Want to quickly grow your brand? Thinking about using Instagram influencers but aren’t sure how to get started?
In this article, you’ll learn how to find and partner with creators and Instagram influencers who can help you reach new audiences and build trust.
Why You Should Work With Instagram Influencers
Whether you manage Instagram marketing for a new or established business, you probably use a few standard tactics. For example, you publish Instagram content consistently, post a wide variety of content, and use hashtags to drive discovery.
As useful as these tactics are, they may not allow your business to grow as quickly as you’d like or get the sales or leads you want. Here’s how Instagram influencers can help you reach your marketing goals.
Introduce Your Business to New Audiences
Does your Instagram following reflect just a small percentage of your total addressable market? Growing your Instagram audience can be slow going, even if you use the right hashtags and engage with other accounts in your industry.
By partnering with Instagram influencers, you can tap into relevant audiences instantly. Standard influencers typically have at least 50,000 followers so a partnership gives you the chance to connect with thousands of potential customers.
Build Credibility and Trustworthiness
It isn’t always easy to convince new customers that your business can solve their problems. To confirm your business’ credibility, potential customers may need to read reviews, try samples, or research competitors.
In contrast, influencers can help your business build credibility much more efficiently. After all, influencers generally attract audiences because of their expertise. If an influencer raves about your business, for example, followers are likely to trust what they say, which can streamline the customer journey.
Achieve Measurable Results
It’s easy to assume that influencer marketing targets the top of the funnel only. But influencers can help your team accomplish much more than attracting more followers or getting more impressions and engagement.
In fact, influencers can often partner with businesses on lead generation, sales, and other conversions. Before you make a pitch or launch a campaign, set expectations and discuss measurement to make sure everyone is on the same page.
How to Find Influential Creators on Instagram
Instagram is home to countless creators in virtually every niche. Follow the steps below to start identifying potential partners for your business.
Start With a Hashtag Search
First, open the Instagram app and tap the magnifying glass icon to visit the Explore tab. In the search bar, type a hashtag that’s relevant to your business and your industry. When the search results appear, tap the one you entered to view the hashtag search page.
Instagram automatically displays dozens of the most popular posts and reels that use the hashtag. Scroll through the top content and tap to view posts that jump out at you and fit your business’ aesthetic.
Some of the posts may be from businesses or retailers. But just as many may be from influencers who could be great partners for your business. You don’t have to dig too deep just yet. If you spot a post from a creator who could be a good fit, tap the bookmark icon to save it for further review.
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If you’re specifically interested in partnering with creators for short-form video, you can also take a look at the Reels tab for the hashtag. From the hashtag page, it’s also a good idea to follow key tags for your business or industry. That way, you’ll see relevant content from creators in your Instagram feed and you can continue to build a list of potential partners.
Then go back to your hashtag search, tap some of the related tags, and repeat the process above. It’s a good idea to scroll down through the list to view hashtags with less traffic, as you’re more likely to find niche tags that creators use.
Search Location Tags on Instagram
If your business has a brick-and-mortar space or a presence in a local community, it’s also helpful to search location tags on Instagram. This allows you to find influencers in your local area and narrow down your search substantially.
To search location tags, go back to the Explore tab and tap the map icon in the upper-right corner. Then tap the magnifying glass icon and enter the name of your business. From there, you can scroll through the list of top content and use the workflow above to identify potential partners.
Keep in mind these search results are based on the location tag, not your professional account’s tag. In the top content feed, you may see content your business posted but you’re also likely to see popular posts from influential creators.
Do you have local competitors? You can use the same process to search for competitors’ location tags and find creators who’ve published content about them.
Check Your Business’ Mentions
Sometimes, finding influencers requires a lot of research. But in other cases, they’re already in your inbox, waiting for you to discover them. First, go to your Instagram profile and open the tab of tagged content. Tap to save any posts that appear to be from influential creators or that feature positive reviews of your business.
Since tagged content is public, you can visit your competitors’ profiles and view content they’ve been tagged in, too. This tactic can help find (and eventually befriend) influencers in your niche who are fans of the competition.
Next, scroll through your DMs to find messages from creators who have tagged your business or shared their content with you. You can tap the flag icon at the top of any DM to keep track of potential partners.
Once you’ve flagged one or more creators, you can tap the Filter link in your DMs and opt to view flagged messages only. That way, you can find conversations with creators relatively easily. Keep in mind that the filter displays conversations that have been active in the past 30 days, however, so it only works for keeping track of recent discussions.
Use Social Listening Tools
Instagram automatically alerts you to a lot of content that mentions your business. But if the original creator didn’t tag you, it won’t show up on your tagged content tab or in your DMs.
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With a social listening tool, you can find content that features your business but doesn’t have a tag. For example, you can track down posts that mention you in the caption or that spell out your company’s name, rather than using your Instagram handle.
Once you find posts that mention your business, tap to save them. It’s helpful to add them to a collection that’s exclusively for potential collaborators so you can easily keep track of the people you want to connect with.
With a social listening tool like Mention, for instance, you can create custom alerts that notify you about brand mentions on Instagram and other platforms. You can add any number of versions of your business name (including misspellings) to find as many mentions as possible. Since the tool finds and alerts you to mentions automatically, you don’t have to worry about missing anything.
You can also create custom alerts for competitors. Then you can cast a wider net and find influencers who already have an interest in your niche.
Browse Influencer Marketing Tools
In October 2021, Instagram announced that the platform is testing tools to improve the influencer search process. Branded content features under consideration include tools for finding creators, vetting their profiles, and communicating via a dedicated partnership DM folder.
But until these tools roll out, an influencer marketing platform can streamline your research process and make it easier to discover creators. These paid tools can simplify every step of the process. They have powerful search engines to help you find influencers based on keywords, niches, locations, or audience sizes.
They can also display engagement stats and evaluate the quality of influencers’ audiences so you can prioritize partnerships with experienced creators. These tools can also make it easier to keep a database of potential creators, stored in one convenient place.
With a tool like BuzzSumo, for example, you can search for influencers based on keywords. Then you can scan the list for creators with high Instagram authority scores—a metric that can help you identify the most influential creators.
Since BuzzSumo also tracks the domain authority of creators’ websites, you can use this secondary metric to confirm how established or influential each creator is. Then you can click to visit any creator’s Instagram account directly or save their profile to your list in BuzzSumo.
How to Partner With Influential Creators on Instagram
Once you’ve done the initial research, you can create a shortlist and start reaching out to your top choices. Let’s look at how to build relationships and plan successful influencer campaigns.
Build Relationships With Potential Partners
In most cases, it’s a good idea to avoid pitching influencers the moment you find them. Naturally, creators have to vet your business just like you’ve evaluated them—and that means they need to feel confident that your business is a good fit for their audience. Instead of jumping right into an influencer marketing negotiation, build a relationship first.
To some extent, you can get to know creators via the content they post. But merely consuming their content leads to a one-sided relationship. Take the time to comment on your favorite creators’ content regularly and show your business’ personality.
Track Influencers in Your Instagram Inbox
If you opt to use an influencer marketing tool for pitches and campaigns (see below), you can track creators and organize messages through your paid platform of choice. But if you opt to build relationships via native tools instead, you have helpful options beyond the Instagram app.
Just like the Instagram app, Creator Studio lets you flag messages from creators you’d like to prioritize. But Creator Studio also lets you add labels to conversations so you can track people more effectively. For example, you can label influencers based on where they fall on your shortlist or the campaign where you think they’d be best.
You can also add internal notes and contact details in Creator Studio. This feature is particularly helpful if you want to keep your team on the same page and build toward a partnership seamlessly.
Map Out Influencer Campaigns
Once you have an idea of the types of creators who might collaborate with your business, you can plan influencer campaigns more effectively. Think about the type of content you’d like influencers to create. For example, Instagram giveaways may be helpful for growing your audience, while lifestyle features may be better for getting people to consider a purchase.
It’s also important to think about the content format (for example, posts, reels, or stories) and the budget you can allocate. Think about whether and how Instagram ads will factor into your campaign too because you may need additional permissions to run ads with creator content. These details are essential for pitching creators and getting what you need to ensure your campaign succeeds.
Set Goals for Influencer Partnerships
As you crunch budget-related numbers, it’s helpful to consider the goals for your campaign such as a certain number of new followers or a certain revenue amount from sales.
Be transparent about your goals so the creators you work with understand how you’re measuring success. Experienced influencers should be able to estimate whether your goal is reasonable given the size of their audience, the amount of content they plan to create, and similar results they’ve achieved in the past.
Pitch Potential Partners
Once you’ve worked out all of the details of your influencer campaign, you can pitch influencers and ask them to work with you. You can pitch them through DMs and use Instagram’s native branded content tools to add the Paid Partnership label to any sponsored content.
Alternatively, you can use influencer marketing platforms to manage agreements and payments. Tools like #paid let you set up campaigns and specify the type of creator you’d like to work with. The platform then matches you with creators and simplifies the pitching, approval, and payment processes.
Measure Campaign Results
If you use an influencer marketing platform like #paid, then measuring campaign results is relatively straightforward. It tracks key metrics like reach and cost per result so you can make sure you’re getting the return on investment that makes sense for your business.
But if you run influencer campaigns manually, you’ll need to do some planning to measure and attribute results accurately. For example, if you want to attribute audience growth to an influencer partnership, you’ll want to start with a benchmark for typical monthly account growth.
If you want to attribute sales and revenue, it’s a good idea to assign custom promo codes or URLs for each creator. That way, you can attribute results to the right influencer, measure revenue accurately, and identify the creators you’d like to work with again on future campaigns.
Finding influential Instagram creators requires the right balance of time, budget, and tools. But if you take the time to build relationships, set realistic goals, and run engaging campaigns, then partnering with Instagram influencers can be an incredibly effective tool for growing your business.
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