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What is an Instagram influencer and why would you want one?

Social media is constantly evolving at an exponential rate and you may have recently heard about new rules around Instagram influencers and how they can market their chosen partners.

The question is, can a small business make use of Instagram influencers, and, if so, how?

Let’s start with the basics: An Instagram influencer has an established audience and has built trust and credibility with them. A business can pay an Instagram influencer to promote their products in a semi-organic way. According to Hopper HQ, the average payment to a beauty industry Instagram influencer is about £162 per 100,000 followers.

That’s obviously for large brands with lots of advertising budget. On that kind of scale, big brands can afford to pay celebrities, and now major Instagram Influencers, to endorse their products or services. While everyone knows that Jean-Claude Van Damme has been paid to appear in adverts for beer and Julia Roberts is paid to promote perfume, some don’t realise that celebrities can be paid to be seen wearing or using certain products as well in a more subtle way. That dress on the red carpet of a premiere, that candid shot of a celeb using the latest phone… Instagram has made this kind of advertising big business.

But everyone starts somewhere – even influencers. So a small business could agree a much more cost-effective price per post for influencers with 2,000 to 10,000 followers.

The key is that they have a high engagement rate and it must be authentic. Remember, there are plenty of bots out there commenting and liking posts to boost their own profiles. Comments like “Excellent”, “OMG”, “Love this”, that don’t in any way start a conversation can be a sign of bots (or just lazy Instagramming – but most likely a bot).

What you’re looking for are genuine questions and genuine conversation.

Also, be careful of an influencer who is a little too prolific. The key ingredient to success is high-quality posts, not general tat for the sake of posting.

Make sure there is true synergy between you and the influencer in what you can do and where you are. If your business is in the UK and you only deal in a 30-mile radius, having an influencer that is nowhere near you and won’t genuinely be posting about your product or service won’t be trustworthy.

Decide from the off if you want to avoid influencers who have already signed up with several other partners, and what exclusivity you expect long term. It’s also an idea to make sure that your chosen Instagram hero is organised and will do what’s agreed by testing them in a small way to start with. Being an influencer is relatively easy, but when being commissioned for posts, it can be a good idea to start on a pay-per-post basis as a trial and then build the relationship from there.

Measuring your results is vital as well. Some use exclusive offers or codes, others use specific hashtags. If you’re looking more long term and want to track the engagement (especially if you’re just getting started) then hashtags are a good way to measure engagement first and then you can start to monitor sales as they (hopefully) grow.

Your Instagrammer may prefer to take their own photos, but don’t underestimate the power of helping them get started with some great quality photos of your own. Ideal if you also don’t want to send them too many products all at once.

Like any advertising medium, you’ll need to keep abreast of further changes to Instagram’s rules around influencers and review your success rate regularly.

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