Instagram and Influencers, What’s Best for Your Brand?

With over 600 million active users, Instagram is one of the largest social networks. It is also one of the most active. According to Instagram statistics, 50% of users have followed a brand and another 60% learn about a product or service through the platform. Even more impressive is that 75% of Instagram users take action, such as visiting a site, conducting a search, making a purchase or telling a friend after being inspired by a post.

Its highly visual platform offers unique opportunities to engage with your target audiences and showcase your brand. One strategy that more businesses are utilizing is to partner with the growing population of Instagram influencers.

Why Partner With Instagram Influencers?

Word of mouth plays a huge role in customer purchasing decisions. In today’s digital world, word of mouth comes from online reviews and recommendations that often come from influencers.

Influencer marketing can be an incredibly effective tactic for brands to gain exposure, build trust and grow their community. Traditional advertising isn’t effective in gaining consumer trust or interest, but people are more receptive to influencers. Consumers are more motivated to take action when buying advice comes from an influencer they trust, a fact that is even more true for Instagram. 

Since Instagram recently updated its ranking algorithm from chronological order to user relevance and engagement, it is more important than ever to boost post reach and form strong partnerships with influencers that followers trust.

According to a recent survey survey by Twitter and Annalect, people trust influencers nearly as much as their own friends. In addition, 40% of people purchased a product or service online after seeing it on an influencer’s Instagram, YouTube, Twitter or other social channel.

Choosing the Right Influencers for Your Brand

At 10twelve, we’ve seen the benefits that can come from well-managed influencer marketing campaigns. However, like any brand partnership, you should carefully consider the influencers that you bring on board. These are individuals that will be representing your brand and telling stories on your behalf, so it is important to choose wisely.

Here are some tips to help you identify the best influencers for your brand and get the most out of your partnership.

1. Research

There is a wide-range of influencers on Instagram. Everyone from personal trainers and models, to fashion bloggers, aspiring chefs and more have formed large, active communities on the platform. With a seemingly endless array of options, it can be overwhelming to decide who will be the best for your business.

If you don’t have a clear idea of the types of influencers that would work best with your brand, start brainstorming. You can get ideas by conducting some competitor research. Check out the Instagram profiles of your competitors to see what brand partnerships they have formed and the types of stories they share.

Ask: What do your users care about? What solution(s) do you offer? If you are a seafood restaurant, it might make sense to research food influencers or sea and nautical photography themed accounts. If you sell women’s apparel, it would make sense to research fashion influencers. You may even want to get more specific. If you sell plus sizes, you could research models and fashion bloggers that are active specifically in that space.

2. Community Reach and Exposure

How many active followers do they have? The key is active. You don’t want to partner with someone that appears to have a lot of spammy followers, which could indicate that they bought a portion of their likes and followers.

Also, although an Instagram influencer follower count is a significant factor to consider, it isn’t the only one. Don’t take it at surface value. An influencer with 400,000 followers could be even more valuable than one with one million, if their audience aligns more closely with your own. For instance, if you are a tire company, partnering with celebrities with Kylie Jenner wouldn’t make much sense--even if she has over 95 million followers. Plus, for growing businesses, it is more realistic to start small. Accounts with huge follower counts also come with a huge price tag for partnership.

3. Relevancy

What is their audience demographic? On Instagram, almost three-quarters of Instagram users are Millennials (between the ages of 15 and 35), so keep that in mind.

What percent of their followers fit the criteria of your target audience? Partnering with an influencer who has millions of followers won’t help you if they all live in an area that your business doesn’t service or if they don’t fit any of your buyer personas at all.

For example, the tire company would likely find more success partnering with an account like Top Gear, whose audience consists largely of car enthusiasts than a celebrity whose audience is mostly teenagers. It is also important to vet candidates before partnering. They should not only align with your industry and audiences, but they should hold similar core values as your company.

4. Creativity

You aren’t just partnering with an influencer to gain access to their community. (Although that is a large motivator.) They are often industry experts and have insights into your audiences or sector that you may not. Listen to them. Give them some creative freedom. You may want to still approve their posts, but let them have some autonomy.

One of the greatest characteristics of Instagram influencers is that they tend to be incredibly creative. Many of them are creatives, so if you believe that they could be the right fit based on the previous criteria, then listen to them. They could give you ideas and generate marketing graphics and campaigns that you may never have thought of on your own. 

A fresh perspective may generate some creative and engaging campaigns. Don’t try to control every aspect of their creative process.

How to Find Influencers

One way to identify influencers that are relevant to your brand is to do a few hashtag searches. Generate a list of the most relevant hashtag for your brand or objectives. For instance, if you were a health food company, you might start with hashtags like: #healthyliving #foodie #vegan #paleo #glutenfree #detox #healthyfoodporn.

After searching hashtags, take note of the posts with a high number of likes and comments and the accounts that posted them.

This is one way to start searching for influencers, however, you may find it a bit time-consuming. Luckily, there are many tools out there that make finding an influencer easier. Some tools that you can use to identify and connect with Instagram stars are:

●      Whalar - a paid-for platform specifically designed to connect Instagram influencers to relevant brands.

●      Revfluence - a software that includes a searchable database of thousands of influencers, as well as CRM and content management tools.

●      Ifluenz - a platform dedicated to Instagram influencer marketing. Businesses can create campaigns and search for Instagram influencers based on follower count, demographics and other criteria.

Influencers rule Instagram. On the platform, regular people can gain exposure, become models or makeup artists and grow a dedicated community around them. With strategic influencer marketing partnerships, brands can tap into those connections, build trust and grow their business. These tools and tips may get your influencer marketing strategy started, but for more help crafting and managing effective campaigns, reach out to the 10twelve team.