Instagram influencers are people who are at the top of their game; they are experts, innovators, and leaders in their field. They can also be brand advocates who have strong credibility and/or an extended reach with a specific target audience.
Partnering with the right influencers for your brand can be a successful strategy in your content marketing by leveraging the influencers’ ability to attract a bigger audience.
In a recent article on my blog, we analyzed some of the most influential Instagram marketing campaigns. We found that the right campaign with the right influencer can bring many benefits to your business, such as increased traffic, leads, and customers.
The aim of this post is to show you how to think about influencer marketing for your content, how to identify the right influencers, and how to put together an effective outreach strategy.
Set a Clear Goal
The first step in partnering with an influencer is to form a clear goal or set of objectives for your strategy.
Before you begin thinking about who you want to approach to represent your brand, you should know what the end goal is so that you can direct your influencers accordingly.
Some of the most common goals for a brand are to:
- Create content that generates engagement
- Increase brand awareness and credibility
- Extend the reach of the content produced
- Tap into new markets
A good goal-setting technique is SMART goals: Always set a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
It is bad practice to reach out to influencers without a plan and ask them what they can do for your brand. This attitude will get you no replies. Instead, be prepared, do your work, and make sure you have defined a clear SMART goal. You need to be clear on what you are asking them to do, based on your goal.
For example, if you want an influencer to contribute content to your blog, make sure you give a good background on who the audience is, what topics will resonate best, and the tone of voice your audience has come to expect from your blog.
If you want influencers to make your content more credible, you can ask them to add comments or quotes to it. And if you want them to share your content, you need to provide them with the right messaging, imagery, and a reason why they should share your content.
You also need to make them understand the benefits they will get from helping your brand.
Whatever your reason for reaching out to influencers, by keeping your goal in mind, you’ll be better able to give them the direction they’ll need to provide you what you want. We’ll talk more about how to approach influencers with your requests a little later in this post.
Learn From Existing Brands
One of the first places to begin your research is by studying your competitors to see what they are doing. You can also look at other brands that are not your competitors but that have a similar demographic to your audience; analyze the type of content they create and share to discover which content gets the highest level of engagement.
One of the best places to check is the Instagram for Business blog. The blog features insightful case studies to discover Instagram updates and to learn how brands use Instagram as a marketing platform.
Source: Instagram for Business blog
The blog allows you to learn more about what other businesses are doing on Instagram.
Catch Surf, for example, began running Instagram ads across Facebook, and its Instagram campaign resulted in a 46X return on advertising spending between October 2016 and August 2017.
Another example is Victorinox. Alexandra Hinz, the company’s social media manager, said that Instagram was the ideal platform for the launch campaign of the new I.N.O.X. V watch. The results from Instagram were excellent because Victorinox was able to target users so specifically.
Create a Plan of Action
Now that you’ve learned from brands, you can create a specific plan of action.
Start with a brief and set some tangible goals first when creating a plan of action, so you’ll be able to have a specific target and help the influencer understand what you are after.
Based on recent studies from the Augure’s State of Influencer Engagement 2015, participants cited these goals for working with influencers:
- Content promotion
- Product launch
- Content creation
- Event management
- Corporate communications
- Crisis management
It’s up to you to decide which goal fits better with your marketing strategy and business.
Although a plan of action is important, it’s essential to let your influencers be creative and contribute in their own way. If you try to control them too much, they will be limited in the way they can express themselves, and their messages won’t feel authentic to their audience.
Identify the Best Influencer for Your Brand
Before you find the right influencers to work with, you need to understand who your customers are and what goals, desires, fears, and aspirations they share.
Knowing this information will help you determine the most influential person for your audience.
Influence is not about popularity; influence is about context and is tied to a specific subject matter. Once you know who your audience is, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Who triggers them to think about your category?
- Who is answering their questions or teaching them?
- Who provides information and content that helps them make a decision?
Asking these questions will give you a better understanding of the online conversations that impact your brand, product, or service.
One of the quickest tools you can use to search for potential influencers is Influencer DB. This tool will help you find the right influencers for your brand because you’ll be able to see from their stats their audience, influence level, and niche.
You can use filters, such as location, when you are searching for your favorite influencers on Influencer DB.
Using filters will simplify the process of finding the best influencer for your marketing campaign.
When looking for influencers, you should pay attention to three important metrics:
- Their resonance: This shows you how people interact with an influencer’s content, e.g., Instagram comments, linkbacks, likes, and shares.
- Their reach: These stats show the influencers’ audience size, e.g., their number of blog visitors, Instagram followers, and Facebook fans.
- Their relevance: This tells you how the influencer is connected to a specific subject, e.g., the keywords used and the type of content the influencer creates.
By looking at all the influencers’ stats, you can understand their impact on many social media platforms, their audience engagement level, and how relevant their content is to your brand.
Just like real-life relationships, it’s important to interact with someone before you ask them for a favor. You can start by connecting with influencers on their social media accounts and interacting with them.
Comment on influencers’ Instagram posts, share their content, and start a conversation with them. If you do this consistently and correctly, it will be easier to connect with the influencer and eventually collaborate together.
Build Real Relationships With Influencers
Now that you know which influencers you are going to reach out to and what you’re going ask them for based on your goal, how do you go about approaching influencers? Should you Tweet at them? Send them an email? Have a pitch ready?
Listed below are tips to help you connect with your influencers and get a response.
Wear the Influencers’ Shoes
You need to understand what the influencers’ priorities are for their business and as thought leaders. That means knowing the market they are in, understanding the segment(s) they cater to, and what they want to accomplish.
In order to collaborate with the influencers you want, tell them why you’re approaching them and how they can make a difference to your client or campaign.
Bring Value to the Influencer
Your outreach must be balanced in terms of the value it delivers to the influencer. If your product also brings some benefits to the influencer, you’ll have higher chances of making your campaign successful.
Ask what you could do for them and leverage whatever reach or promotions you can to help them spread the word on what matters to them the most.
One of the best ways to begin a collaboration with influencers is to identify what they like and send it to them as a gift. This could be a product sample from your one of your products or a product from another brand. This generous gesture can set the potential collaboration in the right direction, and it can make the influencer feel special.
Make Your Offer Relevant
You need to understand not only what your market wants but also what your influencer is passionate about. If the content you share aligns with the influencers’ beliefs, values, and interests, they will be more engaged with your campaign and more invested in your brand and products.
Influencers are people with passions and hobbies as well. If you manage to understand what their passions are and if those passions align with your products or brand, it’ll be far easier for influencers to create original content and share it with their audience.
Allowing influencers to align their passions with your brand will generally result in a more invested partner who will be more motivated to promote your brand and products.
Perfect Your Pitch
The “pitch” is always better when there is an experience influencers would welcome and want to share with their friends. Pinpointing information that is relevant, contextual, and valuable will go a long way.
Wrapping what would be your “pitch” in a customized story or an experience that’s meaningful and memorable helps get the attention of the influencers you want to reach.
Here is a pitch template to send to an influencer:
Hey [Name of the Influencer]
I'm [Your name] from [Your company]. I've been following your [blog/website/Instagram account] for a while - [Tell the influencer what you like about them and their work].
Would you be interested in partnering with us for a [Idea goes here, e.g. product launch]?
We offer [Write what you offer to the influencer here].
We won’t get involved in your content in any way - your unique voice is what makes it so good.
If you're interested, can we hop on a quick call (10 minutes) sometime next week?
I am looking forward to hearing from you soon!
This email is personalized and offers relevant, to-the-point information.
Do the Hard Work for Influencers
Make it easy for influencers to participate; for example, if there are specific content pieces you are hoping they’ll draw from, make those pieces accessible for them.
If you are hoping they will share short-form content, create it for them as a starting point. They may change it, but they will appreciate not having to create it from scratch.
Decide How the Partnership Works
When you’ve found the best influencer for your brand, you’ll need to find an agreement that can benefit both parties.
The most important aspects you should be focusing on are:
- Time: Make sure you give specific directions to the influencers so they will be aware of the marketing campaign deadlines.
- Content: Agree on what type of content you want the influencer to create for your brand. For example, a series of Instagram posts about your brand and/or products or a blog post that the influencer will share on his or her blog with a link to your site.
- Ownership & rights: Find an agreement regarding the content usage rights. Generally speaking, influencers will be the owner of the content they create, but you can ask them to give you permission to use it for a specific amount of time, such as a couple of years. In this way, you’ll be able to keep sharing and repurposing the content they created on your social media platforms.
- Retribution: Understand and agree on the payment structure, dates, and amount you are willing to pay for the influencer’s services. Sometimes you’ll be able to negotiate a free deal in exchange for a free product, service, or experience. However, most influencers expect to be paid for their work, so you should be respectful of their work and effort and offer a fair retribution for their services. If you are negotiating on price, consider the type of services influencers will do for you. For example, establish how much their audience is worth to your business, and give clear directions on what you want them to do for you and the benefits you’ll provide to them.
- Hashtag use: There are different regulations regarding sponsored content, and they frequently change. However, make sure the influencer uses the #spon or #ad hashtags in your campaign and content to ensure viewers know it is sponsored content.
Partner With Influencers
In this article, you learned why partnering with Instagram influencers is a great strategy for your brand. It builds credibility and increases your reach and the ability to tap into new markets and drive more traffic to your social media channels. You learned how to find and reach out to your influencers and work with them on your next marketing campaign.
Following the instructions and tips from this article can help you create successful content marketing strategy and social media campaigns.
About the Author
Angelo Lo Presti is the co-founder of RisePro.co, founder of Superhive.co, and head of Instagram marketing at Whole Design Studios. With 10 years of experience in UX design, he has worked with top clients in the e-commerce industry and provided UX design, UX research, and social media marketing strategies.