Instagram influencer marketing is the benchmark for social media marketing at the moment. IG brings in the biggest numbers for influencer content than any other platform. This makes it the most important of the social media platforms to master if you want to run successful influencer marketing campaigns.
In this Instagram Influencer Marketing Guide, we unpack everything you need to know about running an influencer campaign.
Our guide includes more reasons why you should use Instagram for influencer marketing and the types of campaigns you can run. To get you on the right track, we will also share step-by-step instructions for how to create an effective Instagram influencer marketing strategy.
Instagram influencer marketing is a promotional strategy that uses popular or respected Instagram users known as influencers.
These users often specialize in blogging or social media content creation and have established themselves as experts in a particular niche. Their followers see them as trustworthy individuals whose opinions and knowledge are worth listening to.
Influencer marketing across social media channels has grown substantially in the past couple of years. And it is expected to continue in the coming years.
But, what does Instagram offer you? And what makes it an invaluable social media channel you must use for your influencer marketing campaign?
Honestly, no other platform (not Twitter, Facebook, or even the rising star, TikTok) can compete with Instagram influencer marketing.
“In 2020, the number of brand-sponsored influencer posts on Instagram surpassed six million, making the global Instagram influencer market a two-billion-dollar business.”
Although Instagram doesn’t have the highest numbers when it comes to active monthly users, it trumps the higher Facebook user numbers at engagement.
In 2021, “the Facebook average engagement rate was 0.13%, the Twitter engagement rate reached a mere 0.05%, while Instagram scored an average engagement rate of 0.83%.”
Instagram has now lost its first-place position to TikTok, which has a whopping engagement rate of 5.96%. However, it is still a key channel for social engagement and authentic engagement with customers and users.
Engagement numbers point to user interaction with influencer posts. They tell us that users like, comment, and share the content. What this tells us is that you can nurture organic interest in your products by working with influencers that have engaged users.
Another reason to value an influencer’s engagement numbers is that they show you how much trust users have in what they have to say. And that is what Instagram influencer marketing offers you: a chance to leverage that trust.
Influencers become a direct link to your target users and customers. They are trusted advisors who can recommend your brand’s products and services without being too salesy.
These are seven of the most effective types of Instagram influencer marketing campaigns you can run. You can choose to use one or several of these for your collaboration.
Sponsored posts are the most commonly-used Instagram influencer campaign types. They are also the simplest.
With these posts, you hand over all the risks and costs of creating content to your influencer collaborator. The risk here is that the content your brand creates may not connect you to your target audience. That is the whole point of influencer marketing – leveraging the power the influencer has. They know what their followers like and what kind of content works for them.
Cost-wise, you don’t have to spend money on equipment for content creation, a creative team, and more. Instead, you simply have to compensate the influencer and that can still be budget-friendly especially if you’re working with nano- or micro-influencers. You can even offer them a free product or a discount.
The only work you have to do is find a good influencer to work with (we’ll share how below) and create a detailed brief of what you’d like from the content. This includes brand styling and feel, themes, content expectations, and other guidelines so you’re all on the same page.
Affiliate influencer marketing campaigns are perfect if you have a bunch of Instagram influencers you want to work with. It’s low-cost and adaptable. It offers you access to numerous influencers’ audiences. And, it has a clear link to sales conversions and your bottom line.
How does it work?
Well, you give each of your social media influencers a promo or discount code or link unique to them. They share this code or link in their content, including graphics, videos, captions, etc. They also direct their followers to your website where people can make discounted purchases using the affiliate link or influencer discount code.
For every checked-out cart where the code is used, the influencer earns a commission.
You get an additional sale and marketing, they make an income, and the customer receives a discount. Everyone wins!
Reviews and unboxing clips really give influencers a chance to really center your product through product seeding.
Through review-type influencer marketing campaign posts, customers can really get a sense of what the influencer thinks of your product. They plant the seed on the customer buying journey, drawing attention to overlooked but important details like branding and packaging through unboxing videos.
Reviews act as recommendations that may guide customers when they have to make a purchasing decision. Influencers’ input can influence whether a customer buys a product or not. If you sell dog portraits on canvas, you can make a custom one for your influencer and send them for an unboxing.
The lovely thing about review and unboxing posts is that they give potential customers insight into how it feels to use the product. It’s almost like a story or narrative that presents the product as it would be used or received by a buyer.
Often, this campaign type works best with micro-influencers, unless you can get macro and celebrity influencers into your gear like Beyoncé x Adidas for the Ivy Park campaign.
Brands can also hand over the keys to their social media accounts to the influencer. The influencer ‘takes over’ the brand’s Instagram, posting relevant content during their account management.
Both the influencer and the brand can decide how long the takeover lasts, anywhere from a couple of hours or a day to a week.
Yes, takeovers take a tad more trust than other influencer campaign types since the brand has to share the account passwords with the influencer. To make account takeovers easier and safer, you can use password manager tool.
Often including Instagram Stories and Lives, takeovers can also decrease the amount of control the brand has over the content going out. They can’t pre-approve content happening live or in the moment.
Nailing a social media takeover influencer marketing campaign comes down to choosing the right influencer. If you work with a relevant influencer that connects to and speaks directly to your brand values and vision, you can trust that they will represent you well.
If done right, nothing says authentic and organic than an influencer giving a real-life glimpse into how their personal brand melds with yours.
Contests and giveaways are great go-tos for influencer campaigns because they offer benefits to everyone involved. Your brand gets its promotion. The influencer gains an opportunity to grow their following. And their followers and other Instagram users stand to win your products at no cost.
With this approach, the brand makes a product or service available to the influencer. This is what the influencer ‘gives away’. They must position the product or service as desirable, selling it to the customer by telling them why they should enter the giveaway.
Increased followers, engagement, and reach are also benefits of running a giveaway. To gain these benefits, have your influencer ask users to follow and comment on both the influencer and brand accounts. You can also ask them to tag friends and share the post so that awareness of the giveaway spreads.
The downside, however, is that you will often find temporary or fleeting interest from users. After the giveaway ends, engagement may return to normal and you could find yourself with a ton of fake or uninterested followers.
You may also notice a sudden and quick drop in your follower count as those who followed for the contest’s sake unfollow you.
Lastly, we’ve got brand ambassador collaborations. These are a little more permanent than some of the other campaign types.
Here, the brand establishes a long-term relationship with an influencer where the influencer becomes a representative of the brand.
Essentially, the brand ambassador becomes the face of your brand, sharing brand content regularly for a couple of months, a year, or even longer.
Through brand ambassador programs, your partnership is about the long game. Audiences may be more likely to believe you have a genuine dynamic with an influencer if you’ve been working with them for a while. They witness the development and growth of your relationship, and with time may feel that they can trust and be a part of it.
Dynamics like this speak to loyalty, dedication, and your brand’s prioritizing of its relationships.
Although these are some of the common campaign types to consider, you don’t just have to stick to these. Get creative. Make adjustments to the options above to suit your brand and your chosen influencer partner.
You’ll see in the next section on designing a strategy that social media content creation and influencer marketing rely on trial and error and creativity.
Here’s how you can design a successful Instagram influencer marketing strategy in just six steps.
Instagram influencer marketing is simply another advertising or promotional approach for your business. As you would identify the aims of a traditional ad campaign, it is important to understand what you want to achieve by working with Instagram influencers.
What are the goals of the campaign? What do you hope to get out of your influencer marketing efforts?
Some common influencer marketing goals include:
Understanding what you want to achieve will guide your decision-making throughout your Instagram influencer marketing campaign. This includes deciding on which relevant influencers can help you achieve your goals.
Working in unison with your goals are the key performance indicators (KPIs) you track. KPIs help you measure your progress in achieving your goal. They indicate how your campaign is performing or has performed.
These indicators are an essential part of constantly improving your approach for influencer marketing on Instagram.
The next thing you have to consider is how much you have to invest in the campaign. The fantastic thing about influencer marketing is that there are some nano-influencers and micro-influencers who are open to creating content in exchange for a product or discount. This makes it possible to have a successful campaign without hefty expenses.
On the other hand of the spectrum, macro, mega, and celebrity influencers will likely cost you a fair buck for a post or two.
It’s important to research how much Instagram influencers cost before cementing budget decisions. Check out our guide How Much Does it Cost to Hire an Influencer for a better understanding of influencer costs.
Defining your budget and other resource capabilities will give you a clear focus on who you can work with. It narrows the pool significantly.
By the time you start looking for the right influencers, you have already cut down the list according to cost.
Now, it’s time to go out and find the person or people you want to work with. But… where to begin?
There are many ways to find potential influencers for your campaign, through influencer marketing tools and IG itself.
First, you could go with people you already interact with or who already engage with your account. Often, if an influencer is interested in working with a brand, they will tag the brand in posts and engage with brand content.
By choosing an influencer that already knows and understands your brand, you have a better opportunity to partner with someone who will make your brand shine. It will read as authentic to their audience because of their established history with your product or service. The influencer already knows and likes what you have to offer.
Another way to approach looking for top Instagram influencers to work with is by using influencer marketing platforms.
An influencer marketing platform, like trendHERO, offers you tools to search for influencers. You can find them according to audience size, niche, cost, etc. This makes it easier to identify a shortlist of potential influencers for your campaign.
Finally, you can also seek influencers through an influencer marketing agency. These are organizations that work to facilitate good working relationships between brands and influencers.
To learn more, see our article How to Find Influencers on Instagram.
Once you’ve identified influencers and selected the ones that fit your brand’s aims, you need to make initial contact with the influencers.
Influencer discovery is one thing and you’ve done it. Now, you have to master influencer outreach which can make or break your campaign. It’s like pitching yourself to the influencer – approaching them in a way that makes it clear they should work with you.
There are two main ways to do this. You can send a friendly but professional DM, introducing yourself and your brand and informing them you have a campaign with them in mind. You can share some brief campaign details and potential expectations. Ask them to share their influencer media kit if they are interested in working with you.
Some influencers also have their professional emails in their bios for any collaborations. You can use a template for email outreach, too. Keep it light, amicable, and open. Express your interest in them, but also show them what they stand to gain. You want to present the collaboration as a win-win.
If an influencer says yes, it’s time to finalize plans and make it official!
You want to establish clear expectations of your working relationship right from the beginning. This includes agreeing on:
You should collate these into a contract or agreement that you can both sign. This agreement should also request regular reports from the influencer on the performance of influencer posts.
If you both begin your relationship on the same page, there’s a higher probability of success.
Getting to the point where you have the influencer working with you is not where your campaign ends. You have to monitor progress and reflect on the success or improvement areas of each campaign.
Do this by:
Use the data to enhance the remainder of the campaign and others going forward.
Social media marketing has become an essential part of any business marketing strategy today. How you leverage influencer marketing is a key part of how you use social media for the benefit of your brand and sales.
Instagram has grown into an influencer marketing giant. It gives brands the power to reach out and connect directly with their target audience.
Now that you understand how to run an Instagram campaign, you can use it to boost your business. Whether you want to build brand awareness, grow a loyal audience, or increase sales, influencer marketing has a leg up on traditional advertising with so many benefits for your brand.