It’s easy to see the value in reaching out to influencers on Instagram for marketing purposes. After all, these Instagram personalities have developed quite a bit of a following. In fact, some Instagram celebrities have millions of followers.
These are not empty numbers because these people find the influencer credible and authoritative enough that they can be called to action. If the influencer promotes a third-party product, you can bet that a certain percentage of their followers would at least check out the product.
That counts a lot because these influencers have already built a certain level of trust, authority and credibility with their follower base. You don’t have that. You’re a complete stranger to that follower base.
By partnering up with these influential accounts, they pass on the established trust and credibility they have managed to generate directly to your brand. People then will give you the benefit of the doubt and check out what you’re about. Do you see how this works?
It’s easy to see how this can lead to increased conversions in your store. It’s also obvious how this paid influencer marketing approach can lead to more niche targeted audience members following your Instagram account. However, you cannot rush through this process.
Seeing the advantages is one thing, having those advantages materialize in your specific case is another case. The worst thing that you can do is to get a rough idea of what the benefits of influencer marketing is and instantly jump in with both feet.
Rushing and finding influencers will be disastrous. Mark my words, it is a one-way ticket to you seeing your hard-earned dollars sprout wings, never to come back again. It’s a waste of money.
You should pay attention to the tips I’m going to lay out below. They can go a long way in helping you maximize the value of your hard-earned dollars
Firstly, How to Even Find Influencers
Before we dig into how to find the right influencers, we need to know how to even find them.
Method 1: Manual Research
This is my favorite method how to find Influencers. Manual research depends only on you, so you can’t blame anyone else if something goes wrong.
1) Start Searching For Accounts by Hashtags
It doesn’t matter in which niche you are. There will always be hashtags related to your niche.
Let’s say you are in dog niche store and you are selling accessories for dog owners, such as lashes, dog beds and more.
So on your Instagram:
- Go to search page
- Change type to search by tags
- Search for “dog”
Now you have results.
2) Browse Top Posts and Find Accounts
This is the longer part. You need to decide which accounts you want to mark as potential shout-out account.
So once you are on Top Posts results, click image by image to see the account and determine if you would like to be shout-outed by this account or not.
3) Rinse and Repeat
If you browsed Top Posts results for “dog” search, find a new hashtag and do the same. For example, “Chihuahuas” or “Puppy. Instagram also suggests you related hashtags you can use.
4) I Have Potential Accounts, What Now?
Once you have list of your potential accounts, it is time to read this guide to the end. You need to check if the accounts have any Red Flags.
At the end of the article, you will see how to approach those accounts.
Method 2: Find Influencers on Shout-out Websites
There are countless websites which offer you purchasing shout-outs conveniently. You just go to the website, choose your niche and see Instagram accounts, from which you can buy shout-outs.
One of the examples is https://www.shoutcart.com/.
While being convenient, there are more cons.
- Accounts for shout-outs offered on those websites are usually made to make money no matter what. As long as they make money, they don’t care what they are shout-outing.
- Everyone can see those accounts and buy shout-outs. That means they could be posting shot-outs too frequently.
- You can’t discuss the price and get better deals.
Of course, you can find hidden gems there and your Instagram account could explode by the number of followers rising, however this is a rare case.
Therefore, I don’t recommend this method.
Let’s Find the Right Influencers
Hashtags Concetration Should Mark the Beginning of Your Search… Not Its End
If you find an Instagram influencer or brand ambassador who seems to only focus on hashtags closely linked to your niche, don’t get too excited.
Don’t automatically assume that their hashtag focus means they’ll be ideal promoters of your merchandise. There is more than meets the eye.
Pay attention to the other factors described below. Don’t quickly decide to pay an influencer for a shoutout or product post just because of their hashtag concentration. Otherwise, you might end up losing a lot of your cold, hard cash with very little to show for it.
Always Factor Overall Engagement
I’ve seen this happen quite a bit: an influential account has a lot of followers that focus on a very narrow range of hashtags. The problem is, once somebody pays for a shout-out or a paid ad, that money is quickly wasted. It turns out that while the account is very niche-targeted, the content shared by the account has such low engagement that it seems like people aren’t paying attention.
Low engagement is going to kill your campaign. In fact, I don’t mean to scare you, but there are many accounts which are fake. They were created specifically to suck up advertising dollars and give nothing back. Their niche targeting is just based on the hashtags they use and nothing else. Their followers are often fake.
To avoid this problem, divide the average number of engagements for that account’s content by the number of its followers [(Likes + Comments on 1 image) / Followers]. Obviously, the higher the ratio, the better. But if the account typically has low content engagement, keep looking. Something’s wrong. Either they have fake followers or their content sucks. None of these situations are good for you.
You can also check user-engagement on https://phlanx.com/engagement-calculator, so you don’t have to calculate anything yourself
Weak Influencer Red Flags
Like I mentioned above, there are fake accounts on Instagram. Early on, internet entrepreneurs figured out that you can make quite a bit of money getting paid for shouts or paid placements. Not surprisingly, a lot of fake accounts were produced that seem to target very lucrative niches.
Here is how you smoke them out. Pay attention to the following red flags so you can filter out weak influencers or flat out fraudulent ones:
First, Look For a Bad Follower to Following Ratio
Ideally, you should only spend your time trying to cut deals with influencers who are not following too many other accounts but have a huge follower base. This is an indicator that this account did not use the tired, old “I follow you, you follow me” marketing strategy.
A lot of Instagram accounts use all sorts of software or bots to follow a tremendous amount of accounts, knowing full well that a certain percentage would follow them back. Don’t fall for this trap.
Next, pay attention to low engagement.
This is a dead giveaway and money wasted.
Check which Hashtags are being used
Another factor you should consider involves the hashtags being used by the account’s content. If it seems that they’re throwing everything, even the kitchen sink in their photo’s tags, you might be looking at a spam account.
How to do it
How to don’t do it
What they’re trying to do is to basically try to hit as many different audiences as possible with their wide and illogical range of hashtags to get as much traffic as possible. This is a typical spammer move, and you should be suspicious if you see it.
Does the account promote too much?
Another dead giveaway involves the presence of too many existing paid ads. If it seems like every other photo shared by that Instagram account consists of some sort of discount or coupon code, be very suspicious. It’s obvious that they are trying to make money with their account. Making money is okay, but if almost your whole account is all about paid ads, then there’s a problem.
Do people engage with shout-outed content?
Next, pay close attention to the account’s paid ads. Do you see a lot of engagement? If the engagement is very low, be very suspicious. Your ads might not fare any better. The same goes with shout-outs.
If you notice that the account has tons of shout-outs, this might dilute their overall appeal. It may seem to their followers that all they care about is making money. Even if the account doesn’t have too many shout-outs, study the shout-outs anyway. See if the shout-out’s tags are relevant to your niche.
Also, pay attention to the accounts being shouted out. Are they relevant to the niche that the influencer is supposedly in? This can also be a form of spam if there is such a big distance between the niche of the influencer and the niche of the account being promoted.
When Doing Influencer Outreach, Remember This Rule
It’s all about quality over quantity. If you want to make money through influencer outreach and marketing, focus on quality over quantity. This means tight targeting.
If you are selling Smurf replicas from the 1980s, look for influencers that have a track record of posting content that is similar enough to your niche. The narrower your target, the better.
Next, pay attention to engagement. Let me clue you in on a secret. On Instagram, you know you’re dealing with a truly influential account when, despite the low volume of followers, they get a tremendous amount of engagement.
These people are essentially cult leaders. There’s really no other way to describe it because they attract a tremendous or almost fanatical level of commitment from their fans. These are exactly the types of people you want promoting you.
Focus on engagement and high targeting
This combination is explosive as far as your marketing goals are concerned.
However, there are certain cases where the account is tightly targeted and has high levels of engagement. If this person is just a curator and doesn’t really inject his or her input into their content that’s going to be a problem.
Why? You’re going to be riding on the personal credibility and authority of the influencer. That is the secret to what you’re trying to do. And if they are shy about inserting their point of view, their brand doesn’t have as much force.
As much as possible, you need to connect with cult leaders. They can call people to action, they can shape the discussion, and they can turn your brand from zero to hero. They’re worth the money.
How to Buy Ads From Influencers
Now that you have a clear idea as to which influencers to approach or take seriously, here are the next steps. Follow these to effectively buy ads from influencers.
First, you need to filter out influencers using the red flag factors above. Next, pay attention to tight targeting, high engagement, and solid brand persona. All three must be present. If any of them is missing, keep looking.
After you have identified influencers you want to buy ads from, start contacting them.
Free Template to Reach Out for Influencers
🔥 BUSINESS RELATED 💵
We are just curious if you do shout-outs. We have a store in [Your niche] niche and are looking for a few influencers that we want to work with long-term.
Normally we only partner up with pages over [200k/300k] but because your page looks like a winner we want to work with you.
Let me know what we can set up for test.
After making a deal with influencer, make sure that you give them URLs that enable you to track clearly. There are many redirect scripts available online. Use those to create really short URLs that are easy to pass along and copy and paste. Use these to correlate traffic to specific influencers. Pair these with discount codes. This is very important.
You have to understand that you are tapping into the influence of certain branded accounts on Instagram. Their followers have to have a clear incentive that is tied to the brand of the influencer.
For example, if you are selling sports bras and you have selected an influencer named Stacy with 300,000 followers on Instagram, the ads that she will post for you will say, “Stacy’s recommended sports bras. Get 80% off. Get your discount by entering this code.” And the code would have the short URL with the word “Stacy” at the end. This way, you can quickly track who sent the traffic and, most importantly, take advantage of the brand of the influencer to call people to action.
Anybody can give 30%, 40%, 80%, even 90% off. That’s not the issue. The issue is whether your ad leverages the credibility of the influencer properly. What you’re trying to do here is you’re trying to get a free ride on the influence authority and credibility built by the influencer you’ve cut a deal with.
After running several campaigns with different influencers using all sorts of discount codes, incentives and tracking codes, now is the time to compare results. Chances are, of the 10 influencers running campaigns for you, only 1% or 10% produce significant results.
Figure out your return on investment and pick out the best influencer based on that analysis. Once you have found the influencer that produces the highest return on investment, scale up your buys. Maybe you placed an ad for $10, scale it up to $100.
If they are still able to convert at a high predictable rate, make them an offer they can’t refuse. Scale this up from just paid ads to shout-outs and other specialized marketing deals. This is how you buy ads from influencers on the cheap while maximizing your Shopify store online sales platform’s production volume.