Influencers are the new celebrities. In the age of social media, anyone with a large following can be considered an influencer. And just like traditional celebrities, these social media stars have the power to influence their fans — including what they buy.
That’s why influencer marketing has become such a popular and effective marketing strategy, especially for ecommerce businesses. By partnering with the right influencer, you can reach a whole new audience and significantly boost your sales.
Why Instagram Influencer Marketing is Key for Ecommerce Success
Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms (the fourth most popular, to be precise), with over 1.28 billion monthly active users (as of July 2022). And it’s only growing — projected to reach over 1.440 billion users by 2025.
What’s more? Instagram users are highly engaged: over 90% of users follow a business on Instagram, and one out of two users say they use the platform to discover new products.
That makes Instagram the perfect place to reach potential customers and promote your ecommerce products. And one of the best ways to do that is through influencer marketing.
Why Instagram Influencer Marketing?
Instagram users are more than just engaged. They’re also incredibly receptive to online purchases. If anything, 72% of Instagram users have made a purchase based on something they saw on the platform.
That makes sense when you consider that Instagram is a visual platform. It’s the perfect place to showcase your products in all their glory and get people excited about buying them.
But influencer marketing isn’t just about pretty pictures. When done right, it can be a highly effective way to increase brand awareness and boost sales.
The most popular product categories on Instagram include:
- Beauty products
- Fitness products
- Home Decor
- Food and drink
Types of Instagram Influencers
Not all influencers are created equal. When you’re looking for an influencer to partner with, it’s important to find one that’s a good fit for your brand and your product.
Here are some of the most popular types of Instagram influencers:
- Celebrities: Traditional celebrities with a large following on Instagram.
- Macro-influencers: Instagram users with a following of 100,000 to 1 million.
- Micro-influencers: Instagram users with a following of 1,000 to 100,000.
- Nano-influencers: Instagram users with a following of 1,000 or fewer.
- Niche influencers: Instagram users with a smaller but very engaged and loyal following in a specific niche.
Types of Instagram Influencer Marketing Campaigns
Now that you know a little bit more about Instagram influencers, it’s time to start thinking about how to use them to boost your ecommerce sales.
There are a few different types of Instagram influencer marketing campaigns you can run, each with its own set of pros and cons:
You’ve probably watched an Instagram video where an influencer shows off a product and then provides a discount code for their followers to use.
The influencer will often create a unique code for their followers, which they can use to get a discount on your products.
The main benefit of this type of campaign is that it’s relatively low-cost and easy to set up. You need to give the influencer a discount code, and they’ll take care of the rest.
The downside is that discount codes can be easy to misuse, and you might end up giving away more discounts than you’d like.
How this works is simple: a brand offers up a few products or services to an influencer (for free) and pays them to run a competition or giveaway on their Instagram account, with the products as the prize.
The competition can be structured in any number of ways:
- Tagging a few of their friends: One of the most common types of giveaways is where the influencer asks their followers to tag a few friends in the comments for a chance to win.
- Liking and commenting: The influencer asks their followers to like the post and leave a comment for a chance to win.
- Reposting: The influencer asks their followers to share the post on their own account for a chance to win.
- Hashtag Challenge: The influencer asks their followers to use a specific hashtag in their posts for a chance to win.
- Submit a creative idea: The influencer asks their followers to submit a creative idea related to your product or brand (for example, an Instagram caption) for a chance to win.
- Submit a photo of themselves doing something: The influencer asks their followers to submit a photo of themselves doing something related to your product or brand (for example, wearing your clothes) for a chance to win.
- Write an explanation of why they deserve to win: The influencer asks their followers to write an explanation of why they deserve to win in the comments for a chance to win.
This type of campaign can be a great way to get your products in front of a larger audience and generate some buzz and engagement around your brand.
The main downside is that product giveaways can be expensive, depending on how many products you’re giving away and what type of influencer you’re working with.
A product review is a type of post where an influencer showcases your product and talks about their experience with it.
Product reviews can be either positive or negative, but they should always be honest.
The main benefit of this type of campaign is that it’s a great way to get unbiased feedback about your product from someone who has used it.
It can also be a great way to generate some interest and awareness around your product, especially if the influencer has a large and engaged following.
The downside is that there’s always the potential for negative reviews, which could hurt your sales.
Brand Ambassador Programs
A brand ambassador is an influencer who has a long-term relationship with your brand and promotes your products on an ongoing basis.
Brand ambassador programs can be a great way to build a loyal following around your brand and increase sales over the long term.
The downside is that they can be expensive and time-consuming to set up, and you’ll need to find influencers who are a good fit for your brand.
Product placement is a type of post where an influencer includes your product in their photo or video without explicitly talking about it.
For example, if an influencer is wearing your clothes or using your product daily, that would be considered product placement.
Product placement can be a great way to get your products in front of a large audience in a non-intrusive way.
The downside is that it can be challenging to track your campaign results, and you might not get the same level of engagement as you would with other types of posts.
Product collaboration is a less-talked but effective method — two brands team up to create a new product or exclusive collection.
That’s usually done between two complementary brands, such as fashion and jewelry.
Product collaborations are a great way to reach a new audience and generate some buzz around your brand.
The downside is that they can be expensive and time-consuming to set up, and you’ll need to find a partner brand that resonates with your way of doing business.
Finding the Perfect Influencer for Your Instagram Campaign
Now that you know the different types of Instagram influencer marketing campaigns, it’s time to start thinking about which influencer is the best fit for your brand.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re looking for an influencer:
- Their Audience Size: Their number of followers is important, but it’s not the only thing to consider.
You also want to look at their engagement rate — what percentage of their followers interact with their posts?
- Their Audience Demographics: It’s important to ensure that the influencer’s audience is relevant to your target market.
For example, if you’re selling women’s fashion, you’ll want to find an influencer whose following is primarily women.
- Their content quality: Look at the influencer’s feed and see if their content is high-quality and on-brand for your business.
- Their engagement with their audience: A good influencer will genuinely connect with their audience and be active in the comments section.
That’s a good sign that they’ll be able to promote your product in a way that feels natural and not forced.
- Their willingness to work with you: Not all influencers are open to working with brands, so it’s crucial to ensure that the ones you’re considering are actually interested in partnering with you.
You can tell by looking at their posts. See if they’ve tagged any brands in those posts.
Pitching Your Instagram Influencer Marketing Campaign
Once you’ve found an influencer you want to work with, it’s time to reach out and pitch them your campaign idea.
When pitching an influencer, it’s important to be clear about what you’re looking for and what you’re willing to offer in return.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re pitching an influencer:
- Be clear about your goals: What are you hoping to achieve with this campaign?
Make sure the influencer knows what you’re looking for so they can decide if they’re a good fit for your brand.
- Offer something of value: What can you offer the influencer in return for their participation in your campaign?
That could be anything from free products to monetary compensation.
- Be flexible: Be open to the influencer’s ideas and suggestions.
They know their audience best, so they might have some great ideas about how to make your campaign even more successful.
- Have a clear call to action: What do you want your audience to do after seeing the influencer’s post?
Ensure the influencer includes a call to action in their post, so your audience knows what to do next.
- Set a deadline: Set a realistic deadline for the influencer to complete their post.
That will help ensure the campaign stays on track and that it doesn’t drag on for too long.
Instagram Influencer Marketing Best Practices
Now that you know how to set up an Instagram influencer marketing campaign, here are a few best practices to keep in mind:
- Make sure your products are Instagram-worthy: This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to make sure that your products are actually photogenic before you try to promote them on Instagram.
Getting influencers to post about your products won’t be easy if your products are not visually appealing.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to smaller influencers: You don’t need to work with celebrities or mega-influencers to make an impact.
If anything, smaller influencers can often be more effective because their audience is more engaged. Plus, they’re more likely to have a genuine connection with their followers.
- Be transparent about your relationships: Followers won’t hesitate to call out a brand for being dishonest about its relationships with influencers.
If you’re working with an influencer, make sure you’re clear about your relationship in the post’s caption.
- Don’t overdo it: If you start working with too many influencers, your audience will get tired of seeing your product promoted all over their feed.
It’s important to find a balance and only work with a few influencers at a time, so your campaign doesn’t become overwhelming.
- Experiment with different types of content: Influencer marketing is not just about product photos.
Experiment with different types of content, such as videos, tutorials, or even just behind-the-scenes photos, to mix things up and keep your audience engaged.
Instagram influencer marketing can be a great way to boost your ecommerce sales.
Examples of Successful Instagram Influencer Marketing Campaigns
#1. Brian Fanzo and Buffer: Not long ago, a celebrated futurist and keynote, Brian Fanzo of iSocialFanz, took over Buffer’s Instagram stories for a day.
The idea was to get him to share his brilliant advice with Buffer’s audience in an informal and fun way.
It was a bold move by Buffer that totally paid off.
They generated a lot of buzz and excitement around their brand, and their followers well-received Brian’s advice.
#2. Fashion Nova and Cardi B: Fashion Nova is a fashion retailer that has built its entire business on Instagram.
They’ve worked with many high-profile celebrities, but one of their most successful partnerships has been with Cardi B.
The rapper has posted several photos and videos promoting Fashion Nova’s products, generating millions of dollars in sales for the company.
#3. Kylie Jenner and Puma: When Kylie Jenner posted a photo of herself wearing a pair of Puma sneakers, the brand saw a massive uptick in sales.
She wrote “puma girl” in the caption and included the hashtag #Puma_ambassador.
This simple post generated a lot of buzz and excitement around the Puma brand and led to a significant increase in sales.
The post attracted more than 2 million likes, tens of thousands of comments, and many press coverages.
#4. Serena Williams and Nintendo Switch: Serena Williams is one of the most successful athletes in the world, and she has a substantial social media following.
She recently posted a photo of herself playing the new Nintendo Switch game “Mario Tennis Aces.”
The post generated a lot of excitement around the game and led to a significant increase in sales.
5. Jay-Z and D’Usse: Jay-Z is a rapper, businessman, and entrepreneur:
He’s also one of the most influential celebrities on social media.
When he posted a photo of himself holding a bottle of D’Usse cognac, the brand saw a significant spike in sales.
The post generated a lot of buzz and excitement around the brand, leading to a significant increase in sales.
These are just a few examples of successful Instagram influencer marketing campaigns.
As you can see, there are different ways to use influencer marketing to boost your ecommerce sales.
Experiment with different tactics and see what works best for your business.
Actionable Tips for Working with Influencers
A clear goal:
Before you start working with influencers, you must have a clear goal for your campaign.
Do you want to increase brand awareness? Drive traffic to your website? Boost sales?
Whatever your goal is, make sure it’s clear from the start so you can measure the success of your campaign.
Choose the right influencer:
Not all influencers are created equal.
You want to choose an influencer who is a good fit for your brand and has a relevant audience.
Don’t just choose the influencer with the most followers.
Choose someone who is passionate about what they do and can create content that resonates with your audience.
Create quality content:
The content that you create with your influencer should be high-quality and engaging.
It should be something that your audience will want to see and consume.
Don’t just create a bunch of low-quality promotional posts.
Instead, focus on creating meaningful content that will add value to your audience’s lives.
Prioritize Engagement Over Volume
Micro-influencers typically have lower follower counts but higher engagement rates.
That means their followers are likelier to see, like, and comment on their posts.
On the other hand, macro-influencers have higher follower counts but lower engagement rates.
That means their posts will have a greater reach but are less likely to generate engagement.
When choosing influencers to work with, it’s crucial to prioritize engagement over volume.
It’s better to work with a micro-influencer who has a passionate, engaged following than it is to work with a macro-influencer who has a large but disengaged following.
Find Influencers Who Are Already Brand Advocates
The best way to find influencers passionate about your brand is to look for those already talking about you.
If someone is already talking about your brand, it’s likely that they’re passionate about it and have a favourable opinion of it.
Simple, search for reviews and user-generated content (UGC) that mention your brand.
If someone has posted a positive review or UGC, reach out to them and see if they’d be interested in working with you.
Use Different Metrics to Compare Influencers
When looking for influencers to work with, we suggest you use different metrics to compare them.
Follower count is one metric, but it’s not the only one to look at.
Many other metrics, such as engagement rate, audience demographics, and average post reach, determine an influencer’s efficiency level.
Here are a few key ones to consider:
- How many followers do they have?
- How engaged are their followers?
- What is their average post reach?
- What is their audience demographic? Is their audience primarily male or female? What age range are they in?
- What is their average engagement rate?
- Do they have a good mix of followers, including men and women? Is their audience a mix of different age ranges?
- How often do they post?
- Do they use hashtags? If so, which ones do they use most frequently?
- Do they post mostly original content or share other people’s content?
- Do they have a blog? If so, how often do they update it?
- What kind of tone do their posts have? Are they positive and upbeat or more serious and informative?
Do Not Send Templated or Spammy Messages
When reaching out to potential influencers, it’s important not to send them templated or spammy messages.
Personalize your message and clarify why you think it would be a good fit for your brand.
Here’s an example of a personalized message:
I recently came across your Instagram profile, and I loved reading it. I can tell that you’re passionate about (topic), and I think you’d be a great fit for our brand.
We specialize in (product/service), and we think you could help us reach a larger audience. In return, we’re happy to offer you (free products, discounts, exclusive access, etc.).
If you’re interested, please let me know. I’d be more than happy to chat with you further about this opportunity.
Thank you for your time!
(Your Instagram handle)
That’s just an example, so feel free to customize it to fit your brand and style.
The important thing is that you personalize the message and focus on how working together can benefit both parties.
Don’t forget to include your Instagram handle, website, and any other relevant information so they can easily find and contact you.
And finally, don’t forget to proofread your message before sending it! Typos can make you look unprofessional and ruin your chances of working with the influencer.
7 Places to Look for Instagram Influencers
Now that you know what to look for in an Instagram influencer, it’s time to start searching for one.
Here are seven places to find potential Instagram influencers for your eCommerce brand:
#1. Research Hashtags
Hashtags are a great place to start when looking for potential influencers.
Search for relevant hashtags and take a look at the top posts.
For example, if you sell skincare products, you could search for hashtags like #skincareaddict or #skincarelover.
#2. Look at Competitor Accounts
Another great place to find potential influencers is by looking at your competitor’s accounts.
See who they’re already working with and try to reach out to those same people.
#3. Use an Instagram Influencer Tool
If you want to take things a step further, you can use an Instagram influencer tool like Hootsuite Influencers, HYPR, Famebit, and Izea.
These tools make it easy to find and contact potential influencers.
#4. Attend Events and Conferences
If you have the budget, consider attending events and conferences relevant to your industry.
For example, if you sell health supplements, you could attend a health and wellness conference.
It’s a great way to network and meet potential influencers in person.
#5. Post on Relevant Forums
Another option is to post on relevant forums, such as Reddit or Quora.
Include a link to your website in your forum signature so people can easily find you.
#6. Old, But Gold: Google
You can also find potential influencers by using good old-fashioned Google.
Search for relevant keywords and take a look at the results.
For example, if you sell pet supplies, you could search for “pet influencers in your location” or “animal influencers in your location.”
#7. Ask Your Customers
Finally, don’t forget to ask your customers.
Your existing customers are a great source of information.
Ask them if they know anyone who would be interested in promoting your product.