Many marketers see influencer campaigns as essential to a brand’s online success. And, according to BigCommerce, 69 percent of marketers plan to rely primarily on Instagram to power their influencer marketing efforts in 2019.

The image-sharing platform is an excellent place to spread brand awareness. But before you can benefit from an Instagram campaign, you’ll want to find the right influencers to represent your business. We’ve got some tips that’ll help you narrow down your search.

Establish Your Objectives

The first step in finding the right Instagram influencers is to ask yourself some basic questions about your objectives.

What do you hope to accomplish by working with an Instagram influencer? For example, do you simply want to raise brand awareness by having someone endorse and show off your product? Or are you looking for someone to take on the more involved task of running giveaways and similar competitions? These kinds of events can boost your brand’s follower count.

What’s the scope of the campaign? Do you want someone who runs a blog and is active on other social media channels? Or do you want someone who relies solely on Instagram photos and videos? You might find that you need multiple influencers if you’re planning an extensive campaign.

If you want to increase sales of a specific product, you should consider an influencer who’s comfortable working with coupon codes. A shareable coupon can be a smart way to increase your ROI.

Also consider how long you want to partner with an Instagram influencer. Long-term partnerships have their advantages, but not every influencer will want to commit to that arrangement.

Begin Your Search

Depending on your company’s industry, you might find an overwhelming number of potential influencers. Start your search by using hashtags to see if anyone is already talking about your business. You might be surprised to find that certain accounts are already endorsing your products and services.

Expand your keyword search; this time use hashtags that relate to your brand’s niche. For example, if you offer custom skateboards, try tags like #skateboarding, #skatepark or #skatelife. Include #sponsored or #ad to find influencer accounts.

If your search doesn’t produce any suitable influencers, you can always use an influencer marketplace. These platforms help put marketers in touch with influencers in a specific niche.

Draft a list of all the influencers who appeal to you. If the list seems long, don’t worry. The next step will rule some of them out.

Take a Closer Look

Use the following factors to evaluate each influencer on your list.

Audience Size

An influencer’s follower count matters, but perhaps not in the way you imagine. For example, a post from an Instagram account with over 100,000 followers will have high visibility. But just because a post is visible doesn’t mean it’ll inspire the audience to take action. Micro- or nano-influencers — people who only have a few thousand followers — can come across as more authentic and relatable. That makes their pitch more effective.

Micro- and nano-influencers can also be more effective when you’re trying to target customers in a specific area. For example, if your new diner is in a small town, a local food influencer can spread your message to other locals.

Activity Level and Engagement

How often does the influencer post? You’ll probably stumble upon a few accounts that post infrequently. That could indicate the influencer doesn’t have much time to dedicate to your campaign. When an influencer does post, take note of audience engagement. If the influencer’s posts receive plenty of likes and positive comments, that’s a good sign. Also review any responses the influencer writes.

Target Audience

Just because an influencer is posting about your industry doesn’t necessarily mean this person is talking to your target audience. Keep demographics such as age and gender in mind as you look for the most effective messenger for your brand. For example, if you sell gaming accessories for women, you might want to find an industry-savvy female influencer whose audience overlaps with your own.

Values and Voice

Do the candidates communicate and act in a way that reflects your brand’s values? Steer clear of influencers who have a history of offensive posts that might impact your reputation.

In terms of voice, review your own social media content and compare it to the influencer’s communication style. Do the two styles seem to complement each other? Ensure they don’t clash.

Approaching an Influencer

Once you’ve finally found a few Instagram influencers who seem right for your campaign, reach out to them. In an email or direct message, introduce your brand and express your interest in working together. Compliment them on their content and explain why you think they might be a good fit for your campaign. If they seem interested, prepare to negotiate on specifics, such as expectations and compensation.

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