Dec 16, 2021 — Markerly Editorial Team, 9 min read
Reading Time: 9 minutes
Fifteen years ago when blogging was a brand new thing, businesses fought hard with each other to partner with who they considered to be their ideal blogger.
The right blogger could provide a review of a company’s products and services and deliver it directly to an interested audience on their site—all for a cost-effective price.
Even better, the blogger was trusted by their loyal readers—and the hope was that some of this trust would be transferred to their sponsors.
It’s a great marketing tactic. And it still works to this day.
Since then, the number of opportunities for companies to partner with real, authentic, person-based “brands” has mushroomed with the rise of social media.
In the early days, brands found it really hard to make advertising work on any social media channel. Users saw their ads as intrusive. Many resented social networks selling their details to advertisers.
The general public’s dislike of advertising in general was already known. This explains why more people click on organic results than paid ads on the search listings.
Just like with bloggers, there had to be a middle way: a new type of trusted intermediary to be a company’s brand ambassador on social media.
In response, the social media influencer was born.
Instagram is primarily a visual social media platform like Snapchat and it came along at just the right time for advertisers.
In the last 10 years, we’ve shopped online more than ever before. We’re buying food, clothing, and even cars on the internet. There’s extra risk in buying online so we naturally look for reassurance.
An AdWeek survey found that more than half of women’s purchasing decisions were based upon endorsements given by the people they follow online. And 40% of consumers purchased a product or a service after seeing it on Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter.
Instagram’s power as a sales and branding tool is only eclipsed by the power of the influencers on their platform.
Most people know of celebrity influencers like Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, and Ronaldo.
But there are different types of influencers who aren’t TV, film, or sports celebrities.
For a non-celebrity to be considered an Instagram influencer, the following two criteria must be met:
For many influencers, Instagram is their full-time job and they get paid by digital marketing companies to endorse their clients’ products and services. They are extremely effective communicators.
No matter how niche a person may believe their interest to be, there’s an influencer in that niche. There are lifestyle influencers who make a good living from the platform—being a beauty influencer and a fashion influencer can be very lucrative financially. There are travel influencers who are paid to fly around the world by travel agents and tour operators.
Whatever your personal interest, there’ll be someone on Instagram who has the same interest. For example, there are “cleanfluencers” like the very popular Mrs. Hinch whose 4.2 million followers wait in anticipation for her latest cleaning hacks.
Every business knows that their products and services will appeal to a certain type of person.
You might spend money on SEO trying to find these people. You might bid on certain keywords on Google Ads. You may pay Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to run your promotions in prospective customers’ newsfeeds.
We think of your target audience as your “tribe.” On Instagram, there’ll be influencers whose followers naturally belong to your tribe. These followers may never have heard of you. Or they may not know enough about you yet to switch from their current supplier to you.
People don’t like advertising but they do appreciate and respect the opinions of their influencers. And that’s the commercial value of influencer marketing.
Would you rather your brand be introduced to members of your tribe you haven’t reached yet with an ad or with an introduction from an influencer they like and trust?
Not only does influencer marketing increase your own Instagram follower count, it can also really drive sales.
You’ve identified who you think might be the right influencers to help you reach your tribe on Instagram. But how do you pick the best influencers for your cause?
Examine these four areas before you sign a contract with an influencer.
Does your prospective influencer create enough content related to the product or service you want to promote? Look back through their last six months of posts and decide for yourself whether your sponsored content would be a natural fit.
The number of followers is important, but you shouldn’t attach too much significance to it. Many companies sell fake followers—computer bots that subscribe to Instagram feeds to make them appear more popular than they actually are.
Engagement rates measure how often followers of an influencer’s channel interact with each individual post and with the channel in general.
If a potential Instagram influencer has a low engagement rate, it often means that:
If engagement rates are low (below 2%), there is no reason to expect engagement with your content to be any higher.
Try to find the Instagrammer offering your brand high engagement rates (between 2-7%) among your target audience.
The best influencers know that there is value in scarcity. That’s why, according to Statista, the number of weekly feed posts published by Instagram influencers is just 2.3, down from 3.3 in 2016.
The success of your Instagram influencer marketing strategy relies on your content being just as highly valued as the standard channel content that followers expect and look forward to.
Your sponsored posts should therefore be, ideally, part of your influencer’s normal posting schedule.
Instagram influencers are content creators. Many of them have built a full-time living out of promoting related products and services to their followers.
However, the value you’ve built in your brand over the years should always come first.
Rather than accepting lower standards of content quality from influencers for access to their audience, you should only choose to work with influencers who value branding and quality.
After you’ve started working with an influencer, these metrics will help you decide whether to keep using them or not.
While many brands view their partnerships with influencers over the long term, an influencer is really just an intermediary, passing messages on from your company to your tribe.
Your goal should be increasing the number of direct followers on your Instagram feed so that you can communicate directly with your prospective customers.
Take every opportunity to share your website with your influencer’s followers. Include it in every sponsored post and also include it in the text area of your company Instagram profile.
Use tracked landing pages to measure how many people visit your website directly from your influencer’s posts. When you have them at your website, make sure you do everything you can to persuade these visitors to purchase from you or subscribe to your email newsletters.
Do the click-throughs from influencers’ posts lead to more sales than you get from your own posts?
If they generate a worse conversion rate, it’s worth asking whether this influencer’s followers are really part of your tribe.
Any influencer marketing campaign is a collaboration between your company and the influencer.
Is the content your influencer’s posting getting the reaction you want or not?
By studying the metrics from every single post, Story, and Reel, you’ll soon discover:
Be sure to vary the content you share—later on in this article, we cover the types of content you can create with your Instagram influencer.
There is no agreed-upon definition for classifying Instagram influencers by the number of followers they have, so for this article, we’re going to use definitions from CMSWire.
Although working with mega-influencers and macro-influencers still works well for companies, the cost of partnering with them can be prohibitive.
Many small businesses are now interested in working with one or more micro-influencers or nano-influencers to promote particularly niche products and services.
You can see this interest spike on Google Trends. The chart below shows the growth in the number of searches for the term “micro influencers” in North America since the beginning of 2015:
The blue line shows the searches in that period. The red line shows the rolling average.
Combining multiple micro-influencers can expose you to the same size of audience as working with one macro-influencer.
This is a viable marketing strategy, but to be successful at it, you need tools to support you. With Markerly, you can search for influencers across multiple social networks, filtering out the less effective ones using real-time data and predictive analytics. Then, on the same platform, you can manage your campaigns easily thanks to our proprietary workflow automation technology.
Companies use marketing tools to constantly analyze the results they achieve from every promotional channel. Their job is to determine which campaigns work well and deserve more investment. They also decide which channels to spend less on or stop altogether.
Your approach to Instagram influencer marketing should be just as data-driven (while also being relational).
In the way you collaborate with other marketing agencies on presenting your products and services to your target audience, you should do the same with the influencers you work with.
After all, your influencer has built up the tribe you want to access. They’ve done this through trial and error while assessing all along which content resonates best with their followers.
So, treat your influencer as a team member. Their knowledge of Instagram and their own followers give them a unique perspective you can take advantage of.
Here’s how to work with your influencer day-to-day on your marketing campaigns.
Experiment as much as possible with the messages and the methods you share with your influencer’s tribe.
The following standard image-based campaign approaches work well:
Instagram Stories consist of either photos or videos up to 15 seconds in length that appear at the top of a user’s feed but disappear after 24 hours.
They’re often used by companies to experiment with new marketing ideas. Organizations can use them to share information about their company to create brand loyalty. They can be released in sequence to create a story arc across multiple episodes.
Other companies use Instagram Stories for flash sales if they have Instagram Shopping set up on their account. By using influencers in your Stories, you can see how much extra engagement and how many extra sales their involvement delivered.
In Stories, the maximum length of a video is 15 seconds. In Reels, it’s 60 seconds. The way it functions in the app is very similar to TikTok.
As with Stories, influencers can add an authentic and personal edge to Reels to drive engagement and sales.
Social media marketing builds brand awareness as well as increasing followers to your company’s Instagram accounts and visitors to your website.
But where to start? For 10 years, Markerly has helped companies find and reach out to influencers with the right tribes.
We help you manage your campaigns and give you the real-time analytics you need to allocate your marketing budget to maximize your ROI.
Ten years ago, there weren’t that many influencers. Now there are thousands upon thousands. There’s never been as much choice as there is today, meaning that choosing the right influencers has never been more important.
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Reading Time: 9 minutes