Is Going Viral with Nano Influencers Likely? The Answer Lives in Brand Love.

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Remember the time Bobby Boucher showed up at halftime and the Mud Dogs won the Bourbon Bowl

No? 

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. 

What is a nano influencer?

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%. 

infographic of ideal minimum influencer engagement rates
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Ideal Minimum Influencer Engagement Rates

An infographic depicting ideal influencer engagement rates by platform and size of creator.

Instagram engagement rates:

  • 5% for nano influencers 
  • 3.5% for micro influencers
  • 2% for macro influencers
  • 1% for mega/celebrity influencers 

YouTube engagement rates:

  • 3.5% for nano influencers 
  • 3% for micro influencers
  • 2% for macro influencers
  • 11.5% for mega/celebrity influencers 

Facebook engagement rates:

  • 2% for nano influencers 
  • 1.5% for micro influencers
  • 1.25% for macro influencers
  • 1% for mega/celebrity influencers

Twitter engagement rates:

  • 1% for nano influencers 
  • 0.75% for micro influencers
  • 0.5% for macro influencers
  • 0.5% for mega/celebrity influencers  

TikTok engagement rates:

  • 18% for nano influencers 
  • 12% for micro influencers
  • 8% for macro influencers
  • 4% for mega/celebrity influencers  

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. 

The pros and cons of partnering with nano influencers

Pros

They are more relatable.

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. 

They are more cost-effective.

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.  

They are perfect for reaching hyper-targeted audiences. 

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. 

They engage more with their followers. 

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. 

Cons

They have a shorter reach.

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.

It can be tough to manage a large roster.

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.  

Many lack experience working with brands. 

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.

They could have an ‘inauthentic’ following.

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. 

How to find the right nano influencer for your brand

Check your existing customers.

Many of your existing customers—especially Gen Z and young Millennials—probably have followings of at least 1,000. Consider reaching out to a few of them and see if they would be interested in sharing more about your brand with their friends and family. Chances are, they’ll be thrilled to hear from you and eager to help spread the word about a brand they love. 

Search location tags. 

Want to target consumers in a specific area or demographic? Search some location tags and see if you can find any nano influencers that meet your criteria. 

For example, if a popular band is playing at a cool concert venue down the road, you could search for posts that tag the venue on the night of the show. This is a great way to capitalize on a bunch of people with similar interests, all taking photos at the same time. 

Create a hashtag.

Create a branded hashtag and encourage your followers to use it to generate UGC around your brand. The creators on your current roster can help you promote it and share the best posts with their followers. 

Hold a contest. 

Sometimes all it takes is a little friendly competition to bring the talent to the surface. Try putting out a casting call on your website and social media channels to see if any fans out there want a chance to become full-time brand ambassadors. Be sure to let everyone know the perks up front so you can encourage as many entries as possible. 

Ask your employees.

Hopefully, your employees know and love your brand as well as anyone. And if any of them have a decent following on social media, they could be a perfect choice to join your influencer roster. 

If you tap into your employees, encourage them to make content different from the other creators on your roster. That means “day in the life of an XYZ Brand employee,” behind-the-scenes content, and so forth. Always take full advantage whenever you can help your fans get to know the real humans behind the brand. 

Dig into niche communities.

Look for groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, etc., to find people discussing industry-specific topics and creators. Consider the most active community members as representatives for your brand’s “superfans.” Listen to what they have to say, and don’t be afraid to reach out! 

Leverage creator discovery tools.

For nearly 50% of brands, finding the right creators to join their team is the biggest challenge in influencer marketing. But there are plenty of tools out there to help ease the process. 

For example, GRIN’s Creator Discovery Suite combines five powerful tools brands can implement simultaneously to help scale their programs faster. 

Those tools include:

  • Creator Search for IG: Filter millions of creators on Instagram until you find the ones that meet your exact specifications. 
  • Web Extension: Access key creator insights instantly while natively browsing your social media platform of choice. 
  • Social Listening: Uncover hidden creators on Instagram with a tool that constantly monitors mentions of your brand and industry. 
  • Landing Pages: Let brand fans apply to work with you by setting up a custom landing page on your website. 
  • Curated Lists: Let a team of experts handle the search process for you and deliver you a hand-picked list of brand-aligned creators directly to your email inbox. 
Nano influencer taking a selfie

Best practices for working with nano influencers 

It’s OK to be picky. 

There are millions of nano influencers out there, so be sure not to fall in love too easily. Do your due diligence and make sure they are a good fit before reaching out. 

Keep in mind that the smaller a creator’s following, the higher their engagement rate ought to be. You’ll also want to ensure the creator engages with their audience in the comments. No one enjoys a one-way conversation!

Outline expectations clearly.

Nano influencers might need a bit more guidance than their more experienced counterparts. Tell them exactly what success looks like as a representative of your brand, and keep them in the loop about what works best. 

Let them be themselves.

Authenticity is a huge draw for nano influencers, so let them be themselves! Let your creators know what they need to deliver, but let them do it in their own way as long as it stays true to your brand’s mission and values. 

Give them a chance to try your products.

Always let your creators try your products before they promote them. Ideally, the nano influencers you partner with already know and love your brand, and if that’s the case, make sure they are the first to know (and try, if possible) any new product launches.  

Provide constructive feedback. 

While giving your influencers creative freedom is critical, you also need to provide constructive criticism if there are ways they can improve. Remember: Many nano influencers are relatively new to the game and will appreciate some tips for promoting your products more effectively. 

Celebrate their wins. 

Hype up your creators any chance you get. Throw them some perks and incentives for hitting certain milestones, and always let them know how much you appreciate them. If you’re not in a position to throw in some extra cash or gifts, some words of affirmation can still go a long way. 

Nurture long-term relationships. 

Don’t miss out on an opportunity for a nano influencer to grow with your brand. By nurturing long-term partnerships with your highest-performing creators, you’ll have a savvy business partner, spokesperson, and content creator all wrapped into one. But remember, if you want a long-term partner, you have to treat your creator like an equal, not as a transactional relationship.

Learn more about influencer marketing: Influencer Marketing 101

Examples of major brands leveraging nano influencer content

La Croix

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

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

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

Q&A with Katryna Ton: What smaller creators look for in their favorite brands

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.

What does brand outreach typically look like in your experience? Do you reach out to them, them to you, or a combo of both?

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. 

What is your payment structure? (Gifting, commission, flat rate, etc.)

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.

What type of compensation do you recommend—or what is most realistic—for nano influencers to go after when first getting started with brand partnerships?

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.

What type of collaboration works best?

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.

What are some current trends you’re seeing among nano and micro influencers in your space?

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.

What trends do you see moving forward?

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.

Key takeaway: True fans are the quickest way to contagious brand affinity.

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.   

Updated: May 2023

Frequently Asked Questions

A nano influencer is a creator with anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 followers on social media. 

There are millions of nano influencers brands can partner with on social media. Coca-Cola, for example, most recently partnered with nano creators Maham Shah and Bobbi-Nicole Applegate for its #cokeambassador campaign. 

Brands of every size have worked with nano influencers, including major names like La Croix, Sperry, Banana Republic, Amazon, and more. 

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Written by Quinn Schwartz

Quinn studied journalism at the University of Kentucky and now lives in Portland, Oregon. He’s particularly interested in storytelling in digital marketing and cost-effective creator strategies for smaller brands. When he’s not writing, you can find him at a concert, dog park, or debating whether or not to go on a run.

All-in-one creator management platform helping ecommerce companies build more valuable brands through the power of creator partnerships.

© Grin Technologies Inc. 2022. All rights reserved.

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