How To Advertise On Instagram: The 11 Best Ways

how to advertise on Instagram

A Complete Guide: How To Advertise On Instagram

Instagram is a social networking powerhouse that currently boasts over 1.5 billion monthly active users, 500 million of whom use its Stories feature on a daily basis. Accordingly, brands interested in reaching Instagram’s deep well of users are constantly looking for the most effective techniques to advertise on the trending and popular social platform.

The two primary ways for marketers to reach audiences are via Instagram’s native advertising features and a variety influencer marketing strategies, tactics, and campaigns. 80% of marketers in our 2021 influencer marketing survey found Instagram to be the most important channel for influencer marketing, with advertisers spending $8 billion on Instagram influencer marketing by 2021. With a wide array of options within each of these verticals, Instagram advertising can be a daunting assemblage to absorb and comprehend.

In order to give brands a better understanding of Instagram’s advertising landscape, we’ve developed a comprehensive guide which details the many ways the social platform can be leveraged to reach potential customers.

Native Advertising

In order to use Instagram’s native advertising features, brands will first need to set up both a Facebook Page and an Instagram Business Profile. These accounts will serve as a launchpad for native advertising efforts and will become destination options for ads and campaigns.

1. Photo Ads

IMG_1702_iphone7jetblack_portraitPhoto Ads purchased by brands display a single photo and caption in a user’s Instagram Feed. Labeled as “Sponsored”, these ads provide marketers with the option to include a range of different calls to action (CTA’s) alongside clickable links.

Photos Ads, while static, can be versatile. They’re able to serve businesses by increasing brand awareness, conversion, engagement, reach, traffic, and app installs.

3. Carousel Ads

How to advertise on Instagram carousel

Carousel Ads give brands the power to post up to 10 photos or videos as a single swipeable, dynamic post on Instagram. This format gives brands the opportunity to display multiple pieces of branded content that can create more in-depth narratives. Carousel Ads are accompanied by a full-width CTA and link for viewers.

2. Video Ads

how to advertise on Instagram

Video Ads give brands an added dimension of vibrancy on Instagram. This advertising feature autoplays videos up to 60 seconds long or, alternatively,  offers a slideshow feature that enables up to 10 images to loop in video form.

Similar to Photo Ads, as well as many of Instagram’s native advertising options, Video Ads are denoted as “Sponsored.” All video and photo ad offerings are available for placement in an Instagram user’s feed (In-Feed) or on the Explore page.

4. Stories Ads

advertise on instagram stories

Instagram Stories Ads are sponsored videos or photos that appear between users’ Instagram Stories. Brands have a maximum time allowance of 15 seconds for a sponsored Instagram Story and can choose one or multiple segments of photos and/or videos to play the full length of the ad.

Stories Ads are equipped with an optional swipe-up CTA, and while captions are not available, text can be incorporated as an overlay.

5. Shopping Ads

instagram shoppable post

Shopping Ads also called ‘Shoppable Posts’ give businesses the power to facilitate shopping experiences directly through Instagram and re-engage with customers. These posts feature a “View Products” tag or tiny image of a shopping bag, and include a brief description of a product or service, a price tag, an additional photo, and a purchase link to the brand’s website. U.S. users may be able to purchase directly in-app through Instagram Checkout.

Shopping Ads can run as video, single image, or carousel formats either In-Feed or on the Explore Page.

6. Instant Experience Ads

how to advertise on Instagram

Previously named Canvas Ads, Instant Experience Ads were originally exclusive to Facebook, but are now available for Instagram Stories and as a built-in feature to Collection Ads.  The Instant Experience Ad format allows brands to create ads that, once clicked, become a full-screen user experience. Within an Instant Experience Ad, users can scroll, zoom, and swipe to see more detail.

Like many Instagram and Facebook native advertising options, Instant Experience Ads are a content medium that brands can utilize to reach new and existing audiences.

7. Collection Ads

advertise on instagram collection ad

A Collection Ad includes a main image or video followed by 3 smaller product images. Fashion brands and retailers commonly use this format so users can browse and buy products or services directly from the advertisement.

When a user taps on a Collection Ad it transforms into an Instant Experience—a full-screen landing page—that conveniently leads to the company’s website or product page. Collection Ads are available as In-Feed Ads and Explore Ads.

Influencer Sponsorships

Outside of Instagram’s native offerings, brands can partner with influencers on the platform to promote their brand image, generate user engagement, and/or advertise specific products and services. Promotions can be subtle or explicit and can include offer coupons, deals, or giveaways, or specific CTA’s.

Influencers on Instagram are frequently used by brands to get their messaging out to large audiences in effective and meaningful ways. While verified accounts and large macro-influencers may be out of reach for some brands, smaller influencers on Instagram called micro-influencers are available for partnership and promotion. Micro-influencers, accounts with less than 50,000 followers, are a popular option for brands looking to reach specific audiences.

75% of marketers believe Instagram Stories to be the best content format for Influencer marketing, with Instagram in-feed posts and video posts coming in second place by one percent.

how to advertise on instagram

These findings show just how effective Instagram’s content offerings are for brands looking to boost awareness and increase ROI through influencer collaborations. Virtually every content feature on Instagram’s robust platform allows for influencer marketing possibilities: In-Feed video/photo posts, Stories, IGTV, and Instagram Reels.

Influencer marketing agencies can ensure your company chooses the best content offerings for your goals, finds the best Instagram influencers for your brand, and correctly structures the campaign.

Click here to learn more about developing an effective influencer strategy on Instagram. 

4 Popular Ways To Advertise On Instagram With Influencers

1. Stories

advertising on instagram

Differing from Instagram’s default feed, Stories showcase content that disappears within a 24-hour window. Brands can partner with influencers on Stories, using a wide range of promotional messaging techniques.

One of the most popular ways influencers and brands partner through Stories is by showcasing a product or service through a video, while including branded hashtags in overlay text. Influencers can also present shopping opportunities in their Stories by creating CTAs around products or services that encourage followers to purchase on a brand’s website. To further increase conversion rates, influencers can provide links to brands’ websites within their Stories.

2. Instagram Live 

hwo to advertise on instagram

Instagram Live allows influencers to engage audiences authentically and in real-time. By activating influencers in Instagram Live, brands are also able to grab audiences in the moment with urgent and disappearing content.

3. Instagram Takeovers

An Instagram takeover is when an influencer is enlisted to create content for a brand’s Instagram account for a predetermined period of time. A takeover can exist in any content format so long as the influencer is posting from the brand’s channel. An influencer will promote a takeover in advance on his or her own Instagram account to encourage their followers visit and engage with the content.

Takeovers are popular with businesses looking to showcase their close relationships with influencers, advertise big launches, or bolster the traffic and followers on their own Instagram account. An Instagram takeover is typically held as an Instagram Live event, where the influencer hosts a live broadcast from the brand’s social media channel.

4. Whitelisting Influencer Content 

hwo to advertise on instagram paid ads

One of the main ways brands can amplify traditional influencer content is by extending influencer campaigns into paid ads through whitelisting. Whitelisting allows brands to use the influencer’s handle for paid Instagram ads.

Re-using influencer-generated content for social media or other advertising channels is an efficient way to stay on top of the various growing content formats and to minimize production costs/creation costs. Brands can then utilize the influencer-content across many different mediums (streaming ads, In-Feed/Video Ads, brand-owned ads, Story Ads, etc.)

Master Influencer Relationship Management With These 11 Steps

influencer relationship management

Influencer Relationship Management: 11 Critical Steps & Tips For Success

Businesses and brands are increasingly using influencer marketing to reach and engage with customers worldwide. In fact over 48% of marketers say ROI from influencer marketing is better than other marketing channels. With millions of social media influencers, hundreds of influencer marketing companies, and as many different advertising goals as there are brands, an untold number of ways exist to execute an influencer marketing campaign.

Still, a common component that many successful campaigns share is positive relationships with influencers. With real people at the campaign helm, influencer marketing typically requires a higher level of personalization than more traditional advertising methods. To build and nurture these kinds of connections, it’s wise for brands to become well-versed in influencer relationship management (IRM).

What is Influencer Relationship Management (IRM)?

For marketers unfamiliar with influencer relationship management, it can be helpful to understand how IRM compares to customer service management (CRM).

CRM is the way that businesses manage the relationship with their customers. A CRM system can include anything from data about a client or consumer, to B2C communications, to projections around future sales.

Similarly, influencer relationship management covers anything necessary to create strong and positive relationships with social media influencers. This can include information about an influencer’s interests, to preferred ways of communication, to awareness of their long-term goals as an online personality or businessperson.

Since IRM is not tailored toward customers, however, different strategies and techniques are employed to manage these relationships. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the best strategies for businesses to establish and enhance IRM.

Pursuing IRM

Brands can pursue their influencer relationship management strategy through three different avenues:

  • Direct – Brands can manage their relationships with influencers directly.
  • AgencyInfluencer marketing agencies are in constant communication with thousands of influencers can manage relationships on behalf of brands.
  • Platform – Brands can work through an online influencer marketing tool to manage their relationships with influencers.

Tips For Influencer Relationship Management

1. Select the right influencers

The first step in creating a positive relationship with an influencer is ensuring a proper match. Businesses should partner with influencer(s) who fit their brand voice and have complementary goals. Moreover, influencers who are interested in establishing constructive workflows, as well as those who have a track record of executing successful campaigns, are more likely to be capable of productive and mutually beneficial relationships.

influencer relationship management

2. Be honest and straightforward

Telling influencers exactly what a brand’s goals and expectations are from the outset is vital for establishing a fruitful partnership. Furthermore, businesses shouldn’t over-promise compensation (money, merchandise, travel, etc.) or future work to influencers. Setting a precedent for honesty and pragmatism will be greatly appreciated by influencers — especially those fielding multiple opportunities.

3. Build a personal relationship

Influencers are individuals who have made powerful businesses out of their personal brands. However, at the core of every online personality is a human being looking for relationships that can enhance their real-world lives. Look to create genuine partnerships with influencers and make them feel a part of your team.

4. Think long-term

Many influencers will be more excited about long-term collaborations than one-off campaigns. Approaching relationships with influencers as more of a marathon than a sprint will create the potential for the partnerships to go further.

influencer relationship manage tips

5. Compensate influencers fairly

In addition to personable relationships, influencers should be compensated appropriately for their efforts. Depending on the size of an influencer’s audience, monetary compensation isn’t always requested. That said, providing fair compensation to influencers will help foster a lasting relationship and gives brands greater or added ability to control content and messaging.

6. Communicate with influencers

Communication is key to any healthy relationship and influencer collaborations are no different. It’s wise for brands to keep lines of communication open before, during, and after campaigns. Moreover, updating influencers on company happenings — regardless of any active marketing effort — can help strengthen influencer and brand relationships.

7. Have details in writing

Creating an influencer agreement is one of the easiest ways to excel in influencer relations. Both parties can avoid surprises, match expectations, and avoid misdirection. Influencer marketing agencies are experts at influencer contracts and can ensure the campaign runs efficiently and leads to future successful collaborations.

8. Promote influencers

Unless otherwise agreed upon, having a public relationship with influencers outside of official campaigns can be incredibly beneficial. Promotion of influencers through a brand’s social media account, website, or in other content mediums is often welcomed and appreciated. Ask first, but show influencers that you can help raise awareness for them, too.

influencer relationship tips

9. Offline relationships

With the normalcy and frequency of our virtual interactions, it’s easy to forget that offline relationships add a different kind of value to our lives. Consider inviting influencers to events, trade shows, product launches, and other business festivities. Additionally, allowing influencers to become a part of company culture by welcoming their presence at retreats and office parties can personalize the relationship even further.

10. Ask influencers what they want

Influencers are unique individuals whose needs don’t necessarily fit neatly into the rows of a marketing spreadsheet. We asked 50+ influencers what they look for in brand partnerships and over 52% said they value brand authenticity and trust. With that in mind, ask influencers about their ultimate goals for their careers. As a business, see how you can help influencers get to where they want to go.

11. Partner with an agency

An influencer marketing agency is a business that specializes in facilitating relationships between brands and influencers. Qualified agencies can connect brands with the right influencers for their campaigns, including some of the world’s biggest online personalities.

Offering a wide range of services in the influencer space, these agencies not only help to create smooth and effective relationships, they can also manage entire integrated campaigns from beginning to end.

How To Design Sponsored Instagram Stories That Convert

advertising on instagram

Why Businesses Should Craft A Sponsored Instagram Story Strategy

Instagram Stories are one of the best tools for brands looking to boost engagement and connect with their audience. Since its launch in 2016, Instagram Stories’ capabilities continue to evolve with added features like shoppable tags, music, comment stickers, and AR integration. Roughly 50% of the platform’s billion users now post on Instagram Stories daily, and a third of Instagram’s total users claim they become interested in a product they saw on Stories.

sponsored instagram story

Currently, a third of the most-viewed Instagram Stories come from business accounts, with 90% of Instagram users following businesses. Suffice to say, brands have a massive opportunity to get in front of an audience eager to engage with the businesses they’re loyal to.

BRANDS PARTNER WITH INFLUENCERS: A KEY COMPONENT FOR A SUCCESSFUL SPONSORED INSTAGRAM STORIES STRATEGY

Partnering with influencers to create sponsored Instagram Stories offers brands a way to reach users who are disengaged to heavily-produced, commercialized content. Influencer-created Stories are more off-the-cuff and less self-promotional than Stories designed by businesses themselves.

Top Instagram influencers are able to authentically convey the brand’s message while still elevating the brand’s social relevance. Over 73% of marketers believe Instagram Stories to be one of the most important content formats for influencer marketing. Now more than ever, brands are leveraging the expertise of social media personalities to host Instagram Story takeovers, lead Q&As, narrate behind the scenes clips, or showcase product unboxings.

sponsored instagram story

Instagram Stories offer the ability to drive immediate traffic without leaving the app, along with providing powerful insights into what your audience wants.

Here are nine ways to ensure sponsored Instagram Stories success:

9 Tips For Designing The Perfect Sponsored Instagram Story

  1. Identify influencers who post high-quality Instagram Stories consistently.
  2. Confirm how many segments to include within sponsored Instagram Stories.
  3. Discuss how your product or service will be presented within Stories.
  4. Personalize the experience through AR filters
  5. Utilize built-in features to enhance conversation
  6. Employ free Instagram Story design tools.
  7. Give a clear call-to-action for Stories viewers using the “Swipe Up” feature.
  8. Use Bitly links to track clicks.
  9. Request screenshots of the opens per Story from influencers.

1. PICK INFLUENCERS WHO POST HIGH-QUALITY STORIES CONSISTENTLY

Before launching a sponsored Instagram Stories collaboration, brands should ensure the influencers they work with post solid Stories on a consistent basis. Brands should only select influencers whom they’ve tracked and followed to confirm they have high-quality Stories regularly. An influencer who posts Stories throughout the day will also be more likely to provide you with trend-based viewership estimates than an influencer who posts Stories sporadically or infrequently.

This vetting process acts as a safeguard against inexperienced influencers who hardly use Stories and therefore don’t have a following via that channel. Likewise, your brand shouldn’t partner with an influencer who produces subpar content that wouldn’t resonate with your target audience.

sponsored instagram story


What Should Brands Pay Attention To When Finding An Influencer Who Produces Top-Notch Instagram Stories?

If interested in a set of influencers, be sure to watch their Stories to gauge:

  • Frequency Of Stories Posts – Top tier influencers use this feature daily or, at a minimum, weekly.
  • Content Engagement – Influencers should have an established and engaged audience. Indications of audience engagement are visible within the Stories themselves. Influencers will pose open-ended questions and post follower replies, solicit follower questions and post replies, and use polling and/or comment functions.
  • Message Authenticity – Influencer messaging should be genuine and seamless within their Story. It’s a red flag if influencer messaging feels obviously sponsored or mismatched to the rest of their organic content.
  • Stories Quality – Influencer Stories shouldn’t be hard to understand, too visually busy, or amateurish.

Pro Tip: In addition to the above qualifications, brands should try to work with influencers who have already created sponsored Instagram Stories. Those who haven’t run the risk of underperforming and not sitting well with their audience.”

2. DETERMINE HOW MANY SEGMENTS INFLUENCERS SHOULD INCLUDE WITHIN SPONSORED STORIES

sponsored instagram story

Once you’ve found a set of influencers who have demonstrated high-quality and frequent Instagram Stories, the next step is to lay out formatting expectations for the sponsored content.

An Instagram Story consists of segments, meaning it contains multiple pieces of content that appear within a “carousel” slideshow format. This is usually a combination of both photo and video components. To get the most out of a sponsored Instagram Story, we recommend at least three segments. Anything less might not be impactful enough to drive awareness or user action – it’s too easy for users to swipe past a single segment.

Pro Tip: Instagram Stories last 24 hours, so a sequence of sponsored Story segments from one influencer should not be uploaded with large intervals in between. As suggested by its name, Stories should be seamless, not disjointed. Ask influencers to be reasonably timely with their posting schedule.”

3. COMMUNICATE HOW YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE WILL BE HIGHLIGHTED

sponsored instagram story
In addition to clarifying how many segments the Instagram Story should include, your brand needs to discuss how your product or service will be presented. Influencers should have sufficient time getting to know your product or service. Likewise, you should be proactive in providing information on product/service details, highlights, or any other important information regarding your brand.

Be sure you’re available to answer their questions so that you ensure the most accurate information is being presented. For instance, should the influencer mention any new product features, particular benefits of your product, special promotional deals, or causes attached to any purchases?

Pro Tip: Brands should never have total control over what influencers say about their product or service. Within reason, your brand can provide helpful insights or certain promotional elements for them to weave into their Stories, but influencers should have full creative freedom over how they design their Story to maintain authenticity and effectiveness.”

4. Consider Experimenting with Interactive AR Elements

62% of US consumers who have used AR when shopping noted that the technology encouraged them to make a purchase.

LA-based Cosmetics company Glamnetic created a virtual product try-on filter on Stories to encourage consumer-product-interaction with their new product range. To supplement their AR effect, they also sponsored a number of Instagram Stories, showing popular beauty influencers try on the new products in real life.

The combination of the virtual try-on filter and the informally-produced influencer product reviews generated a 24-point lift in ad recall and 16-point lift in brand awareness. Augmented reality elements can help shape the consumer experience, grow brand loyalty and above all entertain.

sponsored instagram story

5. Initiate Conversation Through built-in Instagram Stories Features

Brands and influencers alike can utilize Instagram’s engagement driving features to deepen audience connection and test follower insights. Stories users can lead a Q&A with the comment sticker and poll feature, or create photo quizzes through “Create Mode.”

Instagram is constantly adding functions and features to improve audience interaction within Stories, it is important to partner with influencers who are up to date on the latest built-in app tools.

6. USE FREE INSTAGRAM STORIES DESIGN RESOURCES

While influencers will have control over the creative process, it’s not out of the question for brands to provide assistance. There are several Instagram Stories tools that allow businesses and influencers to create templates with a consistent style and aesthetic. Even if your brand doesn’t plan to use these tools, it doesn’t hurt to share them with influencers who will be designing unique Stories.

Free Tools To Design & Create Instagram Stories

  • Unfold – Helps create lifestyle, fashion, and travel content for a multi-page Story.
  • Easil – Offers a variety of templates that can be customized and edited.

sponsored instagram story

  • Hype Type – Allows you to add designed motion typography and music clips to Stories.
  • CutStory – Edits, designs, and saves videos to your camera roll for later uploads.

“Pro Tip: While branding is important for your brand, influencers have their own branding style. Templatized Stories are more useful for Business Stories, but certain elements can be transferred to influencer sponsored Instagram Stories.”

7. PROVIDE A STRONG CALL-TO-ACTION USING “SWIPE UP” FEATURE

Instagram Stories are meant to immerse the target audience in order to build brand lift and awareness, so it’s imperative sponsored Instagram Stories include a clear call-to-action (CTA).

While communicating with the influencers about your campaign goals, be sure to inform them what CTA to include in order to drive appropriate user action. A sponsored Instagram Story that ends abruptly without next steps for the user will likely vanish within the saturated Instagram environment.

sponsored instagram story

Available to verified accounts and business accounts with more than 10,000 followers, links within Stories enable influencers to point users in the right direction. Typically, the final frame of the sponsored Story includes a CTA to “Swipe Up” for more information on whatever product or service information the influencer just previewed. Examples of “Swipe Up” CTAs include:

  • Watching a full video
  • Shopping on-site
  • Making a purchase
  • Booking an appointment
  • Reading a blog post
  • Gifting a freebie
  • Entering a giveaway

In all these examples, the CTA link drives traffic directly to an optimal landing page without the users leaving the app.

Pro Tip: The “Swipe Up” feature, also known as the “See More” call-to-action at the bottom of an Instagram Story, is a seamless way to direct the influencers’ followers to your website without forcing them to abandon their Instagram experience.”

How To Track Instagram Stories Influencer Marketing

8. Track Sponsored Instagram Stories Through BITLY links

In order to measure the success of your influencer sponsored Instagram Stories, incorporate trackable links, like Bitly links. By using these shortened links, your brand can have influencer partners utilize these links within their “Swipe Up” or “See More” CTAs for easy performance tracking. Bitly links allow your brand to measure click stats so you can determine how effective particular influencers are in driving engagement and traffic. This is particularly useful when your brand’s objective is to drive click-through rate (CTR).

sponsored instagram story

Pro Tip: If you want to add a campaign tracking code, like a Google Analytics UTM code, to your Bitly link, be sure to append them to the long, original version of your URL before shortening to a Bitly link.”

9. REQUEST OPENS REPORTING FROM INFLUENCERS

sponsored instagram story

While Bitly links show how many people click on the influencers’ links, it’s also important to know how many users opened or viewed the Instagram Stories at all. Your brand can reach out to the influencers individually to request screenshots showing the reach and impressions per Story and/or segment. This will allow you to understand just how many of the influencers’ total followers opened the Stories, and how many remained engaged by viewing each segment.

Pro Tip: Ask for these insights before the influencers launch their Stories so they’re aware what type of data you want. Keep in mind that full reporting won’t be available until 24 hours after initial Stories upload.”

In-House vs Agency? Which Is Best For Influencer Marketing

in house vs agency infographic

See The In-House vs Agency Pros & Cons When It Comes To Influencers [Infographic]

Over the last few years, influencer marketing has expanded from a supplementary promotional expense to a major line item for many digital marketing teams. Brands spend more money on influencer marketing every year, and global ad spend is projected to hit $5-10 billion by 2020.

As influencer marketing becomes an essential part of the marketing mix, brands must decide the best approach to manage this powerful channel within their organization — whether bringing influencer marketing in-house or partnering with an influencer marketing agency.

See our infographic below for in-house vs agency considerations when it comes to 1) Costs, 2) Scalability, 3) Relationships, 4) Client Wins, 5) Trends, 6), Measurement, 7) Legal, 8) Customers, 9) Budgeting, 10) Software/Platforms, and 11) Management.

In-House vs Agency For Influencer Marketing – What Are The Considerations?

In house vs agency influencer marketing

As influencer marketing becomes an integral part of many marketing organizations, it will likely be approached in one of two ways:

  1. In-House — Brands will hire a team of influencer strategists and campaign managers to identify influencers, manage partnerships, and execute campaigns and measurement.
  2. Agency — Brands may hire a senior influencer manager to set goals and manage performance, but still leverage influencer marketing agencies or platforms to build and launch successful campaigns.

While many companies currently delegate influencer marketing to branding, partnerships, or acquisitions teams, more influencer-specific roles are cropping up to handle influencer efforts exclusively.

The Pros & Cons Of Bringing Influencer Marketing In-House

With global companies like Nike and Mars leading the charge, more consumer brands are considering whether or not to bring influencer marketing in-house. This includes identifying and maintaining relationships with influencers, creating and executing all campaigns, and owning the optimization internally.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of moving influencer marketing internally?

Pros

  • Nobody knows your customer better than you do. In some cases, your target audience might be very complex, and you will know the subtleties of what resonates with them better than anyone else. Birchbox, for example, targets a unique set of women who are not proactively interested in beauty, but would be open to purchasing a monthly subscription service. Director of Public Relations, Jenna Hilzenrath, comments, “Managing influencer marketing in-house allows us to be nimble and take a really hands-on, nuanced approach. That said, we do occasionally work with agencies or other platforms on a project basis.”
  • Influencers prefer long-term partnerships. Companies like Nike foster individual relationships with long-term brand ambassadors over time. Many influencers prefer this long-term model, as it provides them with more financial stability and in some cases, this ongoing relationship appears more consistent to their followers.
  • Curate a customized roster of ambassadors. Owning relationships with all of your influencers enables your brand to strategically test and refine an internal list down to the best influencers for your brand. This careful selection process no doubt contributed to Budweiser’s Non-Traditional Creative win in the Social category for their “BudX Miami X Booth” video.

Cons

  • Hiring in-house personnel is expensive. Because it’s a relatively new industry, finding experts in influencer marketing can be tricky. Successful influencer campaigns need high-touch personnel to scale up and will require in-depth onboarding and training. If your strategy shifts, it can be difficult to reduce your influencer marketing investment for a quarter or two if you’ve already staffed up a large in-house team.
  • Building influencer relationships take resources. Finding the perfect influencer, reaching out to them successfully, dealing with their managers, negotiating contracts, setting up a CRM to track influencer relationships, and managing all campaign reporting are a few of the influencer marketing challenges requiring a ton of resources and time.
  • It’s challenging to stay on top of industry changes, especially in such a fast-growing space. As influencer platforms evolve, streaming services emerge, new hashtags begin to trend, or different influencers lose touch with their fans, it’s on you to keep up with it all. Agencies are immersed in this world, and will keep track of these fast-paced changes so you don’t have to.
  • There’s no way to compare your success. If you manage all influencer marketing in-house, you will be working with a limited internal data set. Agencies bring the benefit of external campaign performance data and can incorporate learnings from working with other brands in your space, ensuring optimal success, effectiveness, and ROI.

Partnering With An Influencer Agency Or Vendor

Despite some brands hiring in-house for influencer marketing roles, many still rely on third parties for their influencer strategy. The reality is, although you know your customers best, agencies know the influencer industry better.

What are the pros and cons of partnering with an agency for influencer marketing?

Pros

  • Easily scalable investment. Agencies reduce the need to hire and train in-house personnel. You will be able to scale up spend on high-performing strategies more rapidly, or reduce influencer marketing efforts without having to let people go.
  • Convenience of built-in influencer relationships. Influencer marketing agencies will have established relationships with influencers and their managers, and know how to handle contracts. This will save you the effort of identifying the perfect influencers to meet your KPI goals and establishing relationships over time.
  • Knowledge of what’s worked for other clients. Agencies can provide richer advice based on their diverse set of experience. They bring first-hand knowledge of how specific influencers perform within a given category, how different campaigns resonate with various audiences, and will help you set the right engagement goals.
  • A close eye on emerging trends and platforms. First-hand knowledge of the industry helps agencies stay ahead of the curve and deliver the best results for clients. Agencies identify opportunities around social technology changes, like the emergence of TikTok and its trends, and will keep afloat of the latest “hot” influencers and trending topics in your industry.

Cons

  • For companies with limited budget, cost may represent a barrier of entry. Many of the most established agencies require a monthly minimum spend of thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, meaning agencies might be inaccessible for companies with a smaller budget.
  • There are major risks associated with self-managing your campaigns using platforms and little to no external strategy assistance including fake influencers, limited influencer selection, and failure to meet FTC compliance.
  • If you’re not working with the right agency, there may be communication challenges. An inexperienced agency could cause delays or dilution of communication between your brand, the agency, and the influencer. However, a reputable agency will spend time getting to know your brand, your customer, your target KPIs, and how to measure influencer marketing ROI. This should be a highly collaborative process in tandem with the influencer.

Even as brands bring their influencer marketing in-house, chances are that most companies will take a hybrid approach.

As the influencer industry continues to skyrocket, many companies will likely increase their in-house support staff while continuing to lean on agencies to help scale up their efforts.

Differences Between Influencer Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing

Influencer marketing vs affiliate marketing

Affiliate vs. Influencer Marketing: Advantages & Disadvantages — Which is Better?

Referrals are some of the most powerful forms of promotion a business can receive. In today’s digital space, two proven ways to create these types of recommendations for brands are through influencer marketing vs. affiliate marketing.

Here, we’ll break down the differences between influencer marketing vs. affiliate marketing, how they work and compare their efficacy.

Influencer Marketing Vs. Affiliate Marketing: Definition

What is Affiliate Marketing? 

Affiliate marketing is a promotional strategy geared toward driving traffic, leads and acquisitions for businesses. Affiliate programs supply digital users (known as “affiliates”) with unique URL IDs (known as “affiliate links”) or promotional codes that reward affiliates when they bring in new customers or sales.

Many businesses offer affiliates a percentage of the revenue their links generate or a fixed fee per KPI (e.g. click, referral, sale, sign-up). Almost anyone can apply to be an affiliate (some affiliate programs have preliminary requirements), but individuals with large and engaged online followings generally benefit the most from affiliate-type programs.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is when a social media personality, like a YouTuber, Instagrammer, or blogger, creates content for a brand and promotes the brand, product, and/or service to their fans and followers. The sponsorship content functions largely as word-of-mouth promotion and is designed to promote a message, product, or service in an organic, authentic way most receptive to an influencer’s audience.

Influencers sometimes include affiliate marketing links within their content, amid their bios, and/or offer their followers promotional codes — but, as a fully-integrated, customizable advertising campaign, influencer marketing offers a much wider array of messaging and branding possibilities that affiliate marketing alone does not provide.

Below, we’ll take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of both influencer and affiliate marketing to find out which one makes the most sense for brands and advertisers.

Influencer Marketing Advantages Over Affiliate Marketing

Control

Influencer marketing is a strategic approach that allows brands to select influencers, build relationships, and most importantly, creatively shape how their brand is being promoted and portrayed to consumers. With proper planning, a well-executed influencer marketing campaign can offer this kind of control, creativity and customization to both a business’s direct-response and branding efforts.

Results

Influencer marketing drives some of the best proven results for all types of brands by connecting them with engaged users across the most popular social media channels and platforms.

Influencer Marketing Disadvantages

More steps

Influencer marketing’s effectiveness is owed largely to strategic planning and influencers’ powerful, long-standing relationships with their fans.

Because of this, the process of executing a successful influencer marketing campaign requires proper strategy, planning, management of influencers, and execution.

Influencer Marketing vs affiliate

Brands looking to make an impact in today’s digital and social landscape must be prepared to find and vet influencers, collaborate on content and messaging, as well as manage schedules and launches. However, by partnering with a well-established influencer marketing agency, brands can transfer these steps to experts in the industry.

Investment

While affiliate marketing costs can be minimal to start, so can the return on investment (ROI).

On the other hand, executing a successful influencer marketing campaign often drives bigger results but also requires a larger investment of both time and money.

With the right strategy and team, brands can create influencer campaigns that meet and exceed desired key performance indicators (KPI). However, brands must be willing to invest time and resources in order to capitalize on the enormous ROI opportunities influencer marketing presents.

Affiliate Marketing Advantages Over Influencer Marketing

Small investment

Businesses adopting an affiliate marketing approach don’t have to invest a lot of time or money. Creating a program with unique URL ID(s) or promo codes to track traffic, KPIs and reward affiliates is a relatively straightforward technical process.

Results

While nearly 90% of marketers agree that influencer marketing ROI is comparable or better than other forms of advertising, a recent study predicts that the affiliate marketing industry will pass the $8 billion mark by 2022, illustrating growing implementation of the strategy.

Affiliate marketing influencers

It should be noted, however, that setting up a basic affiliate program does not guarantee results. Many businesses use some form of influencer marketing as a means of driving affiliate traffic.

Affiliate Marketing Disadvantages

Unfocused

Affiliate marketing isn’t designed as a cohesive message or campaign, so affiliate promotions often lack direction or compelling calls to action (CTAs).

As a result, there is no assurance that an affiliate program will properly target or reach relevant consumers. Additionally, affiliate links can sometimes be buried in captions, descriptions, or at the bottom of posts, which readers or viewers likely ignore or will not see.

Lack of control

Virtually anyone can apply to become an affiliate, and typically there’s not an in-depth screening process used to vet affiliate applicants.

Although affiliate marketing may seem autonomous and fairly easy to implement with the right affiliate software and coding prowess, affiliate advertising programs often sacrifice “turkey” simplicity for lack of control in both ad placement, proper brand messaging, and sufficient audience exposure.

Due to this, brands may have little or no control over who is promoting their goods or aligning themselves with their brand. This incohesive approach can also result in a complete absence of messaging or, in some cases, the wrong kind of messaging by affiliates.

COMPARING AFFILIATE MARKETING VS. INFLUENCER MARKETING

  1. Both affiliate marketing and influencer marketing are forms of referral promotion that brands can use to drive traffic and sales. While influencer marketing can be used effectively for both direct-response and branding initiatives, affiliate marketing is direct-response only.
  2. Many social media influencers are affiliates, but not all affiliates are necessarily influencers.
  3. By itself, affiliate marketing doesn’t give brands control over content or messaging, while influencer marketing is strategized, customized, and targeted.
  4. Both affiliate and influencer marketing drive results. However, returns are dependent on how the campaigns are crafted, implemented, optimized and scaled.

HOW TO DO AFFILIATE MARKETING WITH INFLUENCERS

Affiliate and influencer marketing are both beneficial tools by themselves, but they’re even more powerful when used together.

affiliate influencer marketing example

If affiliate marketing alone isn’t generating the revenue a brand is looking to attain, consider working with a qualified influencer marketing agency to help create a synergistic affiliate and influencer marketing campaign that can drive positive results.

Influencer Rates: How Much Do Influencers Charge?

influencer-rates

Digital marketing professionals are treating influencer marketing—a burgeoning industry that’s set to reach $5-10 billion by 2020—more and more like its own media channel. In fact, two-thirds of marketers planned to increase their influencer marketing budgets in 2019, with 17% of companies deciding to allocate over half their marketing budget for influencer marketing.

That said, marketers have struggled to ascertain the cost of influencer marketing. This is because the industry is still in its infancy and influencer rates are disclosed sparingly. The growing issue of fake followers and inauthentic influencers have also contributed to fluctuating influencer rates.

Through careful execution and measurement of our own influencer marketing strategies, we at Mediakix have identified trends in influencer rates for the past four years. We’ve also taken note of the various factors that commonly dictate the cost of working with influencers.

Influencer Rates Have Increased Over The Years

Influencer rates have climbed an average of 50% per year since 2017. We calculated this percentage based on a set of trusted influencers that Mediakix has worked with over the years. These influencers represent varying tiers, categories, and pricing levels.

influencer-rates

Between 2016 and 2017, influencer rates increased 47%. A year later, the average rate jumped 60%, and between 2018 and 2019, it went up 53%.

This year-over-year trend can be attributed to several factors, and it does not mean that the price of influencer marketing will increase indefinitely. Many marketers, in fact, are opting to work with lower-tiered, cost-effective influencers or are optimizing their influencer strategies to spend more efficiently.

What Challenges Do Increasing Influencer Rates Pose For Marketers?

Rising influencer rates is a trend that’s to be expected—influencer marketing is a rapidly evolving industry that continues to gain traction across numerous business verticals. Influencers have honed their craft and influencer strategies have become more sophisticated, driving up demand. This gives influencers the control to hike their rates.

influencer-rates

Increasing influencer rates is feared by marketers—so much so that nearly 40% of U.S. marketers agree the rising cost of influencers is a leading challenge in the space. This turbulent pricing model poses a major pain point to marketers who are trying to harness the power of influencers. Measuring ROI is already difficult, and the fact that rates are on the rise is enough to cause concern amongst marketers on a budget.

In order to combat increasing rates, marketers and influencers should prioritize influencer authenticity. Partnering with influencers who represent your brand’s values and who truly back your product or services as opposed to one-off, transactional engagements will ensure their audience responds well. It will also help stabilize influencer rates and generate positive ROI.

10 Factors That Affect Influencer Rates

There’s a host of factors that can determine how much an influencer charges. It’s rare that an influencer charges a flat rate. One travel influencer said in an interview with Digiday, “Everyone now can set their own rate based on what they are able to get,” meaning influencers charge in a manner similar to any business offering a service.

While not an exhaustive list, the following should be taken into consideration to calculate influencer rates:

  1. Social Channel – Will the influencer publish sponsored content on Instagram, YouTube, or some other social channel? Depending on the social channel, the format, messaging style, audience type, creator resources, and other factors will vary. Influencers may have a flat rate no matter what platform they post on, but many alter their rates accordingly.
  2. Size – How many followers or subscribers does the influencer have, and how many will they potentially reach? Influencers with massive followings typically command higher rates, while influencers with more modest fan bases will cost less. This is not always the case, but more impressions generally translate to higher cost.
  3. Engagement Rates – How much engagement does the influencer generate on organic versus sponsored content? A mega-influencer may have more followers, but how much of their audience is meaningfully interacting with their content? Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.
  4. Category – What category does the influencer specialize in (e.g. fashion, lifestyle, family)? Popular niches such as fitness or beauty tend to have more influencers available, making their category more competitive. Less popular areas, such as tech or gaming, may be pricier because their area of expertise is hard to come by.
  5. Content Format – What type of content will the influencer create (photo, video, Story, blog post, etc.)? Based on the format of the sponsored content, influencers will spend varying degrees of time and resources to create it. The more time and resources used to produce the content, the more it will usually cost. The lower the input, the lower the cost. Also consider the value derived from specific types of content. For example, an in-feed Instagram post might get buried within user’s feeds. A Story, however, may entice viewers to convert right away.
  6. Campaign Deliverables – How much content will influencers have to create? Is it a one-off campaign in which the influencer publishes a single sponsored YouTube video, or will they publish a series of videos featuring your product over a longer period of time? Some campaigns require bigger time investments and more deliverables, whereas some are simpler and take less time to execute.
  7. Seasonality & Demand – Is your campaign seasonal and how in demand is the influencer you want to collaborate with? Q4 (think: holiday promotions and prep for new year) typically comes with the highest demand, driving up influencer rates. Additionally, in-demand influencers can command higher fees.
  8. Reuse & Licensing Rights – Do you plan to reshare or repurpose the influencer’s sponsored content? Some influencers may charge more for your brand to reuse their content. Don’t forget to outline these terms in your influencer contract.
  9. Exclusivity – Do you want the influencer to sign an exclusivity clause that prohibits them from promoting competitors for a set period of time? If so, consider the fact that influencers who agree to this are eliminating another potential source of income, especially if they’re in a competitive niche. This element can jack up the price of an influencer engagement.
  10. Production Costs – Will the influencer have to factor in production costs (e.g. video equipment, editing software, etc.) to ensure professional quality? Remember, low effort normally means lower cost relative to a collaboration that requires high effort. If an influencer is expected to produce a high-quality video, the influencer will need top-of-the-line equipment, a professional videographer, more detailed editing process, and any other elements necessary to professionalize the end product. If so, expect the influencer rate to rise.

Estimating Influencer Rates With Influencer Tiers

Ever find yourself asking, “How much do Instagram influencers make per post?” Marketers can use influencer tiers to bucket creators by relative price ranges. Tiers represent brackets of influencers depending on their number of followers. We’ve broken down influencer tiers for Instagram—the channel rated the most important for influencer marketing strategies in our 2019 survey.

influencer-rates
  • Nano-influencers – 1,000 – 10,000 followers
  • Micro-influencers – 10,000 – 50,000 followers
  • Mid-tier influencers – 50,000 – 500,000 followers
  • Macro-influencers – 500,000 – 1,000,000 followers
  • Mega-influencers – 1,000,000+ followers

Knowing the reach of an influencer is not a hard fast way to determine Instagram influencer rates, but it does give marketers an idea of what price tag to expect.

How Much Do Instagram Influencers Cost By Tier?

We can break down Instagram influencer rates into the six influencer tiers:

influencer-rates

Naturally, as influencer tiers progress, influencer rates also increase.

  • Nano-influencers – Free products or nominal amounts of money (up to $500).
  • Micro-influencers – A couple hundred to a few thousand dollars ($200-$4,000).
  • Mid-tier influencers – Anywhere from a couple thousand to ten thousand dollars ($2,000-$10,000).
  • Macro-influencers – A few thousand to several thousand dollars ($5,000-$25,000).
  • Mega-influencers – Several thousand to hundreds of thousands ($10,000-$150,000).
  • Celebrities – Several thousand to several hundred thousand dollars ($20,000-$500,000).

How To Find Influencers Within Your Brand’s Budget

In order to identify influencers that won’t break the bank, brands should first determine their influencer marketing budget. Without knowing how much you’re willing to spend on influencer marketing efforts, it will be more difficult to find influencers within an affordable price range. To find influencers within your budget, brands can:

  • set influencer marketing goals and develop a strategy
  • leverage influencer discovery tools
  • partner with an influencer marketing agency

Determine Your Brand’s Influencer Marketing Goals & Strategy

Influencer marketing budgets often stem from your brand’s goals, as well as the strategy you employ. Perhaps your goal is brand awareness, so achieving social engagement and earning new followers are important KPIs. Or maybe your sole objective is to drive sales. Your influencer marketing strategy will vary depending on your campaign goals. Once you’ve established your goals and strategic plan, you can move forward with identifying influencers appropriate for your brand’s budget.

Use Influencer Discovery Tools

By leveraging tools, such as influencer databases or free discovery resources, brands can pinpoint influencers who are better financial fits. Influencer databases give marketers the ability to research reputable influencers using filters and other search parameters. This can help ensure your brand spends within your means.

Work With Experienced Agencies

Another alternative is working with an influencer marketing agency, such as Mediakix. An agency strategizes, executes, and manages influencer marketing campaigns and boasts unmatched expertise in the space. Agencies also have insights into influencer rates due to their working relationships with trusted influencers. In effect, agencies are experts at budgeting for campaigns of all sizes and will help your brand find influencers within your budget.

How Do You Know If An Influencer Rate Is Reasonably Priced?

As mentioned earlier, influencer rates can be unpredictable. Below are a few ways marketers can best determine if an influencer rate is fair:

  • measure return on influencer marketing investment
  • evaluate previous campaign performance and influencer rate cards
  • consult our industry influencer rates chart for price guidelines

Influencer Marketing ROI

By understanding how to measure influencer marketing ROI, marketers can better assess if the price was worth the results. ROI is the percentage of each dollar invested that will yield a profit. Start by asking, “Did my campaign drive positive ROI?” Positive results can mean you simply achieved your goals, but it technically means you spent efficiently.

For example, a campaign that drums up temporary buzz around your brand may not be worth the cost of working with an expensive influencer and all the associated costs that come along with it if it doesn’t translate into tangible value. But a campaign that sustains long-term benefits, like immediate sales and lifelong customers, is likely worth the investment.

Previous Campaign Results & Influencer Rate Cards

If you’re tasked with deciding whether an influencer rate is justified before moving forward with them, do some extra research into their past branded collaborations to see what kind of results they generated. If they’re well-known in the space and can provide insights into previous campaigns, you should be able to judge if their rate is reasonable.

It’s also a good idea to request an influencer rate card—something many influencers will have prepared for advertisers. Once you’ve compiled enough influencer rate cards, you’ll begin to understand and anticipate the going rate more successfully.

Industry Influencer Rates

You can also use our influencer rates chart that breaks down cost by influencer tiers as a general guide. A rate that seems suspiciously out of line from these guidelines can be a red flag. Unless there’s a good reason (e.g. the influencer has agreed to strict terms and conditions and will have abnormally high production costs), influencer rates should typically fall into the ranges we’ve outlined.

In the end though, influencer rates will continue to shift amid the changing tides of the influencer marketing industry—and there are always outliers. Depending on a myriad of factors, influencers will charge at their discretion. It’s up to marketers to use their best judgment to strike a fair deal.

To best position your brand, establish various influencer relationships, run diverse influencer campaigns, and measure the ROI of all influencer efforts. Better yet, learn how our team of experts can help your brand generate ROI with top influencers here.