How Brands Can Work With Influencers
With the rise of an increasingly computerized world, digital advertising tactics have been integrated into daily life. Paid media, social media marketing, search engine advertising, and more are now cornerstones of the modern marketing strategy.
Likewise, content creators and influencers are a natural fit into the marketing hierarchy, and for good reason. They’re key players that take social media content to the next level.
Influencers solidified their role in driving marketing ROI over the years because of their proven ability to drive website traffic, motivate consumers to make purchases, and change opinions. It’s considered a form of word-of-mouth advertising, a tactic that drives, on average, $6 trillion in annual global spending, according to Semrush.
But when it comes to working with creators for a marketing campaign, it’s important to understand the specific types of influencers that brands can partner with. One size — and one following — does not fit all!
Understanding Social Media Influencers
Before we dive into the different types of influencers, let’s level-set what an influencer is.
Social media influencers, or content creators, are people who are active on platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, LinkedIn, and more, but with one very important twist: they have a significant amount of influence and sway over their audience.
Social media influencers generally have at least one thousand verified followers. As in, followers who are real people — not bots or purchased spam accounts. Many influencers — but not all — have more than one social media account with comparable followings on each one.
What sets social media influencers apart from popular folks on the internet boils down to their audience. Typically, social media influencers have followers that are devoted, loyal, and active.
Another way that influencers are not like regular social media users is the content itself. Many creators, especially those with smaller followings, are professionals within their field. Consider a make-up artist (MUA), a dietician, a journalist, or a musician. Each of these people will likely have proven accolades, education, and a portfolio showcasing that their content is backed by accredited expertise.
Understanding what makes a social media influencer is the first step to helping your brand decide what kind of content creator will be the best partner for a future campaign. Taking time to identify your influencers is not a task to be taken lightly. So, let’s dive into the different types of social media influencers that you’ll encounter.
The 13 Types of Social Media Influencers
Let’s break down the 13 types of influencers or content creators you may encounter on social media.
Influencers By Follower Count
Nano-Influencers & Micro-Influencers
Nano-influencers and micro-influencers are a segment of influencers that are identified solely by their follower count. With Instagram as a model, we consider nano-influencers to have fewer than 10,000 Instagram followers, whereas micro-influencers typically have between 10,000-50,000 Instagram followers. Like all active influencers, they post regular content and earn an income from brand partnerships. However, due to their follower count, they typically (but not always) create and monetize content on a part-time basis.
Micro-influencers in particular are a unique subset because even though they do not have as many followers as macro- or mega-influencers, they are known as the influencer triple threat. This is because they usually specialize in a niche interest, have a loyal, tight-knit following, and are usually willing to contribute additional touchpoints like ratings and reviews for brands.
For brands hoping to reach a specialized audience, nano-influencers, and micro-influencers are great options. They’re a mighty subset that has been proven to effectively contribute to brand ROI!
Mid-Tier & Macro-Influencers
Mid-tier influencers have between 25,000-100,000 followers, but macro-influencers have between 100,000-500,000 followers. Both of these influencer types create content full-time and typically include journalists, bloggers, YouTube, and more. They are veteran creators who have experience writing, filming, editing, and promoting their own work — without the brand partnership angle. It’s not uncommon for macro-influencers to have a small team that contributes to the big picture of their brand — but the creator is still the one running the show.
Mega-influencers have over 500,000 followers. Because of their high follower quantity, you can count on these creators being people on social media you already know and love (or love to hate). Partnerships with mega-influencers have a high price tag and are wrought with competition, contracts, and prerequisites. Unlike nano-, micro-, mid-tier, and macro-influencers, these creators don’t apply to brand campaigns; rather, brands pitch campaigns to them.
Similarly, mega-influencers also include celebrities. Individuals like Beyoncé, Serena Williams, Kylie Jenner, Cristiano Ronaldo, Elon Musk, and more were famous before social media created a new brand of celebrity — and as such, they did not go through the celebrity growth path in the same way that mega-influencers as the D’Amelio sisters did. While some brands may partner with celebrities for sponsored content, it’s rarely a decision that fulfills their livelihoods.
Influencers by Industry
Bloggers and Vloggers
Bloggers and video bloggers were the original influencers, harnessing the power of the written word and YouTube, respectively.
Huda Kattan and Joanna Gaines, both popular celebrities, started their businesses on blogs where they wrote about their projects in cosmetics and interior design, respectively, and showcased their work.
Similarly, the early days of YouTube birthed the vlogger, many of whom are still around today. Shane Dawson (@shanedawsontv), Jenna Mourey (@jennamarbles), and Lucas Cruikshank (@FRED) were among the most popular vloggers in YouTube’s early era. Individually, their careers expanded everywhere from Vine to TikTok to television and more.
Bloggers and vloggers are deeply in touch with what makes good content. Bloggers especially understand the labor of love that goes into crafting content that lasts — and have benefited greatly from incorporating their craft into a social media presence.
Many bloggers and vloggers have an accredited angle to their content; others are entertaining and well-liked by their audience but don’t necessarily have the background to be considered an expert. Both are valid – and both have the ability to parlay their work into a successful TikTok, Instagram, or Facebook page.
Savvy Subject Matter Experts
Some bloggers and vloggers fall into the savvy subject matter expert (SME) category. This is a creator who has proven accolades attesting to their expertise. Chrissy Carroll, for example, is a registered dietician and physical trainer with years of experience helping clients achieve their health goals. She holds collegiate degrees, possesses professional
licensing, and is board-certified as a provider — and that’s just related to dietetics. Her training regimens come from their own special certifications along with years as an active marathon runner.
The more specialized the content, the more important it is that it comes from an accredited source. Many consumers wouldn’t trust a creator with their health and wellness who didn’t prove their claims — and likewise, audiences don’t resonate with sponsored content that doesn’t walk the walk either.
Reality TV Star Influencers
Have you ever watched a reality TV show and heard contestants accuse others for not being there “for the right reasons?”
Stars from series like Too Hot To Handle, Big Brother, Survivor, American Idol, and more haven’t faded into the background; they’ve become social media staples.
Reality TV has produced dozens of social media-famous personalities who make a living producing sponsored content. Some influencers even go on television for additional exposure to grow their personal brands.
Likeability and popularity aren’t bad things, especially if brands are excited to partner with creators whose only claim to fame is being on television. If it works, it works!
The Bachelor franchise has produced some of the most popular social media influencers and is a staple for brands like Revolve, BruMate, Donna Bella Hair, McDonald’s, and more. Additionally, the Kardashian-Jenner family famously thrived on social media after the success of their long-running reality TV series.
Activist influencers are usually highly-active creators who are closely associated with a specific cause.
The co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, Alicia Garza, environmental activist Greta Thunberg, Asian-American activist and artist Kim Saira, Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, and more are examples of people whose work has earned them a substantial social media following.
They use social media as one of many tools to reach their audiences and fight injustice.
Ultimately, their goal is not to be social media-famous, but rather to shed light on important causes or underrepresented people.
Not only do these writers use social media to keep up with trends and news, but it’s also a great way for them to network with the public. Some people may not be willing to do an interview in-person or over the phone but may be more reachable via direct messaging.
Photographers have thrived in social media. Some photographers even attracted fame and influencer status on platforms on Instagram instead of in published works.
With platforms like Instagram and Pinterest visually driven, especially in the 2010s, some social media-famous photographers have parlayed their beautiful photography into paid brand collaborations.
Many Instagram early adopters remember Murad and Nataly Osmann’s @followmeto series, wherein Murad photographed Nataly from behind as she led him through wildly beautiful travel destinations. What started as a personal travel project grew into a monetized series of paid partnerships. Now, the Osmann’s cater to an entire community of travelers with tours, guides, and more.
Journalists who contribute to newspapers and magazines like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Vogue, The Verge, Vulture, BuzzFeed, and more are often active on social media with varying amounts of followers. As mentioned previously, journalists usually fall into the macro-influencer category because of their expertise and exposure to audiences outside of social media.
Thought Leaders Influencers
Popular thought leaders on social media take many forms, especially in the influencer era.
Executive-level professionals are often active on at least one social media platform, like Twitter or LinkedIn, producing content that imparts wisdom and passion to readers. Professionals like Neil Patel, Jennifer Gutman, Matt Bailey, Marsha Collier, Liz Ryan, and more are known for their thought-provoking, no-nonsense content that is as motivating as it is engaging.
Sometimes thought leader influencers will parlay their presence into pay-to-play educational content, like a webinar or class series. Ultimately, the goal of these influencers is to share their experience and craft with eager readers.
Mainstream Celebrities Influencers
Influencer culture has changed how fame is acquired. In TikTok’s early days, Charli D’Amelio, Chase Hudson, and more were part of the Hype House, a group of teens and young adults who rose to fame for their choreographed dance videos on the platform. What started as carefree video content exploded into a phenomenon that redefined the modern celebrity.
Despite the new arrivals who are becoming famous from their social media presence, there are still mainstream celebrities whose work as actors, musicians, artists, or television personalities already made them famous — and social media was the next step.
For some celebrities, social media accounts are simply a strategic step in launching a new revenue stream. Kylie Jenner, for example, expanded her fame as one of the most followed people on social media. Her countless branded partnerships have raked in hundreds of millions of dollars and served as the launching pad for her widely recognized brand brands, like Kylie Cosmetics, Kylie Skin, and Kylie Baby.
Celebrity influencers usually have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of followers, putting them in the macro- or mega-influencer bracket. These creators typically charge a premium for content.
Sports influencers span from high school stars to collegiate athletes, professionals to broadcasters, and coaches to superfans. Influencers within the sports vertical span a wide range of skills and expertise, but the most common content creator in this space is the college athlete.
Thanks to 2021’s name, image, and likeness (NIL) laws, collegiate athletes can now monetize their social media channels and profit from themselves as a brand. This change in landscape, which is less than two years old, has already exploded into an industry that is predicted to hit a $1.1B valuation by the end of 2023.
Student athlete influencers have a range of brand partnerships already that don’t stop at sports-centric brands. Apparel, food & beverage, gaming, gambling, electronics, and more have jumped on the NIL train to activate popular creators.
How to Choose the Right Type of Social Media Influencers for Your Brand?
Choosing the right social media influencer to represent your brand may feel daunting, but it’s an important and existing step in running a successful campaign.
The right influencer must be within your brand’s budget but must also have a history of content that aligns with your brand’s values.
Additionally, the ideal brand partner will have a strong connection with their audience and have an authenticity about them that inspires trust.
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Look for Influencers on the Right Social Media Platform
When identifying the audience you want to reach, make sure you’re activating creators on the platform that those consumers spend the most time on.
A brand that is marketing a product to Baby Boomers wouldn’t enact the same strategy as a brand that wants to reach Gen Zers.
Similarly, a home decor brand would have better luck on Pinterest as opposed to Twitter, and brands seeking to partner with gamers would see more success activating Twitch streamers as opposed to Instagram creators.
Analyze the Influencer’s Audience
When conducting an audit of potential creator partners, it’s important to understand the creator audience, as they’ll have a front-row seat to the brand content they produce.
An influencer marketing platform like Mavrck can help brands collect information on prospective creator partner audiences so brands can determine if their followers will resonate with branded content. If not, it may be wise to reconsider a paid sponsorship.
Confirm That Your Influencer Partner Has Real Followers
One of the biggest challenges for brands when it comes to influencer marketing is knowing whether an influencer has real followers or not.
In some cases, influencers may use fake followers or bots to inflate their numbers and appear more popular than they really are.
This can be a serious risk for brands, as it can impact the effectiveness of their influencer marketing campaigns and damage their reputation.
Working with influencers who have fake followers can expose brands to a number of risks.
For example, fake followers are often generated by bots or other automated systems, and they typically have little to no engagement with the influencer’s content.
This means that the influencer’s posts may not reach as many people as they claim, and the engagement they do receive may be low or irrelevant.
Additionally, working with influencers who have fake followers can damage a brand’s reputation. If it becomes known that the influencer has fake followers, it can reflect poorly on the brand and may cause customers to lose trust in the brand.
One of the key signs that an influencer may have fake followers is low engagement on their posts. If an influencer has a large number of followers but their posts receive very little engagement, it may be a sign that their followers are fake.
For example, if an influencer has 100,000 followers but their posts only receive a few hundred likes or comments, it may be a sign that their followers are not real. In contrast, an influencer with a smaller number of followers but higher engagement may be a better option for a brand, as their followers are likely to be real and engaged with their content.
How To Find Fake Followers
There are a few steps that brands can take to determine whether an influencer has fake followers or not. One of the most effective methods is to use a tool that analyzes an influencer’s followers and identifies any that are likely to be fake, like Mavrck’s fraud risk capabilities.
These tools use algorithms to identify patterns and characteristics that are commonly associated with fake followers, such as lack of engagement, low-quality content, or suspicious account names.
Another method for finding fake followers is to manually review an influencer’s followers and look for any patterns or red flags. For example, if an influencer has a large number of followers with similar account names or profile pictures, it may be a sign that they have fake followers.
Choose the Correct Influencer for Your Brand
When selecting the best influencer for a brand partnership, it’s important to play to everyone’s strengths. A creator’s working style, preferred content type, tone of voice, quality, and professionalism are all elements that brands should consider before issuing a contract. Do-diligence up front will save brands headaches and scrambling in the long run!
Best Type of Social Media Influencer for Your Brand
In conclusion, there are a host of different types of influencers that brands should familiarize themselves with to help them in their search for future creator partners.
It’s helpful to first identify the number of followers you want your creator partner to have and compare that to your campaign budget.
You should also consider the industry you’re marketing to, and the best types of content that would resonate with your brand’s audience and the creator’s. It’s a nuanced practice, but it’s a vital step in the creator-sourcing process and not to be taken lightly.
Luckily, Mavrck is the number one influencer marketing platform for enterprise brands. One of our most lauded capabilities is our creator index and sourcing capabilities. Combined with our team of experts, our years of experience working with brands like yours make us the ideal partner for your next influencer marketing campaign.
Book a demo today to see our technology in action!
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