**Originally published January 1st, 2020. Updated April 15th, 2021**

2020 was a huge year for influencer marketing: with the world almost completely shut down, people turned to social media and their favorite influencers for entertainment (and sanity). Instagram Influencers became a major source of inspiration, voicing what many people were feeling at the time. Due to the upsurge in social media usage, we’re seeing greater budget allocation specifically for influencer marketing on Insta. 

However, money is only part of the equation. This year, more than most, businesses will be keen to see tangible ROI for their influencer marketing spend. This makes it important to understand and implement results-driven Instagram influencer marketing strategies. Let’s take a look at a few of these right now!


1. Determine Your Goals and KPI’s

First things first, you need to ask yourself the question “Why do you want to run an influencer marketing campaign?” What do I want to achieve for my brand through these social campaigns?” These are determining factors in the decision-making of the campaign in its entirety. Before everything else, you need to find the answers to these questions. A successful campaign requires a clear list of goals in mind.

Over the past five years, brands have collaborated with social media influencers to generate awareness, and influencer marketing grew from an ancillary marketing tactic to a nearly 10 billion dollar industry.

Marketers aim to increase their brand awareness. This certainly explains the massive growth seen in influencer marketing. But guess what? Those numbers are only likely to increase, which puts an even stronger emphasis on developing best practices for running efficient and effective campaigns, right now. Examine your demographic, incorporate your vision, and deploy a data-driven, goal-oriented roadmap to achieving these goals.

An illustration of a ship with a white board with the word KPI cutting the ship in half


2. Identify Your Target Audience

This is a sometimes overlooked yet critical element of your social branding. It’s imperative for the success of your influencer marketing campaign that you identify your target audience. This might sound like a given to anyone with even the slightest business acumen. But it’s often overlooked or under-analyzed. A clearly defined target audience will help you find relevant channels and influencers to utilize for your campaign.

Use data and research to determine that the followers of your potential influencers are of a similar demographic to that of your brand’s target audience. This will, of course, focus your content on the people who are most likely to enjoy your product or service. Accurately identifying your target audience will also help you understand which content formats are likely to be the most effective for your campaigns. Instagram is most renowned for its short-form content, but with the recent addition of IGTV, long-form content is certainly in the fold and increasing in relevance by the day.

An illustration of identifying your target audience with 5 people with checks crossed out while one of them has positive checkmark.


3. Assess Your Approach

There are many social media platforms to choose from these days, and this can sometimes be overwhelming in determining how to distribute the content of your influencer campaign. A Bloglovin survey indicates that 59 percent of all influencer marketers find Instagram to be the single most effective channel. The effectiveness and power of Instagram as a marketing channel can no longer be minimized by traditionalists and skeptics. Influencer marketing on Instagram is massively effective, and still only likely in its infancy.

With that said, review your objectives and determine what aspects of your brand to showcase in your Instagram content, and tailor your approach around this. Is your goal to increase brand awareness? Are you looking to showcase products and services? The answers to those questions will help to direct your approach to the correct audience, in the correct way. Once you have a list of specific content themes, brainstorm possible subjects for your images and videos.

Two young adults looking at a whiteboard while a professor show them how to asses their approach


4. Pinpoint Ideal Influencer Candidates

Let’s be honest, this is the most important aspect of running a successful influencer marketing campaign. The influencer’s job is to reach your target audience and talk about your brand. Therefore, it’s your responsibility to find the ideal influencers for your brand that fit the criteria you have determined will be most effective for your campaign. As important as it is, it can be quite a challenge to find suitable influencers for your brand, let alone a specific campaign. There are several data points and semantics to take into account when determining this.

Carefully consider your campaign goals when you begin your hunt for relevant influencers. Your potential influencers should be an expert from your niche and have a decent-sized following on their social media accounts, first and foremost. They should also have a high engagement rate, as this indicates that their followers are interested in and consuming their posts.

You should also ensure that your potential influencer’s follower demographics are in line with those of your target audience. Social media personalities that possess genuine influence over their followers are to be highly coveted, as their authenticity is reflected in their posts and usually translates to higher percentages of follower engagement. Overlooking these elements can negatively affect your entire marketing campaign.

Using SaaS platforms to find influencers has its perks, but utilizing agencies like Viral Nation offers a much more in-depth offering of applicable data points to find the right influencer. But arguably even more important, we possess a crucial aspect of the business that SaaS platforms simply can’t accomplish; direct and exclusive relationships with thousands of Instagram’s top influencers.

finding the right influencers


5. Utilize Both Micro and Macro Influencers

First things first, let’s address the elephant in the room. I know many of you are already asking, ‘What are macro and micro-influencers?’ Macro influencers are famous, known by many, a household name. These kinds of people are often celebrities who have followers in the region of tens of thousands or millions. A micro-influencer is defined as someone who has an audience within the follower range of 2,000-50,000 on a particular social media channel, usually consisting of a focused passion, topic, or niche market.

Both micro and macro-influencers provide tremendous value to companies and brands around the world and can be activated for different reasons, and sometimes their efforts can even be best deployed simultaneously with an applicable strategy.

As an example, macro-influencers are often approached first hand by a brand. A company will ask them to feature their product or service on their social media profiles, typically with a contextual caption mentioning the brand. On the other hand, micro-influencers work in a way that parallels word of mouth marketing. For instance, when they share a photo on Instagram of them enjoying a mid-day snack and an accompanying photo of that snack, you don’t question its authenticity. Even if the photo seems somewhat staged or choreographed to some extent. In actuality, it’s often easier to believe a micro-influencer has bought or used a featured product than it is of a ‘celebrity’ of a more pronounced social relevancy. It’s that type of authenticity that attracts engagement, awareness, and brand recall.

Also, utilizing both types of influencers in a harmonious combination can produce tremendous results when implemented with a well-orchestrated strategy. The table below outlines some general overviews of the differences between these two influencers and includes the ‘mega’ influencer category. Mega influencers are essentially relevant figures in pop culture, like an A-list celebrity or professional athlete. They offer great value to brands as well but tend to be much more selective and less attainable than the other two types, hence why they weren’t discussed in depth in this section.


6. Be A Storyteller

It’s 2021 and Instagram is saturated with mediocre and redundant brand messaging that completely undermines the notion that social networks are supposed to be a ‘visual inspiration platform’. Your content should captivate audiences through images and video, not simply preach marketing directives to them or repeated calls to action with a baseless premise.

If you become a storyteller instead, you are likely to see an uptick in your brand’s engagement rates,  broadcasting these ‘micro-stories’ via your captions, videos, Instagram Stories, and profile. You can also try sharing user-generated content that resonates with your brand or displays an enthusiasm for your product.

Heavy hitters such as Airbnb, Red Bull, Lego, and Nike are all avid storytellers on Instagram and can be seen as motivation for implementing a storytelling narrative into your branding dialogue. If you’re looking to invigorate your brand’s creativity, there are some great examples out there of brands doing an incredible job at storytelling, and reaping the fruits of their creative labor.

A representation of telling a story with your influencer campaigns


7. Create High-Quality Content

Once you have selected your influencers and have established your approach, it’s time to create some quality content. This is a very important ingredient for a successful influencer marketing campaign. Your influencers may have thousands of followers who trust them. However, in most cases, this is not enough to get them to invest their money into your brand. Your influencers need to create valuable yet entertaining content. Ensuring the content is not boring and doesn’t appear ‘salesy’ is also of great importance.

With that in mind, it’s still a best practice to give your influencers the creative freedom they need to come up with quality content. Influencers have said that providing overly restrictive guidelines is the second biggest mistake brands make when collaborating with influencers. Provide a structure and direction that suits the needs of your campaign, but empower your influencers to do what they do best, which is to create compelling and engaging content.

Cassidy Gard's instagram influencer product placement post


8. Use Instagram Traffic to Increase Website Traffic

Instagram traffic can help boost visits to your website by incorporating a clickable link into your Instagram bio. For many businesses, this is the most applicable area to populate a link to their website. Maximize the potential of your link with special offers and promotions that encourage followers to click through. Combining strong calls to action with your URL in a text overlay on images/videos on your feed is also something that should be done.

And remember, all of Instagram’s ad formats offer a clickable call-to-action button that can direct followers to your website. However, with the Instagram marketplace in the picture, the redirection to the website might seem redundant for smaller brands. 

When partnering with an influencer, consider working with them to promote your URL in their own content as well. Ensure you can access data and relevant traffic stats, and deploy analytics software to glean insights on which Instagram content is driving traffic to your website so you can target your campaign even more effectively.


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