How do you categorise influencers in social media?
While you can find online influencer on a great variety of platforms, I’ve chosen to look more closely at the platforms commonly targeted by businesses.
To do this, I use this matrix to categorise social media influencers across creator platforms TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, podcasting, and blogging:
These creator platforms are sorted from TikTok (5M+ followers for a mega influencer) at the top down to blogging (250K+ subscribers for a mega influencer).
This might seem unfair at first glance, however, it’s easier to find a TikTok mega influencer than it is to find an individual blogger with 250K+ subscribers.
Both TikTok and Instagram are feed-based for fast consumption, while YouTube relies heavily on similar content suggestions.
Podcasting is strong despite not getting much help from algorithms, however, many listening apps provide easy discovery and subscription options through search.
Blogging, while mostly long-form, must rely on search engines and self-hosted subscription solutions.
This is why I’ve five platforms are distributed TikTok—Instagram—YouTube—Podcasting—Blogging.
“Our research showed how trust is earned over time, with consumers tending to trust influencers on legacy platforms such as YouTube more (28%) than those on newer platforms such as Instagram (22%) and TikTok (15%).
However, influencers on both YouTube and TikTok fared well when compared to more traditional brand endorsements. 37% of 16-44-year olds trust a YouTube influencer more than a high-profile figure or celebrity. Meanwhile on TikTok, almost a quarter (23%) of the same age group agreed they trust a TikTok influencer’s recommendation over a friend.
And the survey shows how trust is converting into sales for brands. Over a quarter (27%) of consumers have been influenced to purchase a product or service by creators on YouTube in the past six months, followed by 24% of consumers on Instagram and 15% on TikTok. This increases to almost a quarter (23%) of 16-44 year-olds on the platform, showing how different demographics interact differently with each platform.”
How to categorise influencers
Naming social media influencers nano, micro, macro, and mega is slowly becoming standard practice for how to categorise influencers.
However, there’s no shortage of variations. STIM, the Standard Terminology of Influencer Marketing, is an effort to clearly define different tiers of social media influencers.
Here’s the suggested influencer tiers via Mediakix for Instagram and Youtube:
Here we can see how STIM prefers to use five tiers instead of four. They also suggest using “elite” for YouTube and “mid-tier” for Instagram.
The Swedish branch of IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau), IAB Sweden, while suggesting four tiers, argues that Instagram’s top tier should be referred to as “icons”:
Personally, I’d refrain from using terms such as “icons” or “elite” just as I wouldn’t suggest using “legend”, “idol”, or “superstar”.