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Macro vs. Micro-influencers: Who’s Best for Your Campaign?

Blog | Trend | January 9th 2020

Looking back at the last decade, we saw the evolution of social media and influencer marketing. Flying into 2020, we can only expect it to evolve even further. 

Influencer marketing has grown into a test and see marketing tactic, to brands allocating the majority of their marketing budget to partner with macro and micro-influencers. 

Don’t believe me? Estee Lauder spent over $900 million on influencer marketing in 2017. For 2020, they have allocated 75% of their marketing budget to influencer marketing across their umbrella of brands. 

Allocation of any influencer budget has to be strategically planned out. This includes adding a margin of error for mishaps that frequently happens in influencer marketing.

The first step is deciding what type of influencers you want to work with. Are you planning to go all-in with a few macro-influencers or scale your influencer strategy using micro-influencer?

What’s the difference between micro-influencers and macro-influencers?

Before you decide what type of Instagram influencers you want to use for your campaign, let’s first understand the difference between micro-influencers and macro-influencers. What is a micro-influencer?

As the leading micro-influencer platform, Trend defines a micro-influencer as any influencer that creates astonishing content, has at least 2,500 followers, and 7% engagement (likes, comments, retweets).

In most cases, this holds true until the creator increases to 100,000 followers.


Micro-influencers tend to have higher engagement rates than macro-influencers. Based on data from our network, we see their engagement rates range from 3%  – 20%.

It’s no secret that they have higher engagement rates than macro-influencers. Micro-influencers are the perfect mix of influencer and best friend.

Followers of a micro-influencer feel a deeper connection due to the consistent engagement they have with their community.

Part of being a micro-influencer includes taking time every day to answer direct messages, reply to comments, and like posts of other users in their community. The success of a micro-influencer is built on community and connection.

This best friend attribute is why most brands in 2020 will choose micro-influencers over macro-influencers. These attributes consistently prove to be the foundation of any successful influencer marketing strategy.

Additionally, since micro-influencers typically do not have the budget, resources, connections, and number of collaborations as a macro-influencer, this forces them to develop consistent and genuine connections with their followers and their community.

They are also eager to grow. As a result, many micro-influencers put a lot more effort into their campaigns which leads to better content.


We define a macro-influencer as any creator that has more than 100,000 followers and at least 3% engagement.

In many cases, macro-influencers have another title such as celebrity, TV personality, athlete or thought leader in their community. They are able to leverage this notoriety to build a community and following on social media in a fraction of the time it can take a micro-influencer.

For example, in December 2017 Will Smith had just under 2,000,000 Instagram followers. Not bad for a movie star right? As of January 6, 2020, he has over 41,000,000 followers.

Macro-influencers tend to have consistent growth in followers and collaborations. However, we can expect lower engagement numbers compared to micro-influencers unless they have another title that helps followers feel they have a genuine connection with the macro-influencer.

Another difference between micro and macro-influencers is the style of content that is created. 

Micro-influencers have to be sure the composition of their content speaks to their audience enough for them to consistently engage with their content. Micro-influencer, Aiesha (@thestylegypsy) does an amazing job creating micro-blog content that connects with her audience and naturally persuades them to engage with the post.

It can become extremely difficult for a macro-influencer to consistently engage with their audience.

Amassing a large following on social media comes with countless behind-the-scene work that takes time away from connecting with followers.

For example, a micro-influencer may shoot content on their own while a macro-influencer may have to book a photographer and pay for edits. The content creation process is typically longer for macro-influencers and brands pay for this when negotiating with macro-influencers for collaborations.

In addition to increased content creation cost, macro-influencers have to worry about spam bots, hackers, and fake followers more than your average micro-influencer.

What’s the cost of using micro-influencers for your campaign?

Influencer marketing budgets are increasing year over year and we do not expect this trend to stop.

Determining what price to pay an influencer can have many factors including the campaign, the number of followers, engagement, and audience.

Additionally, when determining the cost of influencer marketing, you can not forget to include the cost of time and resources when working with a micro or macro-influencer.

For the time and money it takes to work with five macro-influencers, you could be working with twenty micro-influencers. If you’re still hesitant about working with influencers, you can start out with brand ambassadors. 

Various micro-influencers start off as brand ambassadors, allowing you to exchange products for posts. Fashion retailer, ASOS has a brand ambassador program where the brand ambassador has a separate account dedicated to showcasing the gear they receive for free or at a discounted price.

This is a great way to build a foundation of brand advocates and determine which influencers you want to work with long-term and eventually begin paying. However, brand ambassadors have less incentive to post content since that are only receiving free product. 

In order to keep a healthy relationship with your influencers and brand ambassadors, it’s best practice to be transparent on the full scope of work and how long you wish to engage with the influencer. Is this a one-time influencer campaign or are you wishing to work with them on multiple projects? 

If you are paying for a collaboration, the typical rate for an influencer with high-quality content and good engagement is $100 per 10,000 followers.

With micro-influencers, this cost may be lower if the collaboration is with a brand they admire or if the product is of significant value.

Negotiation with micro-influencers can also be quicker than when negotiating with a macro-influencer.

This can be done over DM and a few emails, while negotiation with a macro-influencer may need countless emails with the influencer and a few phone calls. 

Working with an influencer platform or database may help you keep negotiations at a minimum. The most efficient practice is to work with an influencer platform such as Trend where you never have to negotiate. 

Another pro of working with micro-influencers is content rights.

Most micro-influencers are not concerned with the amount of money you are making on their content since they are working to build their portfolio of brands before increasing the value of their partnerships.

This allows you to pay in product or at a much lower rate than macro-influencers while also receiving a high ROI on your investment.

How high of an ROI can you receive on micro-influencer campaigns? Bone both brand Kettle & Fire completed a micro-influencer campaign on Trend with top Instagram micro-influencers.

Since brands have the rights to all content created through Trend, the content can be used for digital ads, social media, marketing collateral and billboards. 

What’s the cost of using macro-influencers for your campaign?

As stated above, the cost of using macro-influencers is significantly higher than working with micro-influencers. This cost includes time, resources, products, and money.

When recruiting macro-influencers, you should have a team member fully dedicated to recruiting and signing the influencers. It will take constant outreach, scheduling, and speaking with multiple parties before getting to the negotiation stage.

Macro and micro-influencers both have a personal brand to protect, however, macro-influencers are putting their entire career on the line with every collaboration.

A macro-influencer may have to pay a photographer, editor, agent or agency before making a profit on their collaboration. Many negotiations can be prolonged because a brand forgets to factor in these costs when presenting their initial offer. 

Unless you are ready to hand a macro-influencer a blank check, please be sure that you have a product and brand that the influencer is willing to promote. 

Even after agreeing to an initial offer, the brand may have to negotiate once again with the macro-influencer if they wish to have content rights.

At this point, the partnership becomes increasingly time-consuming and expensive. You can, however, say goodbye to these macro-influencer headaches by working through an influencer marketing network.

Even better are micro-influencer platforms such as Trend where content rights are baked into the platform. 

What are the pros of using micro-influencers for your campaign?

Authentic engagement

You can expect almost all micro-influencer engagement to be authentic. Micro-influencers take pride in producing content that resonates and speaks to their followers and community.

They have a keen understanding that this deep connection is what makes brands choose to partner with them over a macro-influencer.

There’s a lesser chance that a micro-influencer’s post will be filled with fake likes and comments that you may see on a macro-influencers post.

This authenticity can also help micro-influencers drive sales for the right product since their followers feel closely connected and invested in the success of a micro-influencer. 

Can build brand ambassadors

Before becoming a macro-influencer, they are micro-influencers. Before becoming a micro-influencer, they are brand ambassadors.

Enrolling micro-influencers in your brand ambassador program can do wonders for a recently launched product or a brand looking to increase awareness through social media. We’ve seen DIFF Eyewear do this really well.

Having brand ambassadors is a low-cost way to test if micro-influencers can convey your brand and product attributes in a way to authentically speaks to their audience. Additionally, having a brand ambassador program has a low-cost barrier to entry, allowing you to exchange products or a hefty discount code in exchange for a few pieces of content per month.

Micro-influencers have higher ROI potential

Micro-influencers are without question less costly than macro-influencers. Many have lower collaboration costs that the industry average for many reasons with some being:

  1. Focusing on content quality

  2. Looking to build their partnership portfolio 

  3. Influencer marketing is not their main source of income

  4. Doing it to connect with a community rather than make money

Better Chance of Reaching Your Target Audience

When working with a micro-influencer you have a better chance of reaching your target audience.

The majority of a micro-influencer’s followers follow the account because they create highly relevant content for that community. For example, a fashion micro-influencer’s audience follows and engages with here content because of her unique sense of style and outfit inspiration they provide.

They are less likely to have followers they do not consistently resonate with, which can be the case for many macro-influencers.

Some of Dwyane Johnsons’s followers may follow him for his wrestling past while others may follow him for his movie roles. As a brand, the larger amount of followers an influencer has, the harder it becomes to determine what percentage of an influencer’s audience is indeed your target audience. 

Can Assist In Validating Your Target Audience

Is there actually an audience for your niche travel product? While partnering with a few macro-influencers may give you a push in sales, partnering with more micro-influencers can help you validate your target audience and your product.

If twenty micro-influencers each receive thirty comments from followers interested in trying or learning more about your product, it’s safe to say you have found your target audience. This allows you to begin creating a funnel based on the attributes of that audience while continuing to scale your micro-influencer strategy. 

What are the pros of using macro-influencers for your influencer marketing campaign?

More reach

Macro-influencers tend to have a larger reach then micro-influencers. The foundation for this extended reach is their amount of followers.

In the case of Instagram, having a substantial amount of followers can assist in getting to the discovery page, ending up in someone’s feed, content being shared, and being put in the top nine posts when someone is searching hashtags.

Driving quick sales

While sales are never a guarantee with influencer marketing, working with a macro-influencer that also has another title can be a great way to drive sales.

In many cases, this includes a co-branded or limited product to introduce scarcity and impulse buying.

This, however, takes more resources than just your influencer marketing team since you will now need help from your product, sales, logistics, and e-commerce teams.

What brand mastered this in 2019? FashionNova. The fast-fashion e-commerce company partnered with micro and macro-influencers including, larger than life celebrity and rapper, Cardi B.

Key opinion leaders

Using a key opinion leader can instantly give your product validation and momentum. Using a key opinion leader is an influencer marketing tactic typically used for products that concern your health, are high-cost items, or that are sensitive topics to speak about. 

We see this tactic all the time in advertising. Just think of the last toothpaste or skin cream commercial you watched. The dentist and the dermatologist are key opinion leaders.

Partnering with a key opinion leader gives reassurance that the brand is legitimate and can deliver on what they are offering.

This, however, may come at a high cost as the key opinion leader understands the leverage and influence they have on their audience and will use this leverage to justify their high collaboration price.

What’s better for my influencer campaign and why?

Without question, we believe micro-influencers are the top influencers to choose for most influencer marketing campaigns. Partnering with micro-influencers is cheaper, easier, and more cost-effective than partnering with macro-influencers. 

  1. Cheaper – Product trade and low collaboration costs keep your upfront cost at a minimum. Working with micro-influencers also allows you to make the most out of your influencer marketing budget. 

  2. Easier To Work With – Since many micro-influencers are focused on growing their following and collaborations, they are willing to work with more brands or products, whereas a macro-influencer will be more selective with their partnerships.

  3. CPM Efficiency – Compared to traditional digital ads (Facebook, Instagram, Google, etc.) working with micro-influencers has the most efficient CPM (cost per thousand impressions). For up to a few hundred dollars you can receive a high ROI on your investment and a low CPM.

  4. Authentic Engagement – One of the most important aspects of working with a micro-influencer over a macro-influencer is authentic engagement. With micro-influencers, you can expect their followers and other influencers in the same community to engage in meaningful interactions in addition to general engagement (likes, comments, saves). When the content resonates with the viewer, it is shared through other mediums on and off-platform such as emails, blog post, and other social media platforms. This will help extend the reach of the post as well as your product and brand.

Where should I look to acquire micro-influencers?

When looking for micro-influencers you first need to pick the medium you are wishing to use. For this example, we will use Instagram since it is one of the top platforms for influencer marketing.

For each of the steps, we will let you know how to accomplish this process manually (beware that it is extremely time-consuming and inefficient), and how cost and time-efficient the influencer marketing process can be when using a micro-influencer platform such as Trend. 


A great way to quickly find information is to search for accounts that are or would be of interest to your ideal customer. Let’s say we are selling a travel product. We will want to search “travel” in the Instagram search bar as well as “#travel”. 

The Instagram search bar works similar to a search engine such as Google. Instagram uses information in a user’s bio and username to determine how it will rank.

Additionally, searching through hashtags will show you posts that include that hashtag. Instagram will also suggest other hashtags that relevant to this hashtag you have just searched. 

You’ll need to have the following bullet points in mind when searching for influencers.

  • Target Audience

  • Brand category 

  • Age

  • Location

  • Gender

  • Other Interests/Hobbies that align with your product/brand

You’ll need to search through accounts and hashtags to identify trending accounts and pages that match with your ideal engagement, content, aesthetic and voice. Now is also the perfect time to see what influencers similar brands or competitors. 

With Trend, the discovery process time frame is cut from weeks to less than one hour. After uploading your campaign to the platform, our community of micro-influencers begins applying to your influencer campaigns. 

Tip: If you’re doing the influencer recruitment process manually,  sure that you are using the mobile version of Instagram to ensure full functionality


If doing the process manually, it’s good practice to reach out to more influencers than you wish to work with.

For instance, if you’re looking for 15 micro-influencers, we suggest reaching out to 30 via direct message and/or email. Doing the reach out process manually can take from a few days up to a month (sometimes even longer).


Now that you have narrowed down your list of micro-influencers, it is time to negotiate. Depending on their best contact method, this may take place via DM, email, web conference, or a phone call.

Expect to hear a range of offers and be sure that you discuss the entire scope of work. This includes the content, caption, date content will go live, where the content will love, how long the content needs to stay up, and rights to the content.

After, you should send over a contract that includes all of this information.

Product shipment

Do not make this harder than it has to be. Once you and the influencer have agreed to a deal, get their shipping address and ship product as fast as possible.

Unless you can afford to take a loss for items lost in transit, be sure to get a tracking number for the item. If the item is of high value, you may want to look into shipping insurance.

Simplify the process by using an influencer network or platform

It seems like there are new influencer platforms popping up every day. The only catch is that you have to pay thousands of dollars upfront to access their database of influencers. Additionally, most influencer platforms only help with a few steps of the influencer process. 

On the flip side, using an influencer network such as Trend will alleviate 90% of your influencer marketing process. Trend has a curated network of invite-only micro-influencers across nearly every vertical.

Our robust network has micro-influencers from nearly every industry including, travel, lifestyle, health, wellness, fashion, fitness, parenthood, food, and beverages. Our software enables you to skip the discovery, negotiation and payment process needed in traditional influencer marketing.

Shortly after uploading your influencer campaign, you receive applications that you can filter and sort through.

After you select your influencers, you can message them any additional information all from within the Trend platform.

Next, you will ship out the product. No need to ask the influencers for their shipping address, it’s already in the system. We’ve made it as simple as possible – ship the product and upload the tracking information.

Lastly, it’s time to approve content. The influencers post to Instagram and then upload their content for approval.

You’re in love with the content? Great! Approve the content and payment will begin processing. Don’t love the content? No worries, you can deny the post and send a quick message stating what needs to change.

Now you have all of the content and analytics for your influencer campaign in one place. No searching through emails and having influencers send content to various Google Drive folders, and no screenshots of engagement metrics. Our analytics dashboard grants you the ability to see the analytics over time and download the creative since you have full rights to the content.

That’s it! The influencer marketing campaign that once took you three months now takes a fraction of the time. Now that we’ve walked you through why you should use micro-influencers over macro-influencers, you’re ready to get started!

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