Influencer marketing 101

Instagram influencer marketing is one of the fastest-growing fields of marketing: from $8 billion in 2020, the industry is predicted to grow to $15 billion by 2022. So if you aren’t using influencers for your brand yet, you are definitely missing out.. Here we have collected together the most important questions and recommendations on how to do Instagram influencer marketing.

Start reading from the beginning or go straight to the topic that interests you by clicking on it! 👇🏼

1. What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing goes hand in hand with two other fields of marketing: social media and content marketing. As the name suggests, influencer marketing uses social media users with a big audience to promote brands’ products and services. Influencer marketing relies on influencers’ recommendations and, therefore, is leveraging word of mouth marketing.

As influencers are found in very different areas, they are a great way to reach a specific target group. There are many so-called lifestyle influencers who share the full spectrum of their lives on social media, but there are also content creators who only talk about a specific field, sports or food for example. In countries where influencer marketing is more developed, niche influencers are more common. Meaning that these influencers are followed by people who have a specific interest in the same field, and because of that, it is a wonderful marketing channel for a brand in that category.

Iiris-Simona Rao and Wolt campaign photo

Iiris-Simona Rao (@iirissimonarao) x Wolt Estonia campaign photo

The main and most influential channel of influencer marketing is Instagram, with both feed and story posts. In most cases, an influencer takes a picture or creates a video of a brand’s product / service, shares it on their profile, and receives a reward from the brand in products or money.

The size of the influencer’s following, the specific interest in the topic, his credibility and the impact on his followers are the reasons why influencer marketing has proven to be one of the most effective and cost-effective marketing methods.

2. Why does Instagram influencer marketing work?

A study conducted by Tomson showed that influencer marketing could bring back every dollar invested by 6.5 times – not to mention the positive impact on the brand image! Although the exact ROI can be very different for different brands and different campaigns, there are many reasons why influencer marketing works well for most B2C brands.

Firstly, people trust other people. 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising. This is the main reason why influencer marketing works: social media content creators have a strong connection with their followers. What’s more, influencers are often followed for product and service recommendations.

Secondly, 42.7% of internet users globally use ad blockers – which means that while the number of users is growing rapidly,  the effectiveness of banner and display advertising is decreasing.

Finally, social media usage is continuing to grow. In addition to communication and sharing photos, social media also influences our purchase decisions: based on different studies, 70% to 80% of consumers search for more information on social media before making a purchase.

Facebook and Instagram both are moving towards to people seeing more friends’ posts, and fewer branded posts. This has led to higher competition for the ad space, which has led to higher click prices – and the higher the prices are in the regular digital media channels (including social media), the more it makes sense for brands to invest in influencer marketing.

3. Which brands would benefit from influencer marketing?

At first, it might seem that influencer marketing is more suitable in the marketing strategy of so-called “instagrammable” products, which look beautiful in pictures: beauty products, fashion and accessories, interior design products, food and restaurants.

At the same time, everything depends on the creativity of the marketer – we have also had successful promotions for banks, cleaning products, car wash, various events, even a garden cleaning competition! Therefore, based on our experience so far, we dare to say that influencer marketing can be suitable for brands in very different fields.

However, it is worth keeping the target group in mind. As there are more younger people among social media users – for example, the largest age group of Instagram is 25-34 year olds, followed by 18-24 and 35-44 – influencer marketing on Instagram is better suitable for marketing products with younger target groups.

“At the same time, this may not be the case – there are also retirement-aged content creators abroad who talk about topics related to their age,” said Piia Õunpuu, who has coordinated influencer marketing campaigns for several large brands as part of PR Strategies agency. “Similarly, influencers are also involved in business, such as LinkedIn, where campaigns for products/services are not targeted to the average consumers.”

At the same time, the gender distribution of Instagram users is relatively equal – in contrast to the common misconception, men are also active Instagram users.

4. How to get started with influencer marketing?

The first step of starting with influencer marketing is to think clearly:

Who are you as a brand, and what kind of value you create – if it is not clear to you, you will not be able to make it clear for the influencer, either, let alone his followers.

Who your target group is – the more accurately you can describe them, the easier it will be for you to understand which content creator you should work with to reach them

The central goal of the campaign – is it to be in the picture, increase the sales of some products, get content on social media channels, gather new followers, increase the number of visits to the e-store, or something else. The structure of the collaboration and the selection of influencers, as well as the evaluation of the results, will depend on it.

Key performance indicator (KPI) – in every campaign, only one indicator should be in the center: if the goal of a single campaign is to increase e-store sales, brand awareness and the number of Instagram followers, all results are likely to remain modest.

Once these aspects are in place; you can start working on your influencer marketing strategy in more detail: what kind of content creators you want to involve, how many, what kind of content and how often the influencers should share, and what your influencer marketing budget will look like.

Michelle-Cathlin Damm Jarlby (@michellejarlby) x Normal DK campaign photo

Matlan Thihlum (@matlanthihlum) x Zilver Jewellery campaign photo

Before selecting the right influencers, it is worth defining for yourself the criteria on which basis you evaluate potential partners. For example, it is worth considering the engagement rate, the suitability of the audience, the interests and values of the influencer, the quality of the photos and captions so far. We’ll talk more about finding and choosing influencers in the next section!

It is also worth thinking about the time perspective in terms of strategy. While short-term collaborations are a good way to achieve strong visibility on social media in the short term (for example, before the peak season), long-term influencer partnerships work better in the long run: they are more credible, more convenient for both parties, and require less time.

Since a well-thought-out strategy is one of the most important aspects of successful campaigns, we’ve put together an influencer marketing strategy worksheet that you can download and use as a guide!

Influencer marketing strategy worksheet preview

At the same time, it is natural that the strategy may change over time: for example, the previous Latvian Marketing Manager of Wolt said that when entering the Latvian market, it was important for Wolt that as many consumers in Riga as possible would hear about the new application. Therefore, their first strategy was to use discount codes: both influencers and their followers who ordered something from Wolt received a lower delivery fee thanks to the code.

Later, when brand awareness was already higher, the FOMO (fear of missing out) strategy was introduced: Wolt was visible everywhere to make people feel as if everyone around them was always ordering food from Wolt, and they should try it out, too.

5. How to find the right influencers?

There are several ways for finding influencers. The most reasonable way to start would be your own customers and social media followers. You can also browse Instagram and manually search for suitable content creators or use an influencer marketing platform.

a) Among your existing customers and social media followers

You probably want to find influencers who actually use your products / services and are willing to sincerely recommend them to their followers. Therefore, you are most likely to find these content creators in your customer base! In addition, you can check your social media accounts: who are the people who tag you in their posts or stories and already recommend your brand to their acquaintances? If they have the right audience, you probably want to work with them.

b) From Instagram

On Instagram, you can also search for suitable influencers manually. For example, you can check different hashtags and locations related to the brand. If you want to reach content creators in a particular country, you may want to look for posts made in towns in that specific country and hashtags #advertising, #influencer, etc. in the local language.

You can also find suitable content creators on Instagram explore page or from competitor accounts. It is not worth stealing partners from another brand, but you can seek inspiration, and find new hashtags or people interested in the field with whom to start a conversation.

Read more: How to find influencers on Instagram?

c) Using an influencer marketing platform

Finding the right influencers manually is super time-consuming – when launching Promoty, it took us more than 40 hours to find 100 relevant creators!

This is also one of the reasons why we created Promoty. Our Influencer Discovery makes finding TikTok and Instagram influencers a lot faster and easier. We have a global influencer database that you can filter by influencers’ location, their audience location, age and gender; interests, brand affinity, and other criteria.

For example, if you’re searching for influencers based in South Africa, you can set the influencer’s location to SA. If you’re searching for influencers with a South African audience, you can filter our database by the influencer’s audience.

sceenshot of Promoty: top South African influencers on Instagram

Searching for South-Africa-based influencers  on Promoty (try it out for free)

d) Influencers contact the brand themselves

Of course, it may happen that some influencers turn to your brand with their own cooperation offer. In this case, it is definitely worth reading the letter critically to be sure whether the content creator wants to specifically work with your brand or he has sent the same letter to several brands. In addition, it’s worth checking out influencer’s current posts and audience demographics to make sure it’s compatible with the brand.

6. How to choose influencers for your brand?

Choosing influencers is the biggest factor in the success of a campaign: if a brand finds content creators who fit their brand and whose audience matches the brand’s target audience, the campaign is likely to be successful.

Here are five points to pay attention to before approving your collaboration:

a) Influencer’s story, topics and values

It’s definitely worth checking out what the content creator has talked about on his account before and how it overlaps with the brand’s themes: for example, if a content creator has previously emphasized the importance of clean food on their account or shared some tricks of an environmentally friendly lifestyle, they are likely to be great for an eco-product campaign.

When applying for a campaign on Promoty, influencers also include a short note about why they want to participate in the campaign – this often shows how well the content creator would fit for the campaign.

b) Quality of the content

If you want to use the photos created by the influencer on your social media channels later, you should first determine if the visual style of a particular content creator is right for you.

For example, if all the previous photos of the content creator were taken with a phone and in dark tones, you shouldn’t expect your collaborative post to come out in light tones and very good quality. If the brand is waiting for photos with a certain style, it is definitely worth mentioning it in the campaign briefing.

c) Previous collaborations

It is also worth taking a look at the number, content and style of influencer’s collaborative posts so far. The fewer paid posts on a content creator’s profile, the more carefully they are likely to choose their partners, and the more authentic content you can expect. In addition, it is worthwhile to make sure whether your potential partner has previously collaborated with competing brands.

Influencer account insights (including previous posts) on Promoty Discovery

d) Instagram statistics

Although the number of followers is one of the first indicators that stands out on an influencer’s profile, it shouldn’t be overemphasized. On the contrary: on a global scale, content creators with a smaller audience – micro influencers – are becoming more and more important.

They are effective mainly because of their cohesive and involved audience: studies show that, on average, they have a 60% higher engagement rate than bigger influencers! Content creators with a smaller audience often have more authenticity, less collaborations, and therefore more influence over their followers. Of course, they ask for lower prices and are often willing to work only for products and services, which means less investment and higher ROI for the brand.

In addition to the number of followers, it is worth looking at the average reach and the engagement rate of the influencer’s posts. It shows how many followers like, comment, save, or share the content creator’s post. If the content creator’s engagement rate is high, it means that the creator’s content matters to his followers, and they actively communicate with him.

At the same time, it is worth keeping in mind that the higher the number of followers, the lower the engagement – in general, 3-5% engagement is very normal for big influencers.

e) The quality of the followers

Don’t forget to check for fake followers! In addition to the engagement rate, you can also take a look at the comments under the influencer’s posts: this is usually a good indicator of whether these are by sincere fans or bot comments in the style of “Cool post, check out my content.” 

If you are marketing to specific countries or cities, it is also important to ensure that the influencer’s audience is based there – otherwise, the collaboration will bring many results.

If you want a good overview of the followers’ demographics (location, age, gender, etc.), you can ask the influencer to send a screenshot of their Audience view on Instagram. You can also use influencer marketing platforms: for example, on Promoty, you can see influencer statistics directly from Instagram:

a screenshot of the platform
Christiano Ronaldo Instagram insights - audience ethnicity

TikTok and Instagram influencer analytics tool (Promoty Discovery)

7. How to write a good influencer campaign brief?

An influencer campaign brief is a comprehensive document that a brand’s representative sends to content creators before the collaboration. The briefing usually outlines the campaign’s objectives, schedule, expectations, expected results, and guidelines for creating the content.

A well-put-together campaign briefing helps to ensure that unwanted surprises would not occur and that the result meets the brand’s expectations. If no separate contract is concluded, the campaign brief also fulfills the role of a contract. If the influencer agrees to this in writing, he would have hopefully read the brief thoroughly and is ready to follow the mentioned points.

Based on the experience of more than 1,500 campaigns ran on Promoty, we have written down some points that should definitely be mentioned in a proper briefing:

a) Brand and product/service introduction

The beginning of the brief is the place to sell yourself to the influencer and create excitement about the upcoming collaboration. A good tone is to start with a short introduction of the brand: who you are and what you stand for. Brand values are undoubtedly one aspect that an influencer decides whether he wants to work with you!

b) An overview of the campaign and its goals

It is very important to state the purpose of the campaign so that the influencer can write the caption for their post accordingly and make a call to action to their followers according to that purpose – the caption might bring out some features of a certain product, inform people about a sale campaign, introduce a new product, etc.

c) Details and terms of the collaboration

The practical side is also worth mentioning in brief:

  • Social media channels where to share the content;
  • How many posts and stories do you expect from the influencer;
  • Should the content be sent to the brand for review before going live;
  • What is the influencer’s fee, and under what conditions is it paid?

It is important to point out the important dates right at the beginning of the collaboration: when the posts and stories should be sent to the brand for review, when they should have been made, etc. In this case, the influencer can plan their work better and, in the end, create better content.

d) Expectations for the content

This section is for letting the content creator know what to keep in mind / mention in their post or story:

  • Expectations for visuals (tones and objects in the picture, etc.);
  • Labeling the collaboration post and warning clauses, if necessary;
  • Hashtags, links, promotional codes, etc. that should be mentioned in the post;
  • Social media accounts that should be tagged in the post.

e) Content Use Rights

If you plan to use the influencer’s content later on your brand’s website, in advertising, or on social media, you should include it in the briefing.

lemettikatja Instagram influencer campaign photo on Promoty

Jekaterina Lemetti (@lemettikatja) campaign photo

8. What are the collaboration types in influencer marketing?

The most common form of collaboration is sponsored posts or stories on the influencer’s own profile, where the content creator introduces the brand’s products and services to his followers or posts where the product has “accidentally” left in the picture.

• Product testing, reviews and opinions. As influencers are often followed in order to get product recommendations or staying up to date with new products and services, this is one of the most effective forms of collaboration. That’s why influencers are often included in launch campaigns for new products and services! As sharing your personal experience often balances the advertising impression, this type of collaboration can also be supported by promotional codes and other sale strategies.

For the content creator, it tends to be the most convenient to make product reviews in Instagram Story, where he can share his thoughts and opinions a little more freely and for a longer time. In addition, influencers with more than 10,000 followers can add a link directly to the Story by using the “swipe up” option (this is a functionality that’ll soon be accessible to all users).

• Discount codes and other sale strategies. Promotional codes and marked links are a functional and measurable way to increase online store sales. If the code gives a significant discount, the influencer will be happy to share it – it is also valuable for their followers!

Of course, in this case, the content creator should also share his own experience or add something personal – that way, it would not just seem like a so-called “paid” post. For example, if a content creator shares a promotional code for an online beauty store, the collaboration will be more effective if they also share their favorite products from that website – the content will look more natural, followers will receive good recommendations, and the e-store sales revenue will most likely increase.

• Giveaways, where brand products are distributed in collaboration with an influencer. Since this form of collaboration benefits both parties – in addition to conveying the brand message, both the brand and the influencer will receive new followers – influencers may charge less for the post, which makes the giveaway a very cost-effective way to market the brand.

It is also popular to involve influencers to send their followers to the brand’s own giveaway or a consumer game: in this case, the influencer’s task is to explain the rules / content of the game and direct their followers to the brand’s social media account or participate in an offline consumer game.

• Creating content for brand channels. Since many content creators create outstandingly good photo and video content, it’s a good way to get some content to use on a brand’s social media. Such content is often more emotional, trendy, and social-media-friendly than professionally created content. Besides, involving influencers to create content is significantly cheaper than hiring a photographer and a model, renting a studio, and getting all the necessary accessories!

On Promoty, there have been several campaigns asking influencers to create visuals without posting them on their personal accounts – we like to call them content-only campaigns and it’s definitely a rising trend in social media marketing!

Lumene’s influencer campaigns’ content in Filand

9. How to pay influencers?

In most cases, the influencer is paid in credit, or free products and services – it depends on the product, the influencer’s price, and the form of collaboration. Of course, various combined options are also possible. For example, in the case of long-term influencer partnerships, the influencer is often paid in products for the first post and in a financial reward for subsequent posts.

Influencers price their content based on how much work goes in – and a professional influencer who dedicates several days and uses their personal resources (camera, lighting, accessories) to create photos, video, or text, deserves a decent reward.

The mentioned study highlights six reasons why content creators work with brands:

  • Higher reach and audience growth (55%)
  • Opportunity to create quality content for their audience (45%)
  • Reputational impact increased credibility of the content creator (29%)
  • Discounts, free samples and other benefits from the brand (25%)
  • Opportunity to earn extra money (24%)
  • New experiences: events, trips, etc. (22%)

So.. can I pay influencers in products?

Yes, you can! Product campaigns where the influencer receives free products/services, product credit or a gift card are especially good because they require less investment from the brand and, therefore, probably also have higher ROI.

Secondly, product campaigns only attract influencers who use the brand’s products anyway and are happy to recommend them to their followers – resulting in more genuine collaborative posts that bring better results.

For example, one of the most successful campaigns on Promoty has been Sutu’s influencer campaign, which’s reward was a pack of reed straws. Although it was more of a lower-priced product, still more than 400 content creators, including those with more than 100,000 followers, applied for the campaign – they were called upon to give up plastic consumption and thus make the world a little better. The story your brand tells can speak to influencers even more than a monetary reward!

Sutu Straws case study

Goal: Raise awareness of the Sutu brand and its reed straws.

Reward: product (a box of straws)
Posts: 95
Reach: 260 307
Likes: 38 338
CPE: 0,02€

👉🏼  Read more: 7 inspiring micro-influencer marketing case studies

When trying to decide whether the reward of your campaign should be monetary or you can pay for products, think about the price of what you offer and try to compare it to the price of influencers that you are expecting to have in your campaign. For example, if you want to work mainly with micro-influencers with 3,000 to 10,000 followers, the product’s value for a successful product campaign should be at least 30-50 euros. If the price of your product is significantly lower, it is worth setting up a monetary campaign.

Based on our experience on Promoty, we can say that campaigns where only a very low-priced product (less than 10 euros) is offered will most likely not succeed – since local content creators usually charge a higher fee, only very dedicated fans would be willing to collaborate for such a fee.

👉🏼 Read more: Influencer marketing mistakes to avoid

10. How to measure influencer marketing success?

The last and most important step of any (influencer) marketing campaign should be the analysis of the results: it can be used to determine how successful the campaign was, which content creators brought the desired results, and also to set the budget for the next campaign.

Measuring influencer marketing results primarily depends on the purpose of the campaign: if the goal is to increase brand awareness, you should mainly focus on the metrics related to the reach (reach, number of impressions). However, if the goal is to promote the brand image, then rather focus on the indicators related to the engagement: the number of likes and comments, engagement rate, the number of new followers, etc.

The most difficult thing is to measure the impact of influencer marketing on sales – this is also the main criticism in this area. In most cases, one of two options is used:

a) Trackable links that the influencer can add to his profile or Story. On Google Analytics, the brand can see how much traffic has come to the website via the influencer’s link, how many, and in what amount purchases have been made.

Link to Instagram story screenshots

b) Personal discount codes that allow you to determine exactly how many sales each collaboration brought. As the influencer can offer something to his followers in this case, it is a win-win solution. In addition, it allows for more accurate metering than trackable links – even if a customer who sees the concrete campaign post goes to the e-store from another device instead of the influencer’s shared link and makes a purchase, they’re likely to still use the code.

If you want all of your campaign statistics (reach, likes, and comments) to be visible on one platform, both by post and by campaign, move your influencer marketing campaigns to Promoty!

👉🏼 Read more: How to measure influencer marketing?

As both influencer and social media marketing are relatively new fields, a number of ethical and regulatory questions have arisen.

In Estonia, influencer marketing is primarily regulated by the Advertising Act. The Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority and Estonian Marketing Association also recently created a guide for advertisers on social media. We are bringing out the most important aspects to pay attention to when cooperation with influencers.

  • Sponsored posts must be tagged

Instagram’s Advertising Policy clearly requires sponsored content to be labeled appropriately. The exact wording of the fee clause is “for an exchange of value”, so it also includes non-monetary rewards – for example, sending free products, sharing services, or product credit to the content creator. At the local (estonian) level, the Advertising Act brings out that advertising must be clearly distinguishable from other information, and it must be clear who the client of the advertisement is.

It is recommended to have the label in the language that the content creator’s followers mainly speak – for example, if the influencer’s followers are mainly Estonian, it is appropriate to use the hashtag #reklaam. You can also use a text like “the post is created in partnership with company x” or use the “Paid partnership” functionality. It is important that followers would understand that the content is an advertisement as soon as they start consuming/reading it. At Promoty, we’ve resolved this by automatically adding #ad to the caption of posts made through us.

If the post does not have a specific place for text (such as Instagram Story), the label referring to the advertisement in the post must be clearly visible under consumers’ normal attention.

  • Influencer has the right to share his honest opinion

Another important point to follow as a brand is that you should not prescribe content for the influencer: it is important to give him the basic information about your product, but the content creator should always have the right to add their honest opinion. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC ) has set three rules for product reviews:

1. The relationship between the reviewer and the brand being reviewed must be clearly stated: consumers have the right to know if someone is being paid to recommend a product or a brand.

2. The review must reflect the person’s honest opinion: the brand representative does not have the right to prescribe the content of the review.

3. People who have achieved exceptional or above-average results thanks to a product must make it clear that their results are not typical.

In Estonia, they are not prescribed by the law, but they should still be followed in the name of fair and transparent social media.

  • The content created belongs to the author unless agreed otherwise 

It is obvious that the content of influencers belongs to them and may not be used without prior consent. To avoid problems, it is worth immediately agreeing on which channels and for how long the brand can use the created content. Though, using influencer marketing platforms can simplify the process: for example, the Terms of Use of Promoty clearly state that the brand has the rights to use the created content on all their social media channels.

Mirjam Väljaots’ (@mirjamvaljaots) campaign photo

Get started with influencer marketing today.

Promoty is an influencer relationship management platform that allows brands to find the right influencers, and manage all their (potential) influencers, collaborations, chats, and content in one place. Here’s a short demo video of how it works! 👇🏼

Using Promoty’s Influencer Discovery, you can search for influencers worldwide, filtering by their social media metrics or audience data. Additionally, you can see detailed account insights for every influencer – which helps you to find the right TikTok and Instagram influencers for your brand. 🤍

Additionally, you can use our influencer CRM to manage your current and potential collaboration partners, detect branded content, and chat with influencers. Create a free account to get started! 

Get a detailed
profile report for every influencer worldwide.

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