The Ultimate Instagram Influencer Guide - 15 things you should know

The Ultimate Instagram Influencer Guide - 15 things you should know

If you remember Michael Jordan's influence on Nike in the nineties, influencer marketing is not new. But it is being reborn with the acceleration of social media.

The access of micro-influencers (everyday humans) as well as heavy hitting influencers like Kim Kardashian has propelled the new wave of marketing opportunity.

Without question, 2016 was the year marketers embraced the influencer movement. Influencers are the golden children of marketing strategies right now.

While influencers can be found in all corners of the social media world, this article will focus on Instagram.

Let's jump first into the latest Instagram statistics. Second, we'll unpack the influencer marketing machine.

#1. The numbers that matter

In Australia, there are 7 million monthly Instagram users per month.

Australia had a smartphone population of 15 million in 2015, according to Deloitte.

Here are more numbers from Buffer Social:

  • Instagram, brands enjoy regular engagement with 4 percent of their total followers. On networks like Facebook and Twitter, engagement is less than 0.1 percent. (source: Forrester)
  • 70% of Instagram users report having looked up a brand on the platform (source: Iconosquare)
  • 62% of users follow a brand on Instagram (source: Iconosquare)
  • Only 36 percent of marketers use Instagram, compared to 93% of marketers who use Facebook (source: Selfstartr)

#2. Who uses Instagram?

According to Buffer Social, roughly half of internet-using young adults ages 18-29 (53%) use Instagram. Here the full breakdown of age groups:

  • 53% of 18–29 year olds use Instagram
  • 25% of 30–49 year olds use Instagram
  • 11% of 50–64 year olds use Instagram
  • 6% of people 65+ use Instagram
Everyday human & Instagram influencer Sonali Ghosh. Image credit - @sugaretal

Everyday human & Instagram influencer Sonali Ghosh. Image credit -@sugaretal

#3. Influencers leap over the Adblock hurdle

With 47% of customers using Adblock technology, traditional digital advertising channels often have limited effectiveness.

Influencer marketing platform MuseFind shows that 92% of consumers trust an influencer more than an advertisement or traditional celebrity endorsement.

This is an advantage for Instagram and its influencers.

For brands, it's an opportunity to cut through the clutter and get in front of a target market more efficiently.

#4. It's skyrocketing - enter the influencer agencies

Jules Lund, the founder of Tribe, connects social media influencers with brands. Lund explained the opportunity for brands in AdNews:

“In the past, campaigns consisted of one influencer. 2016 it was in the tens. 2017 it will be in the hundreds. 2018 it will be in the thousands. All the while getting more meaningful as it shifts from celebrities to everyday citizens being rewarded for celebrating the brands they already use and love."

Tribe CEO Anthony Svirskis said the fact that global brands and agencies are now madly assembling their own in-house influencer departments, suggests it’s got longer legs than a fashion blogger.

Last year, advertising guru Todd Sampson recently bought into Vamp, a company that teams big brands with influencers.

In addition to Tribe, there has been a proliferation of new influencer and agencies such as Captiv8TapInfluenceTraackrKloutShopStylerewardStyle (creator of LikeToKnowIt) and the recently launched Snapalytics.

Jules Lund, the founder of Tribe. Image credit - Daily Telegraph

Jules Lund, the founder of Tribe. Image credit - Daily Telegraph

#5. It's more influential than a Kardashian selfie

One of the appeals of influencers is that they are relatable, everyday citizens. They've amassed trust in their community. And with that trust comes influence.

They’ve built their tribe one by one, post by post...they tend to invest a higher level of passion and creativity in their content, resulting in higher levels of engagement.

The Economist reports that platforms like Instagram can make consumers feel they have gained unprecedented access to the lives of the rich and famous.

Image credit - The Economist

Image credit - The Economist

#6. How much does Instagram influence cost?

Captiv8, a company that connects brands to influencers, says someone with three million to seven million followers can charge, on average, $187,500 for a post on YouTube, $75,000 for a post on Instagram or Snapchat and $30,000 for a post on Twitter. For influencers with 50,000 to 500,000 followers, the average is $2,500 for YouTube, $1,000 for Instagram or Snapchat and $400 for Twitter.

SOVA Social media brand consultant Serena O’Brien says some influencers have agents and set rates, which she has seen range from $150 to $4000 for three posts.

Sonali Ghosh - @sugaretal has been able to match her salary once achieved through a career banking.

Sara Donaldson, a Brisbane marketing graduate, started early in the online space with her blog Harper and Harley. She eventually monetised the blog and last year launched an online fashion store, The Undone.

At the time of writing, Donaldson commands 524,000 followers on Instagram. Big brands have seized the opportunity. Her clients include Country Road, Qantas, Mercedes Benz and Estee Lauder.

Everyday human & Instagram influencer - Sara Donaldson models for Estee Lauder. Image credit @harperandharley

Everyday human & Instagram influencer - Sara Donaldson models for Estee Lauder. Image credit @harperandharley

#7. But it's not easy to become an influencer

"If it was so easy to be an influencer, then every single person on earth would do it,” said Gary Vaynerchuk.

Vaynerchuk is right. Just ask Max Chafkin, who wrote this hilarious account in trying to become one - Confessions of an Instagram Influencer.

#8. Beware of likes and lies

Others aren't as bullish on the ROI.

There are cracks in the ecosystem, according to a social media executive in an article by Digiday:

"Influencers are going to start disappearing. Brands are going to start realizing the amount of followers you have doesn’t mean shit. Just because photos look good and have 200,000 followers means nothing." 

Just how the Facebook fan count can be scammed, performing an audit on Instagram influencer's followers is critical.

Questions to be asked include, where do they live? Are they bots or real people?

The metrics will tell you if there is a good business case.

#9. Get the fit right

SOVA Social Media Brand Consultant Serena O’Brien says there needs to be audience alignment.

“You just need to make sure their audience is similar to yours,” Ms O’Brien said. “The impact is that within minutes of an influencer post going live, you can add hundreds of followers to your website.”

Jennifer Li, CEO of MuseFind has similar advice, "bigger is not always better, and that influencers should be selected for their relevance to the brand, not their follower count."

Go-To is an Australian skin care product created by Zoë Foster Blake. The company's marketing features everyday faces. They are accessible Australians and Instagram micro-influencers.

Go-To's message is real and natural, aided by micro-influencers. Image credit -  Go-To IG

Go-To's message is real and natural, aided by micro-influencers. Image credit - Go-To IG

Together with marketing that ruffles feathers and a strong visual identity, Youfoodz has has got the medium and the message right. Youfoodz has also boosted its appeal by using Instagram influencers.

With 64,500 Instagram followers, Youfoodz has a winning formula that has resonated with customers. Image credit -    Youfoodz IG

With 64,500 Instagram followers, Youfoodz has a winning formula that has resonated with customers. Image credit - Youfoodz IG

#10. Build a community of trust

On the economy of trust, Li says that there needs to be audience respect:

“Influencer marketing is based on the economy of trust. What that means is, as a follower, I can just as easily unfollow an influencer as I can follow them. So I could say, ‘I’m not going to follow this influencer anymore because I feel like she’s advertising too much or she’s not authentic or she’s not working with brands that are really high quality.’ On the positive side, that means the brands that do get to work with influencers create much higher purchase intent with their customers.

#11. Fall in love with data

2016 saw Cost Per Engagement (CPE) become the universally accepted metric for influencer marketing.

Other metrics that are relevant include emails captured, sales, comments received, most engaged hashtags, engagements per follower, followers gained and referral traffic

Sproutsocial and Postplanner provide some other measurement ideas.

#12. Get on the tools

Instagress will take the hard work out of attracting followers on Instagram.

FollowerCheck will analyse an account's authentic engagement and identify the fakes.

Traackr will manage, validate, measure, and scale influencer marketing programs built on relationships.

#13. The piranhas can eat the elephant

Many entrepreneurs in Australia have catapulted their businesses with targeted and nimble use of Instagram.

The entrepreneurial ability to move swiftly and leverage influencer marketing has built a competitive advantage. Many large retail operations have been slow to adopt the new marketing tool.

The result is a new looking retail pie in Australia, now being split among thousands of players, most of whom didn't exist 15 years ago.

"The piranhas can eat the elephant and that's exactly what we're seeing," said Paul Greenberg, the chairman of National Online Retail Association.

Paul Greenberg, National Online Retail Association chairman. The $300 billion annual retail pie is no longer dominated by big players. Image credit - smh.com.au

Paul Greenberg, National Online Retail Association chairman. The $300 billion annual retail pie is no longer dominated by big players. Image credit - smh.com.au

#14. It's a trend that brands can't afford to ignore

ABC News reported the shift away from traditional advertising.

"I just don't think that marketing teams can afford to use just traditional ad channels anymore," said Qantas head of marketing Stephanie Tully.

More than 50 per cent of the airlines media budget will go on digital and social this year, and that is expected to grow.

Nicole Warne, who has 1.7 million Instagram followers, models for Qantas. Image credit - Qantas IG

Nicole Warne, who has 1.7 million Instagram followers, models for Qantas. Image credit - Qantas IG

#15. Instagram Stories is trumping Snapchat

Live video is the preferred 'jump-the-queue' content by many social channels.

"Anything you can do, I can clone," said Instagram, after the social media rival launched its own version of Stories on August 2nd 2016.

According to this article, Snapchat numbers are down.

Insanely f*cking high,” said one social influencer talent agent about the rapid growth of Instagram Stories.

So which platform is better to play live influencer video?

Instagram.

Summary

Choose your influencer carefully, and stay close to the data. You don't need Michael Jordan or Kim Kardashian in your pocket. Everyday humans can influence your target market. The good news is that it won't cost a bomb.

An Instagram influencer strategy should not be the only weapon in your marketing arsenal.

But it can be a vitally effective one.

-END ARTICLE-

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