Instagram is the fastest growing social media platforms, with over 700 million users and more than one billion photos uploaded. This has created a whole new advertising opportunity for companies. Enter the Instagram influencer! Influencers are now a driving force behind online marketing and can make a (lucrative) full-time career out of promoting everything from clothing and cosmetics to tech products and appliances. Not quite sure what an Instagram Influencer is or how influencer marketing works? Want to get into the Instagram influencer game but not sure where to start? We’ll break it down for you with this FAQ guide.
So What is an Instagram Influencer, Exactly?
Instagram influencers are popular Instagram users who have the power to influence purchasing decisions, thanks to their legions of engaged followers. They have established this loyal following through their trustworthiness and authenticity, and, often, a certain level of style, swagger, taste, or charm. They can be celebrities, athletes, experts, bloggers—or simply talented Instagrammers.
Who are Some of the Top Instagram Influencers?
Depending on the market,the top Instagram influencers can look very different—and so can their client lists and promo styles. Here are a few examples from various niches:
Fashion influencer Camila Coelho is a Brazilian instagram influencer with six million followers. She specializes in video tutorials on how to recreate celebrity looks and has recently landed a major collaboration with Lancôme. She also has her Nightlife collection with Sigma cosmetics.
Stylist, designer, model and entrepreneur Gabi Fresh is pure Instagram influencer goals. She’s a true renaissance woman who is driving plus-size fashion out of the dark (and shapeless) ages. Gabi has a longstanding relationship with Swimsuits For All plus a new collaboration with Playful Promises (a size-inclusive lingerie brand). Last year, she launched Premme with partner and fellow influencer, Nicolette Mason.
Fitness influencer Massy Arias has created her own empire. Curated fitness and nutrition plans emphasize holistic fitness. She encourages her followers by posting about her own postpartum journey, as well as sharing her followers’ before and after photos.
Simeon Panda has graced the covers of Muscle Fitness and Train and many other bodybuilding magazines. Crowned European Champion in the 2013 Musclemania competition, Simeon hosts seminars worldwide. His current collaboration with TW Steel features a limited-edition watch with its own Panda Dial.
Murad and Nataly Osmann started a viral sensation with their unique style of travel photography. Four million followers chart their adventures around the world via their stunning Instagram feed.
Chris Burkard rarely features himself in his photographs. This self-taught photographer focuses on breathtaking scenery and landscapes.
Vlogger and Instagram influencer Chrisspy offers up a mix of streetwear and special effects makeup along with her spicy personality, which landed her a spot as the official makeup artist for subscription service Ipsy. Her selfie how-to video helped her 6.2 million social media followers perfect their posting game.
Marquees Brownlee did an unboxing video of an iPhone7 in 2016 that garnered 9.9 million views. Gadget guy Marquees offers real and relatable reviews on the newest devices.
How Does Influencer Marketing Work?
With the advent of social media, social media influencers have become the voice for a whole generation of consumers. Companies are collaborating with influencers more and more in conjunction with traditional marketing methods. Brands employ influencer marketing agencies who scour social media platforms to find potential Instagram influencers who can reach a consumer demographic they wish to connect with.
Depending on your level of influence, this means you can receive free product for review; you could be paid for a sponsored Instagram post; or, if you get big enough, you could even be tapped to appear in other marketing material, like TV spots, for the brand.
When it comes to recruiting Instagram influencers, these brands look at your number of followers, the level of follower engagement, post consistency, and how you brand yourself (more on that later).
How Do I Become an Instagram Influencer?
Google searches for “Instagram influencer” are up 325% in 2018 alone. To become a successful Instagram influencer, the first thing you have to do is narrow down your scope to just one category. How do you pick your niche? Simple. What do you love? Are your baked goods divine? Is fashion your passion? Travel game A+? Then you’ve found your niche! Do what you love and love doing it. With 40% of the global population on Instagram, you’re sure to find your audience.
Some of the most profitable Instagram influencer niches are:
“How to be a travel influencer” was one of the most Googled phrases of 2017. Thinking outside the suitcase will give you a greater opportunity to find your travel influencer niche. Adventuring, solo travel, or something as narrowly focused as “Spelunking Seniors” can lead you to a highly dedicated following and get you paid to travel. Tagging hotels, luggage companies and luxury travel goods can put you on the radar of these companies and open the doors to possible collaborations.
Are your friends always hounding you for style advice? Do you host community clothing swaps? Do you spend your vacation time hitting up the nearest Fashion Week? Maybe it’s time to make dollars out of fashion sense. Want to try being a fashion Instagram influencer? You can showcase your own #ootd (outfit of the day), flat lay photos or shots of friends you’ve styled. Tagging apparel and accessory companies and show them how you represent their brand IRL.
Health and Fitness
Doing squats in your branded gym wear? Have your own tried-and-true nutrition system? Make delicious keto meals? People are always looking for inspiring athletes and healthy folks to follow and tips to hit those gains in the gym. Brands are also branching out into more and more demographics of fitness Instagram influencers (including plus-size fitness folks) and you just might suit one of them.
Beauty and Skin Care
If you drool anytime you hear about a certain brand from Beverly Hills dropping a new eyeshadow palette, make your MUA obsession work for you. Use and review your favorite products and be sure to tag all the companies. Let your personality shine and you will find your way into Instagram influencer status and onto those coveted PR lists.
Food and Lifestyle
Lifestyle and food bloggers are living their best lives! Every inch of their homes scream polished perfection. The social media clout these influencers wield can be staggering. Everything from appliances to vitamins can be promoted while they tell you about their average day.
So, What Exact Steps Should I Take to Start My Instagram Influencer Career?
Once you’ve chosen your niche, your need to get to work. First things first: branding!
Get Your Branding on Point
Gaining a following means creating a brand identity. Your brand needs to reflect who you are as well as appeal to your chosen audience. Social media influencers are lucky in that they get to create their brand identity around themselves and their own unique personalities. This is the time to let your personality shine—you’re not just any poster, you’re an Instagram influencer! Brands will look for people who are authentic and genuine to represent their products to a new market.
Brand identity is composed, generally, of the following:
- Brand name
- Tone and personality
- Purpose and desired audience
Using visual cues can help bring your brand to life for your followers. Now, let’s get into some you’ll need to establish.
Design A Dynamic Logo
Design a dynamic logo that really speaks to your brand. Beware of being too on-trend, as your logo may look dated in a few years and rebranding can be a costly venture. When developing your logo you’ll want to consider your brand identity: font, color palette, imagery. Pastel pink is a popular color in social media these days, and it is used in a lot of millennial branding. Is it right for your cross-training Instagram marketing persona? Weigh trends vs. brand identity and edit your images accordingly. Photo editing apps can offer an added edge to your images and bring them in line with your brand.
Craft A Social Media Strategy
Social media marketing allows you to connect with a global audience. It’s a highly valuable tool and using it to its full potential is one of the most crucial aspects of how to become a social media influencer. Here are some key strategy pointers:
- Pick Your Engagement Time
As mentioned, influencer marketing has opened up the global market. Even though you’re situated in Miami, your following could be absolutely huge in Japan! Set a sporadic posting schedule for a few weeks and analyze the data using Instagram analytics tools. Once you find the time that results in peak engagement, you know what to do. Use an Instagram scheduling app to time your posts perfectly.
- Post Regularly
Make sure to stick to a consistent schedule. Followers will drop off if there isn’t fresh influencer content for them to enjoy.
- Utilize Hashtags.
You’re allowed up to 30 hashtags, so use them—they’re the best way for potential followers to find you and catapult you into social media influencer status. Stuck trying to think of the best ones for your images? Try a hashtag generator or spend a little time digging up the trending hashtags
- Master Instagram Stories
These little snippets of video or photos only stay on your account for 24 hours but can be saved into your highlights. They often generate more traffic to your account than your feed. Behind-the-scenes content and live interactions are some Instagram influencer fan favorites. You can add hashtags and brand your content for your stories as well.
Like other influencers’ photos. Comment on them. Reply to comments on your posts. Likes and comments help boost your post in the algorithms and will bring more viewers to your feed—and maybe land you that next influencer campaign.
- Fill In Your Instagram Bio
Keep it simple, but make sure to utilize keywords so folks will know right away who you are and what you’re about. Why not include a few of your most-used emojis? Consider adding your own branded hashtag. And use that one precious outbound link you get to link out to your online portfolio website!
- Post on Other Social Media, Too
Cross-platform posting is vital. Be sure to maintain the same voice and tone in all your posts, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, or even LinkedIn. Don’t just copy and paste the content from your Instagram posts onto other platforms.
Create a Website
Once you reach Instagram influencer status, you’ll need a website to direct potential clients to. Here are some features to look for:
Make sure to pick an online portfolio that has Instagram integration, so you can feature your work right on your site.
Include your rate card (or at least some starting figures). Clients will be impressed that you already have a fee system in place.
Don’t Forget to Keep Your Content Safe
You’ve put a lot of work into your account, so make sure to protect it from hackers. If you are a victim of hacking, you can work with Instagram to regain control of your account, but you’ll never regain your lost content or credibility.
How Many Followers Do You Need to Be an Influencer?
Getting those first 20,000 followers can feel like trying to conquer Mount Everest, but once you get there, opportunities will start coming your way.
Depending on which brand you want to work with, you’ll want a minimum of 10,000 followers. For instance, women’s clothing retailer Fashion Nova has 5,000 as their minimum follower threshold, while other brands want to see upwards of 100,000 in followers.
For an up-and-coming Instagram influencer (1000 to 100,000 followers), you can expect free product in exchange for reviews and anywhere from $50 to $1000 for ad placement or dedicated posts.
Once you hit popular influencer levels, your potential income is really based on you and your ability to negotiate. A dedicated vlog can carry a $1300 price tag, while a simple mention or @ tag can earn a social media influencer $100 to $300.
Never Buy Followers
There is more to becoming an Instagram influencer than just follower numbers. If Instagram influencer success was determined purely by how many folks follow you, you could just buy a bunch of followers and be a millionaire. Don’t fall into that trap. Businesses will use tools like a credibility checker to see what your engagement statistics are. If you’re followed by thousands of bots and fake hair accounts, your reach is limited. If you have a small but extremely engaged following, your stats will be much higher. Even if you have a not-huge following, a case can be made to businesses to take a chance on you just based on your engagement.
Try Teaming Up
Another way to boost visibility is to join Instagram Pods. Pods are a marketing tool used to help conquer the ever-shifting algorithm that Instagram uses to mix up the posts you see. A group of like-minded folk and businesses will like and comment on each others’ posts to boost its visibility. Each pod will have different requirements (minimum four-word comment, no emojis, etc.) and are a great tool to expand your visibility.
How Can You Get Instagram Sponsorships?
Want to know how to get brand deals on Instagram? There are two main ways: get noticed or pound the cyber pavement. Getting noticed can be the more difficult of the two but following the tips above is a great start.
If you’re more of a take-matters-into-your-own-hands kind of Instagram influencer, you’ll want to reach out to brands and pitch your worth. When approaching brands you’ll want to do your research. Does your brand complement theirs? Are you bringing a new audience to them? What are their requirements? You may be able to apply directly from their website. Emailing their PR team with links to your social media accounts and an overview of your stats can get you on their product mail-out lists.
Some bloggers and social media influencers have also been successful with DM-ing brands on Facebook and Instagram. Be humble, polite, and sell your personality. The worst they can say is no—but we all know that, in the world of influencer marketing, no really means “not right now.” Take every no as an opportunity to increase your influence and to evolve your content!
What About Joining An Influencer Agency?
If you really want to get on the Instagram influencer train, teaming up with an influencer marketing agency can offer you the support you need when looking for paid opportunities. Brands will seek out influencer agencies to reduce the search effort to find their next partner. Social influencer agencies like Viral Nation and Hire Influence support and campaign for their influencers. Boasting accounts like Warner Bros. and Ulta, they work with major brands to bring the right people into their influencer campaigns. Having an influencer agency is a great way to have someone who’s going to push for more influencer campaigns and expand your reach. Remember to have a legal professional go over any contracts before you sign them!
Now that you know how to become an Instagram influencer, get out there and build that influence—good luck!
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