When we are looking for recommendations, who do we go to?
Many times it’s someone we know or follow online or in-person. They often have three things in common:
- They’re honest and authentic,
- They share our values, and,
- Ultimately, they have our best interests at heart.
Let’s take it a step further. You receive a recommendation by word-of-mouth, but you’re not sure what the product looks like or where to shop for it. Enter influencer marketing on Instagram.
Blame it on our senses, but the more interaction we have with a product, the more familiar, comfortable and confident we feel purchasing it.
Historically, brands have targeted messaging at consumers, without listening for a response. But with the introduction of social media messaging platforms, like Instagram, consumers have changed the conversation.
Now, conversations between brands and consumers have become so fluid that products take on a human-like persona to communicate their value proposition. We experience this often through sensory marketing.
According to the Harvard Business Review, brands utilize sensory marketing with three goals in mind:
- To identify and understand consumers’ emotions,
- To explore and capitalize on new markets, and
- To grow brand loyalty.
Sounds a lot like how we interact with brands and products via influencers on Instagram, right?
After working at a marketing agency, facilitating Instagram influencer marketing partnerships with some of America’s leading brands, I personally became invested in this strategy.
That’s right. I became an influencer.
On my blog, The Letter Bea, I share content on topics that interest me such as:
- My life with Type 1 Diabetes,
- fashion-related topics,
- my Golden Retriever Lucy,
- and any other activities and products that capture my attention.
Since I began my influencer journey in 2017, I’ve grown, worked with some amazing brands (like Anheuser-Busch, Outdoor Voices, and Mejuri), and have learned the behind the scenes of influencer marketing.
I even landed some of my first paid brand partnerships with just 2,000 followers.
Big picture, I learned that the combined work of Instagram and influencer marketing gives us the luxury of regular sensory exposure – one that has become the norm – and it’s why the traffic and conversion driving tactic has grown exponentially in recent years.
To set the stage, let’s look at the growth numbers:
- The number of Instagram users in the United States, currently 106.7 million, is expected to reach 125.5 million by 2023.
- Global Instagram influencer marketing spend, currently $7 billion, is expected to reach $8,080 billion USD by 2020.
- The number of brand-sponsored influencer posts on Instagram, currently 4.95 million, is expected to reach 6.12 million by 2020.
The facts are clear – Instagram influencer marketing is not going away anytime soon. The power of influencers is rising and will considerably change the way consumers shop.
In this post, I’ll dive into why and how brands are investing in this strategy and what it means for your ecommerce company – from the eyes of both an ecommerce expert and influencer.
What is an Influencer?
An influencer, often times referred to as a blogger or content creator, is a trusted resource with a significantly engaged following on social media who shares genuine opinions and information on various topics, products and services that interest them via social media, a website or blog.
Contrary to popular belief, an influencer doesn’t need to have a large following on their Instagram account. I know, I was just as surprised as you when I learned this.
Influencers with a smaller number of followers experience higher engagement (like number of likes). In other words, a lesser amount of Instagram followers translates to higher engagement rates and ROI.
I will never forget getting invited to my first major influencer event – at just 990 followers on Instagram. Anheuser-Busch invited me to their Influencer Holiday Night to promote the St. Louis-based company’s famous Brewery Lights season. There I sat next to some of the city’s top influencers – wondering, quite honestly, how I scored an invitation.
That’s when I was approached by the women representing the public relations firm. She was in charge of scouting influencers for the brand. I learned that while still small, my high engagement rate, authentic voice, and robust influence in my niche stood out. To the brand, this meant potential for higher ROI.
Best part? They weren’t wrong.
The content from that evening ending up getting shared on other social media accounts – generating thousands of likes, comments and shares. It was a win-win for both my platform and the brand.
Different Types of Influencers
Influencers fall into different niches, different followings, and have different ways of creating content. It’s important to understand what type of influencer will work best for your brand (taking into consideration both budget and relevance).
The four groups of influencers you need to know are nano-, micro-, macro- and mega-influencers.
This is currently where my blog lives. While my peers and I have the smallest amount of followers, by range, we proudly attract the best engagement across the industry.
Nano-influencers have typically less than 10,000 followers and resemble everyday people – like your family and friends.
This group of influencers have gained popularity from both brands and consumers in the past year for various reasons:
- From a brand perspective, it is much more cost-effective to partner with a nano-influencer. Due to their high engagement rates and lower compensation rates, your brand has a greater ROI potential on these marketing efforts.
- From a consumer perspective, nano-influencers are increasingly gaining more trust in the market and recommendations made are in turn more powerful. Their niche focus and smaller community create a larger sense of transparency and authenticity.
In simpler terms, consumers feel recommendations from nano-influencers are more genuine, whereas a celebrity endorsement or high-paying advertisements can feel like a pure digital marketing tactic.
Here are some Instagram influencer marketing examples from nano-influencers we love:
The Letter Bea x Mejuri
Proof that nano-influencers can land partnerships with brands that boast nearly half a million followers.
Kaitlin Claywell x Aerie
Kaitlin landed this partnership after sharing her personal weight loss journey with her following. Her story was so influential that it caught the attention of major fashion brand, Aerie, and has now turned into a year-long partnership.
Micro-influencers have less than 100,000 followers and are often known as an industry expert or topic specialist in a specific niche.
Similar to nano-influencers, they deliver great ROIs for brands. This is mostly thanks to the strong relationships they build with their followers.
Different than nano-influencers, a micro-influencertarget audience is more niche and focused. For example, if the micro-influencer grew the platform off their interest in vegan products, their following will likely majorly include those who follow a vegan diet.
This gives brands an easier way to tap into their target market.
Here are some Instagram influencer marketing examples from micro-influencers we love:
Sara Covey x #AlbionGirlsTrip
Sara is known for her high-quality photography, centered around different color palettes. Her followers high engage with her content – especially travel content – which made her the perfect fit for the #AlbionGirlsTrip campaign.
Lauren Bongiorno x Abbott Freestyle Libre
Type 1 Diabetic health coach, Lauren, frequently shares her journey with her chronic illness. This made her the perfect candidate for the Abbott Freestyle Libre campaign – the go-to-market strategy for the glucose monitoring device.
Jaclyn Johnson x Mural Cervesa
Founder and CEO of Create & Cultivate, Jaclyn, is always promoting brands that fit the lifestyle of the ultimate #girlboss.
Macro-influencers have between 100,000 and 1 million followers.
Sometimes these influencers can be celebrities, but often are just micro-influencers who have continued to grow their following base. Instagram influencer marketing is their full-time job.
Here are some Instagram influencer marketing examples from macro-influencers we love:
Remi Ishizuka x Justin’s Nut Butter
Remi, a fitness and wellness influencer, is another great example of influencers working with brands that match their niche.
Mega-influencers have more than 1 million followers. These influencers tend to be celebrities or major public figures.
Here are some Instagram influencer marketing examples from macro-influencers we love:
Bobby Berk x Corian Design
Bobby, widely known for his role in Netflix’s Queer Eye, is an interior designer when he’s not on the show. He often collaborates with design firms or tools to share his story.
Sazan x Omega
Sazan, the fashion influencer, began her blog long before influencer marketing took the world by storm. Most of her collaborations are with beauty and fashion brands – like Omega.
Kylie Jenner x Kylie Cosmetics
Boasting one of the highest followings on social media – it’s hard to miss Kylie Jenner. Her favorite brand to promote? Her line – Kylie Cosmetics.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Depending on who you ask, you may get various opinions on influencer marketing. Truth be told, I could probably write an entire blog post on all the answers I’ve received.
I’m ready to set the facts straight and put the marketing strategy into simple terms.
So, let’s ask the question. How do brands leverage influencers to drive traffic and conversion to their brand?
This is done via influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing is a content marketing strategy that consists of promoting your products, services, or brands by collaborating or partnering with an influencer.
Examples of influencer marketing include:
- Sponsored Instagram posts or stories.
- Sponsored blog posts.
- Sponsored offline event with an influencer appearance (e.g. conferences/panels, meet and greets, store openings, brand trips, etc.)
- Other sponsored social media marketing posts (e.g. Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networks).
- And more.
Different brands target influencers for different purposes – some for increasing brand awareness, some for increasing conversion.
A recent Statista survey found that brand awareness is the leading goal for brands using influencers in their marketing strategy.
Influencer Marketing on Instagram
In all transparency, when I started my blog, I never thought twice about what platform I’d use for my main social strategy – it was always Instagram.
While the platform still sits behind Facebook in terms of engaged social networks, Instagram has become a social media haven for younger generations.
Millennials (ages 24-34) hold the top demographic spot while Gen Z (18-24) takes the second. All together, these two age groups consist of 71% of Instagram’s active user base.
Tools like Instagram Analytics allows influencers to see which age group dominates their following – and I’ve found my numbers also match this statistic.
Active users look to Instagram to be influenced.Facebook Business recently conducted a survey and found promising insights for the platform.
- 83% discover new products and services on Instagram.
- 81% use the platform to research products or services.
- 80% engage with Instagram content to decide whether to purchase a product or service.
So, what does this mean for brands working with influencers?
Brand-led communication, like influencer marketing campaigns, is a key tactic to connecting users to a brand – both to its voice and products. This marketing strategy is a brand’s early step to creating an engaged relationship with consumers.
To take it a step further, after engaging with content that features product information, 87% of active users on Instagram took the following actions.
A key takeaway: Instagram content is the key to making the magic happen.
Users can publish content in two ways: posts or stories. With each, they also can choose if they want to upload photo content (the more popular option) or video content.
For my blog, photo content tends to perform better – but that can be different for every influencer and the niche they participate in.
Sponsored content is more often found in many Instagram posts – at 66% of distribution of sponsored content on Instagram worldwide.
I personally find brands are more interested in posts over stories for a few reasons:
- Posts last forever, while Instagram Stories are temporary.
- There are more analytics available for Instagram Post performance.
- Instagram Posts are more easily shareable.
- It is easier to capture engagement (likes, comments, and shares) on Instagram Posts
In addition to the creative options behind the social media channel, today’s consumers know how to use Instagram to find the right influencer to follow, using hashtags, in their niche.
Consumers are most active and likely to convert in the clothing and shoes industries. Food & drinks and consumer electronics fall closely behind.
Categories, where consumers are more likely to convert, are also categories that have heightened influencer competition.
Influencers today must combat industry competition by offering a genuine, more niche-focused perspective on some of the highest converting categories across the world, like fashion.
On The Letter Bea, I talk a lot about fashion and lifestyle, but always integrate my life with Type 1 Diabetes into the mix. For example, I’ll share how I wear my insulin pump with a trending dress from BigCommerce merchant, Pink Lily Boutique. This makes my recommendation more authentic, genuine, and relevant to my particular following.
Read the full article here: https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/instagram-influencer-marketing/#where-can-i-find-influencers