Micro Influencers vs. Macro Influencers: Which is Best for My Brand?

The influencer marketing industry is set to hit $20 billion in spend in 2023 with over 80% of brands now using influencer marketing as a core part of their marketing mix. As the industry matures, there is a growing debate about whether it’s better to use micro-influencers or macro-influencers.

At SheSpeaks, we work with a range of influencers from micro to mid tier to macro influencers.  We believe that all of these types of influencers can be valuable depending on your objectives. And as influencer marketing investment continues to grow as an important marketing channel, brands must decide which influencers to work to deliver results for their campaigns.

There is incredible diversity in the influencer community, with a broad range of differences in:

  • Audience size
  • Content topics
  • Engagement rates
  • Posting frequency
  • Social networks/platforms

One of the most straight-forward attributes of potential influencer partners is the influencer’s audience size, ranging from just a few thousand to tens of millions. While the scale of the largest influencers is attractive, micro-influencers can be attractive and impactful partners for brands.

Why Brands Love Micro-Influencers

Micro-influencers are generally defined in the industry as those with up to 100,000 followers on social-media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube. While their audiences might be on the smaller side, micro-influencers are often laser-focused on their content niche, whether it’s fashion, cooking, home decor, or another category. Their following also is made up of users who share these interests and view these influencers as trustworthy figures in the niche topic.

Micro influencers tend to drive higher engagement rates vs. macro influencers i.e., 3%+ for micro influencers vs. 1% for macro influencers. They are also less expensive to work with than macro influencers. A recent study indicated that 77% of marketers work with micro influencers for their authentic content, strong engagement rates and low cost.

Engagement rates are increasing important and indicate that an influencer’s audience is actively liking, commenting, and sharing their content which means brands will see a return in investment from sponsoring them. 

The content below, from Influencer @bon_abbetit, is a great example of a micro-influencer producing recipe content. This post for Pompeiian Olive Oil had an engagement rate of 10%, well above industry benchmarks (and makes us hungry every time we view it!).

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A post shared by Abigail | Cooking in Brooklyn (@bon__abbetit)

Why Work With Macro-Influencers

While micro-influencers have a great number of perks when it comes to influencer marketing, macro-influencers can help build broad awareness for brands. Incorporating influencers and content creators with substantial audiences, anywhere between 250,000 to 1,000,000+ followers can be immensely beneficial for brands.

As Influencer Marketing Hub describes, “the major con of working with micro-influencers is their limited reach. Since micro-influencers only have about 100,000 followers, they may not be the best option if you want to reach millions of people at once.”

Macro influencers can be very valuable in creating viral trends and reaching a mass audience to create brand awareness and advertise your products or services in general. Macro influencers can be great for grabbing consumer attention.

Many macro-influencers have long-established communities and have built a level of familiarity and trust with their followers over an extended period of time. This large community means more eyes on sponsorships. As Forbes notes, “The reason is their impact quality; when a macro-influencer publishes a post or story, it can [have] a viral effect. Users can share the respective content, substantially increasing its exposure,” therefore macro-influencers have a significant degree of influence over consumers with their sheer reach alone.”

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A post shared by Makeala Leilani Cachola (@makealabanks)

The post above, by Influencer @makaelabanks for Starburst, had an engagement rate of 2.6%, still well above industry averages, and her larger audience delivered a material number of audience engagements vs. a micro-influencer.

The Bottom Line

So, the short answer is that both micro and macro influencers can be very valuable to brands. The key is being clear on your objective i.e., are you looking to build broad based awareness or drive a high engagement with a niche audience?

Both strategies have merit. The key, as with any marketing tactic, is clarity of objective in order to ensure your desired results.