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

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

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

Don’t believe us?

Estee Lauder spent over $900 million on influencer marketing in 2017. For 2020, they allocated 75% of their marketing budget to influencer marketing across their umbrella of brands.

But we know you don’t have millions to throw at influencer marketing. Fortunately, you can make the most of even a small budget with a smart strategy.

Of course, there’s more margin for error for smaller campaigns, so you want to make the most of your precious marketing resources.

When you want to make the most of influencer marketing, you’ve got to start at square one: deciding on what types 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?

Learn about micro- versus macro-influencers, how much they cost, and where you can find experienced influencers for your brand.

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 in the 7%  – 20% range.

But just because someone has a huge following doesn’t guarantee results for your brand.

In fact, the little guys are the cream of the crop when it comes to ROI. Micro-influencers are a cost-effective option to get more social media engagement.

It’s no secret that micro-influencers have higher engagement rates than macro-influencers, too. While macro-influencers are lucky to get engagement rates around 5%, micro-influencers average double that.

Graphical breakdown of why content matters

That’s because 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.

Here’s what makes micro-influencers stand out versus macro- influencers:

  • Authenticity comes first: Since micro-influencers typically don’t have the budget, resources, and connections that macro-influencers have, they have to develop genuine connections with their followers to stay relevant.
  • They focus on community and connection: Part of being a micro-influencer is taking time every day to answer direct messages, reply to comments, and like your commenters’ content. A micro-influencer’s success is built on community and connection instead of pure fame.
  • The desire for growth: Seriously. Micro-influencers want to build their following. Because of that, they tend to put a lot more effort into their campaigns, which means better content (and results) for your brand.
  • Potential for higher ROI: Micro-influencers cost a lot less because they have smaller followings. Because of that, you’re more likely to see a better return on your money. Micro-influencers get 47% more engagement on their posts compared to macro-influencers, putting your brand in front of more interested shoppers.
Average engagement rate graphic breakdown

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.


Before you decide what Instagram influencers you want to use for your campaign, you have to understand the difference between micro-influencers and macro-influencers.

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

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.

Because of their big fan base, macro-influencers can build their social media following quickly. It’s not unusual to see these folks with millions of followers.

For example, in December of 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. Dang!

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.

Here are the big differences between macro-influencers and their smaller cohorts, micro-influencers:

Amplified reach

The big upside to macro-influencers is their large following. That helps you put more content on Instagram’s Explore area, which is perfect for shopper discovery.

Lower engagement rates

It can be really, really hard for macro-influencers to engage with their audience. These are busy people with huge followings; how in the world can you foster a relationship with 500+ people on one thread? It ain’t happening.

The style of content macro-influencers create is different

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.

They are consistent collaborators

Macro-influencers have pretty consistent follower growth and performance. If you want an influencer who knows how to partner with brands through a set process, macro-influencers usually have this on lock.

Fake followers

Macro-influencers have to worry about spambots and fake followers more than your average micro-influencer. That means you’re always risking spending money on an influencer who doesn’t have followers that will actually act on their promoted content. That’s not good.

Macro-influencers take more time to work with

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes on a macro-influencer’s account. From photography to content strategy, the content creation process takes longer for macro-influencers. You’ll pay for this when it’s time to negotiate a deal with your macro-influencer, so tread lightly.

We aren’t saying macro-influencers are a bad idea, but because of their low engagement numbers and the time it takes to work with them, it’s not always a great deal for brands.
A graphic showing budget division for marketing.

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.

Of course, “How much does it cost?” is the number one concern with a newer marketing channel like influencer marketing.

On average, brands spend anywhere from $1,000 - $10,000 a year on influencer marketing. Or, if you’re a real baller, $100,000 - $500,000 a year.

We know that’s a huge range, and that’s because it depends on your industry, campaign, and influencer choice.

But, since 63% of marketers plan to increase their influencer marketing budget next year, we’d say it’s well worth the money.

So, here’s the question: what’s the cost of influencer marketing when you go with the smaller micro-influencers? It comes down to a few factors:

  • Time: Remember, time is money. It takes more time to work with a macro-influencer. For the time and money it takes to work with five macro-influencers, you could be working with thirty micro-influencers. If you want to save time and still get awesome results, use a platform like Trend to quickly connect with pre-vetted creators.
  • Engagement levels: Notice that we didn’t say anything about an influencer’s follower count. What good are 14 million followers if only 20 buy a promoted product? Pay more for influencers who have a proven track record of audience engagement—it’s worth the money.
  • Brand ambassadorships: You can create your own influencers if you’re just starting out. Various micro-influencers actually start off as brand ambassadors. Instead of cash payment, they’re happy to accept products in exchange for posts.
  • Scope of work: How much work does your influencer need to do for this campaign? How many posts? Over what period of time? What are your content requirements? Be upfront and transparent so they can charge you accordingly.
On average, the typical going rate for a high-quality influencer is $100 per 10,000 followers.

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?

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.

Don’t let the sticker price shock you, but hiring a macro-influencer is much more expensive than hiring a micro-influencer.

That’s in terms of both time and money, since it takes internet celebrities ages to get things done.

Several factors will affect the cost of influencer marketing with macro-influencers, including:

Hiring a dedicated influencer marketing manager

Recruiting macro-influencers is a full-time job. Have a team member dedicated to recruiting, negotiating, and working with these macro-influencers. It will take constant outreach, scheduling, and speaking with multiple parties before getting to the negotiation stage.

Third-party services

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. You aren’t just hiring a macro-influencer here. 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.

Content rights

Will you own the content produced by your macro-influencer? Do you have to pay a fee for the rights to this content? Iron everything out in the contract so you know exactly what you have to pay. 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.

On average, you can expect to shell out $5,000 - $10,000 per post when you hire a macro-influencer.

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?

1 - 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.

2 - 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.

3 - 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:

  • Focusing on content quality
  • Looking to build their partnership portfolio
  • Influencer marketing is not their main source of income
  • Doing it to connect with a community rather than make money

4 - 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.

5 - 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?

1 - More reach

Macro-influencers tend to have a larger reach than micro-influencers. The foundation for this extended reach is their number 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 for hashtags.

2 - 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.

3 - They can be 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.

Why micro-influencers are the best for your campaign

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.

The 4-step process to find micro-influencers

We salute you if you want to work with macro-influencers, but in all honesty, partnering with micro-influencers is cheaper, easier, and more cost-effective than working with macro-influencers.

But how do you find these influencers, anyway? Especially if they aren’t big-name people in your industry?

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.

Just follow these steps to hunt down micro-influencers for your next ROI-happy campaign.

Image showing some of the biggest challenges for influencers

1 - Discovery

First, you’ve got to discover your diamond in the rough. This requires a little digging (without Trend, that is), but it’ll match you up with effective influencers that your audience will love.

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 similarly 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.

Whip out your Instagram app and look for influencers through:

  • Hashtags: Type an industry hashtag in Instagram’s search bar to get started. #travel will show you all kinds of micro-influencer content, for example.
  • Your competitors: Which micro-influencers interact with your competitors’ content? Who’s following them? Micro-influencers frequently follow branded accounts, as well as the accounts of other micro-influencers, so a little Instagram detective work will help you find lots of influencers.
  • Your followers: Are any influencers or potential brand ambassadors already following you? Check your follower lists and comments to find a handful of micro-influencers.

You probably have a good handful of options at this point. Slap that information into an Excel spreadsheet and log your influencers’ information, like:

  • Target Audience
  • Brand category
  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Other Interests/Hobbies that align with your product/brand
You’ll need to evaluate every influencer based on their relevance and efficacy.

There’s no need to partner with every influencer on the sun; instead, do your research and narrow down your list to 10 - 20 potential micro-influencers. 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.

2 - Contact

Once you’ve narrowed down who you would like to partner with, reach out to them!

If you’re 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).

While macro-influencers usually have an email address for collabs, micro-influencers probably won’t. If you can’t find their email, an Instagram DM is totally fine, too.

Remember, not everyone will get back to you. That’s why we recommend reaching out to 20 influencers if you want to work with 10 people. Gotta hedge your bets, after all.

3 - Negotiation

Now that you have narrowed down your list of micro-influencers, it is time to negotiate.

You might do this via:

  • DM
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Video chat

It just depends on the influencer.

Expect to hear a range of offers and be sure that you discuss the entire scope of work. That should include:

  • What content you need.
  • Any captions or hashtags.
  • The date the content goes live.
  • Where the content will live online.
  • How long the influencer should keep the content on their account.
  • Rights to the content.

If everything sounds good to your influencer-to-be, send them a contract to get everything in writing.

4 - 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 the 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.

How to simplify influencer discovery

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 allevi