Popularity vs. Influence: The biggest mistake that can sabotage your influencer program

Forget mega-influencers. Micro-influencers win.

August 3, 2022

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You collaborated with a mega or macro-influencer, hoping their posts will bring more eyeballs and revenue to your brand. But it didn’t happen because big influencers don’t necessarily have the trust and credibility among their audience.

Brands can’t stop themselves from collaborating with big influencers. They assume once such a celebrity talks about the product, their Shopify will ka-ching with new orders in seconds.

But they soon realize an imbalance in the graph of expenses vs. returns because they run behind vanity metrics such as follower count and ignore what really matters.

Choosing the right influencer needs to go beyond just follower count and keyword. Because you never know if those followers are real people or bots. Other factors to consider while choosing the right creator for your campaign are—engagement rate, past performance, growth rate, and activity.

And today, we’re going to talk about how you can make more sales by collaborating with micro and nano influencers.

This post covers:

  • Who is a macro influencer?
  • Why should you avoid collaborating with macro influencer?
  • Who are micro and nano influencer?
  • How working with more micro and nano influencer can help you get more sales?
  • Examples of micro and nano influencer marketing brand campaigns

Who is a macro influencer?

A macro influencer usually has between 500K to 5M followers on their social media accounts. Because of such a broad reach, brands approach them to feature a product in their posts.

However, access to such a broad audience comes with a hefty price tag. According to Influencer Marketing Hub—macro influencers charge $5000-$10000 per post, and this number reaches upto $1 million or higher for celebrities.

Here are a few examples of macro influencers:

Jean Lee (jeaniuseats)

Jean Lee is a New Yorker food and travel influencer. She has more than 113K followers with 4946 posts. On her Instagram, you can find photos of the dishes she samples at popular New York restaurants, along with restaurant menu templates

Amy Jackson (Fashion Jackson)

Amy is a San Diego-based fashion blogger with more than 830K followers on Instagram. She talks about effortless styling, beauty, and travel, among lifestyle topics.

Why should you avoid collaborating with celeb influencers?

Macro influencers bring the reach and a broad audience to the table, but this doesn't mean they will bring money on your table. Here are four reasons why collaborating with macro influencers can be a bad idea.

Vanity metrics don't mean an engaged community.

All that glitters is not gold—so all those numbers you see don't prove any influencer's credibility. You need an engaged community for a campaign to move smoothly and bring results.

Let's understand this with an example. Jessi Malay is a public figure and founder of Haven.Namai. She has 531K followers and more than 6K posts. She is a leader in her industry, and with such a significant online presence, you'd guess she has a great engagement rate.

So we checked with HypeAuditor to find out if it's true. Her engagement rate is less than 1%.

So, before you decide to work with someone and spend $1000s on one single post, monitor their engagement rate to see if you’ll get the ROI you’re looking for.

Risk of controversy affecting the brand's reputation

Mega influencers are in the spotlight almost every time. So if they overlook any detail while creating the post — it can create controversy, affecting your brand's reputation.

One recent example of such a mishap is the collaboration between Kim Kardashian and Beyond Meat. Viewers claimed she was fake-chewing the vegan burger in the advert and called it delicious without taking a bite.

Viewers now have a negative perception of Beyond Meat as they might've tried to fool the internet with fake celebrity-tasting videos and collaborations.

Credibility and authority matter a lot

Despite having a massive follower base, celeb and mega influencers have lower credibility. They do more paid collaborations than normal, and their audience is sometimes tired of all the sponsored posts.

For example, Cristiano Ronaldo endorsed a Japanese facial exerciser, and it couldn't get weirder for the audience to digest this fact. Because him being a sportsperson endorsing a facial exerciser didn't make any sense to his community, so people started making jokes and fun of it.

The ratio of cost to return is low

Mega influencers can be a huge investment, and it becomes an expense for you if you don't get a return on your investment. Every macro or mega influencer has different fees, but without credibility and an engaged community, there are high chances you're shooting (expensive) arrows in the dark.

The ratio of cost to return can be less than 1, which means you aren’t even breaking even with your sales. It’s a sure fire way to lose faith in influencer marketing, especially when you start.

What are micro and nano influencers?

A micro-influencer has a social media audience of 20K to 100K followers, and a nano influencer has an audience of ~3k to 20K followers. Time and again, micro and nano influencers have proved they don't need an audience of millions to help brands gain more visibility.

Micro and nano influencers are often a part of niche communities comprising ofyour buyers. They can promote and talk about your product in these groups, thus increasing your chances of generating more revenue for your business.

Here are a few examples of micro and nano influencers on Instagram:

Caroll Salazar (@makeuphuney)

Caroll is known as “MakeupHuney” on Instagram with 32.1K followers. Her feed is all about beauty tutorials, product reviews, fashion, and travel. She occasionally also talks about parenting and marriage to establish a personal connection with her audience.

Christian Caro(@christiancaro_)

Christian is a fashion and lifestyle influence with more than 5,000 followers. His Instagram feed is full of colorful life in SoCal. He posts all about formal wear and leisure attire so if you’re a brand who makes comfortable and fashionable clothes you should definitely talk to him.

How can working with micro and nano influencers help you get more sales?

With a niche following and trusted community, micro and nano influencers harness multiple strategies to help you with better visibility.

Higher audience engagement rates

Micro-influencers don't have a following of millions, but they have a loyal and trustworthy community. Not having a massive follower base makes it easier for them to build and maintain relationships with their audience.

They frequently interact with their followers through comments and direct messages on social media. That's why they have an average engagement rate of 3.86%, whereas mega influencers have 1.21%.

For TikTok, this number has a significant difference—micro influencers boast an engagement rate of approximately 18%, whereas mega influencers have around 5%.


Micro-influencers make it cost-effective for brands to get attention from the right audience.

According to Influencer Marketing Hub—micro-influencers charge $100-$500 per post, whereas macro influencers usually charge $5000-$10000 per post.

If you're a small or emerging brand, it's not easy to invest a huge amount in partnering up with one macro influencer. Because you can easily collab with multiple micro-influencers and generate sales for your brand. business.

This also means a better return on your investment. It’s a no-brainer!

Open to working with new and small brands

As the follower count increases, influencers tend to become particular about the brands they associate themselves with. This limits them to specific campaigns and sponsorships from well-established brands.

In contrast, smaller influencers are open to working with new products and brands. They don’t discriminate because you’re an emerging brand, which is great!

Credibility and trust with their audience

Today, the voice of influencers can drastically affect your brand in many ways because people trust their voice and reviews as if they are coming from a friend. Because of such credibility and trust in their niche, they can improve your brand's trustworthiness too.

Unlike macro and mega influencers, people don't see micro-influencer as someone unreachable and unattainable. Their content is not too salesy; it helps their audience find better solutions. That's one of the reasons why brands must work with smaller creators, it’s word of mouth on steroids.

Access to niche audiences

Micro-influencers can reach a smaller and more interested group of audience that broader campaigns miss. They can tailor the messaging and offers according to the audience, making it easier for you to connect with a new audience.

For example, let's say you have a fashion brand and collaborated with a mega influencer to promote your new fashion line. They will help you get in front of millions but will never know if their audience follows their advice or not.

But with micro-influencers, their audience includes people who are genuinely interested in their content and recommendations.

So if your goal is just to reach the masses without any concern for sales, then you should go with large influencers. But if you intend to generate revenue for your brand, then it's time for you to rethink your strategy and focus on smaller creators.

Better interest targeting

With targeting on Facebook ads getting weak after the iOS 14.5 privacy updates, smaller creators offer a better alternative to FB’s interest-based targeting.

Micro and nano-influencers usually have very specific interests and brands. Their audience is also enthusiastic about a particular thing, which makes them perfect for your niche brand too.

For example, if your brand is about CBD products for the CrossFit community, you can find 100s of creators who speak about this very specific thing and reach their cumulative audience which would be in the 100s of thousands. This is much more powerful than wasting money on traditional paid media channels such as Facebook.

Examples of micro and nano influencer marketing brand campaigns


Sperry, a boat shoe manufacturer, was an early adopter of micro-influencers marketing strategy. In 2017 they connected with 100 micro-influencers on Instagram who were existing customers of Sperry shoes.

They executed a campaign during the rainy season, which is the perfect season to purchase durable shoes. Sperry shoes focused on fashion influencers who genuinely liked and used their products.

Their strategy paid off—they saw an increase in sales of more than 66%, with 4.7 million impressions.

People want to test if those shoes are ideal for wet weather, not a modeling shoot or fancy event. Sperry's hyper-niched campaign proved the power of micro-influencer marketing strategy when executed correctly.


Pioneer in the cosmetics industry—Sephora has always had a loyal community and cult following. The most notable success of the company's Beauty Insider rewards program redefined reward marketing.

It also opened doors to many more influencer marketing opportunities since the Rogue level of the Very Important Beauty Insider (VIB) program became a status attribute among beauty influencers.

Sephora set a new record with its #SephoraSquad beauty influencer program. They chose 24 beauty influencers for the program's first class in 209. They focused on micro-influencers who consistently posted make-up and beauty product reviews and had an engaged audience.

The partnership contract was a paid year-long deal, and influencers had to post about the products and give honest reviews. Sephora rewarded the influencer with free products and samples. They increased the capacity for the next class to 73 influencers and announced higher engagement and sales after 1600 Instagram posts.


Gillette—the razor manufacturer, is a familiar name for millennials. But Gillette noticed they needed to introduce themselves to GenZs and the younger generation again.

So, the brand shifted its focus to sponsoring women beauty influencers to promote its Venus product line in a fresh, relevant, and modern way.

They sent an 'Influenster' box to female Instagram influencers with a follower count of all levels, even nano-influencers who didn't have 1000 followers. They featured the influencers using Venus products consistently in their everyday lives.

They chose photos from influencers who clicked in the standard bathroom with typical views over lavish celebrity bathrooms or crafted commercial sets.

Gillette's campaign was hit with the #ChooseToSmooth hashtag because of the credibility that nano and micro-influencers brought to the table. All the influencers reached more than 476,000 followers with a 2.2% engagement rate. This was all from less than 1000 tagged Instagram posts.

Analyze your needs before collaborating

“The more, the merrier” is a saying which is only suitable for parties and get-togethers. Not so much for influencer marketing campaigns. However, sometimes your needs can differ.

Set your goals and leverage the community before jumping on the bandwagon of vanity metrics.

We highly recommend working with smaller creators, especially if you’re starting off with influencer marketing. I hope this post convinced you for all the reasons about the same.

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