In recent years, Instagram has become a powerful social platform for businesses, creating a space for individuals with a large audience base to authentically recommend products and services to their loyal audiences. In 2019, Instagram’s projected revenue is $14 billion, and the influencer category is estimated to grow to $10 billion by 2020. With over 500 million active users daily, Instagram has been the second most popular social channel for businesses. As influencer marketing continues to grow in popularity and become a powerful marketing channel for businesses, we have created this blog post to help educate you so that you can run a successful and effective influencer campaign.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer Marketing is utilizing “influencers” as a method of advertising. Influencers are not only those who have built an engaged audience, but who also have the power to influence the perception of others. An influencer has the ability to deliver a message to a large number of people who respect them and their opinions.
Why is it effective?
Businesses are rethinking traditional marketing tactics and adding influencer marketing to their mix. A well thought out influencer marketing campaign can come across as genuine, targeted, and can be really effective.
It’s common for influencers to share snippets of their life online through Instagram posts and stories, so when products are seen or are being used regularly, they become part of their lifestyle as a brand endorsement or advertisement. Followers can easily see an influencer as a trusted source and engage with the content being posted.
The influencer can nurture their online community by reciprocating the engagement. As a result, influencers have a higher level of trust amongst their audiences and are seen as more influential in comparison to traditional push marketing methods, such as print media, billboards, radio and television ads. In fact, there is a whole new generation of social media users now who only consume advertising through influencers and social media platforms. This intimate connection increases the level of trust if the influencer recommends a product through sponsored posts, while also allowing businesses to better track the effectiveness of their digital marketing efforts.
How to run an Instagram influencer marketing campaign
If you’re thinking of running an influencer campaign, it’s important to first define the objectives and target audience for the campaign as well as set a budget. A campaign objective can be anything from increasing brand awareness, traffic to a website, sales, your number of followers, and engagement.
Once these are defined, it’s essential to find social media influencers who align with your brand, are a suitable fit, and which social media platforms are best suited for the campaign. For instance, if you’re a start-up fitness supplement company that is new to the market, and you’re interested in running an Instagram influencer campaign to promote your product, you may have three main objectives:
1- Increasing brand awareness
2- Growing your online audience
3- Driving traffic to your online website and generate sales
To begin, choosing influencers within your niche is one way to extend reach to your desired audience. For instance, choosing to collaborate with a fitness influencer to promote your product might be more effective than partnering with an interior designer.
Next, contests and giveaways are strong avenues for gaining greater brand exposure and driving engagement. Contesting increases engagement levels by prompting audiences to like, follow, comment, and/or share the post, which ultimately, generates more awareness for the brand.
Lastly, to help drive traffic to your website, personalized discount codes and a specific call-to-action (such as swipe-up to shop) can be shared by the Instagram influencer to help drive traffic to your website.
This not only increases visitors to your webpage from a niche audience, but you can also track the effectiveness of your campaign by viewing which influencer drove a larger amount of traffic to the website. If you’re running an Instagram campaign, it’s also a good idea to put some advertising dollars behind the influencers’ posts in the form of boosts, so that you can extend the reach of their posts.
At the end of the campaign, it’s important to revisit your objectives to see if you’ve achieved them and to see what worked well and what didn’t, so that it can help you with your future campaigns. You can use a social media reporting tool to track your Instagram and Google Analytics metrics, analyze the results and act accordingly.
Types of influencers
Businesses are increasingly using social media influencers of various sizes to promote their product and it’s important to recognize these different types of influencers.
Micro-influencers (10,000-100,000 Instagram followers) are often seen as an inexpensive or even free method of exposure, who more often than not, will share a post on their Instagram page in exchange for a free product. These influencers tend to have a more authentic and genuine audience with a larger engagement rate.
In comparison, mega-influencers (over 100,000 followers), may have a larger reach and audience, but with that, comes a higher price tag and their content may lack authenticity or may have lower engagement rates.
One thing to remember is that a larger follower count does not always result in a higher reach.
Engagement rates are metrics that track how active your audience is with your online content.
It should be noted that engagement varies on different social platforms – for instance, on Instagram, engagement rate include likes and comments, while on Facebook, it includes reactions, clicks, comments, and shares.
That said, since April 2019, Instagram began to hide likes as an effort to make the platform a less pressurized environment, to prioritize mental health and to encourage more mindful consumption on the app. With the removal of likes, it’s more challenging for brands to identify how authentic and engaged an influencers’ content is.
Aside from requesting Influencers to share their content analytics, other metrics used to measure the effectiveness and engagement of an influencer’s profile are story engagement, audience growth, and video metrics.
The impact of Instagram influencer marketing campaigns
At Popcorn, we have worked on global influencer marketing campaigns across various industries such as fashion, beauty, tech, hospitality, and travel. The inclusion of influencers in our campaigns have positively impacted and contributed to the success of our clients on multiple accounts. We have found that working with micro-influencers (10,000-100,000 followers) on an ongoing basis has been the most effective when executing our campaigns.
Developing long-term relationships with influencers increases the level of trust and dedication, and provides the brand an expectation of deliverables. Popcorn developed a holiday campaign for a national chocolate retailer, including paid and unpaid content (no-ask gifting), which not only resulted in high engagement (nearly doubled the amount of engagement when comparing year over year data), but it more than doubled the online revenue driven from social (when comparing year over year data). The results of this campaign not only demonstrates the positive impact the brand received on social media, but also, the significant increase in sales as well.
On a personal note, as a fashion and lifestyle influencer and blogger from Vancouver, I have worked on several campaigns for brands to help build awareness on various accounts. My participation in campaigns includes promotional posts, product reviews, Instagram Story features and takeovers, contesting, blog posts, and video content. Last December, I partnered with a shopping mall to help build awareness regarding a special gift card promotion, offering a 20% discount off gift cards to celebrate the holiday season. The influencers participating in this campaign were invited to shop and share their personalized discount code with their audience. The promotion was open to the public for two weeks and had specific sales goals from the gift cards. Thanks to the influencers’ participation, the budgeted amount of discounts was surpassed within three days — much quicker than the estimated two-week timeline. This campaign illustrates the power and impact of influencer marketing.
To summarize, influencer marketing is a powerful and very effective method of advertising. Influencer marketing is not new, as it’s been around since the dawn of advertising. The channels will come and go, and the influencers will as well. At Popcorn, we find being involved in the influencer space personally and professionally, helps form trusting relationships with fellow influencers and provides us with a stronger understanding of best practices when communicating with influencers, and when planning and executing successful campaigns.
by Erin Jay | Account Manager