instagram influencer

Creating a buzz on your Instagram feed isn’t always easy. There are countless other brands out there trying to earn the attention of the same audience, making it incredibly difficult for companies to establish any kind of sustainable buzz. Fortunately, Instagram influencer marketing could be the answer for those who want to build their presence fast.

While it’s difficult to find official numbers for the amount marketers spend on Instagram followings each year, some studies suggest that companies spent as much as $570 million in 2016 on Instagram sponsored posts. As a more natural and credible way to build a company’s number of followers, it makes sense that influencer marketing would be an even more lucrative social media practice.

The good news is that modern companies don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune just to get influencers involved with their company. By focusing on the development of mutually-beneficial relationships, companies can establish strong connections with influencers that lead to a large following, without a substantial payout. Here are some top tips for working with Instagram influencers.

1.     Know your Audience

The first step for any company looking to earn a million followers through Instagram, is figuring out what kind of audience they’re trying to appeal to. A business that knows everything there is to know about their Instagram users can carefully construct the right messaging to ensure that every post resonates with their target market. In a world where customers are looking for more personalized and authentic brand experiences, it’s important for organizations to work with influencers relevant to their preferred customer.

Building a buyer persona can help companies to get to know the kind of person they want to attract to their Instagram account. This persona should include information like the customer’s interests, where they spend their time online, and what pain points might convince them to buy a product or service. Once a company knows who their audience is, it’s much easier to search for high-quality influencers who are likely to appeal to that kind of customer.

2.     Start Looking for Influencers

With an in-depth description of their perfect customer in mind, companies will be able to start looking for Instagram influencers who can best promote their brand or product. A good place to start is often within a company’s existing pool of customers.

Some businesses will discover that they already have micro-influencers involved with their marketing platform. Companies that find influencers who already enjoy their Instagram stories and pictures will have a much easier time turning those influencers into brand ambassadors. There are plenty of other ways to search for influencers too. For instance, some companies search for their brand hashtag to find people talking about them elsewhere on Instagram.

It can also be helpful to search for people who frequently cover topics or keywords that are relevant to a company’s brand. As a business continues to grow, there’s a chance that it will begin to attract new influencers and potential advocates that can help to accelerate an existing marketing campaign.

3.     Evaluate the Strength of the Influencer

One of the biggest mistakes that budding companies make, is asking influencers to start writing blog posts and issuing shout-outs before they’ve had a chance to evaluate that influencer’s engagement rate and popularity. Just because an influencer appears to have a lot of followers doesn’t mean that they’re the right person to promote a business. Some potential influencers actually buy their followers to make themselves seem more important, but they have no engagement with the people on their feed.

Companies who are unsure about working with a new person can start by asking that professional which brands and influencers they’ve worked with in the past. If competitors have worked with the same person, it might be possible to see how those sponsored posts did. Some influencers keep information about their engagement numbers to show future brands.

If previous campaigns went really well for an influencer that worked with your competitors, you might decide to work with the same person. However, before you start launching your new posts, it’s worth letting some time pass before you jump into action. You don’t want to ruin your influencer’s reputation by asking them to jump too quickly between brands.

4.     Check for Disclosure on Sponsored Posts

Another good point to keep in mind with Instagram influencer marketing, is that companies should always rethink working with people who try to hide their sponsorships. The FTC has guidelines in place for digital influencers that dictate how they should act on any marketing platform. These rules suggest that people with a large following shouldn’t attempt to hide the sponsored nature of their posts from their followers.

Though there isn’t a fine at this time for violating the non-disclosure guidelines provided by the FTC, most companies will prefer to work with influencers who have an honest and authentic relationship with their audience. When influencers constantly fail to disclose the truth to their Instagram followings, they can reduce their credibility.

Over time, working with an influencer who lies on the occasional Instagram post can be risky. While it might seem like a good way to make your influencer campaigns seem more natural, the truth is that it’s always safer to work with professionals that know and comply with the guidelines of their industry.

5.     Get Creative with Collaboration

Finally, companies that truly want to get a million followers with their influencer marketing campaigns need to think carefully about how they can connect with their influencers. Brands often approach influencer marketing from the standard sponsored post perspective. However, the most effective campaigns are the ones that go beyond this level.

Influencers can offer advice and expertise to a company’s audience – giving that company more thought leadership and authority in their space. They can also raise trust for the company over time, by regularly mentioning their products and services. The more creative a business is when it comes to providing their influencer with a great professional experience, the more likely they are to see the best return on investment for their campaign.

Taking Instagram Influencer Marketing to the Next Level

Remember, a successful influencer campaign doesn’t stop with a promotional post or a shout-out. Companies can continue to grow the reach of their brand through influencer posts, by sharing the things their influencers do and say on other channels. For instance, a company could reference an influencer mention in their blog posts, or link to it from other social media channels.

A successful campaign might take some time and effort, but the result can be a bigger, and more loyal fanbase of people who are ready to support and advocate for a brand.

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.