We all know how incredibly powerful UGC (user-generated content) can be for an eCommerce store. Well, Instagram influencer marketing is UGC on steroids. By harnessing the popularity and engagement of the right influencer you are able to access the most modern version of word-of-mouth advertising: social media.

But I am getting a little ahead of myself. First, to show just how powerful Instagram is as a platform, here is some interesting eCommerce Instagram stats for you:

  • In February of this year, Facebook announced that Instagram hit over 400 million daily active users, sharing on average 95 million photos and videos per day
  • According to an Iconosquare study, around 70% of Instagram users actively look for brands with good content on Instagram to follow
  • According to Pew Internet, 32% of teenagers view Instagram as the most important social network
  • According to Instagram, 60% of users have said that they have learned about a product/service on Instagram

Now enter Instagram influencers…

Instagram influencers are those personalities on Instagram who have a following and who have grown to almost ‘star-like’ status within their niche. Who better to trust with your shopping recommendations than someone you trust enough to follow and whose like-minded content you adore?

This is what makes Instagram influencer marketing so powerful for online store owners. Instagram marketing is successful in itself, but finding influencers takes your reach to the next level. In fact, a study by Tapin Influence proves just this as it found that Influencer marketing content could result in 11 times higher ROIs than traditional marketing methods. So why do Instagram influencers have that drive such good results? Because they have:

  • Exponential reach to niche audiences who trust and listen to their recommendations
  • Affordable rates
  • Wide variety of people within almost every niche
  • Building your followers from scratch

So where do you find these magic-making influencers and how do you get your piece of the Instagram influencer action? In this post we look at what steps you need to follow to win at Instagram influencer marketing.

Step 1: Set Your Objectives

First things first…Before approaching Instagram influencers you will want to have a clear objective in mind. Do you want to build brand awareness for your online store, push the sales for a specific product or give your new product line launch a boost? Here are the main marketing goals you will want to choose from when outlining your objectives and strategies and what influencer marketing can do to help push for each:

Customer Retention

Customer retention is an often overlooked benefit of Instagram influencer marketing. By forming long-term relationships with influencers, you’ll be able to use them as a kind of brand ambassador for your online store. An added face of your brand if you will, that leads to repeat shopping, customer retention and ultimately in growing your loyal shoppers. A concept that online store Lululemon is no stranger to.

example of eCommerce brand ambassadors

Reaching New Target Audiences

Another objective that influencers can help you succeed with is reaching previously untapped target audiences. If you are launching a new product that appeals to a different audience than you’ve been marketing too, posting within your account won’t yield great results. However, influencers who are popular within the target audience you are looking to reach, will give you a big leg up.

Sales generation

Sales generation is probably the most utilized goal/benefit of influencer marketing campaign benefits. There are a variety of ways you can drive more sales through influencers such as using a variety of influencers once-off to push a product or promote a flash sale, including special discount codes for their followers, or getting influencers to review a new product line.

Leather Weather ✌ // wore this full @primark look to their dinner this week, had a freakin blast! #primarkusa #nyc #justinliv #PrimarkHoHoHoliday #sponsored

A post shared by Justin Livingston (@justinliv) on

Brand Awareness

Another very important object of influencer campaigns is brand awareness. Influencer campaigns give you access to thousands, and in some cases hundreds of thousands, of that influencers’ follower base helping you get the name of your store out to a huge number of people who haven’t yet heard of you. If this is your main object then instead of forming one long-lasting relationship you need for building customer retention, you’ll want to try and get your products to as many influencers in your niche as possible in order to spread the word far and wide.

Increasing Instagram Following

Your last possible objective goal option is to use influencers to grow your Instagram account. This is ideal for new eCommerce entrepreneurs who are growing their social following from scratch. By launching a competition or a popular cause where users are encouraged by influences to hashtag and follow your account to win or participate, is a great way to speed up your following growth. A timeless example of this was the award winning #WearYellowForSeth campaign.

#WearYellowforSethn campaign

Step 2: Finding the Right Instagram Influencers for Your Business

Now that you know what your end goal is, you are ready to find the right Instagram influencers for your objectives.

Despite popular belief, the number of followers an influencer has is not your top concern. What’s important is what interests their followers, the types of posts they post and the engagement that they get.

For the best ROIs, you will want to find influencers who post around the lifestyle you’re selling in, whose followers are likely to be potential shoppers in your niche. Say you are selling travel gear, you’ll want to look for influencers who are known and are popular for their travel posts; as their followers are more likely to need (and use) what you’re selling.

Let’s dig deeper…

What to Look for When Deciding on Instagram Influencers

Most of us would find spending thousands of dollars on one top-tier influencer a waste of valuable resources. As any eCommerce store owner will tell you, budget is limited and most smaller businesses don’t have the luxury of throwing money around on roping in celeb influencers that can charge up to $15,000 a post.

The good news is, when it comes to influencer marketing, bigger (or more expensive) isn’t always better. What we’re looking for is to get the most reach we can for our spend. Going for smaller influencers who cost a lot less despite still having great engagement and reach, will ensure you get the best ROIs while targeting very specific niche markets packed with potential shoppers. These influencers are often referred to as ‘micro-influencers’ and price is not their only advantage.

what are Instagram influencer engagement stats

Image Source

As you can see from the above graph, their smaller following tend to be more engaged and offer a far more targeted type of following which can yield awesome results. Some other benefits include:

  • Better chance of forming long-lasting relationships
  • Shorter waiting lists
  • Bigger impact to a more segmented market
  • Less risk

Additional Tip: Make sure the influencers you choose not only have followers that are in your target audience, but also have posts that tie in with your brand. If your brand voice is young, fresh and friendly, you wouldn’t want a influencer whose voice is ‘older’ and more corporate.

Checking the Metrics

As I mentioned, it is not the number of followers that are important; what you want to check is the engagement metric as this will point to the ‘quality’ of the influencer. A rough engagement rate average is around 2-4% per user. You can manually work out a post engagement rate by taking a certain number of the influencers’ posts and the likes of each post to get an average engagement per post. Something like this template from Sprout Social which you can click here to access.

engagement metrics for instagram

Alternatively you can use tools Sprout Social or Iconosquare to more easily get engagement rates per posts. Try and look at their non-promotional posts, posts that they haven’t been paid to post like selfies to judge what their average engagement is and also to ensure that their post engagement is genuine.

Instagram Influences Searches

There are three main ways you can search for micro-influencers in your niche: reaching out to loyal followers, searching popular hashtags associated to the lifestyle surrounding the niche you are selling in, or using third party tools.Here’s a short description on each.

  • Reaching out to possible influencers already following you and invested in your brand will make partnerships easier to negotiate. If they are ‘rookie’ influencers, they will also cost you less and you may be able to offer sample products in exchange for a post.
  • Searching by hashtag is another way to find popular posters in your niche. Let’s say you are selling winter coats, you can search anything from #wintercoats to #FashionTips to find popular posts by influencers and bloggers.

selling winter coats on Instagram

  • Lastly, if you have some more budget, you can try online tools and influencer matching platforms which will help you find the type of influencers that meet your objectives within your budget. The bonus of using these third-party sites is that the influencers are vetted. Here are some top sites to get you started:

Step 3: Setting Up Instagram Influencer Partnerships

The last and final step is to approach your chosen influencers with your partnership pitch. You’ll want to reach out first to introduce yourself and gauge their interest, and then send them a brief of what you want. If you’re not using a third party platform, you should be able to find the influencers” contact information in the bio of their account.

Bear in mind that you will want to allow the influencer a certain amount of creative freedom to ensure the post is in line with the content their followers have come to expect, or you risk not getting the engagement you want. Here are some things you’ll want to include in the brief or pitch:

  • Payment: What payment are you offering for the post which includes content creation, usage rights and audience access
  • Timeframe: Let them know when you would like the post to go live. This is especially important for time-sensitive promotions and deals.
  • Number of posts: State whether this is a once-off or a series of posts
  • Content Usage: Discuss your usage of the content created and how long you’ll be able to use it after the influencer has posted
  • Intention: State whether this is a one-time collaboration of if you’re looking for a long-term partnership.

Once you’ve outlined your goals, found influencers you want to work with and have agreed on a partnership and content strategy rollout…all that’s left is to track the success of the campaign. You will want to compare the amount of Instagram followers, product sales, and engagement from before the campaign began to after it was completed to judge just how much of your objective was reached within your budget.

This is easier to track if you have a clear defined objective such as competition entries. If you’re new to using Instagram influencers, start with something small and test the waters to see what works before putting all yours eggs (marketing budget) in one basket.

Have question or suggestions of your own? Post them in the comments below!