Instagrammers. Influencers. Tastemakers. These are a lot of the buzzwords that have been circling the marketing realm in the past few years. It may seem super daunting and corporate but influencer marketing is something that can be scaled back to work for your small business. But how?
Getting your brand out of the shadows and reaching out to Instagram influencers can be terrifying. You’re putting yourself out there and you're getting visible. The idea of this makes a lot of us recoil and want to get back into bed. (Try to resist that temptation and hear me out. I know it’s hard!)
But, it can also bring invaluable results to your business. By creating meaningful collaborations with Instagrammers, you can increase your brand exposure, grow a community and build trust in your brand. Let’s get started!
What is influencer marketing?
Before I dive into anything, let me first just clarify what the heck influencer marketing is all about. Here’s the scoop:
Influencers are authorities within your niche that have a measurable* influence over your ideal audience.
*Yup! You should be able to measure their influence by looking at their engagement rates, asking for past campaign experience and monitoring their comments to see if your ideal audience is influenced by them.
Influencer marketing is all about forming relationships with influencers and collaborating with them to get your brand in front of their audience.
My influencer marketing mantra is all about engagement: “Count the impressed, not the impressions.”
Define your purpose
Okay, now you’re clued up on what I’m rambling on about, you need to have a think about why you’re looking to work with influencers in the first place. This just really helps you keep focused and build a strong foundation for your influencer marketing strategy.
You don’t want to be searching for any ol’ influencer and working with anyone who’ll have you, do you? You want to keep everything intentional and work towards the purpose of this project.
Here are some examples of the purpose of your influencer collaboration:
- To increase brand exposure
- To reach a new audience
- To build brand trust
- To grow your community
Action task: Take a moment to think about what your purpose could be! This is imperative to narrow down before you start searching for influencers.
Hone in on your ideal audience
Oh god, I bet you’re super tired of hearing people talk about your “ideal audience”. I know I am! I’m not going to go into too much detail about this because there’s an amazing blog post that covers this over here.
What is important to think about in regards to influencer marketing is the areas of interest your audience have within and outside of your niche. You want to know who your ideal clients and customers are looking to for recommendations - whether that’s bloggers, YouTubers, celebrities or magazines - and you also want to think about other brands, services and products they buy into that you aren’t in direct competition with.
What on earth do I mean by that? Well, two yoga instructors within the same location and the same specialties would be in direct competition. A yoga instructor and a dietician in the same location that share the same audience are indirect competition. You want to be building partnerships with your indirect competition. They can have influence over your ideal audience - especially if they are already selling to them.
Action task: Brainstorm your ideal audience's inspirations, influencers and other brands they look too for recommendations. These are a great starting point to help you find more influencers within your niche.
Find your influencers
So, you’ve got your purpose and know your audience. Time to whip out the flashlights and the treasure maps because we’re going on a hunt to find some Instagram influencers!
I have 3 key ways for you to find influencers on Instagram. Let’s dive in:
Use hashtags to find influencers on Instagram:
Write a list of 10 to 20 hashtags that are either within your niche or tags that your ideal audience is using. Search through these tags and have a look at users within the “Top Posts” section of each tag. These users are likely to have high levels of engagement! Take a look at their profiles and see if they are a good fit for a collaboration. Look at their engagement rates, the profiles of their followers, the type of content they are posting, etc. Do you think they are the right person to collaborate with for your brand?
Search through “related profiles” on Instagram:
When you’ve found someone that is a good fit for your brand or you have an idea of who is your indirect competition, head to their profile. Click the drop-down arrow under their following count and Instagram will show you a bunch of relevant accounts. This is a great way to find more and more influencers in your niche (no matter how small your industry) that you may not have come across before. Remember the above criteria still applies. When you land on their profile, look at their engagement, followers and content. Are they are a good fit?
Investigate your own followers and see who they’re following:
Alternatively, you can take a more grassroots approach and head to your own follower list for inspiration. Take a look through the “following” list on their profiles and you might see the same names popping up again and again. You can also head to your followers’ content to see what hashtags they are using themselves and head back to step 1 to find more influencers.
You’ll find that you’ll see a lot of the same names coming up but keep persevering and you’ll end up with a decent list of diverse influencers that could help you reach your ideal audience.
Action step: Start your search! Try to create a list of 10 to 20 influencers you feel are a great fit for your brand.
Warm up the connection
Like most things in business, it’s best to start small. From your list, choose 2 to 4 influencers you feel are the best fit for your business and take the time to make a connection with them.
Taking the time to warm up a connection with influencers will help you stand out to them when you send your initial email as well as helping you become a recognizable member of their community. You want to become a familiar face to the influencer as well as their audience!
So, how do you do this?
- Follow them on Instagram - simple!
- Turn their post notifications on. Take the time to interact with their Instagram posts with relevant and authentic comments
- Watch their Instagram stories and message them when appropriate
- Follow them on another social media page and interact with them there
- Check out their blog content and comment on their posts
- Join their mailing list or FB group and perhaps even sign up for a webinar if they are hosting one soon
This should feel as organic and meaningful as possible. Don’t go too overboard on all the comments and DMs. You want to be interested in what they’re doing without driving them away!
Action step: Pick 2 to 4 influencers to start connecting with and give them a follow on Instagram! Set a daily reminder to interact with their profiles and any new content.
Make the first move
You’ve set your purpose, found your influencers and warmed up the connection. Now it’s time to make the first move and send your initial email to your 2 to 4 chosen influencers!
Hands up if you hate writing pitch emails?! I hear you.
We’ve all been there, staring at a blank screen wishing the words would just appear ready in time for you to hit “send”. Luckily for you, you’ve stumbled across a killer blog post that is going to cover that all for you.
There are two key things to mention before I give you my outreach template:
Keep it personal:
Always use their first name. Try to use information from your time spent warming up the connection to throw in something personal (e.g., “Hope you had a lovely holiday!” or “P.S. LOVE your new puppy!”)
Keep it concise:
Who knows how many emails these guys are getting every day? Short, sweet, and simple is the way forwards.
Okay, onto the good stuff. Here’s an example script of how to write your initial outreach email to an influencer:
Subject: Collaboration with [INSERT YOUR BUSINESS NAME]
Message: Hey [INSERT NAME],
Hope you’re well and having a great week so far.
I’m not sure if you recognize me from Instagram but I’ve been loving your content recently! I wanted to reach out to see if you would be interested in chatting about a collaboration with my business, [INSERT YOUR BUSINESS NAME].
[TAKE A MOMENT TO DESCRIBE YOUR BUSINESS/PRODUCT/SERVICE]
I feel like our audiences and values align perfectly. I would love to work with you to get [INSERT YOUR BUSINESS NAME] out into the world!
I’d love to chat about [INSERT COLLABORATION IDEA] with you on Instagram but I’m more than happy to take your creative lead on this. You know what’s best for your audience!
If you’re interested in this opportunity, please let me know!
P.S. [ADD PERSONAL TOUCH]
Action step: Choose one Instagrammer to reach out to with a personalized email! I know it can be super daunting but just take a deep breath and hit the “send” button before you change your mind!
I really hope everything in this blog post has helped you find your purpose, discover your audiences’ inspirations, find influencers, and approach them with your collaboration idea! If you have any questions at all, please leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP.