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.

Let’s get started:

Table of Contents:

  1. Why Your Business Needs an Instagram Influencer Marketing Strategy
  2. How Much Does Instagram Influencer Marketing Actually Cost?
  3. How Small Businesses Can Leverage Instagram Influencer Marketing with Micro- and Nano-Influencers
  4. How to Find the Right Partners for Your Instagram Influencer Marketing Campaigns
  5. How to Properly Disclose Your Instagram Influencer Marketing Sponsored Posts
  6. 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 by 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.

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.

As a result, partnering with influencer 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!

instagram influencer marketing

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. 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. 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 less than 1,000 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.

One of the biggest benefits of working with micro-influencers is that they tend to retain higher levels of engagement than top-tier influencers.

This was confirmed by two separate studies by HelloSociety and Markerly, which found a negative correlation between engagement rate and audience size.

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 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 percent 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 100,000 followers tend to receive.

Although nano-influencer marketing is a recent phenomenon, it’s set to take off in 2019 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. 

Learn more about why working with micro-influencers is so effective for small businesses by downloading our free Instagram Influencer Marketing Strategy Guide!

 

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.

Here are 6 things to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to partner with an Instagram influencer:

#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.”

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.

#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.

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. 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 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.

In fact, without assessing their content beforehand, 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.

If you partner with an influencer that doesn’t mirror the same niche market as you or your product, you risk spending money, time, and effort on marketing a product their followers aren’t interested in the first place.

#4. 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.

#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 Card and SocialBlade.

Fohr Card 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. Budget requirements

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.

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. From the get-go, you should give clear directions for your influencers on how to disclose your partnerships.

The FTC requires influencers to disclose endorsement relationships whenever a “material connection” exists. This can include everything from paying an influencer, gifting them free products, or even having a business or family relationship with an influencer.

Basically, it all comes down to transparency. It’s about making sure that an influencer’s followers are aware when they’re being paid or given something of value to promote a product.

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.

instagram influencer marketing

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!

Learn more about how your business can use Instagram influencer marketing to increase your brand awareness, follower base, and drive major sales!

Written By

Benjamin Chacon

Benjamin is a Content Writer at Later and recent transplant from Toronto. You can follow his day-to-day exploits on Instagram @benjaminchacs.