Micro vs. Macro-Influencers: When to Tap and Why

Molly McGlew
May 27, 2019
Last Updated On

When choosing influencers, clearly defined objectives should be considered every step of the way.

How many times do you think you’ve heard the word “influencer” in the last five years? Even if you’re only scrolling for a moment, it’s rare to see any digital campaign launch without the support of a slew of #ads from influencers around the world, no matter the industry. While influencer marketing can often induce eye rolls, we want to (briefly) walk you through this over-saturated space, giving you pointers on when and why to tap micro versus macro-
influencers based on your social media needs.

You’re starting a campaign. Awesome! But "Where on earth do I start?” sets in quickly. Do you focus on a bunch of micro-influencers, or put all your eggs in one basket with a single macro-influencer? The answer always depends. Most importantly, it will be determined by your overall campaign objectives—and your budget!

Let’s rewind a sec. What is a micro-influencer and what is a macro-influencer? Micro-influencers are your average Joes, your everyday peeps. They typically have less than 10,000 followers—but their following is a tight-knit community that actively engages with their content (think increased engagement rates on a smaller scale). Often, micro-influencers have a good eye for aesthetics and photography and are therefore noticed not only by their peers but by brands. A macro-influencer, on the other hand, is known by many, even considered famous to some. They could be someone who started as a micro-influencer and grew their account, or an already prominent celebrity whose reputation carries over to their online platforms. Now, let’s get granular.

When should you approach one over the other? How do you benefit? What’s the, dare I say, ROI??

Think of micro-influencers as your ultimate word-of-mouth marketing. They have a smaller circle, therefore they connect with fewer people but have likely built closer relationships. For example, if a micro-influencer’s post has a lot of dialogue happening in the comments, he or she is more likely to get involved in the conversation, giving their followers an opportunity to communicate with them directly. This engagement grows relationships and feels personal. Micro-influencers are also more likely to promote something they actually use and like. They want to keep it real with their audience and grow their account by being authentic. Let’s not forget that using a micro-influencer is a lower spend with lower risk. However, a smaller audience means exactly what it sounds like—you’re capped with reach. ROI can also be more difficult to prove, as not all micro-influencers have access to swipe-up links and analytics.

If you partner with a macro-influencer with millions of followers, voilà, your brand is instantly positioned in front of millions of people. They deliver killer visibility. You’re also more likely to have control over content with more thorough briefs, contracts, and an agent or manager who can clearly communicate to the influencer. ROI is typically easier to define as well, as macros have better access to their analytics. However, people understand that macro-influencers are paid the big bucks, which leads many to believe their content is based solely on money and doubt they’re actually using this product. People will call B.S. (e.g., that tea that automatically makes you skinny…).

We did some digging for you to show you the difference.

*Images by [@gabriellerizzo](https://www.instagram.com/gabriellerizzo/)*

Gabrielle Rizzo is a beauty and lifestyle micro-influencer with 11.2K followers on Instagram. She has been recognized by several brands, and people look to her for the latest and greatest in skincare and makeup. With an average of 300 likes per post, she also averages 20 comments per post—and MANY show an intent to purchase. Instead of just snapping a photo of the product on a shelf, Gabrielle shows the utility of the product: how it looks on the face, how it feels in her hands. The five images above all feature the same product line, showing how prevalent it is in her life. Hello, authenticity!

Let’s use a highly recognizable name as one of our macro examples: Sofia Richie. With 4.3M followers and an average of 250K likes per post, she clearly wins in terms of reach. Take a closer look, though. This specific image shows Sofia promoting an at-home laser hair removal device. Seems odd, right? Where did she remove the hair from? How was her experience? Wait, did she even use it?? Her caption reads: “@heysilkyskinco DIY at home laser hair removal this is AMAZING #heysilkyskin 🖐 #ad.” Need we say more?

That’s our “ouch” macro example. Sorry, Sofia, we still stan you. That’s not to say that macro-influencers are just simply cashing it in. There are TONS of macro-influencers who create beautiful, thoughtful content.

Check out a few examples below.

So we’ve told you some pros and cons of micro vs. macro—great. But how do you make the right decision for your campaign? First and foremost, set clearly defined objectives. Whether your priority is brand awareness, site traffic, or sales, these objectives are the foundation of your campaign and should be considered every step of the way. They will help you determine which route to go with influencers.

When in doubt, ask yourself what the long term and short term benefits are. Is your goal to promote overall brand awareness? Then an army of micro-influencers is likely the smartest—and most economical—choice. Need to promote an event, generate buzz, or promote a fashion show? Macro-influencers will provide that reach you need in a short period of time. When you need quick results and bigger numbers to match, they are often the best route to go.

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