Instagram Influencer Generated Content | The Debate Over Micro- vs Macro Influencers [Infographic]

We know: you thought this was already something that’s been settled. We’ve written about it before, and may have even said with some degree of certainty that the smart money is spent on micro-influencers. For many reasons that’s still true, but we may have gotten ahead of ourselves by declaring them the winners. This re-thinking of the issue was spurred on by a newly released benchmark report issued by Mavrck, a company whose leaders spend a lot of time thinking about—and researching—the latest trends in influencer marketing.

Instagram Influencer Generated Content: Summary

The report, which measured the performance of 35,000 Instagram posts across 6,500 influencer accounts, actually corroborates what we’ve long thought about micro-influencers: their engagement rates are higher, which demonstrates a more active and loyal audience. Mavrck’s data, gathered from influencers who’ve opted in to their platform, clearly shows a law of diminishing returns as follower count increases:

  • For all their content (branded and non-branded), influencers with between 1k and 5k followers had an average engagement rate of 6.84%.
  • Between 5k and 10k, the rate dips to 4%.
  • Between 10k and 50k: 3.07%.
  • Between 50k and 100k: 2.33%.
  • Between 100k and 500k: 2.21%.

Those are pretty compelling numbers, and they look even more so when you consider that influencers with fewer than 10k followers also take the smallest hit in engagement when they post branded content:

  • Between 1k and 5k followers, branded content has 12.91% less engagement than non-branded.
  • Between 5k and 10k, engagement drops by 14.56%.
  • Between 10k and 50k, they’re losing 18% of engagements.
  • Between 50k and 100k: 23.58%.
  • Between 100k and 500k: 33.62%.

On the surface, this story looks much the same as it did last year and the year before that. Micro-influencers deliver better engagement rates, consistently and reliably.

Infographic: Instagram Influencer Generated Content



But how much is a high engagement rate worth?

Maybe it’s best to answer that question with another question: would you rather have 50% of $100, or 10% of $1,000? Of course, you’d rather go with option B. It’s a lower percentage, but it’s still more money. Likewise, that 2.21% engagement rate for the accounts with between 100k and 500k followers might seem like a small number, but it represents a total of 4,116 actual engagements. And what about that impressive 6.84% rate for the most micro- of all the influencers measured here? That’s a mere 154 likes and comments in total, a great number if you’re working with, say, 27 other accounts that perform similarly. There’s software that can make that incredibly easy for you (and Mavrck is one of those solutions), but that comes at a cost, too.

Add to that a surprising fact revealed by Mavrck’s report: the fastest growing segment of influencers, in terms of engagement, is the 50k to 100k range. In 2017, influencers in this group saw engagement rates on branded content rise by 114.1%. Again, this is for branded content and it’s the kind of growth that makes marketers salivate.

It’s starting to sound like macro-influencers are the way to go, yes? Well, slow down for a minute. I said we’d settled this debate once and for all, but that doesn’t mean we have an answer to the question of which kind of influencer is better to work with. We just realised we were asking the wrong question. More accurately, we’ve come to understand there probably didn’t need to be a question in the first place.

Why does it have to be either/or?

A few paragraphs back, to make a point, I asked a rhetorical question: Would you rather have 50% of $100, or 10% of $1,000? Because the 10% option is more money, you probably decided on it pretty quick. But wouldn’t you rather have both options? Of course you would! You only chose one for yourself, because the question demanded it.

It’s the same with choosing between micro- and macro- influencers. Who says you have to stick to one or the other? I mean, apart from the many articles here and elsewhere advising you to focus on the micro set. Influencer marketing continues to grow and develop as an industry, and that’s evidenced by maybe the most important statistic in this report: engagement with branded content increased by 34.29% during 2017, regardless of follower count.

And that right there settles the debate, once and for all. Or, more precisely, it renders the entire debate moot. The question shouldn’t even be one of superiority: micro- and macro-influencers each have their own sets of strengths and weaknesses, and a fully developed IM strategy will deploy them both toward different ends. Ultimately, the point is to reach and engage with audiences, and you can do that with influencers of all sizes.

Instead of looking for a specific kind of influencer, find a specific kind of audience.

As we continue to evaluate what works and what doesn’t, we’re finding more and more that the key to success is getting to know the audience. Sure, it’s nice to know things like an influencer’s reach and engagement, but none of that tells you whether their followers are going be receptive to the message.

Today’s influencer marketing platforms can only remain competitive if they’re providing you with data about audiences—age, gender, and location are good to know, but preferences, tastes, and passions are even better. With data, you can craft pitch-perfect campaigns for the audience. With software, you can manage all the different pieces much more efficiently.

And with a healthy mix of micro-and macro-influencers, you can be sure you’re no longer spending time trying to find answers to questions that shouldn’t be asked.

About the Author
With over 15 years in content marketing, Werner founded Influencer Marketing Hub in 2016. He successfully grew the platform to attract 5 million monthly visitors, making it a key site for brand marketers globally. His efforts led to the company's acquisition in 2020. Additionally, Werner's expertise has been recognized by major marketing and tech publications, including Forbes, TechCrunch, BBC and Wired.