Influencer marketing has become something of a buzzword in recent years, and its popularity is continuing to grow. If you’re not already familiar with the phenomenon, the idea is to “get help” marketing your business and products from an influential person on social media. Influencers generally have a very large community of fans, and can utilize their influence to promote products they’ve tested, in return for freebies and often payment from the company they’re promoting for.
One platform in particular has become the go-to channel for running Influencer marketing campaigns: Instagram. And it’s no surprise. The platform is geared towards highly visual and aspirational content which is well suited to marketing products, and community engagement – perfect for ‘spreading’ influence.
You might be thinking “Instagram influencer marketing seems like a lot of work, though – is it really worth the investment?”
Well, studies have shown that word-of-mouth marketing is the most trusted form of marketing – and we all know that trust in traditional marketing is rapidly decreasing. Consumers are turning their backs on direct advertising and basing their purchasing decisions on genuine recommendations and reviews. In fact, 70% of millennial consumers are influenced by the recommendations of their peers in buying decisions, and 30% of consumers are more likely to buy a product recommended by a non-celebrity blogger.
70% of millennial consumers are influenced by the recommendations of their peers in buying decisions, and 30% of consumers are more likely to buy a product recommended by a non-celebrity blogger. Click To Tweet
As consumers become overloaded with information and overwhelmed by choice, finding new ways of connecting with potential customers is essential. If you can cut through the noise and create a great influencer marketing campaign, there are big rewards to be won. But it’s not as easy as you might think to find the right influencers for your brand and ensure you get the best results from your investment.
This article will explore how to select the best influencers for your brand, all the considerations to take into account before kicking off a campaign, as well as how to measure your results during and after the campaign.
Setting goals for your Instagram influencer marketing campaign
First up, what exactly can you expect to get out of an Instagram influencer marketing campaign?
The truth is, it actually all depends on your goal.
Do you want to increase your brand awareness and refine your brand image? Maybe you want to boost traffic to your website? Increase your Instagram engagement? It’s likely you want all 3 – and the good news is, an Instagram influencer marketing campaign can get you these results and more.
As a marketer, you’re probably also interested in the bottom line, or how much dollar your Instagram influencer marketing campaign makes you. You don’t want to invest a lot of money into a campaign just for it to flop. That’s why it’s important to clearly define your ultimate campaign goal and select the KPIs you’re going to measure to keep track of your success.
If you’re not sure which KPIs you should be measuring, check out this article which covers all of the Instagram metrics you need to know.
Instagram influencer marketing that delivers results: Finding the right influencers
I’ll go through exactly how to find and reach out to Instagram influencers a bit later, as first it makes sense to understand exactly what makes for a “good influencer”, specifically a good influencer that is the right fit for your brand.
The best influencer for your brand will be the one who already uses and loves your product, because their feedback will be the most authentic. If you can’t find any influencers who use your product, or if your product is new to the market, search for an influencer whose expertise is relevant to your brand and whose values are already aligned with those of your brand.
Say you promote environmental awareness and animal rights, for example: you’re going to want to work with someone who is active in this community and already addressing these topics. You want to work with influencers who genuinely enjoy what they do, have a strong belief in their own personal brand and message, and have built up a loyal following based on this.
Basically, don’t try and fit a square peg into a round hole, just because the square peg has lots of followers!
Instagram micro-influencer Tiffany DeSilva (@tiffany_desilva) says, “As a content creator, I am on a journey to create content both sponsored and non-sponsored that comes across as genuine. I believe that from working with the right brands that comes naturally.”
If you collaborate with influencers who are closely aligned with your values and purpose, you’ll benefit from the trust-based relationship between influencer and follower. A stamp of approval from someone who genuinely believes in your product, and whose opinion is respected, can be invaluable to your business.
So, your values are a match. But what else should you be looking for from potential influencers?
Spotting good quality content – and good engagement!
Look for top quality images that complement your own style. Don’t settle for anything less than well-shot and edited posts that work together to create a strong, consistent Instagram theme aesthetic.
However, it’s not just about the look of the content: you should also check the variety of content your potential influencer is posting. Articles, giveaways, interviews and videos can all be appropriate in different scenarios, so make sure you pick a versatile influencer who can fit your brand’s needs. Is your influencer using Stories? Are they making the most of Instagram’s latest features? If not, you might want to think twice about moving forward with them.
It’s important that the influencers you work with have a really engaged following. By using the follow for follow ‘strategy’, it’s actually pretty easy to get loads of followers. The tricky part is getting followers to engage, so don’t be wooed by follower numbers alone. If you come across an account with hundreds of thousands of followers and a very low engagement rate, you’ll know they’re not really doing their job of influencing a community, because no one’s interested. When it comes to Instagram influencer marketing, the worst mistake you can make is to be drawn in by phony Instagram influencers who won’t bring you any real results or profit.
To figure out the engagement rate of the accounts you’re interested in, you can do one of two things.
- Click on each of the user’s last 10 posts and jot down the number of likes and comments on each one. You can then do a simple calculation to get a rough idea of that influencer’s engagement rate for those past 10 posts: number of likes + number of comments / number of followers x 100.
- A much more accurate reading of an influencer’s engagement can be easily visualized on Iconosquare by adding the accounts you’re interested in to your Competitors Tracking tool*, where you’ll be able to check over all kinds of metrics to do with their posting habits and engagement levels over time.
Evaluating the quality of engagement
Numbers are helpful to gauge the suitability of an influencer, but don’t forget to actually read those comments on the posts you just calculated the engagement rate for! A lot of spammy comments can result in a high engagement rate, but what good are they to you? If most comments are a random emoji from an account that sounds like a barcode, you can assume they’re coming from Instagram bots – and bots aren’t going to buy your product!
Make sure that there’s a real conversation happening between your potential influencer and the community. This means that not only are the comments left by other users genuine, but the replies from the influencer are regular, relevant and personalized whenever possible. As I mentioned earlier, the closeness and the trust between an influencer and their community is essential for generating conversions, which only comes about from an authentic conversation.
Check out this example from Instagram influencer Jeanne Grey (@thegreylayers) – her replies are regular, friendly in tone and specific to the comments.
Listen to your instincts
A good influencer will make themself available for discussions with brands interested in their service. An influencer who is constantly unavailable or unreliable at responding to messages is not someone you should go into business with, no matter how great their engagement rate is! You need to have a good feeling moving forward with any influencer – after all, they have your business in their hands.
How to find influencers for your Instagram marketing campaign
Searching hashtags on Instagram
One way to find influencers who are a great match for your brand is to simply search for hashtags and keywords on the Instagram platform that reflect what your business is about. Scroll through the best images and the most suitable accounts until you have a shortlist of those you want to contact.
Ask an influencer to recommend another
Bloggers are generally quite familiar with their fellow bloggers’ work. If you already know of one good Instagram influencer, try asking them to recommend others like themselves!
Use an influencer search tool
There are a range of influencer search and management tools out there, such as Hivency, a platform that helps you find the best influencers for your brand and manage your campaigns. Some can be quite pricy, but if you’re really looking to invest in Instagram influencer marketing, it’s definitely worth the money.
How to contact Instagram influencers
So, you’ve found the influencers you want to work with – what’s the next step?
Send an email
As I mentioned earlier, you can usually find an email address in the influencer’s bio which indicates that emailing them is the best way to go. You don’t want your email to be skimmed over once it hits their inbox though, so remember to use an attention-grabbing header that sums up your offer, and outline your proposal clearly and concisely. Keep the initial email short and sweet, but make sure you include all the important information that will be useful for your influencer to know. Let them know what it is they’ll be promoting, the number of posts required, the duration of the campaign, and so on.
I asked Dennis and Claire of @thehappytravellers how they like to be approached by brands who want to work with them:
“We prefer to be contacted through email, and we also love it whenever brands tell us they found us on Instagram. One thing we really appreciate is when brands make an effort to introduce themselves and tell us about their backgrounds. How they found us. What kind of partnership do they want and what benefits do we get from partnering with them. What they expect from us and vice versa. It’s also important that they tell us the goals and the duration of the campaign.” – @thehappytravellers
Alternatively, you can send a direct message on Instagram with the same offer. If you’re following them, they’ll receive your message immediately. Considering this is the platform on which they spend a considerable amount of their time, it’s an effective way of reaching out. However, if you’re planning to work with a number of influencers it could get tricky to organize and keep track of all your communication.
Another trick is to search for your influencer on Twitter and reach out with a tweet. More often than not, influencers use the same username or handle across all social media sites specifically to make it easy for brands to find them and, of course, to reinforce their personal brand. So, get tweeting!
Hosting an influencer event or meet-up for your influencers can really help you to get to know them individually, and allow them to get to know your product at the same time. It’s also an opportunity to clearly outline what your goals are, and establish what they expect from you in return before kicking off the campaign.
Chloe Reed (@nothingtowear.blog) points out how important it is for brands to have a clear outline of the campaign they want to run, even before the initial contact takes place:
“I love when brands contact me with a purpose. They either have a set idea or product in mind for me. It makes it not only easier for me, but for them as well! If they know exactly what they want in return then I am able to please them fully – otherwise, it can get confusing on what they are asking for!” – Chloe Reed (@nothingtowear.blog)
Measuring Results for your Instagram Influencer marketing Campaign
71% of marketers believe that ongoing ambassadorships are the most effective form of influencer marketing (TapInfluence). And it makes sense: consumers are more likely to become hooked on a brand if they know other people are using it, especially people they look up to.
To discover how well your Instagram influencer marketing campaigns are performing, you’ll need to keep a close eye on the data. You can use Instagram Insights to track key stats including weekly impressions, reach, profile views and click-throughs, and to receive information on top performing posts.
However, there’s a limit to the conclusions you can draw from this data, as unfortunately the graphs and charts provided by Instagram Insights aren’t as detailed as they could be. Bear in mind that to perform a detailed analysis of the success of your strategy, you need to compare larger amounts of data over many months.
Looking at Instagram data in-depth
Iconosquare offers all the stats you need to consider in one place, and visualizes the numbers in a clear and digestible way. You can take an in-depth look at your stats without feeling overwhelmed by data, whether you’re using mobile or desktop. It’s best to use Iconosquare in combination with Instagram Insights – there’s specific information about your account that only Instagram has access to, as third party access to Instagram’s API was recently limited. However, features you can access using Iconosquare, such as best time to post, hashtag and competitor tracking, and exports and reports (all of which are useful to measure the performance of your influencer campaigns) are not available on Instagram Insights, so use one to complement the other.
Other KPIs to focus on to track the effectiveness of your influencer marketing campaign are brand awareness, including the frequency of mentions you receive and the sentiment surrounding your brand, which can be tracked with tools such as SocialMention; conversions, and sales. For this, use Google Analytics to set up campaigns and goals using trackable links to separate your influencer content from your brand content. You’ll be able to keep a closer eye on activity on a particular campaign and see how much traffic and how many conversions are generated by your Influencer’s content.
BONUS SECTION: Interview with Instagram Influencer Amanda Champion (@aglamlifestyle)
One last thing before I wrap this up. As a brand, it’s always extremely valuable to see things from an influencers perspective in order to learn the best way to approach your campaigns. That’s why I caught up with blogger and influencer Amanda Champion, who shared with us her insights and personal experiences as an Instagram influencer.
1. What has your experience as an influencer on Instagram been like so far?
I started my blog and related social sites just about two years ago and it’s been both rewarding and eye-opening. I think people see Influencers and think it’s all glitz and glam. But, they don’t realize how much work can go into a single blog post or how tough it can be to grow an authentic following. It’s much more saturated today, but if you develop your niche you can be successful.
2. How do you like brands to contact you about potential collaborations? What are some best practices that really stand out to you when being contacted by a brand for a campaign?
I try to make it as easy as possible for prospective partners and collaborators to find me. So, I include my email address on my website and in Instagram. I would say I get 60-70% of my opportunities through direct email. But, I also participate in influencer networks like Collectively, Fohr Card, Social Native and more. From a best practices perspective (and since I’m a marketer myself), I appreciate brands who keep their emails short and who have done their research to know what types of products I’m currently wearing. Often times, the opportunities I’m getting aren’t a good fit for my audience.
3. What would make you turn down a collaboration? Why?
I turn down around 80% of the requested collaborations that I’m offered for a handful of reasons. Overwhelmingly, the biggest reason I don’t accept a campaign is that it just doesn’t fit my audience or my style. My followers expect a certain look from me and while I deviate that a bit to try trends – I don’t want to turn them off by putting something in front of them I wouldn’t legitimately purchase, wear or experience with my own money.
4. What are your personal values when it comes to promoting products for a brand on Instagram?
It’s simple – I won’t promote a product that I won’t buy with my own money. As I got started as a blogger and influencer, there may have been a few exceptions to that rule! But, that’s something I stick to now. I started my blog as a creative outlet and not to be a business, so I still draw a pretty clear line on what I’ll promote. If I was a full-time blogger and it was my only source of income, that might be harder.
5. What kind of results have you had from influence campaigns in the past?
When it comes to campaign evaluations, I look at a few data points: 1) website pageviews, 2) Instagram impressions/engagement/regrams, and 3) sales. The first two are pretty straightforward, but the third can be tough when you aren’t driving your readers through a trackable system like RewardStyle or Shopstyle. Ultimately, the more strategic brands want high-quality photos (working with bloggers is much more affordable than a paid photoshoot with models!) and sales. But, visibility in general is still key.
And here’s what Amanda had to say about her experience using Iconosquare:
“I’ve been using Iconosquare for the last year+ and its been key in helping me evaluate my Instagram post performance, whether that’s from a time of day perspective or from an engagement point of view.
Especially with the algorithm frequently changing, as an Influencer you MUST stay on top of what your followers are telling you they like – not just from their comments, but from what your numbers and data are telling you.”
So, you now know who to look for and how to find them when embarking on an influencer campaign. You know how to plan a campaign, and how to formulate that all important introduction to get the best influencers on board. And, once that’s up and running, you’re able to track the KPIs that prove the success of your collaboration. We hope your next influencer marketing campaign sets you on the track to reach (and surpass) your overall marketing goals!