Using well-known personalities in advertising is nothing new. But the internet and social media are changing how we do this – and who counts as “famous.”
How Influencers Drive Engagement on Instagram
Earlier this year, #Hashoff released a report on influencer marketers and their preferred social media platforms. Influencers named Instagram as the recent, present and future favorite far more often than they named Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest or Vine. Instagram also sees the most time from influencers, rating at 99.3 percent:
Influencers love Instagram because it’s a great place to work with brands and publish branded content, ultimately tapping into passionate communities. In June, Instagram announced a new tag that would make it clear when users were viewing this kind of branded content. The idea is to be transparent with users, and also help influencers and brands track the impact of such posts.
Users are accustomed to branded content online, but does the new tag negatively impact their loyalty on Instagram? Not according to data from NewsWhip. A recent look at their analytics data showed that influencer posts maintain their powers of engagement (and maybe even boost it) despite updated regulations on Instagram.
As of late July, sponsored Instagram posts featuring the new tags drove more than 58 million likes and comments.
Further, weekly engagements are as high as 19 million. Obviously, the sponsored post tags aren’t hurting influencers.
NewsWhip goes on to explore its own Instagram analytics data, and learn more about top influencers, the impact they have and how to research them for future campaigns.
To find these top influencers, NewsWhip searched a range of hashtags, including
The top Instagram influencer approached 6 million likes and comments in July, and the runners up came in at a little over 4 million. While the top influencer had 24 sponsored posts during the month, the others had an average of just three.
Many of the top influencers are athletes and celebrities, but many others have made their names in the digital space. We also see names like National Geographic, which uses its influence to support brands.
How much influence do these figures have on Instagram? When NewsWhip compared engagement on brand-owned posts to engagement on influencer-owned posts that brands pay for, the influencer posts won out every time.
Notice the Wendy’s and JetBlue posts specifically, as their influencer posts drive about 100 times as much engagement as their brand posts. The trend seems to hold for large and small brands alike.
Most brands don’t have the budget to get a traditionally famous person to be an influencer on Instagram. Really, this isn’t so unfortunate, as many brands’ followers wouldn’t be all that swayed by, say, a Kardashian or an Olympic gold medalist.
Engagement tends to be higher when smaller brands work with a micro-influencer who likely has a smaller, yet more loyal, niche following. Concentrate on finding someone who will speak to your brand’s values and story, rather than securing a huge superstar.
Also consider what kind of Instagram influencer posts might be most effective. For example, NewsWhip looked at engagement with sponsored posts containing the hashtag #avocado, paying attention to other hashtags in those posts.
Turns out this works well for advertising food brands or even just getting the attention of Millennials, known for enjoying avocados. Throw in some recipes and great food photos, and you’ll drive more engagement.
One way to find the right influencers and post types is through other brands on Instagram. Look at competitors’ or complementary brands to see how influencer posts work for them, and then take a closer look at the personalities, images and captions they use.
The reality is that Instagram users are more likely to trust promotions from a person they already follow over a brand’s own advertisements. These influencers come with ready-made and sizeable audiences, and have potential to reach new users without ads. It’s worth your time to incorporate the right ones into your campaigns.
Instagram Influencer Marketing: Tips and Cautions
If you decide to use influencers in your advertising, it’s important to keep a few things in mind, such as taking your time and vetting candidates. According to eMarketer analyst Nicole Perrin:
“Brands risk losing control of their message and getting into serious brand safety issues. The brand can’t really try to control the influencer too much, or you risk losing the ‘authenticity’ and risk the relationship itself. A big risk here has been marketers rushing in, thinking, ‘Everyone has an influencer, I need an influencer.’ When you really need to keep brand safety in mind.”
A number of sources offer guidelines for getting started with influencers on Instagram:
- Forbes recommends starting a campaign with its end in mind and sharing content creation with influencers.
- Kissmetrics shares a guide that defines influencers, gives suggestions on how to find them and discusses content creation and influencer compensation.
- Social Media Examiner takes us through six steps, beginning with goal identification and ending with measuring results.
Influencer marketing is a great approach, but is also an investment of time and research. If you’re on Instagram, the engagement is likely to be well worth the investment.