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How to Find and Contact Instagram Influencers Within Your Niche

Instragram has gone from just a photo-centric social media app to an ecommerce-friendly platform. In this article, we’ll take a look at how you can find Instagram influencers to boost your sales, how much you should pay, and how to go about the process.

We’ll give you some helpful advice whether you’re an Amazon-only brand or primarily DTC through your own website.  We’ve included real examples from our own Instagram influencer campaigns.

Advantages of Using Instagram Influencers to Promote Products and Increase Sales – Even for Amazon Brands

Influencer marketing has become a $13.8 billion industry in 2021, growing about 10x in just five years. And one of the most popular social media platforms for influencers is Instagram.

Instagram has many advantages for e-commerce businesses:

  • Huge user base
  • Most content on Instagram is either photos or short videos, so they’re easier to consume.
  • Instagram is a highly visual platform, making it easier to catch users’ attention.
  • It’s great for collecting user-generated content.

As of October 2021, there are about 1 billion Instagram users worldwide, a big chunk of which are 18 to 34 years old.

Statistic: Distribution of Instagram users worldwide as of October 2021, by age and gender | Statista
Source: Statista

Traditionally, brands that use influencers try to send users directly to their own websites. However, we send most of our influencer traffic to Amazon for a few reasons:

  • Amazon has a very high trust level from consumers and therefore has a higher conversion rate than sending them directly to our website
  • Great for product launches and try to get initial customer reviews
  • Good for long term SEO as Amazon rewards external traffic very highly

There are times when sending customers directly to your website is the best thing to do, such as when you have a very high LTV product, but for us, sending customers directly to Amazon makes more sense.

What Is User-Generated Content and Why Is It Important in Promoting Your Products?

User-generated content (UGC) is any form of content, e.g., photo, video, blog posts, that are created by people who have used your products and/or services. (Think of that food selfie you saw that made you want to try out a restaurant.)

Here are some reasons why you should aim to encourage more user-generated content:

  • It’s perceived to be more authentic than brand-generated content.
  • When your product is so good that people want to share it with the world, then you’re in effect marketing with your audience instead of to them.
  • You don’t have to create your own content (more savings, better reach).
  • User-generated content is less salesy and more authentic.
  • More people trust UGC compared to branded content.
  • Getting honest reviews from your customers gives you information as to what they’re loving and what could be improved.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should focus solely on UGC and ignore your own brand-generate content. A study shows that it’s actually more effective to use both. It was found that professionally produced content by the brand is better for explaining and promoting a product’s features while unbiased user-generated content is more effective in “verifying product claims such as superiority and convenience.”

Which Kind of Instagram Influencer Should You Be Working With?

Imagine if Kylie Jenner posted about your product and told her 296 million followers to buy it. That would be great, right? However, you may have to shell out around $1.5 million for that single post. Ouch!

Of course, this is understandable because Jenner is a mega influencer, i.e., an influencer with more than a million followers. And she’s not even the top Instagram influencer.

graph showing top instagram influencers
The highest-paid Instagram influencers of 2021 and their average cost per post || Data sourced from HopperHQ.com

Mega influencers have a very large reach, but they are likely not experts in your niche. They’re paid for their fame and number of followers, so they can endorse just about any brand or product they want. For example, Kim Kardashian once endorsed toilet paper while Ozzy Osbourne, the Prince of Darkness himself, endorsed butter.

Unless you’re as big as Nike, you probably don’t have the budget for these types of influencers. So which type of influencer should you be working with?

Thankfully, there are two other types of Instagram influencers that will be willing to promote your brand. Macro influencers have between 100k and 1 million followers, while micro-influencers have 1,000 to 100k followers. (These numbers are not set in stone, but you get the idea.)

You can work with either kind of influencer, but we personally prefer working with micro-influencers first because they are more likely to have a uniform audience and are specializing in specific niches. Also, because they have fewer followers, they’re less likely to demand so much from you when you ask them to promote your products.

Youtube vs. Instagram: Which Is Better for Product Promotion?

A lot of influencers are both on Youtube and Instagram, but which platform should you focus on?

It really depends on what your campaign’s goal is and how much you’re willing to pay. Here are the salient differences between these two platforms.

Sponsored content on Instagram is cheaper. On average, influencers ask for less for Instagram posts compared to Youtube. This is understandable since the content (photo or short video) is easier to produce compared to longer Youtube videos. In 2019, Instagram posts cost $1,643 on average while Youtube averages $6,700.

Infographic: How Influencer Marketing Costs Exploded | Statista  Source: Statista

Instagram’s content is easier to consume. Aside from being more attractive to customers, Instagram’s content is easier to consume because it focuses more on photos and 60-second videos.

Youtube has a higher engagement rate. Instagram has a 3% engagement rate, much lower than Youtube’s 18%.

Youtube has more users. While there are 1 billion Instagram users worldwide, Youtube has about twice as much.

Youtube videos can still be effective even years after uploading. To access old influencer posts, followers have to scroll through the profile, and you can only wish they’ll come across your sponsored post. Youtube videos, on the other hand, get recommended to followers even after they’ve already watched them.

Related Podcast: E422: Giving New Life to Your Old Youtube Videos

Youtube is the second biggest search engine. If you’re in a niche where people don’t really fangirl over products, you would benefit a lot from Youtube where people are searching for more information and how to DIY stuff.

How Much Do You Need to Pay Instagram Influencers?

While mega influencers ask for millions, macro and micro-influencer posts are more affordable. In fact, there are lots of them who are willing to not get paid at all and settle with giveaways.

If you want to get a feel for how much an Instagram influencer may potentially charge, as of 2022 it’s usually $10 per post/1,000 followers. However, influencers often don’t ask to be paid until they get 100,000 followers and are happy strictly with some free product and recognition, which is another reason why micro-influencers are preferred for small e-commerce businesses

Those who do charge for sponsored posts have media kits just like this:

media kit

So the price per sponsored post depends on how much the influencer is asking for and how much you can negotiate it down to. Generally, we are looking to pay less than $3.00 per conversion. Let’s say an influencer has 20k followers and she charges $500 for a post. Assuming a 1% conversion rate, this will amount to $2.50 per conversion.

However, giveaways are a much better option if you can both agree on the terms. In most of our brands, we usually sponsor giveaways instead of a paid partnership.

How to Work with Instagram Influencers for Giveaways

Most micro-influencers will be more than willing to do sponsored giveaways because they also want to give back to their followers. But how does it usually work and how many items should you give away for free?

Of course, you have to give the influencer at least one free product that they get to use, review, and keep. For the number of giveaways, we usually give only one item if the Instagram influencer has 1,000 to 4,999 followers and two if they have 5,000 to 9,999 followers. For influencers with 10k plus followers, we have to decide on a case-by-case basis, depending on how effective we think the campaign would be.

Again, this isn’t set in stone. Sometimes, we give away more products even if the influencer didn’t reach the specified number of followers if we think the campaign will be successful. So you have to determine what this number is for you.

Screenshot of sponsored Instagram post
This is an example of a giveaway we made in partnership with a micro-influencer.

How to Find the Right Influencer for Your E-Commerce Product

This process usually involves looking through profiles of influencers that you can find using related keywords and hashtags. For example, if you’re selling home gym products, you can search for #homegym and #fitness and see which influencers are specializing in this niche. The top results will give you the top posts, and they’re usually posts by influencers.

screenshot of instagram top posts

 

There are dedicated apps and sites for finding Instagram influencers such as Heepsy, but when you’re just starting out with influencer marketing or are working only with micro-influencers for a few giveaways, it wouldn’t make financial sense to pay for these services.

As you go through influencers’ profiles, here are some questions you should ask before deciding to finally reach out:

  • How active are they on Instagram? Do they post regularly and reply to their followers?
  • How are their engagement rates? (Sometimes, profiles with millions of followers have only a few hundred likes per post, so don’t pick an influencer based solely on the number of followers.)

Engagement Rate = (Total Engagement / Total Followers) * 100

For Instagram, engagement includes likes and comments.

  • Are they producing high-quality content? Look at their photo and video quality.
  • Does the influencer sell a product similar to yours?
  • Is the influencer already working with a brand whose products are similar to yours?
  • Which country is the influencer from? (If you’re selling and shipping only within the US, don’t go for an influencer whose followers are mostly from a different country.)
  • If you market your product to the influencer, will they buy your product? Because if not, then their audience will likely do the same thing.
  • How many sponsored posts are they posting?

Let’s talk about the last question. This is important because influencers who are perceived to be authentic are more trustworthy. If their Instagram profiles are filled with so many sponsored posts, this can be off-putting.

Let’s take a look at Cristiano Ronaldo’s Instagram. Of the first 18 posts, only four seem to be sponsored (indicated by the red boxes). However, he also posts promotions for his own gym and fragrances (in green).

screenshot of cristiano ronaldo's instagram account
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Instagram account contains more unpaid and personal posts compared to sponsored content.

What to Prepare Before Reaching Out to Influencers

When you’ve finally decided that you want to work with a certain Instagram influencer, you have to prepare the following for a smoother transaction:

Fact sheets and brochures

When you’re introducing your product, the influencer is bound to have lots of questions about it. Be prepared with a list of your product’s features, its advantages over competitors, etc. The more they know, the better they can review and market your product.

Influencer promo codes

Are you giving a 10% discount to your Instagram influencer’s followers along with a giveaway? Prepare the codes in advance. You will use these links later to track the success of your campaign.

Contract

It’s always best to have some kind of written Influencer Agreement, especially when working with paid influencers. Here’s what you can include in the contract:

  • Amount, date, and mode of payment
  • Date of posting and kind of post (ex: Instagram Story vs. post, photo vs. video)
  • What other social media platforms the influencer should post in, if any
  • A stipulation that the content should be compliant with the terms and conditions of the social media platform being used
  • A stipulation that you can also share and repurpose the content in your own site and social media account

Finally, include a statement that the influencer should be compliant with FTC Guidelines. It’s not enough that the post seems obviously sponsored. To know more about what influencers and brands should watch out for when publishing sponsored content, read the FTC Guide for Online Endorsements.

How to Reach Out and Follow Up with Instagram Influencers

After the preparations, you’re finally going to reach out to the Instagram influencer. Have a look at their bio because some influencers include an email address that they use for partnerships.

screenshot of email in instagram bio
Some Instagram influencers have a dedicated email for paid partnerships on their bio.

Not all influencers disclose their emails in their bio, however. In these cases, you can do the following:

  • Look at their other social media accounts
  • Google their names
  • Use tools like Clearbit Connect

You can also send them a private message to ask for their email address or just be straightforward because some influencers are more active in answering questions on Instagram compared to emails. We usually go for something as simple as “Hi (Influencer), we’d like to sponsor a giveaway on your Instagram!”

If you go the email route, however, you can send something like this:

example email to send to instagram influencers

After your first message, you can follow up after a few days (usually 5 to 7 days for us) if you don’t hear back from them. When following up on Instagram influencers, emphasize the fact that you are not rushing them and that you respect their time, but also highlight any important events that may be coming up such as a product launch.

You have to be patient when it comes to influencer outreach because some influencers can take weeks or months before they reply, and expect to wait longer for their post to be up. To give you a real-world example, here are the success rates of our Instagram influencer outreach for 3 different products in one quarter.

graph showing instagram influencer outreach report for one quarter
Out of all the influencers we reached out to, only about 5 to 8% actually agreed to post and were successfully sent the items.

How to Track the Success of Sponsored Instagram Posts on Amazon

After the Instagram influencer has posted, the next thing to do is track how well the post is doing. We consider a 2% engagement rate over a 7-day period to be good and 4 to 6% to be excellent.

So take note of how many followers the influencer has, how many comments and likes the post got. It would be awesome if the campaign results in a couple of sales, but even if it doesn’t, at least you still got brand exposure, which can pay off in the long run.

For our brands, we have the influencer link directly to our Amazon product page as opposed to our website. The incremental sales we can send to Amazon helps our Amazon SEO far more than any positive result we’ll get on our website.

We track our Amazon sales using the discount codes we provided to the influencers. The promo code can be generated on

Seller Central > Advertising > Promotions

Then we shorten the link generated by Amazon on Bitly and give the shortened link to the influencer. After a month, we track the data through

Seller Central > Advertising > Promotions > (Find the Influencer Code) > Download Report

Since the Amazon report won’t show how many link clicks were made, our workaround is to use Bitly’s click tracking.

Alternatively, you can also use Amazon Attribution and you will be able to concretely track the number of clicks and sales a link receives. The downside is that you cannot use it with a discount code.

We track data a month after the start of the campaign because afterward, the post will probably be too buried in the influencer’s profile.

Final Thoughts

Partnering with Instagram micro-influencers is a great way to reach out to your target audience. These influencers usually specialize in certain niches, so their followers are likely your target customers.

Whether paid or not, maintaining a good relationship with your chosen Instagram influencer can help your brand in the long run. We’ve had a couple of re-engagements with some influencers, and these campaigns have always been successful.

Have you tried working with Instagram influencers before? Was it a paid partnership or did you just sponsor a giveaway like we did?

Christine Gerzon

As EcomCrew's content writer, Christine has developed a love for all things e-commerce and a constant need to imagine Jeff Bezos with hair.

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