Chapter 8

Working with Instagram Influencers

working with instagram influencers

When you’re just getting started in the influencer marketing game, it can be challenging to figure out which social channel you should be focusing on.

With over 1 billion monthly active users, Instagram is one medium you should definitely explore.

Instagram influencer marketing may just be the golden ticket that provides your company with access to a huge pool of new prospects. And lots of brands are learning how to make money on Instagram.

According to the influencer marketing agency Mediakix, over $1 billion was spent on Instagram influencer marketing in 2017, and the figure is expected to cross the $2 billion mark by 2019.

instagram influencer marketing growth

Source

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Instagram influencers are highly creative individuals who infuse their work with a narrative and backstory, offering a perfect balance between style and substance.

And as the Instagram algorithm continues to lower the organic reach of some brands, we only expect the demand for Instagram influencers to increase significantly.

In this chapter, we’ll cover:

  • Instagram’s secrets to success
  • The most popular types of Instagram influencer partnerships
  • How to find Instagram influencers
  • 3 successful Instagram influencer marketing examples

Instagram’s Secrets to Influencer Success

So, what makes Instagram influencer marketing so effective?

Well, a lot of it has to do with authenticity.

Instagram influencers post not just about the positives… but about the negatives, too. Influencers who are comfortable sharing their real opinions can gain people’s trust. As humans, we naturally seek authenticity, and those who give it to us enter our circle of trust.

Another big reason why companies partner with Instagram influencers is creativity.

Instagram influencers will not only create suitable posts for your brand, but they can also offer fresh ideas for your campaign.

Let’s say you’re a travel agency, and you want to reach more people on Instagram.

In the past, if you were to sponsor a backpacker or travel enthusiast to document their experiences in a certain location, you’d probably just receive a few generic snaps to post later. At most, they’d make a slideshow if they really wanted to impress.

But today, Instagram influencers will document every aspect of their journey, in real time. They let their creative juices flow, and put together breathtaking visuals that take us to new realities.

instagram influencer content

Needless to say, an Instagram influencer can be a powerful way to raise awareness about your brand.  

Pro-dropshipper James Holt notes that many ecommerce entrepreneurs opt for running Facebook ads when they first start out. But James advises to go straight for Instagram influencer marketing instead:

James Holt, Dropshipping entrepreneur

James Holt, Dropshipping entrepreneur

My advice to everyone is to start with Instagram influencers instead of Facebook ads.

Transitioning later is easy once you have the data to create a lookalike audience in your Facebook ad campaigns.

My first two Shopify stores never made a sale. Only once I took the time to learn from real experts, invest in an existing store, and do Instagram shoutouts (instead of messing around with Facebook ads) did I make my first sale.

It took a little time, but once that first sale came, it wasn’t just one sale – the sales notifications on my phone started going off like crazy!

Most Popular Instagram Partnerships

When you start looking into partnering with any influencer Instagram has to offer, you’ll discover that there are multiple ways to work with them. Here are the most popular types of Instagram partnerships.

Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories may be one of the most valuable features available to allow influencers as well as partnering brands to get more personal with – and organically increase – their audience.

A lot of what goes out on Stories seems more believable. It’s not as fake or as polished; it feels more genuine, and that’s why Stories are great for real life, ‘in-the-moment’ content.

Plus, Instagram influencers don’t need to constrain Stories to the look and feel of the feed.

instagram stories influencer marketing

Another unique aspect of Instagram Stories is the ‘swipe up’ feature.

It provides influencers with an opportunity to immediately link to a company-specific landing page, rather than inconveniently telling people to follow the link in their bio when they’re looking at standard in-feed posts.

This feature has been a real asset for ecommerce brands that want to implement Instagram shopping.

instagram stories swipe up feature

Though the feature was first introduced on Snapchat, top influencers are now publishing twice as many Instagram Stories as Snapchat Stories, making Instagram Stories one of the best avenues for Instagram influencer partnerships.

Sponsored Posts

Paying influencers or giving them free samples in exchange for sponsored posts is the most common type of Instagram influencer partnership.

From soft mentions to in-depth reviews and alternative uses, influencers are able to shine a spotlight on companies, leveraging the trust they’ve already gained to inspire their audience to try the company or its offering out for themselves.

Here is an example of this partnership between an Instagram influencer and an ice cream brand.

sponsored posts

Most brands using this influencer partnership model pay influencers upfront for creating sponsored content.

However, if you’re simply gifting your items to influencers, they’re not legally obligated to endorse you. Unless of course, there’s a legally binding contract in place specifying that the compensation is limited to free products.

If you don’t have any such agreement and are only giving away products with the hope that Instagram influencers would post about them, it can go the other way as well.

 Note on sponsored posts: It’s crucial for both brands and influencers to disclose their partnership according to the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines. This can be done by using the hashtag #sponsored or #ad. 

 

Instagram Live Takeovers

Brands can invite influencers to engage with their existing audience in real time using Instagram Live. Taking over a brand’s account and doing a live broadcast is perfect for creating exclusivity and sharing personal experiences with your audiences.

Additionally, Instagram Live takeovers are an excellent strategy for businesses looking to interact with their followers in a fun and interesting way.

For example, it allows people to interact or ask questions via comments. Influencers can use filters and also invite friends and viewers to join them in the takeover.

instagram live takeover influencer

Besides all that, you can download and save your Instagram Live video to your camera roll once it ends.

You can then publish it on another social media channel or save it as an Instagram Story to make the broadcast available for another 24 hours.

save instagram live video

While many companies are using Instagram Live as part of their influencer marketing partnerships, it still offers authenticity, helping keep sponsored content from ‘coming off’ as sponsored.

When people see influencers talking about a brand’s product live, it feels less like sponsorship and more like just another day in the life of the influencer.

Pro tip: To increase the number of viewers watching your Instagram Live takeover, ask your influencer to promote your upcoming broadcast on their social media pages and encourage their audience to watch and follow you.

 

Which type of Instagram influencer partnership is right for your business?

The good news is that you don’t have to pick one over the others. You can get started with one to see if it works. Then, change course if you’re not satisfied with the results. Brands can also try a mix of Instagram influencer partnerships all at once.

How to Find Instagram Influencers

Now comes the step of finding the right Instagram influencer.

This is easily one of the most difficult parts of influencer marketing, whether it’s for Instagram or another social channel.

In fact, 67.6% of marketers acknowledge that finding the right influencers is their biggest influencer marketing challenge.

Where do you begin? What should you be looking for in Instagram influencers? What’s the most effective way to go about an Instagram search?

All that’s made easier by wide availability of influencer marketing tools specifically created to connect you with the right Instagram influencers. But let’s assume you’re working this without their help.

Determine Ideal Types of Influencers

First of all, you need to determine what type of influencer will be ideal for your campaign.

The vast majority of smaller brands should look at micro-influencers and perhaps a couple of macro-influencers.

If you’re a cosmetic brand, you might think Kendall Jenner at first, but trust me – there are way better options if you know how to find them. And often, the opinions of those a little closer to home are more believable and transparent.

The best micro-influencers on Instagram may be masters of their craft. They are trusted because they’ve demonstrated immense knowledge of their industry, but they’re mainly individuals like you and me rather than high-profile singers, actresses, or runway models.

By identifying your ideal influencer, you’ll find it easier to narrow down the best Instagrammers for your brand from an Instagram influencers list.

If you don’t have an Instagram influencers list, don’t worry. There are several ways to find these potential influencers.

Use Relevant Hashtags

One of the best ways to find relevant influencers is to conduct an Instagram hashtag search.

For example, searching for the hashtag #foodblogger will lead you to the many influencers associated with that hashtag.

 

use hashtags to find influencers

One of the search results is an image of Victoria Da Corte, a lifestyle and food blogger with more than 10,000 followers. She could be an ideal influencer for a trendy local bistro that focuses on fresh, colorful meals with a beautiful presentation.

Victoria Da Corte

Victoria also has a website, and a quick look at her Instagram feed reveals she has collaborated with a variety of food brands and eateries.

All of these details show that she can be an excellent choice for an influencer marketing campaign if her values and Instagram presence align with your brand.

If you want some hashtag inspiration, head over to Chapter 4 where there are some nice, big hashtag lists to help you learn how to find influencers in your industry, including influencers in the key industries of beauty, fitness, fashion, food, and travel. 

 

Use Google

You can also use Google to find relevant influencers.

To give an example, if you’re in the business of men’s clothing, you can search for ‘men’s Instagram fashion micro-influencers.’

Here’s what Google displays for this search:

Many websites have curated lists of influencers in this category who are present on Instagram. It’s in these lists that you can find the right influencer to partner with.

For instance, if you click on the third result in the list – Top 20 Menswear Micro-Influencers Every Dapper Guy Should Know – you go to Dealspotr. The site presents you with a list of Instagram influencers for this niche.

3 Successful Instagram Influencer Marketing Examples

If you’re interested in running an Instagram influencer campaign for yourself, take inspiration from these three real-world examples.

1. Gillette’s Gillette Venus Campaign

Safety razor and personal care brand Gillette partnered with several beauty influencers to promote its new shaving line ‘Gillette Venus.’

The campaign had a unique twist – the Instagram influencers used their feeds to drive traffic to a longer video of the product. Their content featured the new line being used in a variety of settings, with close-ups.

Also, Gillette associated the campaign with a catchy hashtag #ChooseToSmooth.

The influencers used in this campaign achieved an engagement rate of 2.2% on average and reached over 476,000 people.

If you search for the hashtag #ChooseToSmooth on Instagram, you’ll notice that most of the influencers who took part in Gillette’s initiative are micro-influencers. Their authenticity and creativity were the keys behind the success of the Gillette Venus campaign.

2. Glossier

Beauty and makeup brand Glossier has been collaborating with Instagram influencers since its inception.

Born out of the heavily-trafficked IntoTheGloss blog that Emily Weiss (the founder) opened in 2010, Glossier has managed to create an engaged community of micro-influencers who’re busy endorsing the brand’s products on Instagram – and in real life – in exchange for a combination of product credits and a monetary commission.

80% of Glossier sales and growth comes from peer-to-peer recommendations, which goes to show that women on Instagram are not necessarily relying on celebs or high-profile influencers for recommendations.

Speaking to Fast Company, Emily revealed that Glossier believes in the power of individuals. And if many individuals are rooting for your brand, then their impact is equivalent to 10 Kardashians.

So while it gave Glossier a great joy seeing Kim Instagramming their body wash, the company gets much more excited about seeing the power of the people magnify and multiply.

Glossier also runs an ambassador program that has skyrocketed in recent years. It began with 11 women (serving as micro-influencers for the brand) and has grown to more than 500.

Micro-influencers have been extremely effective for Glossier, offering honest reviews and insights that people need before they commit to buying from a brand.

3. American Rag

Holidays are a prime opportunity for clothing retailers to capture massive dollars as consumers look to layer up for the colder weather and buy gifts for their loved ones.

During the fall season in 2016, American Rag (a Macy’s brand) used micro-influencers to let consumers know how to stay warm and comfy.

Instagram influencers for American Rag used captions that talked about the new line being exclusively available at Macy’s, along with sharing images of their flannels, jackets, and other layers to demonstrate a seasonal vibe.

The campaign enjoyed an engagement rate of 5.7% and generated over 30,000 likes.

By teaming up with relevant influencers in the fall season, the brand was able to reach its target audience in time for seasonable shopping.

Bonus: Instagram Influencer Pro Tips with Karolis Rimkus

Here’s a masterclass video featuring Karolis Rimkus, a dropshipper who leveraged the power of Instagram influencers to build and grow his brand.

Karolis talks about the dos and don’ts of approaching micro-influencers on Instagram, whether shout-outs or free products work better for influencer partnerships, and more.

Instagram offers incredible opportunities for brands of any shape, size, and industry, but it isn’t the only channel that’s capable of maximizing your outreach.

In the next two chapters, we’ll tell you how to achieve the same effect with YouTube and Facebook influencers.

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