Instagram Influencer Marketing: The Ultimate How-To Guide For Success

By October 29, 2020January 4th, 2021No Comments

When it comes to influencer marketing, Instagram is a top-performing social media platform for brands. Thanks to over one billion monthly active users and countless opportunities for engagement, Instagram is a great way for marketers to connect with audiences.

Instagram influencer marketing can be key to a great social media campaign. The right influencers have the ability to increase brand awareness and drive action among target audiences. However, poorly-executed influencer strategies can alienate followers, and even foster negative brand associations.

The best Instagram influencer marketing campaigns are the result of careful planning. From finding the right influencers to crafting the right messaging, this best-practice advice will set you up for success.

instagram influencer marketing 101

What is an Instagram Influencer?

Let’s start with the basics: an Instagram influencer is a content creator who has an established credibility and audience on the Instagram platform. Instagram influencers have highly engaged audiences who look to them for advice, recommendations, and inspiration.

There are several different tiers of Instagram content creators. Here’s a basic rundown of the tiers, broken down by their follower counts:

  • Nano influencers: 1-10k followers
  • Micro influencers: 10-100k followers
  • Macro influencers: 100k-500k followers
  • Celebrity influencers: 500k+ followers

Some Instagram influencer marketing campaigns can be built around influencers who have a large following to meet a brand’s KPIs (key performance indicators). Others are best served by engaging a smaller, niche-focused influencer, or a mixture of influencers from each tier.

It’s important to note that the number of followers an influencer has isn’t the only thing you want to take into account when working with influencers. Take a look at the average engagements an influencer is receiving to understand what percentage of their audience is interacting with their content.

Instagram influencers often create content around a specific vertical or niche, which can be as broad as fashion, travel, or food content — but can also be very specific, like an account aimed at vegan knitters. Brands who choose their influencer partnerships wisely can reach the perfect audience for their content.

Why use Instagram influencers

Why Create an Instagram Influencer Marketing Campaign?

Aside from the ability to target by audience interest, Instagram influencer marketing has a built-in level of trust with influencers’ followers. Instagram influencers often have strong and loyal audience relationships; they become part of their audience’s online community. When an influencer recommends or reviews a product, audiences pay attention as though it were coming from a friend.

Through feed posts, Instagram Stories, Reels and IGTV, Instagram influencer marketing outperforms traditional brand messaging because content creators  connect with their audiences in a more personal way. While many brands have their own presence on the platform to leverage, influencers bring the authenticity audiences respond to.

Successful Instagram influencer marketing weaves sponsored content into images and video in a seamless, believable way. Influencers strive to make their sponsored posts feel as organic as possible, even though they are promoting a brand’s messaging. Consumers are more receptive to these messages because they don’t feel like ads — they feel like a natural extension of the influencer’s everyday content.

How to find the right Instagram influencers

How to Find the Right Instagram Influencers

Before you start looking for an influencer to partner with, make sure you thoroughly research your target customer. Factors to consider for your target audience include:

  • Location
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Beliefs
  • Interests and hobbies

Once you understand who you’re trying to reach, it will be easier to find influencers who are a good fit with your target audience.

Some tips for searching out instagram influencers:

  • >Identify a few hashtags that fit with the vertical you want to reach. Looking through hashtags gives you quick access to a multitude of influencers, and you may be able to find someone who is perfect for your campaign.
  • Once you find an account you like, look at who they follow. A quality influencer will follow other quality influencers.
  • Reach out to Instagram influencers you’ve worked with in the past. If you know somebody who is in, or close to, the vertical you are looking for, ask them for recommendations. They will likely be able to point you in a good direction to start your search.

When evaluating Instagram influencers, look beyond their number of followers and pay attention to the quality of their content and engagement rate.

You can also partner with an influencer and content marketing agency. At Sway Group, we can handle everything from influencer recruitment to campaign management and reporting. Our diverse influencer network includes a wide range of influencers across all verticals, and our services mean our clients can stay focused on the big picture.

Developing a Successful Instagram Campaign

How to Develop a Successful Instagram Influencer Marketing Campaign

A high-performing Instagram influencer marketing campaign isn’t just luck of the draw, it’s based on strategic research and planning. Here’s our 5-point plan for getting it right:

1) Make sure the audience is a good fit: It’s not enough to make sure an influencer is a good match for your brand, you also need to look at their audience. Who are they, and what are they interested in?

If you are hiring influencers directly, you can ask them to provide screenshots of simple audience demographics that are available via Instagram’s insights. At Sway Group, we use a proprietary dashboard enhanced by CreatorIQ that allows us to access deep-dive analytics and audience demographics that aren’t available to the general public.

2) Don’t be fooled by followers: Look carefully into your chosen influencer, as follower counts can be deceiving. An influencer may have a large number of followers, but still have sub-par engagement rates. As we mentioned above, checking for authentic active followers is key to getting good results for your campaign.

3) Know how many influencers to hire: In many cases, hiring one or two people won’t bring you much success, even if they have huge follower counts. Instagram influencer marketing is at its most powerful when executed at scale. Before hiring influencers for a campaign, you need to figure out the best number for your desired results.

4) Have a budget in mind: The cost per influencer can fluctuate based on a lot of different variables. The range can be as low as $200 and as high as $100,000. Don’t worry if you can’t afford the high end of that range. There are amazing influencers to work with at every level, and often the smaller influencers have more engaged followers.

5) Set clear goals: When you are developing a campaign, you need to know what you want the influencer to accomplish. Whether your goal is a general promotion of your company or a review of a specific product, you need a clear idea of the key performance indicators that you can share with influencers. This will help to set your campaign up for success, as the influencers can craft their content with specific calls to action that will help you to reach your goals.

Instagram Influencer Marketing Trends for the Future

Instagram has been the most popular social platform with content creators for years and we expect this trend to continue.

  • The influencer marketing industry is set to be worth up to $15 billion by 2022, with nearly 79% of brands predominantly marketing with Instagram (Business Insider 2019).
  • Micro influencers will become a dominating force. Brands are already beginning to realize the numerous benefits of hiring micro influencers, such as a stronger connection between the audience and the influencer, and their rising popularity will only grow in 2020.
  • IGTV will continue to gain traction. A big turning point for IGTV during 2020 was Instagram allowing influencers to post a minute-long clip of their IGTV videos on their feed. As IGTV videos become more visible to users, the views are growing.
  • Quickly gaining in popularity, Reels is Instagram’s latest offering, directly competing with TikTok. With Instagram’s algorithm seeming to favor Reels, we anticipate more and more users to adopt the feature. Brands are likely to utilize it as part of their influencer campaigns, where content is brief, fun, and easily shareable for maximum engagement.
  • The need for higher quality content will grow. Images and video created by content studios and distributed by influencers allows for consistency in the quality and aesthetic of campaign content. At Sway Group, we shoot photos and videos in-house and supply the influencer with content to publish. This content also benefits brands who are looking to populate their own social media channels, as they retain the copyright and can use the content as they like.

Instagram influencers are a valuable component to your influencer marketing strategy. If you want to learn more about how Sway can help you execute a successful Instagram influencer marketing campaign, reach out today to learn more about our services and receive a custom recommendation.

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