Choosing An Instagram Influencer Network: What You Have To Knowby: Dustin Hawley | Wednesday October 16, 2019
**Originally published January 29th, 2019, updated October 16th, 2019**
It goes without saying that influencer marketing is now a major trend globally. In fact, it’s predicted that the global market for influencer marketing will become a $5-10 billion industry in the coming years. It is quickly surpassing all other marketing channels as the primary vessel of marketing in today's digital age. For those unfamiliar - or more accurately, living under a rock for the past 5 years - influencers are individuals who can influence a person's decision making, including their buying decisions. This influence is prevalent because consumers trust influencers to be an authentic source of information, and typically can relate more closely to influencers than they can a traditional celebrity endorser.
Brands both big and small are investing in influencer marketing to boost their brand image and increase sales. And the success and growth of the industry speak for themselves in terms of proving the value of this growing market. Particularly when it comes to Instagram. Near the end of 2018, it was reported that approximately 89% of influencers worldwide were using Instagram for influencer marketing campaigns more often than they did a year ago — and Instagram has now become the primary platform for a majority of influencer-based campaigns globally, according to research cited in a report from eMarketer.
In theory, growing your Instagram influencer network is quite simple. After all, these are people (influencers) who want to be found. But now, with well over a billion active Instagram accounts, finding the perfect influencers for your brand is often easier in theory than in practice. There's no way around it. The competition in influencer marketing is tough. With multiple brands often targeting the same audience, it's vital to create a campaign that can tap into this audience more effectively than others who may be your competition. Brands have begun to realize that creating, monitoring, and driving results with a successful campaign can be a difficult task, but a crucial element to a brand's success.
From structuring and optimizing the campaign, to content review, to execution, the process of activating an influencer marketing campaign is not to be taken lightly. And it becomes infinitely more challenging if you lack the right knowledge and proper experience to deliver results. In turn, some brands hand over this task to influencer marketing agencies, like Viral Nation. On the other hand, many companies prefer to keep all of the work in-house and depend on various influencer marketing tools and platforms to deliver results.
But which approach is best for your brand? An influencer marketing agency or a platform? The answer to that question lies in your ability to understand each of these mediums better. So today we’ve got a few tips to help you get started. These recommendations should assist you in discovering promising new influencers for your future campaigns, and guide y.ou in the best practices to activate them for your social efforts.
How to Get Started
One of the first steps you should take to expand your influencer network is to have a clear idea of what you are looking for by contracting the services of an influencer. Each influencer’s specific appeal varies across demographics. So before you get started, you have to know what to look for. Here are some of the main factors to consider when searching for ideal influencers:
Content and Brand Identity
It should be known that not all influencers are a good fit for all companies. For example, influencers with tongue-in-cheek style content, likely are not a suitable fit for, say, a family-friendly brand. So be sure to observe both the sponsored and unsponsored content of your prospective influencers frequently post to their account. This will help you determine whether they are compatible with your messaging and your brand’s voice. You’ll also be able to sample the kind of sponsored content they’ve handled, and the brands they have previously partnered with.
Reach is typically considered to be the total number of people that follow an account. But the vast majority of followers never see 100% of the content an influencer posts, due to the complex nature of Instagram's feed algorithm. For this reason, it’s vital to the success of an influencer campaign that you consider the average exposure or impressions per post that an influencer receives. This metric is much more accurate when trying to gauge how your sponsored content is likely to perform.
Arguably the most important metric in the process, engagement rates are crucial in determining the true value and influence of an account. Engagement rate is the percentage of how many people took further action after viewing sponsored influencer content. What quantifies as a “good” engagement rate varies between platforms and industries. But generally, engagement rates significantly decline as follower counts increase.
How To Find Your Influencer Network
Now that we have outlined the factors that go into determining which influencers are the best fit for your campaign, let's dive into some best practices for choosing your Instagram influencer network.
1. Explore Accounts That Frequently Use Your Industry Relevant Hashtags
One of the best and easiest ways to discover influencers is to simply look for accounts that regularly use the same hashtags that you target. Yes, filtering through them can be time-consuming. However, since they are working with the same target audience, the juice can be worth the squeeze if you invest in really narrowing down the most relevant hashtags, and putting in the leg work. With both dedication - and a little bit of luck - you’ll be able to identify new influencers whose voice and content align with your branding efforts.
2. Look at the Networks of Your Existing Influencers
This point is mostly self-explanatory, but it is too often overlooked and can be a secret weapon in accelerating your search efforts. The idea is simple. Lot's of Instagram influencers follow and network with each other, often even collaborating on social media content that they typically end up cross-promoting with their networks. So take a long look at who the influencers in your network follow. Then use those connections to identify prospective partners to add to your influencer network. It can be somewhat of a domino effect that builds your list in a targeted fashion.
3. Consider Micro-Influencers
Micro-influencers have been the unsung heroes of a multitude of influencer campaigns. But this previously overlooked segment of influencers is beginning to command more and more attention from brands. For those who aren't aware of what a 'micro-influencer' is, the term generally used to describe accounts that have more than 1,000 followers but fewer than 100,000.
Brands reluctant to partner with micro-influencers in favor of maximizing their reach are beginning to rethink their strategy, as the value of micro-influencers has become more measurable. Micro-influencer campaigns can be used to specifically target a smaller market segment that your larger campaigns have been unsuccessful with. This strategy is proving to be effective with many brands.
Since micro-influencer accounts don’t have the sheer volume of reach of their more popular peers, they’re not usually deemed 'heavy-hitters' if your focus is on brand building. However, that drawback is counterbalanced by the significantly higher follower engagement rate they often bring to the table. That benefit, combined with their budget-friendly sponsorship costs, makes micro-influencer campaigns an extremely valuable tool for boosting sales.
4. Ask For Your Audience's Input
While you keep yourself busy working on other options, crowd-sourcing a solution can be effective as well. You can ask your own followers and fans on social media to help you out and provide feedback that positively contributes to your decision making. This request could be in the form of a poll, or even simply asking them directly in a post which influencers they trust for purchasing advice. Their suggestions could help you initially generate a few potential leads to add to your influencer network. Plus, you’ll also gain insights into the influencers that the people who like your brand follow and engage with. It's a win-win.
5. Analyze Your Competitors Partnerships
No, we aren't talking about some form of corporate espionage here. We're simply saying that keeping track of influencers that your competitors are working with can also be a useful strategy to grow your influencer network. Why? Because these influencers will likely be unable to help your efforts while they are working with your competitors. Thus, it also acts as a sort of filter in your efforts to compile your influencer network.
Of course, this approach is best employed when partnering with major influencers. For anyone except top-tier talent that you absolutely must have on your team, this approach is probably not worth it. Primarily due to the long lead time and the fact that a positive result is still not guaranteed.
Advantages of an Influencer Marketing Agency
Although there are many resources - a lot of which we mentioned above - that can assist you in building your influencer network, there are also benefits in employing the services of an agency. Typically, benefits that most brands don't have access to through their own organization. The primary goal and responsibility of an influencer marketing agency are to create and execute influencer marketing campaigns. They work with brands and influencers seamlessly to facilitate and optimize these influencer campaigns. A good influencer marketing agency will be able to effectively organize and manage several campaigns with different variables.
The primary advantage of working with an influencer marketing agency is...
They Maintain Strong Ties with Both Brands and Influencers
Influencer marketing agencies work with brands to understand their goals, values, and other aspects that make them unique. This relationship-building allows them to choose the ideal influencers for the brands.
The agency’s relationship with the influencers is also a very important aspect that determines its effectiveness. This is also an aspect that is becoming more and more overlooked, with the rise in SaaS platforms. While these platforms do provide value, there is simply no substitute for the presence of a genuine relationship. The best influencers in any industry are becoming busier, with an increasing number of brands eager to work with them. So the agency’s relationship with these influencers makes it substantially easier for brands to connect and collaborate with them.
Viral Nation is a global influencer marketing and talent agency that represents thousands of influencers around the globe.
Now you know some of the best practices for growing your network of Instagram influencers. With these tips and techniques, you should have no trouble discovering new influencers to assist you in your efforts to expand your reach and make your next influencer campaign a huge success. Every brand is unique, in both its voice and its goals. So take into account the details and characteristics that make your brand unique, and modify your approach accordingly. Reach out to us here at Viral Nation, and we will put together a tailored strategy for your next influencer campaign. So what are you waiting for?
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