What is a Nano-Influencer?

As frequent users of social media, we are familiar with the experience of scrolling through our feed of seemingly endless advertisements uploaded by celebrity sponsors with large followings. Forbes magazine states that 47% of customers feel tired of the inauthentic number of endorsements we are exposed to on a daily basis is becoming irritating to us as consumers of this content. But what happens when the power to have an impact on the buyer’s perspective of a product or service is no longer only in the hands of the apps elite? Not too long ago, marketers have delved into the concept of “nano-influencers,” giving ordinary people the opportunity to take on the role of advertisers for large companies. Suddenly, it becomes clear why your cousin has taken her newfound passion for vegan toothpaste to her own social media profile with reviews up the wazoo. While I find the idea to be quite brilliant, the notion of expecting return-on-investment (ROI) from an abundance of nobodies does not sound like an attractive business model to others. Regardless of opinion, these influencers are projected to be the key players for marketing strategies of companies in upcoming years. 

Those who haven’t been following digital marketing trends in recent years may find themselves out of the loop on the power of influencers, currently the hottest tool in online advertising. Through designing contracts that promise a wage in return for creating posts raving about their newest products, companies of all sizes have begun taking advantage of the strong reputation and wide audiences these icons have built.  The incentive behind a business teaming up with an influencer is to “build relationships with people who can build relationships for you,” quoted in an article published by GroupHigh, a public relations and marketing discussion site for professionals in the field. Typically, the process of finding the ideal influencer for your company follows this procedure: identify your target audience, recruit a number of influencers whose personal brands align with your own, create a mutually beneficial contract, begin to weed out influencers who generate the most outreach and continue to work consistently with the particular influencer that creates consumer loyalty and, hopefully, revenue. 

Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, huh? But, is there any return on investments in these social media superstars?

In a piece published by Forbes magazine, influencers allow for your company to tap into an audience you may have once struggled to gain access to. It is cited in the article that one-third of consumers within the United States and Europe have reported their experiences in purchasing a product or service after being introduced to it’s appeal through an employed influencer on social media.

While hiring influencers has proven to be a successful strategy for many businesses, there has been controversy surrounding the shift in the qualifications of these sponsors. Today, almost anybody can become a social media influencer, regardless of your expertise or size of social circle. That’s right, as long as you have over ten followers (yes, I said only over TEN) on your Instagram account, you too are eligible to at least receive free swag from businesses in exchange for a positive shout-out on your profile. Dubbed as “nano-influencers,” this tier of online markets with a usual following ranging anywhere from ten to ten thousand are here to change the game for our generation’s means of digital advertising. While their reach is limited in comparison to mega-influencers, who accumulate hundreds of thousands of likes and follow each day, nano-influencers have the upper hand in their levels of personal engagement with their followers through social interactions, such as responding to a comment or answering a private message.

If nano-influencers do not have a substantial amount of followers nor expertise on the product or service they are advertising, why are they suddenly so desirable to companies? The answer lies within one of the more valuable commodities that businesses have left to sell: trust. 

As any public relations and marketing specialist should know, authenticity is the key to building the bridge of trust between your company and the prospective public. Depending on the company and their own branding, popular and wealthy influencers like Lele Pons and the Paul brothers may be less of use in generating sales than your own cousin. If you are skeptical of the longevity of this trend, you are not the only one. However, statistics analyzing the shift in power of controlling consumer behavior may convince you that nano-influencers are here to stay. Sourced within PR News Online, Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group, found that a mere 32% of consumers follow the shopping advice given to them by the aforementioned mega-influencers while a whopping 70% admit to being most heavily influenced by the opinions of family members and friends. Why is that? You guessed it: we trust them!

Admittedly, the concept of paying or giving away free merchandise to nonentities may sound a bit bizarre. I myself spent a semester interning under RED Distribution, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, promoting tracks of upcoming musicians to my measly 2,000 Instagram followers. During that time, I worried a lot about the worth of my views and likes, wondering if I was making a difference in their company at all, but what I did not recognize was the potential my opinion had on impacting the behavior of people I interact with each day online. Despite what may appear to be a flawed system, marketing companies will continue to work closely with people like yourself in the future to avoid falling behind their competitors.