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How to find influencers on Instagram for your marketing campaign

With value alignment factoring more and more into the purchasing decisions of younger generations, brands across industries are facing a similar issue—increasingly skeptical consumers

In fact, only 38% of people trust product recommendations from company brands. But 61% of respondents trust product recommendations they get from friends, family, and social influencers—with that number jumping to 68% for consumers in the 18 to 29 age range. 

But what are social influencers? Simply put, influencers are people with sizable online followings who can leverage their personal brand to influence the purchase decisions of their audience. They post content that features products and services in a more natural, genuine light, leveraging their own brand to help companies build trust and drive conversions with their own target audience. 

Finding influencers whose values align with those of your company, and convincing them to promote your products and services, is an essential part of the modern marketing strategy. This is particularly true for major social platforms like Instagram, where the global influencer market size is expected to grow from $17-$20 billion over the next 3 years

Let’s take a look at everything you need to do to find the right Instagram influencer for your brand.

Things to consider before you begin to search for Instagram influencers

Instagram is among the most popular social platforms used by influencers. But before you learn how to find influencers on Instagram, there are two key questions you need to ask.

1) Do you have a firm understanding of your target audience?

To get a firm understanding of your Instagram audience, you need to gather data via passive and active methods. Collecting data from social listening tools and tools like Instagram Insights (image bellow) will let you passively gain insights into the behaviors and consumption habits of your audience. 

Audiense blog - instagram-insights

But you also need to actively engage with your different audience segments by posting evocative content, responding to comments, and sending out surveys.  These interactions will give you another layer of information on audience preferences and sentiments. 

It’s important to note that target audience analysis isn’t just about understanding what people are posting about themselves—it’s also about understanding the media consumption habits and cultural trends that influence them the most. You can gather this type of data using your owned Instagram accounts, advertising tools, and qualitative analysis of accounts and correspondence.

2) Which personality traits and behaviors would make the best influencer for your target audience?

When you promote a company, it’s all about the brand. When you promote an individual, it’s all about personality. You need to identify the personality traits and behavior patterns that align best with your company’s brand. 

Does your brand offer luxury retail products that are best represented by figures who are aloof, provocative, and selective in their posting frequency? Or are you an inclusive fitness brand that is best represented by someone who’s energetic and empathetic?

To achieve this brand alignment, you need to dive deep and identify influencers whose values, aesthetic, and past promotions align with your brand. This will ensure seamless and authentic promotion.

How can you search for influencers on Instagram?

There are many tools and processes you can use to identify your ideal Instagram influencers—some of which are built into the social platform itself. Others let you analyze your audience’s affinities and behavior across different media platforms.  

Conduct hashtag searches

Hashtags have revolutionized the way we navigate social platforms, providing an additional filter for users who want to find posts in a certain niche. They let you harness the powerful algorithms of Instagram, TikTok, and other platforms to direct you towards the top posts in a specific category. 

To perform these searches, just follow these steps:

  1. Click the search icon to navigate to the explore page
  2. Enter the # symbol followed by a topic relevant to your brand
  3. Sort through the results using the Top, Accounts, Tags, and Places tabs
  4. Identify accounts and profiles that consistently appear for relevant hashtag searches 

By using industry-specific hashtags, you can more easily identify the influencers that are likely to resonate with your target audience and align with your brand. 

You can also use Instagram's search function to identify potential influencers by typing relevant keywords into the search bar on the Explore page.

Examine your followers and the followers of your competitors

Locate influencers who are already following your brand or your industry/market. By looking at the demographics and interests of your current followers, you can identify individuals who are actively engaged with your brand, and have a similar audience to your own. These individuals may make good influencer partners for your marketing campaigns.

Additionally, look at accounts that your competitors are following, or accounts that frequently interact with your competitors to find potential influencers. By examining the followers of your competitors, you can identify individuals who are interested in products or services similar to your own. These individuals may also be interested in your brand, and they could be potential influencer partners.

Combining social listening and audience analysis tools

Social listening tools allow you to track conversations and engagement surrounding particular individuals, companies, and even entire industries. By focusing Instagram influencers who have a sizable audience and are already talking about your brand or related topics, you can quickly identify potential candidates. 

But social listening tools alone don’t provide deeper, contextual information about the shared interests and values that may exist between that influencer’s audience and your own. 

Audience analysis tools allow you to segment any online audience based on demographics, interests, behavior, and other relevant metrics. Identifying the shared affinities and sentiments between your audience and a potential influencer’s highlights the specific consumer segments that are most likely to resonate with your influencer marketing campaign.  

Audiense Insights - Global Shappers - Summit 2018 - Full Audience Overview

Combining insights from social listening and audience analysis tools with the data you gather from Instagram Insights is the final piece of the puzzle—a complete view of your influencer campaign audience and a base level of Instagram engagement data you can use to evaluate success.

How can you ensure that you select the right influencer for your company?

After identifying audience alignment between your company and your potential Instagram influencer, it’s time to turn the lens towards the influencer to identify whether they are truly the right fit for your brand.  

Here’s how you do it:

Examine the influencer’s post content 

Reviewing an influencer's Instagram content before partnering with them is important because it gives you an insight into their style, tone, and overall aesthetic, which can impact the effectiveness of your marketing campaign. By reviewing their content, you can ensure that their values, interests, and overall brand align with your own. 

Additionally, you can assess their engagement rate, number of followers, and overall level of influence in their niche to determine if they are the right fit for your brand.

Look at the average engagement rate of their posts

While you may come across an Instagram influencer whose posts and message align perfectly with that of your brand, it’s crucial that you vet them to see how effective they actually are at engaging other users. 

This is where engagement rates come into play. 

Engagement rates are typically calculated as the ratio of total number of likes, comments, and shares on their posts over a given time period, to the number of followers, expressed as a percentage.

High engagement rates increase the chances of generating a strong response from the audience and driving better results for the brand. For more context, you can look at the individual metrics of each post:

  • Likes: The number of likes an influencer's post receives can give you an idea of their overall popularity and engagement.
  • Comments: The number of comments on an influencer's post can indicate the strength of the relationship between the influencer and their audience.
  • Shares: The number of times an influencer's post is shared can show the reach and impact of their content on their followers and beyond.

You can do this across all posts, or analyze specific post formats like images, videos, and carousels to gain a better understanding of the influencer's engagement levels.

Consider looking into micro and nano influencers

Micro and nano influencers are public figures who have a small, active social following. What they lack in audience size, they make up for in trustworthiness and accessibility. 

Instagram micro-influencers are Instagram users who have between 5,000 and 100,000 followers, although there is some debate about the range in audience size. They often have niche audiences and high engagement rates because their followers are highly interested in the content they produce.

Instagram nano-influencers are users who have fewer than 5,000 followers. They may not have the audience size of micro-influencers, but they still have the ability to influence their followers due to their close relationships with them. 

Consumers are more swayed by people than companies, so using the niche brand power of micro and nano influencers is a great way to improve your brand perception and reach.

Analyze your audience segments

This is where your social listening and audience analysis tools come back into play. 

Audience segmentation and social listening tools can help you identify the right Instagram influencer for your brand by providing a deeper understanding of your target audience and influencer landscape. By segmenting your audience based on demographics, interests, and behavior, and using social listening tools to track conversations and identify potential influencers, you can determine which influencer has the most influence over your target audience and the level of engagement they receive. 

This information, combined with data from Instagram Insights, can give you a comprehensive view of your audience and help you make informed decisions about which influencer to partner with to effectively reach and engage with your target audience.

How do you get an influencer to work with you?

Remember, you’re not just trying to identify the right Instagram influencer, you’re also trying to bring them in as part of your marketing strategy. Now that you’ve identified your ideal candidate(s), it’s time to get them to work with you. 

Here are a few ways you can be more effective in your outreach process:

  • Communicate consistently: The best way to show your new team member that you value their time and contribution is to be a proactive and responsive communicator.
  • Provide clear briefings: Make sure that the potential influencer understands what you expect from their participation with your marketing initiative.
  • Allow them to be creative: You know their social strategy aligns with yours, so give them the freedom and encouragement to exercise their creativity.
  • Pay them fairly: Make sure you are upfront and fair about your payment process, whether payments are on an attribution basis or flat rate.

Bonus tip—Turn your influencer into a brand ambassador 

While an influencer can leverage their audience size and social capital to drive consumer purchasing decisions, you can increase the positive impact they have on your brand by converting them into an ambassador.

Brand ambassadors have a closer relationship with brands than social media influencers, both contractually and strategically. They tend to have a deeper understanding of the brand and its values, conveying this information to their followers through campaigns that extend beyond social platforms.

Brand ambassadors are also less likely to work with competitors, so you know they are primarily focused on expanding your audience and building up a network of advocates that will provide a greater return on investment.

Optimize your Instagram influencer marketing with Audiense

Influencers are a key asset to your marketing strategy—particularly now that consumers are turning to individual brands for direction on their purchasing decisions. 

Massive social platforms like Instagram have millions of users with the potential to engage your unique audience segments and drive them towards your products and services. You just need to find that needle in the haystack. 

If you’re interested in turbocharging your influencer strategy across all your social channels (regardless of budget!), check out our how-to guide today.

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