior customer success manager and recent MBA graduate of UC Irvine. She is also a fashion and lifestyle content creator who has partnered with numerous brands, including Liquid I.V., Cozy Earth, and Parachute Home.
Brands reach out to me, but I will also pitch myself to them if I really want to work with them, and I believe I am a good fit.
Proper brand outreach is usually an email. Brands will email me, introduce themselves, and see if I am interested in partnering or collaborating with them.
All of the above. But it depends on the brand or what we negotiate. I have worked on campaigns with all three types of payment structures.
For nano influencers, there is nothing wrong with accepting gifting as a form of compensation, especially when you are just starting out.
On the other hand, if you know you create great content, UGC content creation is a great way to partner with brands on a possible paid basis. And if you love a brand and are passionate about sharing consistently over time, commission-structured campaigns can be very lucrative if you have an engaged following who trusts your opinions.
Different collaborations work best for different reasons, but as a guarantee, paid collaborations work best because there is an obligation for the creator to follow through. It also gives the brand and creator more room to negotiate on the number of deliverables, content rights, usage, etc. This all depends on the brand’s budget as well.
Nano and micro creators want the opportunity to be paid. So if a brand thinks their content is high quality enough, then the brand should consider paying them. This trend is starting to push nano and micro creators to create content for brand usage rather than creating and posting content to their own channels for brand awareness.
TikTok is the social platform to be on if you want to grow fast, but you have to be consistent. Diversifying your social presence is also important, but having one channel as your main presence helps establish credibility.
More and more people want to be influencers and creators, so nano and micro influencers have more opportunities now than they did before, and follower count is starting to matter less.
Nano influencers offer marketers something that’s getting harder for the big names to compete with: brand love. By finding the right niche creators to partner with, your brand can unlock the engagement and social proof you need to take your influencer marketing strategy to the next level.
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