Partnering with social media influencers can help you grow your brand and build a community of engaged fans.

But what’s the right way to find Instagram influencers for your business or clients?
And how can you transform those initial connections into real relationships?

Let’s look at effective ways to connect with Instagram influencers and strategies for forging successful partnerships on social media.

Why Partner With Instagram Influencers?

Instagram influencers are social media users who have used their expertise or popularity to cultivate engaged audiences. They exist in almost every niche, from fashion and beauty to food and fitness.

They might be celebrities you know from music or TV, or they might be public figures that probably wouldn’t exist without social media.

No matter how many Instagram followers they have, influencers can leverage their credibility to drive their audiences to act every time they publish content.

Working with Instagram influencers gives you an extra weapon to add to your social media marketing arsenal.

Here’s how they can benefit your brand:

Cost-effective promotion

Have the results from your organic campaigns plummeted, or do you need to limit your advertising budget? Because organic reach is declining on Instagram and the cost of advertising on social media can add up quickly, promoting content via influencer partnerships provides another option for meeting your marketing goals.

Authentic content

Does your branded content come across as too salesy? Unlike branded posts and advertisements, influencers produce content that delivers their sponsors’ messages in a less invasive way.

After all, Instagram influencers usually appear to their followers more like good friends than self-serving brands.

That means their word-of-mouth marketing strategy comes across more like a reliable recommendation and less like a sales pitch.

Trust-building opportunities

Because influencers appear genuine, audiences can trust them even when they use Instagram’s paid partnership feature.

When you want to build trust and drive results for your company or social media clients, influencers can help as long as you choose your partners wisely.

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12 Tips for Finding Instagram Influencers

Working with influencers can be hugely helpful for your social media strategy. Yet it’s not always easy to partner with influencers because:

  • The right ones can be hard to find. Sure, celebrity influencers have a way of standing out and making themselves known. But you’ll have to do some digging to find influencers who are more approachable, more affordable, and more appropriate for your niche.
  • They’re difficult to vet. What makes an influencer good at what they do anyway? It’s not easy to know if you should seek out influencers with huge audiences or if you should be paying more attention to metrics like engagement and conversions.
  • It’s tough to assess the value they offer. Is it really worth investing hundreds or thousands of dollars in influencer marketing? If you’re not sure what you can get out of a partnership, it’s hard to gauge value accurately.

Use the tips below to address these issues and find the right Instagram influencers for your brand.

1. Outline goals clearly

It’s best to approach influencer marketing campaigns like you would any social media campaign. Start with a clear goal so you can produce the best results and generate the greatest value.

Talk with your team or your clients to determine what you want to achieve with influencer marketing. Some common goals include:

  • Growing your audience. Increase your following by partnering with a brand ambassador who can promote your business at every opportunity.
  • Improving brand awareness. Spread the word about your brand by partnering with an influencer for a giveaway or a product review.
  • Driving more website traffic. Get more people to visit your site and view your content by sponsoring a blog post about your brand or product.
  • Generating new leads. Add prospects to your sales funnel by having an influencer promote your subscription link.
  • Increasing revenue. Make more sales by asking an influencer to share a promo code or share a seasonal special with their audience.

Once you decide on goals, your team will have a better idea of the type of campaign you should run. As you start your search, you can look for influencers who have experience with your preferred campaign type.

2. Know your budget

Influencer marketing costs vary widely, and campaigns can cost anywhere from under $100 to over $10,000.

Pricing often depends on:

  • Size of the influencer’s following. Nano-influencers typically charge the least, while celebrity influencers often charge the most.
  • Length of the campaign. One-off campaigns are generally more affordable, while long-term partnerships cost much more.
  • Scope of the campaign. A few Instagram posts often cost less than a complete package of blog posts and cross-posting across social media.
  • Whether the influencer has an agency. Working one-on-one with an influencer tends to be cheaper than going through an agency team.

Before you begin approaching influencers or pitching partnerships, decide what you want to spend. The most common influencer marketing budget is $1,001 to $10,000 per year, according to BigCommerce. The second most common annual budget? $100,001 to $500,000.

If you’re not sure what’s reasonable for your brand, take another look at your goals. What value do you place on new followers, increased brand awareness, or more web traffic? Work backwards from what your goal is worth to determine what you should spend on influencer marketing.

Still not feeling confident about your influencer marketing budget? Consider starting with a small campaign to test the waters. Once you have a better understanding of typical results, you can scale your budget for bigger campaigns.

3. Consider your audience

As you start searching for new brand partners, consider your audience. Which influencers do your best customers already follow? There’s a good chance that these influencers would be a great fit for your brand.

To use this strategy to create a list of potential partners, start by defining your ideal customer.

If your brand doesn’t already have a buyer persona, you can build one by compiling these characteristics:

  • Basic demographics, including age range, gender, and relationship status
  • Location, whether you serve a local area or an entire region or country
  • Professional field, title, and training
  • Personal interests and behaviors
  • Pain points, challenges, and goals

Then take your buyer persona and find a few social media followers who fit this profile perfectly. Scroll through the people they follow, and make note of the influencers they like.

Use these questions to decide if they might be a good fit:

  • How large is their following? Is it big enough to reach your goals?
  • What industry or niche do they specialize in? Is it similar to your brand’s?
  • Does their content align with your brand values?
  • Do they have a history of partnering with brands?

Don’t have the time to research the influencers your audience follows? Just ask your followers directly. Create a social media post that asks about favorite influencers and let the recommendations roll in.

4. Research relevant media outlets

Influencers who excel at marketing brands often excel at promoting themselves as well. You’re likely to find rising stars and established figures alike in media outlets relevant to your industry.

To find them, browse or join:

  • Newsletters
  • Blogs
  • Facebook groups
  • LinkedIn groups
  • Podcasts
  • Clubhouse rooms
  • Conferences
  • Networking events

Keep an eye out for influencer content from these outlets, and add any potential partners to your list. When you research them, use the list of questions above to determine if they’re a good fit.

Want to streamline your research process? Google “top [your niche] influencers” and review the top results. If you’re part of a large enough industry, the top results might even be lists of the biggest influencers. You can use these lists to compile a list of potential partners to check out and contact.

5. Track engaged followers with a social media CRM

In many cases, you don’t have to look far to locate the best influencers for your brand.
If you’ve been building your Instagram account for a long time, you may have already attracted knowledgeable influencers.

To find influencers who follow you, start by tracking interactions with your most engaged fans.

With a social media solution like Agorapulse, it’s easy to keep track of both engagement and followers. Agorapulse automatically adds every user who messages your brand or comments on your posts into a customer relationship management (CRM) tool.

To find them, go to the Fans & Followers tab. At the top of the list, you’ll spot the people who engaged with your brand most recently. Next to each user’s name, you can see the number of times they’ve commented on your content or messaged your brand. You can click on one to see their entire engagement history.

engaged fans on instagram

To view the people who engage with your brand the most, click on the Top tab. Agorapulse automatically ranks users by engagement, resulting in a list of top followers for your brand.

Do you want to get a better sense of a user’s content or audience? Click on their username to see their profile on Instagram. When you spot followers who have influencer potential, star them in Agorapulse to add them to your Favorites list.

When social media users engage with your brand, Agorapulse automatically gives them an Engaged or Ambassador label. But you can also add custom tags to label people as superfans, potential influencers, current partners, or anything else.

labels on instagram dashboard

Do you want to add more detailed notes about your brand’s top fans? Add internal notes in your social CRM to keep your team on the same page.

6. Use a brand monitoring tool

Is your brand creating a lot of buzz? If so, there’s a good chance that customers and fans are talking about your brand on social media. That means you might find potential influencers in your mentions.

To find and track them in Agorapulse, check the Listening tab. Use the dropdown menu to view mentions or Story mentions only. Everyone who mentions your brand automatically appears in your Fans & Followers tab, so you can add labels and notes to keep track of each user.

Do Instagram users often talk about your brand without using your @ or mentioning you directly? You can use Agorapulse’s brand monitoring tools to track your choice of branded or campaign hashtags.

Add these hashtags to your social listening search and then check the Listening tab to make sure you never miss an indirect mention. You can filter the results by any hashtag you’re following to review both content and creators efficiently.

Hashtags make discovering high-performing content and popular accounts on Instagram easy. They can lead you to influencers, too.

What’s the best way to follow Instagram hashtags? First, find the right hashtags for your industry:

  • Type hashtag ideas directly into the Instagram search bar. Then scroll through the list to see the most popular ones, either with your followers or across Instagram.
  • Alternatively, you can use a paid app like Hashtagify. This hashtag search tool shows how popular a hashtag is, including if it’s trending or losing steam.

Following hashtags directly on Instagram can certainly make your feed more interesting.

However, this isn’t the most efficient option. You’ll miss a lot of content with relevant hashtags, so influencers with the most potential could escape notice.

Instead, use Agorapulse as a social listening tool. First, add relevant hashtags to the social listening tab.

Then monitor your social listening feed to find engaging content and popular creators. You can click to view any content on Instagram, where you can like or comment on the post or follow the creator.

You can also bookmark or label social listening content to track it more easily. When you’re ready to review the items you saved, just filter your social listening feed by bookmarks or labels.

8. Identify key figures with the right search tools

Are you unsure which hashtags to follow or how to narrow down your options? Use an influencer search tool to find the best content creators in your niche.

Some of the most popular options include:

  • BuzzSumo: Find Instagram influencers based on their bios, domains, or content. You can also track keywords to discover relevant web-based content and monitor trends to stay on top of what’s hot in your industry.
  • GRIN: Streamline influencer searches and partnership programs for your e-commerce brand. Find influencers similar to your current superfans or ambassadors to promote your brand in an authentic way.
  • TapInfluence: Identify the best possible partners for your brand based on industry, location, and audience demographics. Then estimate reach and engagement rate to gauge your potential results.
  • Upfluence: Find influencers who fit your brand and analyze their audiences in seconds. Make sure influencers are the ideal fit for your brand to improve the results of your campaign.

You can also use some of these tools to administer your influencer marketing campaigns. That way you can pitch influencers, make payments, and measure results with a dedicated platform.

9. Get to know nano- and micro-influencers

It’s easy to assume that accounts with massive followings are better suited for influencer partnerships.

A mega-influencer or celebrity influencer may be your best bet if your brand has a:

  • Well-established global presence or is already a household name
  • Broad target market that would appeal to a celebrity’s wide range of followers
  • Significant goal, such as growing your audience by millions of followers
  • Substantial budget that can accommodate celebrity influencer pricing

If these factors don’t apply, smaller accounts are likely to be better matches for your brand. Don’t automatically write off micro-influencers, or Instagram accounts with under 10,000 followers, if they have great engagement and specialize in your niche.

Instagram micro-influencers often have more personal connections with their followers, thanks to their smaller audiences. As a result, their audiences often view them as more genuine and their content as more authentic.

That means micro-influencers’ followers are more likely to heed their recommendations. As a result, campaigns featuring micro-influencers may generate better results. They’re typically much more affordable than celebrity campaigns, too.

To work with a partner who has an even more engaged following, consider nano-influencers. These Instagram figures have audiences of 1,000 or less, making them ideal for brands with smaller goals.

10. Check out the competition

Are your competitors attracting tons of new Instagram followers every day? Are they generating the level of engagement you’d love to see for your brand’s profile?

It’s always a good idea to monitor what other brands in your space are doing on Instagram. By keeping an eye on the competition, you can get inspiration for your brand’s own campaigns.

Pay attention to the accounts that comment on everything your competitors post. Take a look at the Instagram users who tag your competitors in user-generated content (UGC).

Naturally, the people who like your competitors’ products or services may like yours, too. By following and engaging with them, you can take the first steps toward building a relationship and vetting them as influencers.

Just take care not to attempt to steal away influencers who are or who have already worked with your competitors. Their followers may not be as receptive to another brand in the same space, and their content may come across as inauthentic. That means your campaign may not generate the results you want, causing a low return on investment (ROI).

11. Review influencer metrics

Once you find influencers you’d like to partner with, take time to analyze their metrics. Even if you like an influencer or you have a good feeling about their work, metrics can tell you if they’re really a good fit and if they can help you get the results you want to see.

Some of the most important influencer metrics to check include:

  • Audience size. How many followers do they have on Instagram? Is their audience size appropriate for the goal you want to achieve?
  • Engagement rate. Is their Instagram engagement rate average or significantly above or below typical levels?
  • Location. Do they live in or market to a location that aligns with your service area?
  • Niche. Do they specialize in your brand’s niche, and do they share your brand’s values? How about their followers: do they have an interest in what your brand offers?
  • Audience demographics. Does their audience’s gender, age range, and location match up with the market you want to reach?
  • Sponsored post ratio. How many sponsored posts do they publish compared to organic content? Is their audience already used to sponsored content? Are they tired of seeing it?

12. Strike up a mutual relationship

Influencer marketing relationships can certainly be one-sided. However, they tend to work better when they’re mutual.
This is especially true if you are working on a nano- or micro-influencer marketing campaign. What makes these different is highly engaged followers, as these creators keep the conversations flowing and constantly communicate with their fans. As a result, they expect the same from the brands they partner with.

To forge a relationship that benefits your brand and your partners, make a point of communicating regularly and interacting with your influencers’ content:

  • Follow the influencers you partner with on Instagram. Engage with the content they post, even if it isn’t directly related to your brand. Show support via likes, comments, or mentions in your Stories.
  • Check in with influencers regularly, even if you don’t have an active campaign. Find out what they’re working on to get ideas for your next campaign, and share your own ideas for future campaigns.

When you’re both invested, your partnership is likely to last longer and produce better results for everyone involved.

Working with the right Instagram influencers, you’ll gain an effective partnership that enhances your social media campaigns.

In Conclusion

From platforms like Agorapulse to hashtag and search tools, using the right tools to find influencers can help you take your social media marketing strategy to new heights.

Take control of your social media right now! Check out our free trial of Agorapulse to help you schedule, track, and measure all your social media efforts.

How to Find the Right Instagram Influencers for Your Brand