One of the many yellow brick roads to ecommerce success lies in Instagram influencers. Facebook’s photo-sharing platform boasted more than 800 million monthly active users in 2017, and it shows no sign of stopping. There are estimates that users now number around a billion.
It’s a great channel for driving traffic, sales, and brand awareness.
In order to crack Instagram marketing, you’ll need to consider reaching out to one of the many influencers that Instagram has to offer. How? Read on to find out…
What are social media influencers?
If you’ve got even a basic social media presence, you’ll know who influencers are and what they do. They’re the big hitters across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the rest, with followings that can range into the hundred-thousands. And those followers are loyal, attentive, and they listen. So, when an influencer sings a brand’s praises, they take note.
It’s not a new idea. Word-of-mouth recommendations have been around since cavemen were talking about this crazy new thing called ‘fire’. Influencers do just that, providing personal recommendations in the digital age.
They are often experts in a specific field or share content around a core theme. The best kind of influencers are talented storytellers, as well as trendsetters.
Why use Instagram influencers?
Let’s crunch the numbers. 75% of marketers have allocated a budget for influencer campaigns, and it can show a return on investment that’s 11 times higher than other online marketing strategies. It’s a crucial tactic that’s being leveraged by big brands like Pepsi, H&M, and Walmart — and should be part of yours as well.
And if you go micro — you don’t have to spend THAT much. 59% of micro-influencers say that Instagram is the most effective social platform for audience engagement. It’s simple to use, visual-centric, and the second-most popular social media channel out there. This gives you the potential to reach a huge audience if you use the right influencer.
But it’s not all about the numbers. Influencers build up their followings by regularly posting interesting or useful content, which entices people and keeps them hooked. In sharing this content, they build trust and authenticity with their audience. So when they promote your brand, product or service, that credibility is passed onto you.
Influencers and content marketing
If that wasn’t enough, you can also use Instagram influencers for content marketing. Content marketing is a valuable asset for marketers, as creating and posting regular, relevant content can build trust, strengthen existing customer relationships, and build new ones. So if you’ve got a creative, insightful Instagram star creating creative, insightful content for you, you might as well use it everywhere you can!
You can link to influencer posts from your online store, or even insert them into your email campaigns. An email featuring handmade content from Instagram’s finest is a sure-fire way to show new customers your industry credentials and boost conversions. And you don’t need to be a design wizard to make the most of the power of Instagram. Cheap email tools like Moosend offer an intuitive email template creator, and Shopify apps like PixelShop help you make the most of stylish influencer content on your store.
How much will my influencer campaign cost?
The cost of an influencer campaign can vary depending on the individual. While there isn’t necessarily a set formula for how much a campaign costs exactly, there are some guidelines on compensation. It depends what sort of content you are looking for (reviews vs. shoutouts), and the specific requirements of your influencer marketing campaign. Building a positive community around your brand and content on Instagram will help convince people they should work with you.
It can be said that marketing has become much more democratized in recent years. Where in the past an enterprise would have had to spend a substantial amount on their advertising strategy it has gradually grown more affordable for businesses. Influencer marketing is, for the most part, no exception.
Some micro-influencers are happy to potentially promote a product in exchange for a freebie— but they need to be products that are aligned with their audience. For an influencer, it’s all about trust and credibility and over-monetization can undermine that. At the same time, brands just going around looking for freebies and deals from Instagram pros are likely to get short shrift. You have to work on your value proposition first.
The key is to find a starting point for negotiations — which can vary depending on what influencer you choose, how your content is created, and how far their reach goes.
Other factors which need to be looked at include more specific metrics such as the length of the campaign, your budget, expected or actual engagement rate, and so on.
While prices can fluctuate, most brands can expect to be charged around $1000 per 100,000 followers, with prices per post starting at around $250 for influencers with under 50,000 followers. On the other end of the scale, stars like Kim Kardashian can charge around $250,000 per post….
Where can I find influencers?
Want to find an influencer but not got the time to trawl Instagram? There’s a variety of tools out there which can help you quickly and easily find top influencers within your brand’s niche and choose the right one for you.
Snapfluence is a US-based agency which connects influencers and brands, with a specific focus on Instagram. While any influencer can apply to be an ‘ambassador’, Snapfluence has a rigorous vetting process that analyzes each individual before they are accepted. Applicants must have a minimum of 1000 followers to be considered, and their relationship with their followers has to be authentic. This screening process weeds out any would-be spammers, and creates a reliable database of Instagrammers for you to choose from.
There’s also Ninja Outreach, a service which lets you search for influencers by keywords. This is particularly handy when you’re looking for that sub-niche Instagrammer to get your brand seen. It also comes with a handy dashboard feature, letting you track relationships at the touch of a button. And as if that wasn’t enough, you can filter out your queries by individuals who allow sponsored posts, offer giveaways, and so on.
For those on a budget though, you might want to consider Upfluence. Its cheaper than many of its competitors, but they still count big brands like Ralph Lauren and Microsoft among their clients. It also lets you organize potential influencers into lists, and their database indexes over 500 million pieces of content. This highly data-driven approach is a godsend is vital for measuring engagement metrics.
How to start your Instagram influencer campaign
Step #1: Do your research
Setting out on an influencer campaign blind is risky, so don’t boldly go where several brands have gone before without learning from the best. Do your homework and look at what makes other brands’ influencer campaigns so successful. Ask yourself:
- What works for what type of brand?
- What kind of content do they post?
- How do different products get presented?
- What type of content gets the highest engagement?
Take a look at successful influencer campaigns like water brand Fiji Water’s collaboration with Danielle Bernstein of We Wore What fashion Instagram fame. They worked together to create a series of intense workout videos, followed by effective hydration with Fiji Water. For customers who ordered their product, Fiji offered 25% off their first delivery.
Bernstein’s Instagram, with an emphasis on clean living and a healthy lifestyle, was the perfect medium for the natural, ethical water brand. As you can see, their pairing made for a great campaign.
Step #2: find the right influencer for you
So you’ve done your research, and now you need to find the right Instagrammer for you.
While big brands can partner with the likes of Beyonce or Cristiano Ronaldo, who have followers in the millions, but they might not be the best fit for your business. Why?
It all comes down to knowing your target audience. It’s important to connect with the niche customer segment which is likely to engage with your product.
And remember, size doesn’t matter (yes, really). Even if an influencer has a massive online following, if their fans aren’t interested in your product, then it’ll just be a wasted campaign.
Casting a wide net is all very well, but casting a smaller one means you will have a higher chance of boosting your sales. Indeed, Makerly recently conducted a study which indicated that choosing a niche influencer with 1000-10,000 followers can bring in more than four times the level of consumer engagement than general influencers.
This is because influencers who are active in your niche will have followers who are already interested in that field. For example, if you’re selling beachwear for plus-size women, you might want to reach out to body-positive Instagrammers rather than general women’s fashion influencers.
On top of that, you need to make sure your product fits into your chosen influencer’s lifestyle naturally. If a tech and gadget influencer suddenly starts endorsing vegan milkshakes, it’ll seem jarring and you’ll see less engagement.
Another important thing to look for when choosing the right Instagram influencer is audience engagement. Look to see how customers connect with content by trawling through the comments on sponsored posts. Are people actually noticing the product, or are they focused more on the individual sharing it? Are they responding positively or negatively? Spending a little time drilling down into a post can really help inform your campaign further down the line. If ad posts don’t create as much buzz as their normal posts do, then you might need to reconsider.
Look at the comments on this sponsored post from the style influencer Gina Diazh. Her followers are really clicking with the sandals she’s advertising (and we can see why!). She has a good rapport with her fans and they are connected with what she shares.
A brief side note: before setting out on your search, you might find it useful to create an influencer persona. Just as you would create a customer persona, you can isolate the key qualities that you ideal influencer would embody. Who are they? What niche do they occupy? What type of content do they post? Looking at these qualities can help you create a profile of your ideal influencer.
Your ideal choice would possess values that roughly correspond with those of your brand. They might share some of the same goals, the same interests. Identifying what kind of person you want to spearhead your Instagram campaign will help when you choose the individual who fits that criteria.
Let’s say that you want to build a persona for an influencer. Here are some questions you need to ask yourself:
- How old are they?
- Are they male or female?
- What’s their educational background?
- What other social platforms do they use apart from Instagram?
- What do they do for leisure?
- What publications or websites do they regularly read?
- Do they focus on a specific sub-niche?
- Would their followers be likely to engage with your product?
Building an influencer persona creates a general guideline of who it is you want to look for. And it doesn’t just have to be one either. Your organic smoothie might fit nicely into a beauty blogger’s Instagram feed, but it would just as well work in that of a fashion influencer too. Really think about your brand, your product, and your target audience. All these things will go some way towards building up an impression of your ideal influencer(s).
When you find a potential influencer, it can also help you communicate with them, and can guide you in your pitch, which is the perfect segue into the next step…
Step #3: reach out and set a brief
Once you’ve chosen your influencer, you need to connect with them and create a partnership. When influencers endorse a product repeatedly, their followers will be more likely to trust it compared with a one-off sponsored post.
To that end, it’s better for your brand to form a lasting relationship with an influencer. Continuous exposure will lead to higher engagement, and can offer more opportunities if when your business expands further down the line.
Instagram influencers usually have a personal or management email address in their bio you can contact them on. Be sure to pitch your brand as relevant to their output — influencers will be more likely to work with businesses whose values align with theirs.
Later on down the line, you should also create a brief outlining the general direction you see them taking with their sponsored content. It’s important that they retain their artistic licence when creating sponsored posts — in fact, it’s crucial. If they veer too far away from their usual output then their audience will notice.
However, it’s good to provide them with a general vision of how you would like your product to be promoted. Make a brainstorm of your brand, your product, and your values to guide them in their content creation. What is your value proposition? How does your brand embody that? These are the questions that you need to answer in order to guide your influencer. Are you an indie startup with an emphasis on sustainably sourced and ethically made fashion? Or are you a traditional mom-and-pop company with a passion for the simple things in life? Know yourself, so they can know you too.
It doesn’t have to be all text either. Mood boards are a great way to create visual cues for Instagram influencers to formulate their posts. Shore Projects’ Neil Waller created the mood board below to describe their brand for potential influencer campaigns.
Image Shore Projects
Providing a brief will let your chosen influencer know more about your brand and what you represent, and give them useful pointers on how they can present it to their audience. Creating a synergy between yourself and your influencer in this way will ultimately lead to a successful campaign.
And remember, you’re often paying them to create content and to promote it, so you may have the right to repurpose that content on your own platforms as well. For example, by including their posts on your own social media feeds or website, you can show off your product being used (and enjoyed) by a renowned influencer. This is a quick and easy way to give your brand the social proof it deserves, and engagement is key to the social media ethos. Just chat to the influencer you’re working with and set some parameters that make sense for both of you.
Step #4: measure your results
Perhaps most importantly, make sure that you track the results your influencer marketing campaign. To ensure that your partnership is working and creating the kind of engagement you expect, be sure to closely watch how each post performs.
Track link clicks, unique engagements, comments, uplift, traffic, sales — there are a ton of metrics you should be monitoring on your online store dashboard and analytics tools. Get all the tracking set up before you launch into the campaign so that you’ll be ready to analyze the data as it comes in.
By tracking the response to reach sponsored post, you can work with your influencer to determine what kind of content works best. This in turn can help inform any future campaigns you create, streamlining your marketing strategy and forming a more coherent vision of how your influencer’s content is performing.
Instagram influencers doing it right
To help you on your way to a successful influencer marketing campaign, I’ve collected a few examples of brands and individuals that are crushing their campaigns. Have a look and take note of what works and why, and consider what you can do to emulate their success.
The global fashion retailer H&M partnered with model Ela Velden and fashion blogger Julie Sariñana (aka Sincerely Jules) to showcase their fall 2017 collection. Stunning shots of Velden and Sariñana modelling their clothing provided the clothing giant with huge exposure, and garnered a staggering 31% follower growth (and counting!)
Julie Sariñana’s unique blend of on-point style and inspirational ethos really tapped into H&M’s target audience, and their products worked seamlessly into her usual Instagram content.
Last year, the internet service provider Sprint hooked up with influencers including bodybuilder Bradley Martyn, musician Prince Royce, motivational guru Gerard Adams, comedian Lele Pons, and the model Rachel Cook for their massive #LiveUnlimited campaign. They employed each individual’s unique style to reach millions of followers, creating campaigns that came across as natural and unforced. This led to increased audience engagement, aided by the fact that consumers didn’t feel they were being directly advertised to.
Despite fighting against big competitors like Verizon and AT&T, they have portrayed themselves as a cheap but cool internet service provider and massively increased their reach.
Adidas got their followers to use the hashtag #MyNeoShoot to show their own unique spin on the brand, with the winners then being invited to join a professional photoshoot. To help spread the word about the contest, they brought in Selena Gomez (who has a following of 163 million), with huge success. The campaign had over 12,000 entries, and generated 71,000 brand mentions and boosted their own followers by more than 41,000.
Instagram Influencer Marketing For Ecommerce
Setting out on an Instagram influencer marketing campaign to grow your ecommerce store can be challenging. From choosing the right individual to formulating a brief which utilizes their creative drive and your brand vision, it can be tricky to navigate.
However, the benefits of undertaking such a campaign are well worth the exertion. They have the potential to reach hundreds of thousands of users and, depending on who you choose, can be considerably more cost-effective than many other marketing strategies.
We all know that some things need to be seen to be believed. A visual platform like Instagram is the perfect place for building a brand community, and it’s only going to get even bigger in the coming years. Getting social stars in your sub-niche to shout about your brand is a tried-and-tested method of boosting your profits and your engagement. And, if they do it right, your customers won’t even notice they’re being sold to. No matter what you’re selling, try to make Instagram influencers a part of your strategy.
Kayleigh Toyra: Content Strategist
Half-Finnish, half-British marketer based in Bristol. I love to write and explore themes like storytelling and customer experience marketing. I manage a small team of writers at a boutique agency.