A little heart to heart #10 | The big debate – Micro vs Macro

Hey there my lovelies,

Welcome back to my Blog!

If you work with influencers, you’re no stranger to the “micro” vs. “macro” debate: what are the relative merits of working with influencers who have a smaller reach across social platforms versus creators with large followings?


When one thinks of social media influencers, who comes to mind? Is it a group of the most highly-followed social media stars with millions of followers or is it someone more approachable and relatable, with a smaller, yet immensely dedicated following?  Let’s explain a bit if it’s the latter, they are likely micro-influencers, considered ‘normal’ people, so to speak and most of the them have less than 10,000 followers.  Whilst the former they are now referred to as macro influencers .

On the surface, it seems as though an influencer’s total following matters more than anything else. And while the overall following numbers do attract attention, engagement is the key factor in an influencer’s ultimate success.  Brands and marketers are now focusing on the interaction between influencers and their audiences and that is measured by likes, comments and the ultimate trust followers have in the influencer they are following.  

Micro-influencers often have a good engagement with their fan-bases even though the following is small and more often than not they are overlooked by brands in the social media campaigns they are pursuing.

Micro Influencers – Who is a micro influencer?

Micro influencers typically have a minimum of 1,000 followers on the platform you are choosing to target.  That is just a starting number though, it can be much larger. They also tend to focus on a specific niche such as fashion, beauty, fitness, food and so on and are considered to be experts in the said niche.

What are the benefits of micro influencers?

Micro influencers commonly have high engagement rates considering the low following. With a slightly smaller audience than other influencers.  It is easier for them to be active with their audience and are quick to respond to followers’ questions, likes and comments.


What are the disadvantages of micro influencers?

While engagement numbers for micro influencers can be high, there is a limit to said influencers reach. With a smaller number of followers, the micro influencer may not have the viewership a brand is hoping for.

Pros of a Micro Influencer

1. They’re authentic

Micro influencers work in a similar way to word of mouth – when they share a photo on Instagram of them raving about a beauty product new to their skincare routine or enjoying a nutri-bar snack after a workout, you don’t question it (even if their photos are sometimes a little staged).

It’s often easier to believe a micro influencer has actually bought or used a featured product.  They tell you all the in depth details as to why they are using said product or how the nutri-bar is high in protein, which will result in you making a mental note of the brand.  This kind of authenticity attracts engagement, awareness and brand recall. So, the next time you go to buy a new moisturizer or a snack, you remember that brand name you saw on Instagram.

2. They’re cheap

A lot cheaper than macro influencers that is.  On average, a micro influencer costs between Eur50 to Eur100 per post on Instagram and a little bit more if you wish a full blown review post.


Macro Influencers – Who is a macro influencer?

Macro influencers have larger followings, think in the thousand, hundreds of thousands. Some celebrities may fall into the macro influencer category.

What are the benefits of a macro influencer?

With a larger audience, macro influencers simply reach more people. But the advantage is that they reach more of a variety of people as opposed to the niche a micro influencer would focus on.

What are the disadvantages of macro influencers?

Macro influencers authenticity can come into question. Think about some celebrities you see promoting products. Do you think they really use that product? Some may, but some may be sharing the product without even trying it. Macro influencers with their celebrity status can also be costly too!


The Pros of Macro Influencers

1. Brands have more control when running a macro influencer campaign

A brand can often chose the exact celebrity and give them precise instructions on what to post, meaning the outcome can be almost predicted. This control also enables brands to build a stigma or reputation around their product.

2. Return on investment in a macro influencer campaign is often easy to define

Well, easier to define than that of a micro campaign, at least – this is because many brands will set up a unique offer code for a macro influencer campaign. The influencer will then post this along with their content. This makes it easier to attribute sales to a precise post or macro campaign as brands can easily track how many times an offer code was used online.


The Cons of Macro Influencers

1. People don’t believe or trust macro influencers

Product placement is often obvious, and thus unauthentic.  People can see through a devised Instagram post, and therefore trust the content less. While this kind of marketing is great for reach and awareness, people often don’t trust that the influencer really uses the product. 

2. Macro influencer campaigns are more expensive

Celebrities macro influencers will also generally require much higher payment than micro influencers.  One piece of content from a ‘celebrity influencer’ could cost anywhere from Eur2,000 to a whopping Eur20,000, depending on their status and follower count.

Although their audiences might be bigger, and your content will be seen much more thus resulting in a higher reach, you may also be able to get a lot more out of lots of single posts with micro influencers, as opposed to one expensive macro influencer post.


3. Macro influencer campaigns are a little harder to execute

They’ll often take longer to organize, and may require a PR agency. Getting hold of a celebrity or their manager is one thing, but standing out amongst many other requests, is another.  Celebrities can also be picky with which brands they endorse, so showing them how your product will raise their profile and personal brand is also important.

However, some marketing experts have questioned the value of partnering with big name influencers. It’s a huge investment that would take up the majority of even the biggest brands’ marketing budgets. This leaves less money to experiment with other strategies, and creates a dependence on the continued popularity and relevance of the influencer.  There are also more restrictions when working with these influencers, their huge follower counts empower them to demand control over all elements of the campaign, and while their creative insights are valuable, you’re putting the fate of your brand in their hands.

In conclusion if you’re asking yourself if micro or macro influencers are better for you, remind your organization that the influencer landscape is a spectrum of reach and expertise: this is not a binary choice. Then, establish your brand’s goals and those of the campaign and you will be then able to choose who is right for you

There’s more to influencer selection than reach, engagement rates, and just getting 30 creators to participate in a campaign because “30” is the magic number according to some. 

Based on these factors, it is best to use a combination of micro and macro influencers (and everything in between).  Then, based on results, optimize and isolate top performers to become brand ambassadors.

Enlist those top performers as ongoing partners, and continue to grow and cultivate that community based on data and creative strategy. And remember the following every brand is different, every campaign is different thus every influencer is different. There’s no silver bullet and everyone deserves a bit of limelight.

Until next time,


Disclaimer : All photos used in this post are from iStock by Getty Images (Royalty Free Photos)

Categories: Lifestyle

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