The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Influencer Marketing
If you’ve ever considered using Instagram influencer marketing for your business, now is the time to start!
Adding Instagram influencer marketing into your overall strategy for Instagram can help to increase your brand awareness, grow your follower base, and drive major sales!
Ready to get started with Instagram influencer marketing for your business?
In our Ultimate Guide to Instagram Influencer Marketing, we cover everything from how to find the right influencers for your business, to properly disclosing sponsored posts and determining if your Instagram influencer marketing strategies are actually working for you.
Table of Contents:
- Influencer Marketing: What Is It and Why Your Business Needs It
- How Much Does Instagram Influencer Marketing Actually Cost?
- How Small Businesses Can Leverage Instagram Influencer Marketing with Micro- and Nano-Influencers
- How to Find the Right Partners for Your Instagram Influencer Marketing Campaigns
- How to Properly Disclose Your Instagram Influencer Marketing Sponsored Posts
- How to Track the Success of Your Instagram Influencer Marketing Strategy
Influencer Marketing: What Is It and Why Your Business Needs It
If you’ve spent even a few minutes on Instagram, there’s a good chance you’ve come across an influencer post. Once a small space with just a few key players, influencer marketing on is on pace to become an $8 billion dollar industry in 2020.
And when it comes to influencer marketing, Instagram is by far the best performing platform for brands to reach new audiences quickly.
It’s also the best channel for social action — with an average 3.21% engagement rate compared to 1.5% across all social networks, Instagram users are more likely to comment, like, and share the content they consume.
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Clerkenwell // The festive season is all about indulgence, and in the lead up to Christmas, my sweet tooth is loving @ukmuji’s latest snacks. Chocolate pecans, sable cookies, and my personal favourite: white chocolate strawberries. To win a whole bunch of snacks yourself (or as a gift for someone else), head to @ukmuji for their #12DaysofMUJI campaign. 👆🏼 — #MUJI #ad
So what makes influencer marketing so effective? Well, part of it has to do with trust.
Instagram influencer marketing removes the barriers of traditional advertising because customers are introduced to your brand from a trusted source (the influencer) on an authentic, casual platform (Instagram).
When an influencer recommends a product or service on their channels, it can come across as a trusted recommendation from a friend. This is obviously hugely advantageous to brands — it gives them direct access to target markets for just a fraction of what they’d pay for a traditional ad.
By partnering with relevant influencers who have an engaging and authentic voice, your business is placed in front of people who are already interested in your niche, so it’s easier to make a real, lasting impression!
Authenticity is key. When an influencer is consistent with a niche market, for example, cruelty-free cosmetics or vegan workout supplements, their followers will hold that influencer as an authority on that topic and will grow to trust and be guided by their recommendations.
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[ad] Feeling totally badass with my girls @hellomissjordan & @scarlettlondon doing our best Charlie's Angels impression. Last weekend I finally caught up with these babes and we had such a fun girly evening at @odeoncinemas – Tis the season after all ✨ Who else loves catching up with friends over the festive season? I swear I'm out watching at least one film per week in the lead up to Christmas. 🎄 Let me know what movie you plan on seeing at Odeon next? #ODEONCinemas #CharliesAngels #Friendmas
As a result, partnering with influencers can be an incredible channel for promoting your products and brand on Instagram!
Just getting started in the world of influencer marketing? Learn everything you need to know about strategizing for your first campaign in our free Instagram Influencer Marketing Strategy Guide!
How Much Does Instagram Influencer Marketing Actually Cost?
It’s one of the biggest questions in the industry and it all comes down to who you want to partner with and the size of the project.
In the earliest days of influencer marketing, rising social stars would take on brand partnerships in exchange for free product.
But for most, those days are long gone. While there are many micro-influencers still willing to exchange free products for promotion space on their profile, today’s biggest Instagram influencers are charging major bucks to create posts for brands as their accounts have become their main source of income.
In fact, some influencers report charging as much as $5,000 to $10,000 per sponsored post!
There’s no question social media influencers have become an indispensable asset for brand campaigns, especially on Instagram.
But how do you come up with a fair price when there are so many factors to consider, like the scale and scope of the partnership or the number of sponsored posts and stories you require?
If you want to work with influencers in the 100k+ range, you may have to pay a pretty penny for your posts. In fact, we spoke with several large influencers and a rate of $1,000 seemed to be the average price per single Instagram post, while rates for additional services (such as takeovers, Instagram Stories, blog posts, and more) varied.
Micro-influencers, on the other hand, tend to charge closer to $300 per Instagram post, and nano-influencers charge even less.
And while cash is the most desired form of payment, in-kind campaigns can still be a meaningful exchange.
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Rainbow clouds and heavenly hoops 💫 I had the huge pleasure of popping into the @m.calvin studio last week to meet the lovely team and the man behind the designs. These gorgeous hoops have an antique feel. They were a collaboration with my pals @clairemenary and @bubblyaquarius and I was lucky enough to take them home ✨ [gifted] . . . . #oroantiguo #matthewcalvin
Collectively reported that “54% of influencers say they would be more likely to post in-kind, or in exchange for free product, if they’re a true fan of the product or brand.”
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to how much Instagram influencer marketing costs, and there are a variety of factors involved that go well beyond an Instagram influencer’s number of followers.
Want to know more? Check out our post This is How Much Instagram Influencers Really Cost.
How Small Businesses Can Leverage Instagram Influencer Marketing with Micro- and Nano-Influencers
Influencer marketing may have grown in popularity thanks to Instagram, but you don’t need thousands of dollars to cash in!
Thanks to a growing trend, more and more businesses are seeing the value in partnering with Instagram influencers who have a small but highly-engaged following.
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In fact, according to HubSpot, almost one-third of all Instagram channels are micro-influencers with fewer than 100k followers. Mega-influencers with over 5 million followers make up less than 1% of all influencers.
So what exactly are micro-influencers and nano-influencers and why are they of benefit to brands?
Generally speaking, a micro-influencer is someone who has significant, but not massive, social media following.
This generally ranges from anywhere between 10,000 and 100,000 followers. Nano-influencers, on the other hand, usually have only a few thousand followers.
While Instagram influencers have attained a sort of “celebrity status,” micro- and nano-influencers are more like everyday consumers, so they tend to be very relatable and trustworthy.
Instagram influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers often lead lives that aren’t exactly “normal,” and their feeds can look like aspirational lifestyle catalogs.
Compare that to someone who has 5,000 to 15,000 highly-engaged Instagram followers, who more than likely is working on their Instagram profile as a passion project, rather than their full-time job. Well, it’s just way more relatable to the everyday consumers!
When a micro-influencer features a product on their channels, it can come across like a trusted recommendation from a friend, rather than a celebrity endorsement.
And this can make all the difference to a small brand trying to establish themselves in the market or reach new audiences.
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The first thing I think of packing for the holidays is my @twoislandsco collagen powder 🌴✨ but seriously it has been so life changing for me and I don’t say that lightly! You all know I had a massive chunk of this year where my eczema took a turn for the worse and I tried almost everything to keep the flares under control. It wasn’t until someone said to me I should try healing the skin internally that I thought about trying collagen. I have never looked back and certainly don’t take my skin for granted! My skin was my main concern but I soon realised how amazing the benefits of collagen are with hair and nails too 🙌🏻 Swipe to see how far my skin has come 😭🙏🏻 FIONA20 if you are thinking of trying it out ❤️ #sponsored
This was confirmed in our recent study in partnership with influencer agency Fohr: The State of Instagram Marketing in 2020.
Fohr’s proprietary user data showed that posts by micro-influencers had a higher engagement rates on average.
In fact, influencers with 0-25k followers had higher engagement rates regardless of their genre, target audience or topics.
This means that an Instagram post from a micro-influencer will likely be seen by a larger percentage of their following.
So you could potentially reach more people through 20 Instagram posts with a micro-influencer, than you could by investing in 1 Instagram post with a large influencer.
Of course, this isn’t always the case! Many popular influencers have been able to maintain a high engagement rate on their posts as well. Like @kyliejenner, who despite having over 100 million followers, usually gets an engagement rate of 3 to 10% on her posts.
And what about nano-influencers? Well, according to a report by Influencer Marketing Hub, nano-influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers usually enjoy an engagement rate of 7.2% on Instagram, which is huge when compared to the 1.1% engagement rate that accounts with over 100K followers tend to receive.
Although nano-influencer marketing is a recent phenomenon, it’s set to take off in 2020 as brands capitalize on authenticity and the algorithm.
Partnering with a nano-influencer could also make sense if you’re trying to market to a hyper-local market.
Plus, it’s worth noting that because micro- and nano-influencers charge less than the major players, brands can afford to invest in long-term partnerships.
If a follower regularly sees that someone they follow is partnering with a brand, it helps to build that trust factor.
So rather than spending a lot of money on one post, smaller brands could benefit more from building longevity with their partnerships and establishing themselves with their influencers’ audience.
Discover the all-important influencer marketing stats in our free download: The State of Influencer Marketing in 2020, with analysis and key takeaways from thousands of influencer posts!
How to Find the Right Partners for Your Instagram Influencer Marketing Campaigns
Finding the right influencers for your marketing campaign can be a bit of a challenge, so it’s important to research and set clear goals for your campaign.
For example, if your goal is to rack up a lot of engagement, it might make sense to partner with micro-influencers with smaller audiences but higher engagement rates.
On the other hand, if you’re trying to increase your brand awareness, metrics such as an influencer’s reach and traffic will be more useful.
#1. Check Their Instagram Engagement
When an influencer has a high engagement rate, it means their followers are paying attention and taking action on their content. That’s why many businesses and Instagram agencies use engagement rate to evaluate who is an ideal influencer.
Generally, you want to see an engagement rate of 2-3% on influencers’ posts. A ratio of 4-6% is excellent, while posts in the high tens and twenties are considered “viral.”
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Spring travel ready with the newly-released Aluminum Carry-On from @autonomousdotai. Made from aviation grade aluminum alloy, this sleek, durable luggage offers the perfect blend of functionality and clean design at an affordable price point. Link to shop in my stories. #ad #BeAutonomous | 📷: @adamgonon
If you want to calculate an influencer’s engagement rate on Instagram, divide the average number of likes and comments they get on their posts by their follower count, and then multiply by 100 to get a percentage.
However, as Instagram continues to hide likes in more countries, this could soon be a much harder task to complete.
Going forward, you may need to ask influencer partners to provide a report of their metrics (such as a screengrab of their insights tab) or use a third-party tool like Fohr to analyze this data on their behalf.
#2. Check the Quality of Their Followers
It goes without saying that you should be aligning your business with influencers who have “pull” with your target audience. For example, if you’re a fitness brand, it makes sense to partner with influencers who share a similar audience to your ideal customers, such as yoga instructors or powerlifters.
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In order to evaluate whether an Instagram influencer’s audience matches your own, you need to look at things like geographic distribution (where are the influencer’s followers located), age breakdown (how old they are), gender, language, approximate income, and more.
Just keep in mind that the goal isn’t to reach an influencer’s entire audience but rather to find that intersection where your two audiences overlap.
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I’ve walked a lot in my life, from the tiled streets of Lisbon to the cobblestoned paths of my homeland of Yorkshire. I have put my feet through the ringer! That’s why comfortable footwear is the key to my adventures. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ @ClarksShoes has been there for me since the start, literally I got my first ever pair of shoes from them back in 1989! They were pretty patent red Mary Jane flats. And although my shoe collection has grown, Clarks remains a constant delivering, well made, comfortable, beautiful shoes. #Clarksforlife #ad
This is one of the best ways to get in front of the “right” eyes and showcase your products and/or services to a customer segment that’s most likely to convert.
Unfortunately, these days it’s not uncommon for influencers to buy followers and likes to boost their appeal to businesses.
Knowing how to identify fake influencers and find authentic ones is extremely important when trying to find the right influencers to work with.
#3. Check Their Number of Followers
As we’ve already discussed, the number of followers an influencer has isn’t quite as important as it used to be.
Because engagement rate tends to decrease as follower count grows, influencers with fewer followers often retain higher engagement rates on their posts. While influencers with large audiences tend to see decreased engagement rates and less direct communication with their followers.
All of that being said, it’s definitely not a bad idea to partner with influencers with big followings! Just make sure they’re a good fit for your business.
#4. Review the Content They Post
Like how you researched the quality of an influencer’s followers, analyzing the content that an influencer publishes across all their channels (including channels outside of Instagram), will help give you a more complete understanding of their niche.
And the fact is, a great aesthetic doesn’t always equal higher performance. Often, it is the actual content of a post that will drive the best results.
According to research by Fohr, parenting, plants and selfie posts achieve the highest engagement, while sun, ocean, bags, and shoes shots amongst the lowest.
Without assessing an influencer’s content before a partnership, you run the risk of partnering with an influencer who doesn’t hold any influence in the niche or “vertical” that you’re trying to market to – which could result in sub-par results for your investment.
#5. Check Their Reach
On Instagram, “reach” is calculated as the number of unique users who saw your content, and it’s becoming an incredibly important metric for determining an influencer’s value.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to calculate an influencer’s reach yourself. So you’ll either need to ask them for their social stats (many influencers include this kind of information in their media kits) or you can use a third-party tool like Fohr or SocialBlade.
Fohr offers a number of tools for businesses to determine whether or not an influencer has an authentic following on Instagram.
For example, their Follower Health Tool (pictured above) provides a breakdown of an influencer’s followers-to-following ratio, username, bio, number of posts, and then calculates an overall “score” based on how the influencer ranked in each of those categories.
#6. Keep Budget Requirements in Mind
Something else to keep in mind when deciding which influencers to partner with is how much they charge.
As we previously discussed, it’s quite common for businesses to “gift” free products to influencers rather than paying them a flat rate. However, that isn’t always the case. Some influencers only accept flat rates, while others charge based on the number of sales or leads they create for the business.
If you’re just getting started with influencer marketing, it might make sense to partner with micro-influencers to begin with (this, of course, depends on the size of your marketing budget).
According to our research, on average, when asked how much businesses pay for sponsored Instagram posts, 66% reported that they pay under $250 per post, while 27% pay between $250 and $1,000.
#7: Check Their Caption Length
When choosing which influencers to work with for your campaign, try to find influencers that naturally tend to share more content in their captions.
According to user research by Fohr, the average caption length has more than doubled since 2016. And by 2020, they predict our feeds will be filled with an average caption length of 405 characters.
But what does caption length have to do with the performance of your sponsored posts?
Well, Fohr found that that the longer the caption, the higher the engagement rate on average!
How to Properly Disclose Your Instagram Influencer Marketing Sponsored Posts
With the recent spat of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) crackdowns on Instagram partnerships, a lot of businesses are wondering how to stay safe when partnering with influencers on Instagram.
As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your influencers are FTC compliant — which means being up to date on all the latest FTC guidelines.
As a rule, the FTC requires influencers to disclose to their followers whenever a brand relationship exists. This can include everything from paying an influencer for a campaign, gifting them free products, offering discounts, commission, or perks, or even having a business or family relationship with an influencer.
In these cases, you should always follow the latest FTC recommendations:
1. Place Your Disclosure So It’s Hard to Miss
The first rule of properly disclosing a sponsored post is to make sure your disclosure is instantly obvious to anyone who engages with your content.
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For example, if you’re sharing a sponsored feed post, the disclosure should be clearly visible in the first few lines of the caption — not buried amongst hashtags or hidden behind the “more” button.
On Instagram Stories, it’s important to superimpose the disclosure over a picture or video and make sure viewers have enough time to read it.
For video content, the disclosure should be included in the video itself as well as in the video description. The reason (according to the FTC) is that some viewers may watch without sound and others may not notice superimposed words.
And in a live stream, a disclosure should be repeated periodically, to ensure that late-comers to the stream are also fully informed.
2. Use Simple and Clear Language
So now we’ve covered where a disclosure should live, but what actually counts as a fair and clear “disclosure”?
Well, the latest advice from the FTC is that a simple explanation, such as: “Thanks to [insert brand] for the free product,” is often enough.
Equally, you can still use terms like “advertisement,” “ad,” and “sponsored,” so long as they are clearly visible to anyone who engages with your content.
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On a space-limited platform like Twitter, the terms “[insert brand] Partner” or “[insert brand] Ambassador” are also approved options. It’s fine to also include a hashtag with the disclosure, such as #ad or #sponsored, but this is not a set requirement.
The main thing is to ensure your disclosure is crystal clear, and isn’t open to any misinterpretation. Stay away from vague or confusing terms like “sp,” “spon,” and “collab,” or stand-alone terms like “thanks” or “ambassador.”
3. Use the Same Language Throughout
It may seem like a given, but it’s important to note that your disclosure must be in the same language as the endorsement itself.
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Werbung | (Swipe für „the real me“ bei der Arbeit oder beim Essen 😂) Seitdem ich selbstständig bin, muss ich echt sagen, ich lerne nie aus! Ich bin wirklich immer wieder dabei meinen Rhythmus zu finden und meinen Tag neu zu strukturieren. ⏱ Was mir in den letzten Monaten extrem aufgefallen ist, ist, dass ich dringend meine Mittagspause brauche. 🥗🍝 Vorher habe ich das irgendwie nie richtig wertgeschätzt, mir meistens nicht mal die Zeit genommen was zu Essen und mich nachher gewundert, wo meine Energie geblieben ist… 😴 In meiner Story sage ich euch ja auch echt oft genug, wie happy ich deswegen bin, direkt nebenan einen @aldisuedde zu haben, um eben mal schnell rüber zu flitzen 🏃🏼♀ Letztens habe ich dort einen super Snack entdeckt, der zusammen mit einer eisgekühlten Coca-Cola gerade für Schüler und Studenten ein top Angebot ist – die Auswahl ist riesig und der Preis unschlagbar 🤓 Also vielleicht in der nächsten Mittagspause mal einen ALDI SÜD aufsuchen und nicht den überteuerten Kiosk von nebenan 😜 #aldisüd #cocacola
For example, if a caption about a partner brand is written in German, your disclosure explanation should be in German too.
4. Don’t Assume a Platform’s Disclosure Tool is Good Enough
Many social platforms, including Instagram, have introduced brand partnership labels for sponsored content.
According to the FTC, however, these built-in tools might not be good enough.
Their advice is to use these tools as well as your own clear and accurate disclosure.
5. Share Honest Endorsements Only
Last but not least, the FTC has highlighted the importance of giving fair and honest endorsements — even when the partnership is fully disclosed.
For example, you can’t talk about your experience with a product you haven’t tried — and you shouldn’t share a positive review if you actually had a negative experience.
Learn all the details you need to know in our post, How to Properly Disclose Sponsored Instagram Posts, According to the FTC
How to Track the Success of Your Instagram Influencer Marketing Strategy
It’s not surprising that one of the biggest questions for businesses that are just getting started with Instagram influencer marketing is how to track and measure their return-on-investment (ROI).
The fact is that in order to develop an effective influencer marketing strategy for your business, you need to understand how your influencer campaigns perform, and that means setting clear goals and metrics.
According to our research, 79% of businesses measure the success of their sponsored posts by how much engagement they receive. But that’s likely going to change!
As more businesses realize Instagram’s capacity as a sales and customer discovery channel, we expect the focus of influencer marketing campaigns to change too.
And this will likely be reflected in how businesses track the success of their Instagram influencer marketing. Indeed, while engagement (likes, comments, and shares) took priority in the past, in 2019, more businesses are going to focus on bottom-funnel goals like sales, traffic, and conversions.
As such, it’s a good idea to put conversion tracking systems in place, such as affiliate links, to reliably track conversions from your campaign.
Not only will this track the ROI of your campaign, but you can use this campaign performance data to see which influencers drove the best results (and why) and then use this data to inform how you construct future campaigns.
That being said, influencer marketing can be used to achieve all kinds of goals. Here are some of the more common performance metrics that businesses use for measuring the impact of their Instagram influencer marketing:
- Engagement rate – likes, comments, shares, etc.
- Brand sentiment – how people are talking about your brand
- Website traffic – customers visiting your website
- Sales – conversions and revenues generated
There are a ton of ways that you can leverage Instagram influencer marketing to help grow your business!
Whether you’re gifting product or paying for sponsored posts, brands both big and small can harness the power of Instagram influencer marketing to get their products in front of new audiences and use Instagram marketing to make more sales!
Ready to gain actionable insights for your influencer marketing strategy? Download our free report on The State of Instagram Influencer Marketing in 2020 now!