Help, the nano-influencers are coming!

Following the big hype surrounding influencers with a broad reach, a countertrend is emerging: nano-influencers.

Influencer marketing has been one of the most visible trends in digital communication for the last two years. Many brands experimented with new campaign forms, for which the high-reach millionaires among the influencers were often booked. Quite a few campaigns were publicly ridiculed because they inadvertently (or possibly purposefully) disregarded one of the most important advantages of working with influencers: authenticity. In the German-speaking market, campaigns like #coralliebtdeineinkleidung and #milkaschmecktwie received rather unwanted attention.

When judging such misguided campaigns, marketers like to resort to the old adage “there is no such thing as bad publicity”, but hardly anyone would actually want to plan such PR failures. An increasing number of influencer marketing strategies are therefore redefining the requirements. “Maximum reach with minimum authenticity” is becoming “maximum authenticity with topic-specific reach”.

Back to the roots: it’s all about the effect

This is shifting focus back to those influencers, who have always been around but who have almost been forgotten in the marketing hype of recent years: opinion leaders for very specific topics with a high level of acceptance. They exert their influence not by reaching the masses, but with their knowledge and the trust placed in them.

Brands rely on them especially for targeted campaigns and niche markets. This makes nano-influencers, which have a comparatively low reach of just around 1,000 followers, less interesting for fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), but all the more exciting for B2B companies. In contrast to B2C, B2B influencer marketing is not primarily about visibility, but about conveying information and experience for decision-making. Those who want to influence decisions need a high degree of knowledge on the one hand and, derived from this, a great deal of trust within the target group on the other. If these two factors fit, the question of authenticity does not arise at all – it is an almost logical consequence.


Reduced reach becomes a selection criterion

While many consumer brands have concentrated on those influencers with the highest reach in their search for alternative forms of advertising, nano-influencers are now slowly but surely moving into focus. Their significantly lower reach is no longer considered an obstacle. On the contrary, this is becoming the selection criterion. The reason is simple: their recommendations are much more like those from a friend.

If a top Instagram influencer holds a shampoo bottle in front of their camera as if by coincidence, then this product is usually just a side note. Many followers and fans have come to realize that these perfectly staged glossy photos are advertising. They see this in the same vein as TV advertising and skilfully ignore it. They are not very interested in the advertised products, but just want to participate in the exciting lives of the influencers.

An instagrammer with 1,000 followers, on the other hand, has no influencer status. If they post a handcrafted photo of themselves with a shampoo bottle in their hand, it doesn’t immediately look like advertising, but like a recommendation from a friend. And that is often exactly what it is, because nano-influencers often know a large part of their network.

Agencies in the field of influencer marketing have also long recognized the value of these nano-influencers or micro-influencers and offer corresponding services. And they are also attractive for another reason: lower costs. The American agency Obviously advertises with the following statement, for example:

“Finally, micro influencers are significantly less expensive to work with, even when working with a large group. Many micro influencers are happy to promote your brand in exchange for free products the love, gift cards, or invitations to special events.”


The bottom line:

Marketing with nano-influencers will play a larger role in the future. With this in mind, the two approaches described here must be evaluated differently. While the return to considering the actual effect of advertising is basically welcome, replacing paid influencers with reach by a mass of nano-influencers baited with a product sample does not necessarily seem to signal the beginning of professionalization of this form of marketing.