Influencer marketing: selecting the best match for your brand

eNitiate | Bra Willy Seyama | Social Media Influencer Categories | selecting influencers for your brand | Jan 2020-Banner

This is the last of a 3-part series on influencer marketing.


Influencer marketing: how brands can drive wrong behaviours

As I indicated in Part 1 in this series, I have been meaning to develop an eNsight about influencer marketing for a long time.

Kantar’s prediction that this form of marketing will become part online marketing strategy in 2021, from use as a mere tactical marketing lever to date, inspired me to develop this 3-part series.

In this eNsight, I show that brands need to understand the characteristics of social media influencer categories, and know how to use them to achieve their specified goals.

Let’s get into it.

Table of Contents

Another take on social media influencers

According to the 2019 Pew Research report, 10% of Tweeters generate 80% of the tweets in the US.

I could not find comparable data for South Africa, so I shall use the US’s finding as a guide, which essentially indicates that a small number of Tweeters drive conversations on this microblog.

This trend can be extrapolated to social media in general.

Thus, the bravehearts that tweet influence the rest of the Tweeps who mainly follow what they say and engage accordingly.

A recent trending topic provides an interesting insight into this form of marketing.  

Key influencer marketing lessons from Black Twitter SA's #TwitterElectionResults 2021

I tracked South Africa’s Black Twitter Cabinet “nominations and elections” that started on the 6th of January 2021, which trended under the hashtag #TwitterElectionResults.

See the two tweets below:

Noticeably, the key criteria for the “nomination and election” into Mzansi’s Black Twitter Cabinet 2021 were: 

  • predominantly prolific Tweeters with highly engaging content in the country; followed by
  • Tweeters reputed for using their profiles for good causes.

Another observation from the election results is that “the most followed Tweeters” criterion was NOT part of the criteria for Black Twitter Cabinet 2021 elections.

For this reason, the likes of Bonang Matheba – one of South Africa’s top 10 celebrities on Twitter, who also scooped an award for being South Africa’s Social Media Influencer in 2019 – was not nominated.


Here is a collection of top tweets for #TwitterElectionResults 2021 that trended on January 6


Do brands take heed of the criteria that were used to “elect” Black Twitter Cabinet 2021 in their influencer marketing campaigns or not? 


I do not have knowledge whether Black Twitter Cabinet 2021 nominations and elections were free and fair, nor do I have an opinion in this regard. 

Keeping the Black Twitter trend above in mind, let me get to the crux of this eNsight. 

Social media influencer categories

The first time I heard the key phrase “influencer marketing” being discussed in a formal digital marketing setting was at Social Media Week Mumbai (SMWMumbai) in 2013.

Seven years down the line, this form of marketing, and associated laguage,  are still evolving.

As an example, a Google search using the phrase “categories of social media influencers” yields a number of articles with different category sizes and definitions. 

In a social media context, there are 4 generally accepted categories of influencers:

eNitiate | Bra Willy Seyama | Social Media Influencer Categories | selecting influencers for your brand | Jan 2020
Figure 1 | Social Media Influencer Categories

The descriptive titles of the 4 social media influencer categories are self-explanatory. 

As I indicated in Part 2 of this series, number of followers is the first key metric that brands use to identify influencers.

A Mega-Influencer has the largest number of followers, while a Nano-Influencer has the smallest number. 

The sizes of the circles in Figure 1 are a visual depiction of average sizes of followers per influencer in each of the 4 category.

Using Twitter as a proxy; a Mega-Influencer in the US can have followers in their hundreds of millions, e.g. @BarackObama with 128 million followers.

In the case of South Africa, the biggest Mega-Influencer on Twitter – if you exclude Elon Musk who has 42 million followers – is @TrevorNoah with over 11 million followers. 

The same explanation above applies to Nano-Influencers on the other side of the scale. 

In the case of South Africa again, a Nano-Influencer could have as little as 1 000 followers.

The business case for a wider spread of influencers

There is an inverse relationship between the number of influencers in each of the four categories, and the average number of followers per influencer.

Figure 2 | Influencer Category Sizes

Figure 2 indicates that, as compared to Nano-Influencers, there are few Mega-Influencers, but with a large average number of followers each.

The implication?

If every brand targets only Mega-Influencers, the pool is too small.


South Africa’s top 10 Twitter celebrities: you be surprised who leads

However, if brands include Macro-, Micro- and Nano-Influencers in their marketing efforts, this will widen their options and increase prospects for best matches.

But there is more, and I demonstrate this in the next section. 

Characteristics of social media influencer categories

Using the 2 extreme categories – Nano- and Mega-Influencers, here is an infographic with the associated category characteristics.

eNitiate | Bra Willy Seyama | Social Media | Influencer Categories | Infographic | Jan 2021
Figure 3 | Social Media Influencer Category Characteristics

1. Followers - Mega's

As shown in Figure 1, a Mega-Influencer has the highest number of followers, while a Nano-Influencer has the smallest number of followers.

2. Relevance - Nano's

On the one hand, Nano-Influencers tend to talk about a narrower array of topics that they have the most affinity for on social media, compared to Mega-Influencers. 

If your brand is included in the Nano-Influencer’s repertoire of topics, the relevance is traditional higher. 

On the other hand, in Nano-Influencers brands have the largest pool to match their content themes to.

3. Jugglers - Mega's

Mega-Influencers have busy social media lives, partly because “everyone” vies for their attention.

Therefore, there is a lot on their plates.

As can be expected, their social media activities are more diverse than Nano-Influencer.  

If participation in your brand campaign is part of Mega-Influencers’ activities at a given moment, know that it is only one of the many things they are juggling.

4. Linger-longerers - Nano's

Reading this characteristic together with 1 above, Nano-Influencers can potentially give your brand more bang for buck, as they tend to stay longer on a topic than Mega-Influencers who need to be seen to be at the cutting edge of new trending topics. 

@realnorma_kay’s reply tweet below illustrates the Linger-Longerer characteristic of Nano-Influencers.

If you are South African you will know who @casspernyovest is, but I want to draw your attention the phrase “give that man a Bells”.

Do you know the origin of the phrase? 

See if you can read the answer below, written upside down and reading from right to left.

ǝuıן ɟɟo-ʎɐd s,ʎǝʞsıɥM ɥɔʇoɔS s,ןןǝq

According to Oresti Patricios, the pay-off line in @realnorma_kay’s reply tweet was launched in 2010, as part of an advertising campaign for the scotch whiskey.

10 years on, the phrase is still making the rounds on social media, thanks mainly to Nano-Influencers.

Edited: 12 January, 2021

PSST: I took creative license and turned the phrase linger longer into a verb linger-longerer in the sub-heading.

5. Fire-Starters - Mega's

Is your brand looking to get a piece of content to spread like wild fire (fingers crossed)? 

Then Mega-Influencers are the answer, because they have the highest potential reach of all the other influencers.

6. Engagement Rate - Nano's

It is an accepted fact that engagement rate is highest for influencers with lowest numbers of followers.


Because, the contribution to engagement (likes/RT’s/replies) by followers who are most loyal to an influencer is highest for Nano-Influencers, which inherently results in highest engagement rate.

As the number of followers grows for an influencer, levels of loyalty drop, resulting in a decline in engagement rate.

Have you noticed that Twitter recommends who to follow when you open an account on the microblog? Have you noticed the recommended accounts tend to be the most well-known names? Do you follow the recommended accounts out of loyalty or as a form of ticking that box so you can complete the registration process?

7. Tactical Campaign - Mega's

Reading this characteristic together with 3 and 5 above, Mega-Influencers are good at lighting the fire for a brand’s content, but they do not stick around to keep stoking it.

Thus, they are best leveraged for tactical campaigns.

8. Brand Development - Nano's

Reading this characteristic together with 4 and 6 above, Nano-Influencers are best leveraged for brand development drives, which take longer to run.

9. Collaboration Costs - Mega's

I left this characteristic for last on purpose.

Mega-Influencers tend monetise their social media statuses.

Thus, they make it their business to understand and grow their value, including ensuring that they get verified by Twitter and other social networks that have this feature.

Tools such as Webfluential make it easy for the determination of cost per social media post.

Compare estimated costs of a tweet – from my Twitter handle versus that of Trevor Noah.

eNitiate | Social Media | Influencer Categories | Webfluential | Bra Willy Seyama Tweet Value Estimate | selecting influencers for your brand | Jan 2021-1
Figure 4 | Webfluential | Influencer Tweet Value Estimator - @brawilly_seyama
eNitiate | Bra Willy Seyama | Social Media | Influencer Categories | Webfluential | Trevor Noah Tweet Value Estimate | selecting influencers for your brand | Jan 2021-1
Figure 5 | Webfluential | Influencer Tweet Value Estimator - @trevornoah

Most Nano-Influencers do not tend to charge for their social posts.

Brand recognition, demonstrated by a mention, reply, RT, or like may be sufficient.  

In a nutshell

… Mega-Influencers give your brand spread, while Nano-Influencers give it depth. 

This will become clearer in the section below.

How to select the most appropriate influencer categories to match your brand goals

Having shared the characteristics in the previous section (see Figure 3), how do Marketers decide on the influencer categories for achievement of specified brand goals? 

Here are my recommendations:

eNitiate | Bra Willy Seyama | Social Media Influencer Categories | Best Matches for Your Brand Goals | Jan 2020
Table 1 | Social Media Influencer Categories | Brand Goals

The key insight from Table 1 is that Mega-Influencers are the best match for short-term brand goals, and Nano-Influencers are the best match for long-term brand goals. 


The average number of followers per influencer in each of the associated categories in column 1 is an estimate, and it should thus be used only as a guide.

As I conclude

The message I am communicating in this eNsight is that:

  • Marketers must be guided by their brand goals when using influencer marketing; 
  • and in doing so, they need to have knowledge of the characteristics of the different influencer categories; and
  • select the relevant influencer categories that best match the specified brand goals. 


Influencer marketing: 4 guidelines to turn it into strategy

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