“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message.” – Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
Influencer marketing is the term used to define any marketing practice in which the services of a third party (an influencer) are called upon to introduce new audiences to a product or brand, in the aim of increasing its popularity, and ultimately, sales.
Influencer marketing requires minimal effort and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg – what more could you want as a business? In fact, Influencer marketing is taking the online marketing world by storm, and word-of-mouth is fast becoming the best way of obtaining new customers, at a rock bottom cost, with 92% of consumers turning to people they know for referrals before any other source (Tapinfluence + Influitive). Any brand would be crazy not to want to get in on the action.
How to identify a ‘good’ influencer
Evaluate their content
First of all, you’ll want to be looking out for the best quality images that complement your own style. Then you’ll also need to consider whether the accounts posting these images have a good number of followers (which is likely if their images are high quality), as well as the levels of engagement on their posts.
It’s always good to work with influencers who have a really engaged and interested following – not just those who have the biggest Instagram community. The main reason behind this is that using bots and the follow/unfollow strategy, it’s actually pretty easy to get loads of followers. The trickier part is getting followers to engage. So 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.
Calculate the engagement rate
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.
Listen to your instincts
Lastly, a good influencer will make themselves available for discussions with brands interested in their service. In our book, 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.
Influencers on their “experience on the platform”
Instagram can be an extremely rewarding platform for both brands and influencers alike. As an influencer or blogger, it offers the opportunity to showcase your creativity and explore your passion further whilst building up a community of likeminded and supportive followers. Influencers such as Chloe Reed of @nothingtowear.blog interact with their followers on a daily basis not just to maintain interest and engagement with their accounts, but because they genuinely enjoy it. Followers can become more like friends, which makes being an influencer even an more rewarding and enjoyable experience. The bond between influencer and follower is often much stronger than that between brand and consumer, with a deep sense of loyalty felt on both sides.
If you have a cause that you want to promote and a message to share, Instagram can be the perfect platform to do that. Tiffany DeSilva (@tiffany_desilva) describes this in more detail:
As a brand, 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. As Tiffany 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.
Influencer marketing campaigns and results
51% of marketers say influencer marketing produces better customers (Tap Influence) and by better, they mean more loyal. 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 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. For example, they don’t offer the exact number for each bar on the age range chart, and we’re also restricted to data from “this week”. 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. In doing this, 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.
How to find influencers for your Instagram campaign
Searching hashtags on Instagram
One way to find influencers who are a great match for your brand is to simply search for hashtags on the Instagram platform that reflect what your business is about, for example #greenliving or #minimalistfashion, and discover the accounts using the same hashtags. Scroll through the best images and the most suitable accounts until you have a shortlist of those you want to contact. More often than not, potential influencers will have their email addresses listed in their Instagram bio.
Searching hashtags on Google
You can also search hashtags on Google, which will bring up results from both Instagram and Twitter. If you select the Instagram result, you’ll be directed to a list of posts that are associated with the hashtag you searched for. The most popular posts are at the top, followed by the most recent.
However, you might want to filter out the posts and accounts which aren’t a match for your brand, as searching through seemingly endless posts associated with popular hashtags can be extremely time consuming! If you’re a small to medium-sized business looking to work with ‘micro-influencers’, or those with a smaller following who are more likely to be willing to collaborate with lesser-known brands, then a influencer search tool that allows you to define specific search parameters will be helpful.
Iconosquare’s Influencer Search
It’s possible to search for influencers based on specific requirements using Iconosquare’s Influencer search tool. You can filter your search based on location, number of followers, followers/followings ratio, specific keywords in their bio, as well as the hashtags they use and the media they’ve posted to date.
Alternatively, if you’ve already got a particular influencer in mind, you can search for their profile using their Instagram handle or email address. You’ll be able to see key stats such as followers, average engagement and likes, and posting habits to name a few, all of which can help you decide whether this influencer is really right for your brand and campaign. Other tools such as Buzzsumo also allow you to search for the key influencers in any topic area or location, and analyse their suitability based on reach, authority, influence and engagement. Whichever tool you use, it’s fair to say you can save yourself a lot of time and effort with Influencer search!
Iconosquare’s Influencer Index
To get an idea of the benchmarks for the most successful influencers in your industry, check out Iconosquare’s Influencer Index, which is completely free to use and available for everyone. You can sort influencers by number of followers or media posted, and view a detailed analysis of each influencer’s profile page. Once you know what the key influencers in your field are posting, you’ll know what type of content you should be focusing on to boost your engagement and follower numbers
Different ways to contact influencers
So, you’ve found the influencers you want to work with – what’s the next step?
Send an email
As we 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, such as what it is they’ll be promoting, the number of posts required, the duration of the campaign, and so on.
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 organise 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 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!
If possible, it’s always a good idea to meet up with the influencers you want to collaborate with in person to clearly outline what your goals are, and establish what they expect from you in return. It’s the best way to address any questions they might have after the initial contact, and to help them get to know your product or your service before kicking off the campaign.
What influencers really want
To better understand what it is that encourages influencers to say yes to certain brands, and to turn down others, we asked a select group what they think makes for a smooth and successful contact process. Here’s what they said:
We were also lucky enough to catch up with blogger and influencer Amanda Champion, who shared with us her insights, tips 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 your brand and your strategy 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!
Was this article helpful? Are you an Iconosquare user – and if so, are you using the Influencer and Media Search tools yet? We’d love to know how your experience has been so far!