Instagram Influencer Marketing 101: The Ultimate Guide


Published on: July 13, 2018

If you’re active on social media as a brand, you’ve no doubt heard about influencer marketing. Influencer marketing has grown exponentially in popularity of the last few years and will no doubt continue to be a driving force in the social media marketing world. As social media grows in reach, there will no doubt be more influencers and influencers with more influence. And brands will want to leverage these things to promote their products and spread their influence on these platforms.

But if you haven’t already started doing influencer marketing yourself you might be wondering, what exactly is it? You might have seen mentions of influencer marketing and questioned about the details. Like, who are influencers, how do you use them in a marketing campaign, what would work for my brand, where do you find influencers, and how do you talk to them when you do see them.

We’ll answer all these questions and more in this article. We’ll give you the tools you need to get started in the world of influencer marketing.

What is an Influencer?

You likely have an idea of what an influencer is in your mind already. You might be thinking it’s someone with a lot of followers, or it’s someone with an authoritative voice in a small niche. Maybe it’s just someone who posts a lot of content. Well, influencers can be any one of those things, and any combination of them.

There is no hard and fast definition of the term influencer. This is because there is no one correct way to be an influencer on social media. We often see people with small followings go viral online, and we also see people with large followings leverage their audience to start trends and share content that sometimes even ends up in mainstream media channels.

The truth is that both of those users can be considered influencers. What makes an influencer an influencer is the ability to motivate an audience into action. If you are going to work with someone to create a social media marketing campaign, you might think you need to go after the person with the most followers, but a better goal to have is to go after the person who creates the most engagement.

More followers might put more eyes on your content, but if those eyes were never interested in what you have to offer, and don’t see any value in the promotion, what good are they? Instead, engagement will provide you with more shares, likes, comments, and possibly even sales. An influencer is someone who can create those activities for you by leveraging their audience and their authority using your content, products, or brand.

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is just what it sounds like. Using influencers to help spread your brand’s message and promotions to an audience. In many ways, this might be similar to traditional marketing. You might use a similar messaging or content to help promote your products. However, influencer marketing has the potential to be much more successful than conventional marketing.

Traditional marketing feels more like selling. But influencers have unique and trusted voices that can break through the noise and speak directly to an audience. An example might be an ad for beats headphones on Instagram. If you were to see that ad you might skip it because you know it’s an ad, and you know you’re being sold to, but if a famous musician you respect is wearing those same headphones in a photo producing a new hit single. You might not even realize that he received that pair of headphones for free and offered to wear them in a picture to promote the product. That’s the power of influencer marketing. To break through the noise and speak to the end users.

Instagram is the best influencer marketing channel. No doubt in it.

At its core, influencer marketing is just the influencer telling their audience about your product, on the influencers behalf. When you break it down, it can get a lot more complicated, but that is the core of the concept. When you use influencers to market your products, you will want to keep that in mind, so you are not merely recreating your ads through a different medium if you do that you might hurt not only your credibility but the influencers as well.

How do you know if your brand could use influencer marketing?

No matter what business you are in, you could benefit from influencers. In fact, as companies change, the fact that they need influencers does not. Merely the medium in which the influencers work changes. For example, old-school word of mouth marketing is a primary form of influencer marketing. The concept is mostly the same.

The simple fact of the matter is that people trust other people more than they believe you and your brand. That’s why no matter what you are selling, from pens to planes, you need to leverage the power of people to advocate for your products and to have them become advocates that convince the people listening to them that what you have got to sell is worth buying.

When you reach out via an influencer, you are not just reaching their audience. You are also potentially reaching out to their audiences audience. The scope of impact has the potential to be enormous if you are successful in really resonating and inspiring a group of people.

As it becomes more difficult to be successful using traditional forms of outbound marketing more brands will move to influencer marketing. Your brand will no doubt be one of them. As the shift is already happening, you would be wise to see the changing tide and make the necessary adjustments sooner rather than later. Starting relationships with the right influencers now might be extremely important to the long-term health and longevity of your brand. It will also help you adapt to the needs and habits of consumers as we move into a very social media dominated landscape where people might expect to see your products online and in the hands of people they follow if they are any good after all.

How do you get started with influencer marketing?

So now that you’re aware that now is the time to get involved and jump on the bandwagon of influencer marketing you might be wondering. Where do I begin?

All of this may seem quite daunting. After all, you might want to be reaching out to influencers with tens of thousands of followers, compared to your brand they might seem much more critical regarding the audience they reach and the content they offer on the platform you are using. Don’t let this intimidate you too much. Instead, you’ll need to take a step back and think about what your brand needs from an influencer in the first place.

Think about the audience you want to reach with your products. When selecting an influencer to reach out to you want to know that partnering with them will be useful in the sense that the right people will see your content or your products. If the audience isn’t right, you’re doomed from the start.

Think about what your competitors are doing in the space. Are they using influencers, could you use the same ones? If your competitors are not using influencers on a given platform, they might be late to the party, or they might be using them elsewhere, knowing there isn’t a good opportunity yet. Do some research and see if your competitors know something, or if they are behind the times.

When you have an idea of what your ideal influencer looks like you’ll want to set some goals with regards to what that person should have to be selected. What is the minimum reach you would like your influencer to have? What topics or niches do you want them to belong to? And last but positively not least, what type of content would they be promoting your products or content with (text, images, video, etc.)?

Defining what you want in an influencer will go a long way towards getting the most out of any relationship that you might strike up with them. If you have unclear goals going in you may be unpleasantly surprised when your campaign does not perform as well as you would have liked it too. When you’ve decided on what kind of person you’d like your influencer to be, you can move on to the difficult task of finding them.

Where do you find influencers?

There are a wide variety of mediums where you can leverage influencers. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Reddit, Medium, Blogs, and more! So your research can be done in a wide variety of ways.

Look at your requirements and start looking. Look on the platforms where you want to find an influencer. Research hashtags or favorite pages in your niche. Set up a Google alert or use a tool like Social Mention to see popular content by subject. Take a look at popular blogs in your niche and see what kind of a following the authors have.

The opportunities are almost endless. Finding influencers that meet your criteria should be possible. If you keep coming up short, you might want to adjust your definition of the perfect influencer and set your standards to be more realistic given what you have seen in your niche.

When you find the right influencer, you’ll be one step closer to leveraging an entirely new audience for your brand. After you see the right person though, you might be wondering, how do I talk to them about working with me?

How do you talk to influencers?

Striking up a conversation with an influencer might seem a bit intimidating at first. But you need to keep in mind that they’re passionate about what you’re excited about. If you’ve done your research right. So reach out to them.

Offer compensation for promoting your product, service, or content. Ask them what they usually charge, offer them what you can afford. If you can only afford to give the product, let them know. They might be more willing to work with you than you would have assumed in the first place.

Offer to work with them to create content together. If they are as passionate as they should be, they might jump at the chance to help create great content in your niche and develop a better brand with regards to dominating the topic and the discussion the medium that you are using to have the conversation.

Don’t let their large following or great content intimidate you or prevent you from reaching out and making your offer. Reach out and have a discussion and see if your goals and expectations align. The worst that could happen is that they will say no.

Conclusion

As a brand on social media in 2018, you likely already know that you should be leveraging the power of influencers in your marketing activities. If you aren’t already, now you know where to get started and how to approach influencers and get the conversation going.

If you have ever wondered whether or not influencer marketing was right for your brand, take a moment to recognize who you follow on social media, or in blogs, or elsewhere who shares content that you enjoy. If that person has ever recommended a product or service, you already have proof that the concept would work in your niche.

All that is left is for you to start the conversation, and influence the influencer to share their audience with you and your brand.