Welcome to the launch of our new “Social Showdown” series, a weekly blog that breaks down the various forms of content creation, from branded content, to mega-influencer, to macro-influencer, to micro-influencer, to determine which form of content creation is driving the most value.

In a social media landscape defined by user-centric algorithms and in-the-moment themed advertising, it has never been more important to create branded content that focuses on consumer engagement over blatant brand promotion. People have control over what and with whom they interact on each social media network, and their ad blockers are ensuring that your paid ads never even reach them.

So it follows that the brand strategy that will drive the most value for you on social media channels is one that mirrors consumers’ behavior as they interact with their news feeds. Brands need to prioritize creation and personalization of branded content, posted by the individuals that your consumers go on social to interact with in the first place. Starbucks is known for its creative social media posts and among the most influential brands on social; Secilia Kirby, the manager of the Starbucks Instagram page, said of her posting strategy, “It takes people into the moment. Often, there’s just a hand, but you get a feeling it could potentially be yours.”

But not all content creation has equal value for your brand. There are different levels of influencers that you can tap into, and each of them make varying impacts when they post on social media. Below, we break down four examples of Starbucks-branded content creation, and give you the low down on what each content strategy can do for your marketing efforts.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 1.49.32 PM

  • Influencer Type: N/A (Brand posts its own content)
  • Engaged Reach: 3%
  • Cost to Activate: $4.15 for the iced vanilla latte, and one caffeine-happy brand intern

Mega-Influencer Content Creation

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 3.06.19 PM

Macro-Influencer Content Creation

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 3.04.36 PM

  • Influencer Type: Macro- Bloggers, journalists and subject-matter experts with an average reach of 10k to 1M, with 5% – 25% engaged per post on average(Pictured: @VickysStyle)
  • Engaged Reach: 2%
  • Estimated Cost to Activate: Macro-influencers have a cost of activation that’s directly based on the quantity of their followers. As a result, their cost to activate can range anywhere between $500 and $10,000.

Micro-Influencer Content Creation


  • Influencer Type: Micro- Existing customers or employees, with a reach of 500 – 5,000 and 25% to 50% engaged per post (Pictured: @MissCasey614)
  • Engaged Reach: 16%
  • Cost to Activate: Since micro-influencers are not incentivized by cash, there is no cost to activate. 
  • Earned Social Media Value: $2,038*

*Earned social media value is derived from average CPE of an Instagram Sponsored Post across industries. Estimate is interpreted as the value delivered to the brand as compared to the cost that would have been spent on paid social ads to drive a comparable outcome.

When weighing the value of an influencer for your brand, the engaged reach and cost of activation of each influencer are crucial metrics to consider. For example, Starbucks has a higher engaged reach than both the mega and macro-influencers examples above, and its “cost of activation” is an infinitely lower barrier than a mega or macro-influencer activation. An influencer is only as valuable as far as their engaged reach allows them to be. Beyond that, their millions of followers remain the unrealized fluff of ‘potential reach’, unlikely to generate significant ROI value for your brand.

Micro-influencers may not drive the same quantity of impressions as macro or mega-influencers, but the quality of their engaged reach is unparalleled. Engaged reach is a valuable measurement of success because it encapsulates the quality of relationship that an influencer has with their following – known as resonance – which in turn will define whether this influencer possesses the capacity to influence their followers to make purchases.

To learn more about creating an influencer marketing strategy for your brand, check out our Ultimate Guide to Influencer Marketing.