How to Select and Approach Instagram Influencers for Your Brand
If you want to get an additional exposure for your brand on Instagram collaborations with influencers is the way to go. Branded posts in blogs and pages with big audiences target loyal and already emotionally attached follower base – for them it feels more like getting a recommendation from a friend rather than advertising. That’s why influencers’ endorsements can bring way better results than sponsored posts popping up in the feed from the unfamiliar pages. In fact, according to Think with Google, influencers are just as likely as celebrities to drive buying decisions. Now, the questions are how to select the right influencer for your brand and how to approach him to maximize your chances to secure the collab? Here are the rules we recommend you follow for the best outcome.
1. Start with your BUYER. Who is the influencer for him?
Yes, showing your product to 100 thousand people at once might sound like a great idea, but will it bring you any leads or sales if none of them is interested in what you have to offer in the first place? Do your research and invest time in looking for blogs and pages that already attracted the audience you want to target. Try to analyze who your buyers consider influencers. Keep in mind their age, ethnicity, location. Buying decisions of a fashion student living in New York and a 40 y.o. immigrant from a latin American country & a mom of 2 might be influenced by completely different people.
2. The best way to contact an influencer (and make him read your message)
Most of the bloggers have their email mentioned in their bio – and since blogging is their full-time job they normally look through the business proposals they get, after all, that’s how they make money!
They are interested in you as much as you are in them so don’t ever feel like you are asking them for a favor (unless it is non-paid collaboration, which we’ll discuss later), treat it as you would a business communication.
To make sure the person received/read your email you can always send them a direct message & leave a comment under the last post saying that you just contacted them with a business proposal – that can help get the attention. Be patient and don’t expect them to reply right away – some of them travel a lot, some combine blogging with an actual job. Sometimes a response can take days, but our experience shows that 8 out of 10 influencers will eventually get back to you even if their answer is negative.
3. Make them aware of your budget
In 99% of the cases, collaboration won’t be free. Now that advertising on Instagram brings millions in profit to brands who know how to do it right, influencers’ rates are at an all-time high. As soon as anybody on Instagram reaches at least 40k followers they start charging for branded posts. Good news is there are still a lot of influencers who started not so long ago so they are still in the process of building their presence thus charge moderately.
It is possible to secure up to 3 posts in the account with 80k followers for just $100.
Always try to negotiate the rates, and if you express sincere interest in a collaboration with a certain influencer and convince them in its importance for your brand, chances are that they will offer you more posts for a lower price, give you a discount or even agree to your initial budget.
4. Always ask for the recent page statistics
Now that all the influencers have business pages all they need to do is take screenshots of the stats with the reach, impressions, and engagement of their page and recent posts.
Normally the engagement (likes + comments) under a single post should be around 5-10% of the number of followers or higher.
You’ll see that sometimes these numbers are way lower, in that case, you might want to consider working with somebody else or it can be a reason to negotiate the cost of the collaboration.
5. Be clear about your objectives and make them sign an agreement
If your goal is to let people know your goods are handmade, or that you offer a 20% discount on the last collection, make sure the influencer agrees to mention it. If the caption is important, make them send it to you for approval prior posting. Discuss such details as the style and mood of the photos with your product, provide the influencer with inspirational photos that reflect what you are looking for.
The best way to secure the collaboration’s terms is signing an agreement with clearly stated deliverables, deadlines, payment terms and all the details of your cooperation.
It will protect you from unwanted stress whenever an influencer "forgets" he promised you something specific, and you can just refer to the conditions he or she confirmed with the signature in order to make things right.
6. Free collaboration. Is it possible?
There are a few strategies that may get you a free mention of your brand. First one: sending out your products to everybody you wish posted about them with a cute note saying how much your brand loves X and how happy you would be if X tries out your stuff. Now, this may only work if the influencer will actually fall in love with your product to the point that he would want to share it with his audience gratuitously.
You must have seen something like “not an ad, I just really love this” in the accounts even with millions of followers, so it is not impossible.
Second one: offer to become an ambassador a.k.a. a long-term promoter of the brand in return for the using of the product/service. It is not exactly free because you will basically need to give away your products so it might be not the best idea for the high-value products unless you can afford it, but can work great for small brands and startups that desperately need promoters.
7. Don't expect crazy sales as soon as the post goes live
Influencer marketing like any other marketing activity is a long process and requires trials, consistent efforts, and patience: not every influencer's post will have the impact on your sales you were hoping for, and that's totally fine. Not every person can go from being a stranger to your brand to becoming a customer in a snap of a finger. But there's nothing better to drive brand awareness and move people further down the marketing funnel.
“The fashion path to purchase begins with inspiration. Share videos and partner with influencers to capture your audience's attention and imagination”. Eva Chen, head of fashion partnerships at Instagram
Here you can read more about social media growth tricks for brands.