Table of contents
  1. 1. Definition
  2. 2. Instagram influencer overview
  3. 3. Pros and cons of using influencers on Instagram
  4. 4. Instagram influencers as a viable marketing medium
  5. 5. How to leverage Instagram influencers

Definition

Influencers can comprise of regular people, celebrities, or public figures. The main thing each influencer has in common with one another is that they all have the ability to impact a given niche. Basically, their followers trust in what they say and this is why major brands, as well as lesser-known brands, use them for marketing purposes. 

Influencers on Instagram have the widest reach, and the most influence for that matter, of all the social media platforms, which is why brands of all shapes and sizes use Instagram Influencers for their influencer marketing campaigns

The following statistics shed some more light as to how popular marketing with an Instagram influencer is and why brands flock to the platform to partner up with them. 

  1. Over $1 billion is spent on influencers on Instagram by brands who partner with them and promote their content to their followers (2017). 
  2. There are over 14 million sponsored posts on Instagram (2017). 
  3. The top followers on Instagram have over 2.5 billion followers. 

 

Instagram influencer overview

Instagram is not only one of the most popular social media platforms in the world, it is also one of the highest interacting social media platforms when it comes to influencers and their followers. Influencers on Instagram boast a 30% engagement rate per 1,000 followers as compared to Facebook’s - Instagram's parent company - engagement rate of 16.5% per 1,000 followers. 

Finding the right Instagram Influencers to partner with can be rather challenging but very rewarding if done correctly. The first step in finding the right influencer is to define the ideal influencer. Brand’s need to be as specific with this as they are with defining their ideal customer. Some things to look at when coming up with the ideal influencer include the following; 

  1. Relevancy to Brand or Niche 
  2. Reach (number of followers) 
  3. Creativity & Engagement. 

Once these criteria have been defined, the next step is to go out and find influencers on Instagram who meet them. The easiest way to do so is to use an influencer marketing tool like InfluencerDB or the Instagram API, which allows a user with a business profile to access key influence marketing statistics pertaining to the criteria listed above. Of course, this can also be done without such tools but it will take more time. 

Some of the ways in which brands can manually search for relevant influencers included looking for brand hashtags (Influencers who are already talking about specific brands) and relevant hashtags (influencers who are already posting related material to a brand’s niche or industry). 

Once an influencer is defined and found, a brand or advertiser can partner up with them and create and execute a campaign in 5 ways. These include: 

  1. Sponsored Posts: Influencers mention brand products or services in their personal content. 
  2. Contests: Influencers give away free products supplied to them by a brand to raise awareness about the brand and their products. 
  3. Branded Content: Influencers use a brand’s content in their posts. 
  4. Reviews: Influencers give honest reviews about a brand’s product or service. 
  5. Affiliate/Rep Programs: Brands give influencers the rights to coupon codes and discounts that they can offer their followers exclusively on the brand’s behalf. 

 

Pros and cons of using influencers on Instagram

From what has already been discussed above, it is obvious that there are multiple benefits to hiring Instagram Influencers for different influence marketing campaigns. However, brands have to be careful and make sure that Instagram Influencers and the platform itself has the audience and “vibe” that is best suited for the brand. 

Below is a list of advantages and potential disadvantages of using Instagram and its large number of influencers as a marketing medium and influencer management tool. 

Pros

  • Reach brings awareness. Some of the biggest influencers on Instagram have followers ranging anywhere from 12-100 million. This can mean millions of impressions for brands trying to increase awareness. 
  • Trust equals better conversions. It has long been known in the marketing world that third-party endorsements bring the best marketing results. The reason is that when a friend, family member, or trusted acquaintance has said that they have benefited from a particular product or service, people are more willing to give it a try than if the endorsement has come from the brand itself. Brand content will always be met with a bit of apprehension as it is associated with “selling”. However, Instagram influencer content is seen as “sharing”, and that too from someone people love and trust. 
  • Instagram marketing has the potential to build relationships. This ability is unique to this form of marketing as a brand or advertiser can not really build a personal relationship with an entity like Google or Facebook, even if their ad platforms bring excellent results. 

Once a relationship is established with an influencer, a brand can employ their services more than once and the influencer is more willing to continue to deliver engaging promotions for the brand. The influencer ultimately becomes a “rock-solid” form of predictable traffic for the brand, one they can always rely on while they test new marketing avenues and methods. 

Cons 

  • Negotiations can be tough. This is especially true if using a very popular influencer with a large following. Even if a brand just wants a tiny post to be delivered through a big-name Instagram Influencer, it can often run into the thousands and try to convince them to lower the price often irritates such public figures. If an influencer gets upset during the negotiation process they can end up trashing the brand to their following instead. Here's the guide on how to price and negotiate with an influencer
  • Influencers have been known to post incorrect content on the brand’s behalf. This doesn't happen that often but it does happen. Whether it is laziness, ego, or not having enough help or influencer management tools, influencers do make unintentional and intentional mistakes. After all, they may have a large following but they are still human. 
  • Instagram influencers may have the wrong audience for a brand. If a brand has a product or service not catering to female millennials, then even the best influencer with the largest following won’t help. That is not to say that there aren’t micro-influencers and followers on Instagram outside of the platform’s general audience, it is just that it is harder to locate them. Thus, it's necessary to check the audience data of an influencer before committing to any collaboration. 

 

Instagram influencers as a viable marketing medium

Every effective online marketing method goes through three phases: start (growth), peak, and plateau (decline). Whether it be SEO, Facebook Marketing, or Social Media Marketing, advertisers see a good thing and all pile in until the method gets saturated and becomes less effective, if not completely ineffective after some time. 

The question to ask here is what phase is Instagram influencer marketing in. Contrary to popular belief, marketing through influencers is not a new concept but it has only experienced explosive growth since 2004 with the advent of social media platforms like Facebook, followed by Twitter in 2006. 

The statistics given below can help brands and advertisers figure out if marketing on Instagram through influencers is still on the rise, hit its peak, or on its way down. This can help them better assess how much resources they should put into this form of advertising. 

  • Influencers still produce the highest customer-acquisition rate (30%). This is in comparison to Organic Search (15%), Email Marketing (13%), Paid Search (11%), Display Advertising (5%), & Affiliate Marketing (3%). 
  • Influencer return on investment (ROI), is still on the rise: $1.07 billion (2017), $1.60 billion (2018), and $2.38 billion (predicted 2019). 
  • Over 90% of marketers who currently partner with influencers run profitable campaigns and will continue to use them for their Instagram marketing campaigns. 

As can be seen from the above stats, it appears that using Instagram influencers for marketing campaigns is still a profitable channel for brands and online advertisers. In fact, the numbers seem to be indicating that this form of marketing is still on the rise and has not yet peaked. 

 

How to leverage Instagram influencers

In order to market effectively market with Instagram influencers, there are some important practices brands and advertisers should follow. Some of the major ones have been included below. 

  • Legitimate influencers never follow more than 30% of their followers. 
  • Effective influencers have engagement rates between 1-4%, depending on the niche and demographics. 
  • Measure the campaign performance by using as many metrics as possible during and after Instagram marketing campaigns. Many influencer marketers simply measure impressions to gauge if an influencer did a good job or not. This is not enough data to come to a decisive conclusion of whether or not the influencer and their following were relevant to the brand, however. Social media vanity metrics like no. of likes and comments are more pertinent to measuring an influencer campaign than simple impressions. Of course, measuring how many leads and sales the specific campaign produced is perhaps the most important measurement for brands and online advertisers, as the bottom line is what matters most. 
  • Integrate influencer campaigns with other marketing campaigns. Often times, brands use influencers as a stand-alone marketing avenue but to get the most out of them they should incorporate influencer engagement and traffic with other forms of advertising. For instance, if a brand uses an influencer to drive visits to their site, they can set a Facebook retargeting pixel on their pages to later show relevant Facebook Ads to Instagram users who visited and interacted with the brand’s website. 

It has been proven that online users often need to see a brand, product, or service various times before deciding to buy and using influencers for the initial touch point can be an effective strategy in gaining trust right from the beginning and therefore minimizing the attempts it takes to convince the follower to purchase the brand’s product or service.