Instagram Influencer Marketing For Beginners
- Brands interested in influencer marketing should consider Instagram as a main strategic channel.
- Brands need to understand six of Instagram’s key features before launching an Instagram influencer marketing campaign.
- Marketers can follow seven steps to develop a cohesive Instagram influencer marketing strategy.
Why Brands Need Instagram As Part Of Their Influencer Marketing Strategy
Instagram is a fan favorite amongst both consumers and influencers. Ranking 6th by the number of active users at 1 billion, Instagram is a top contender among the likes of its parent company Facebook, as well as YouTube and WeChat.
But what do brands think about the platform? Judging by the numbers, brands view Instagram as a critical channel to reach consumers—over 25 million business profiles exist and roughly a third of the most-viewed Instagram Stories stem from business accounts. With 80% of Instagram users following a business profile, it’s no question why brands think highly of Instagram: it’s a direct advertising avenue to valuable customers.
Instagram represents an opportune channel for consumers to find brands and brands to reach customers. But how does this dynamic work aside from ad placements? You might’ve guessed—influencer marketing.
Through authentic partnerships between brands and influencers, consumers are exposed to curated content that increases brand awareness, generates audience engagement, and drives purchase intent. Mastering the art results in a robust Instagram influencer marketing strategy.
In 2019, 89% of marketers say Instagram is a strategically important social media channel for influencer marketing (compared to 70% saying YouTube). Herein lies the importance of Instagram as a primary vehicle for brands achieving positive results.
6 Instagram Features To Know Before Launching Your Instagram Influencer Marketing Strategy
Before developing a cohesive strategy, brands must understand the Instagram influencer marketing basics. That means knowing how to use the platform to get the most out of its key Instagram Business features including:
- Captions & Hashtags
Just as your brand’s website is the digital representation of your storefront, your brand’s Instagram business profile is the social media flagship.Whether it’s designing the perfect sponsored Instagram Story, creating a good Instagram caption, or utilizing shoppable Instagram posts, Instagram presents brand’s plenty of opportunity to leverage the power of Instagram influencer marketing.
Here we explore the main Instagram features brands need to take advantage of in order to solidify their Instagram influencer marketing strategy.
1. Set Up An Instagram Business Profile
A brand that’s new to Instagram will learn right away that in order to use it, you need to create an Instagram business profile. This allows your brand to establish a social media presence and achieve business objectives through Instagram’s business features and insights. It’s also a good idea to request Instagram verification so that your business is “authenticated” by Instagram’s standards, denoted by a checkmark.
Want to know who follows and engages with your business account? Or see what your fans and customers like about your brand’s content and offerings? By taking the first step to create a business profile, brands get access to a goldmine of audience insights that will help them learn about their core audience in order to optimize content, messaging, and social media activity.
Brands absolutely need a business profile on the platform in order to work effectively with influencers—profiles establish a brand’s presence within the Instagram social ecosystem. You can also read more about Business Profiles on Facebook’s Help Center to get started.
2. Post Visual Content To Your Instagram Account
Once your brand has set up an Instagram business profile, the next step is to begin posting visual content for your followers. Ideally, your posts will also show up in user’s Discovery feeds (with the intention of attracting new followers so that your content appears in their regular feeds). While each brand has its own Instagram aesthetic and messaging style, there are techniques ensuring your brand’s Instagram content is positively received.
Instagram Image Quality Guidelines For Brands
For starters, make sure your brand’s Instagram account isn’t spammy, overtly promotional, or completely lacking visual quality. Similarly, brands should avoid posting:
- Repetitive imagery with little variety, leading to an over-saturated feed
- Obviously edited photos that appear inauthentic
- Generic stock photos that aren’t representative of your brand
- Repurposed images reposted from other Instagram accounts or websites
- Low-quality image files that are fuzzy or grainy
- Images with a random variety of mismatched visual aesthetics
Since Instagram is a hub for striking visuals, your brand should publish content that is professionally aligned with your business while pushing the boundaries of creativity. Striking a balance between professionalism and originality will position your brand in the best light possible. For example, choose a theme that you can consistently feature on your account so that followers learn to associate that type of content with your brand.
Pro Tip: Use your brand’s style guide for general direction, and don’t be afraid to test out new types of content or messaging. Play around with the subject, lighting, filters, and other related elements of your photos to establish your brand’s visual style.
3. Craft The Perfect Instagram Captions With Meaningful Hashtags
Another important tactic is crafting good Instagram captions and knowing how to use Instagram hashtags. By understanding important Instagram caption trends, brands will be better prepared to post either branded content or collaborate on influencer sponsored content with a powerful punch. From long-form narratives to strong CTAs to personal stories to age-old humor to minimalistic approaches, captions complement Instagram posts in order to engage with and cultivate the target audience.
Hashtags also play a role in messaging, but their main strength lies in discoverability. When users navigate the Instagram platform, they have the option to search for content that they find interesting. While searching generic words is futile, typing in an Instagram hashtag will surface all content tagged with that particular hashtag.
Therefore, brands should be savvy when it comes to assigning hashtags to an Instagram influencer marketing campaign so that Instagram users can discover and recognize your content. Not to mention, hashtag campaigns also make your Instagram influencer marketing strategy more cohesive—a strong trust signal to Instagram users.
4. Leverage Instagram Stories
The Instagram Stories format is another creative way for brands to reach the 400 million highly engaged Stories users. Brands can upload their own branded Stories—a wise choice, as 33% of Instagrammers say they’ve become interested in a product they saw on Stories—and they can lean on Instagram influencers to endorse their brand on their personal Stories.
By collaborating with Instagram Stories influencers who understand intricate audience details, your brand can get in front of Instagram users who are receptive of authentic sponsored content. This helps your brand increase awareness, earn consumer trust, and potentially drive conversions.
5. Become An Expert With Instagram Videos
Instagram may have started as a photo-sharing app, but it has evolved into a video-sharing platform, too. Noting the benefits of a strong online video marketing presence, Instagram video has established a hold on social media consumers with the following formats:
- Video in-feed posts
In Q1 2017, 5.2 million users watched branded Instagram videos. Even more impressive, sponsored Instagram videos generate three times more comments than sponsored Instagram photos—a testament to the strength of video in an Instagram influencer marketing strategy.
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Not knowing Instagram influencer marketing basics can leave your brand behind, so be sure to incorporate any or all of Instagram’s video formats to capitalize on the burgeoning online video marketing arena.
6. Take Advantage Of Instagram Shopping & Branded Content
Instagram is a recent force in the e-commerce world. Shopping on Instagram has enabled brands to create an immersive storefront for users to discover and explore their products. This includes Instagram Shopping features such as:
- Product tags
- Shoppable Stories
- Shopping tab on business profiles
- Native payments
- Shoppable Explore feed
Each feature is intended to streamline the shopping experience for users, while also making the platform more business-friendly. Most recently, Instagram announced a feature that allows users to shop on Instagram’s platform and make a purchase without leaving the app. While only available to a handful of partner retailers, the shopping cart capability will roll out to U.S. users over the course of a few weeks. This tool is primed for working with influencers.
Branded content is a way your business can capitalize on the 68% of users who come to Instagram to interact with influencers. Testing branded content in 2017, Instagram decided to roll it out to the masses which is why sponsored creator or publisher content often features tagged business partners.
Additionally, Instagram is attempting to make influencer marketing more transparent by allowing brands to promote branded content ads as opposed to relying on organic branded content. In other words, brands can put ad dollars behind influencer sponsored posts to reach a wider audience.
7 Steps To Crafting A Strong Instagram Influencer Marketing Strategy
Now that you understand the most important Instagram features for your business profile, we’ll outline six of the most strategic elements of the beginner’s guide to Instagram influencer marketing.
1. Understand Your Instagram Audience
We’ve heard it said, “Know your audience.” But solely knowing who your audience is neglects a crucial aspect, which is where your audience is.Before deciding to even run an Instagram influencer marketing campaign, brands must know if they can reach their audience on the platform. Determine if your target demographics exist on Instagram and if so, what their user behavior is. Ask yourself:
- Do they follow similar brands?
- Which influencers do they follow?
- What types of posts do they engage with?
- What products do they like?
Gathering insights like these will ensure that you know the relationship between your core audience and those who influence them most, ultimately putting your brand in a better position to develop an impactful Instagram influencer marketing strategy and achieve positive ROI. Otherwise, you’ll be left guessing.
2. Set Clear Campaign Objectives
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As with any marketing campaign, brands need to clearly define goals and KPIs. Failure to do so will result in ambiguous and indistinguishable results. It will also leave both your internal team and influencer partners unable to benchmark performance.
When you decide to launch an Instagram influencer marketing campaign, take the time to list out high-level and granular goals. Instagram influencer marketing goals fall under either brand awareness or direct response key performance indicators (KPIs).
Brand Awareness Goals & KPIs
- Traffic: Drive website traffic to a particular product page.
- Engagement: Increase social engagement for a hashtag campaign.
- Awareness: Generate awareness about a rebranding.
Direct Response Goals & KPIs
- Sign-Ups: Incentivize event registrations for a new store opening.
- Downloads: Boost downloads of a product’s app.
- Purchases: Drive conversions for a unique product offering.
Pro Tip: Avoid assigning more than one message to your direct response influencer marketing campaign goal. By focusing on a single call-to-action (e.g. newsletter subscriptions, product sales, app downloads), you’ll be able to more accurately evaluate how effective an influencer was in driving that action.
3. Identify & Vet Instagram Influencers
Once you’ve determined that your audience is on Instagram and you’ve planned clear goals, your next step is to find Instagram influencers. This means knowing the costly errors to avoid, the best free search tools, and expert advice on how to identify the best Instagram influencers for your purposes. Before launching a search, answer the following questions:
The answer to these questions should jumpstart your search and put you on a more direct path to finding the right influencers. And once you’ve located potential influencer partners, run through the following checklist to ensure the best fit:
- Check for fraudulent followers and fake influencers
- Measure influencers’ Instagram engagement rates
- Look at influencers’ previous Instagram sponsored content
- Review influencers’ content quality
- Consider the influencers’ persona and reputation
With 61% of marketers agreeing it’s difficult to find the right influencers for a campaign, brands should ask the above questions and follow advice from the pros. Then, you’ll have a better success rate finding Instagram influencers who are a good match for your campaign’s goals and in line with your brand’s values.
4. Define Campaign Expectations & Collaborate With Instagram Influencers
Similar to setting clear campaign objectives, brands need to outline expectations in order to effectively execute an Instagram influencer marketing campaign. Without communicating about expectations regarding deliverables, deadlines, pricing, ownership, messaging, quality, FTC compliance and more, both brands and influencers will experience the challenges of a poorly organized influencer marketing campaign that could have easily been avoided.
On top of that, your brand should treat influencers as business partners in order to achieve optimal collaboration. If you restrict influencers’ creativity too much, sponsored content will come across as less authentic. On the other hand, if you give influencers free rein without any guidelines whatsoever, your campaign may suffer from a lack of consistency across influencers or miss the mark in terms of messaging.
5. Build Solid Instagram Influencer Relationships
Once you’ve found the appropriate ones, it’s time to reach out to the influencers. This requires an understanding of how to contact the influencer, as well as performing some basic research to prove your investment in the potential partnership. Consider the following questions before deciding to reach out:
- Does the influencer list their email address on their Instagram profile?
- Does the influencer have an agent, manager, or representative who will field your request?
- Have you followed and/or engaged with their Instagram content yet?
- Does your outreach message concisely summarize your inquiry?
- Have you already considered pricing rates relative to your campaign budget?
Thoughtful influencer outreach is imperative to securing interest from top Instagram influencers, especially if you’re running Instagram influencer marketing for the first time. By showing influencers that you’ve done your research instead of blasting untailored emails, brands will increase their chances of getting noticed by equally invested influencers.
Which brings us to another vital factor—nurturing influencer relationships. As you perform influencer outreach and begin to negotiate the terms of your influencer relationship, consider what influencers find important in influencer brand partnerships:
Ultimately, brands are wise to invest in long-term influencer relationships in order to increase longevity and authenticity. In order to do this, brands should:
- Create and maintain an open line of communication.
- Set clear expectations and realistic goals.
- Plan in advance and comprehensively.
- Allow influencers a fair degree of freedom with creativity.
6. Create Authentic Sponsored Content
Next, create sponsored content that resonates with your audience. Much of this relies on whether or not you complete steps 1-5. If you have, the rest will usually fall into place as authentic sponsorships stem directly from covering all your bases.
However, it’s still a smart idea to double-check that the sponsored content for your Instagram influencer marketing campaign checks the boxes for authenticity. Before approving influencer content, run through this list:
- Does the influencer genuinely believe in your product?
- Does the influencer naturally integrate your brand into their personal content?
- Does the influencer capture the core messaging through the image in their own voice?
- Does the influencer convey the key selling points in the video using natural language?
- Does the sponsored message mirror the influencer’s organic posts?
- Does the influencer contradict their endorsement of your brand or product anywhere else in their feed?
If you ever have the slightest hesitation about the authenticity of an influencer’s Instagram sponsored content, do not just accept the deliverables and allow the content to be published. Assuming you’ve crafted a rock-solid influencer contract, you should communicate with the influencer about expectations in order to level set.
That doesn’t mean you need to strictly control influencers’ creative license, but brands have a say in the final product. When in doubt, do not approve inauthentic sponsored content or you’ll risk jeopardizing your brand's reputation.
7. Measure Instagram Influencer Marketing Campaigns
Last, but not least, brands need to track and measure the performance of their Instagram influencer marketing campaigns in order to benchmark, derive rich learnings, and optimize for future efforts. Measurement will vary depending on the structure of your campaign. Ideally, you should already know what metrics and KPIs you’ll be monitoring from your initial goal setting.
Some methods of conversion tracking for your Instagram influencer marketing campaign may include:
- Trackable links (e.g. UTM codes, Bitly)
- Discount or promo codes
- Landing page analytics
- Hashtag usage
In addition, you’ll need to measure the KPIs that you originally set out to attain. Tracking performance will typically fall into three buckets with each category including variable KPIs within:
Dropbox Image Link
- On-Site Traffic: This measures the web traffic to your site, as well as behavioral and conversion metrics such as conversion rate, time spent on-site, number of pages visited, and bounce rate.
- Social Media Engagement: In order to understand how influencer sponsored content is performing on Instagram, tracking KPIs such as likes, comments, shares, engagement rate, and hashtags will give you insights into how engaging the Instagram influencers’ content is.
- Press Coverage: Since your campaign will likely trickle down from Instagram onto other social media platforms and websites, brands should monitor the web for mentions of their brand in relation to the campaign.
- ROI: When trying to drive conversions, calculating ROI is of utmost importance. Brands should measure the return by dividing the total cost of the influencer sponsorship(s) by the revenue generated by the campaign.
3 Examples Of Instagram Influencer Marketing For Beginners
Before starting on your own, we’ve gathered campaign overviews from top brands to inspire Instagram influencer marketing for beginners.
Warby Parker Partners With Eye-Conic Instagram Influencers
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I’m excited to partner with @warbyparker on their #wearingwarby campaign, and to extend my sincerest apologies to anyone I’ve ever snubbed when I was inadvisably without my glasses. Truly a delight to work with Warby’s exceptionally talented team on this. Link for more 🤓 and a little bit of 😎 in my story.
Warby Parker launched an Instagram influencer marketing campaign featuring seven influencers in their “Wearing Warby” series. With a strong foundation in artistic and authentic content, the seven Warby Parker influencers drove a 3.45% overall engagement rate. Each individual post captured their creative outlets, whether it was food, design, theatre, music, or dance.
Campaign Takeaway: Each influencer showcased a snapshot of their artsy personalities and how Warby Parker’s eyeglasses tie into their creative routines.
Target Swim Launches Body Positivity Campaign With Instagram Fashion Influencers
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It’s my birthday y’all and I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want. I just want a fabulous day out with my baby girl! Jo and I will be celebrating in style today with some high tea and biscuits for the first time. I can’t wait! We got our posh matching birthday outfits from the new @VictoriaBeckham for @Target collection that’ll be launching on April 9. So excited to see the rest of the collection! #ad #VBxTarget
Target has run a variety of influencer marketing campaigns on Instagram including its ongoing #TargetSwim campaign which features a host of fashion Instagrammers modeling its swimwear line. To go with the body positivity theme of this campaign, Target partnered up with a diverse set of models on Instagram to generate a 9.8% engagement rate. Plus-size model and body activist Denise Bidot highlighted the importance of self-reflection to give herself a confidence boost in her well-received sponsored post.
Campaign Takeaway: Fashion Instagram influencers focus on Target’s swim line in their sponsored posts in anticipation of summer, with a successful campaign centering on body positivity.
Dunkin’ Brews Success With Nano-Influencers On Instagram
In the Dunkin’ holiday-themed campaign, Instagram nano-influencers with followings between 1,000-10,000 enabled the brand to appeal to more niche and intimate audiences. With a strong presence in Philadelphia, Dunkin’ was able to leverage local nano-influencers to promote its handcrafted espresso drinks as well as its rebrand from Dunkin’ Donuts to just Dunkin’. While targeting a modest combined following of 1.1 million Instagram followers across the group of influencers, Dunkin’ achieved a 5.2% average engagement rate.
Campaign Takeaway: By tapping into the niche networks of Philadelphia-based nano-influencers with consistent and authentic sponsored Instagram posts, Dunkin’ effectively raised awareness of its latest push into the espresso coffee drink market.
The Beginner’s Guide To Instagram Influencer Marketing Basics
As a beginner in the world of Instagram influencer marketing, be sure to equip yourself with the best resources in order to help develop an effective, long-term Instagram influencer marketing strategy. That means starting with the Instagram influencer marketing basics so that your brand builds a solid foundation for many Instagram influencer marketing campaigns to come.