Top 8 Tips to Level-up Your Instagram Influencer Marketing

GRIN also recommends this free guide: How to Get ROI from Influencer Marketing.

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For influencer marketers, Instagram is the place to be. It is the most vibrant creator environment and offers some of the best visual posting options available anywhere online for the average Instagram influencer marketing campaign.

Graphic depicting How Many Instagram Influencers Are There? in the world
Image via Oberlo

Powered by Facebook, IG also offers the best advertising and in-app shopping features for ecommerce brands on social media. It comes as no surprise that this channel (along with YouTube) is a thriving retail marketplace for online communities.

Amateur, aspiring, and professional creators flock to Instagram to share the latest images, videos, news, and more. The influencer space expanded significantly in the last couple of years, thanks in large part to COVID-19 lockdowns and advances in omnichannel retail.

And though new channels offer more opportunities for creators (i.e., TikTok, Twitch, etc.), Instagram remains the best influencer marketing space for top ecommerce brands. Because more brands are leveraging Instagram for influencer outreach, marketers are looking for ways to set themselves apart from other brands and attract the right influencer partnerships.

What is unique about Instagram influencer marketing?

There are some similarities between Instagram image/video posts and image/videos on other platforms. But Instagram stands out to digital marketers when it comes to its user base and how that user base leverages it for connecting with a community and online shopping.

What sets Instagram apart from the competition is two-fold:

  • It is the clear front-runner in social commerce (in-app shopping, swipe-up Stories, newsfeed ads, branded AR features, etc.); and,
  • It has the largest and most engaged social media audiences online among the next generation of consumers.
Bar graph of number of instagram users worldwide from 2016 to 2023
Image via eMarketer

Decision-makers at Instagram develop their platform with social commerce in mind, recognizing that shoppers place a premium on social interactions as the best way to inspire and inform their next purchase.

Bar and line graph of US Instagram Social Commerce Buyers
Image via Insider Intelligence

Also, Instagram is primarily creator-focused as it looks for new ways to nurture a vibrant creator community and establish new ways for those creators to make a living. This year marked the first annual Creator Week where the platform unveiled new features and support tools specifically designed to help IG creators improve their reach, content creation skills, and authenticity.

All to say, Instagram may not be a new channel, but it’s certainly not losing ground to other platforms. Marketers who wish to remain on the cutting edge of influencer campaign management must grow their Instagram creator strategy.

What stage is your Instagram influencer marketing in?

Before you can “level up,” you need to evaluate where your Instagram influencer program is right now. Many marketers use techniques such as program audits or gap analyses to get a clear picture where they are and where they want to go. 

Two face icons depicting current state vs. desired state on a blue background
Image via QuestionPro

Scaling your influencer program requires careful planning to prevent burnout, soured creator relationships, or overspending. 

Influencer programs occupy one of three stages.

  • Beginner: Beginner programs are new and/or emerging programs. The brand has recruited a handful of creators and launched a few successful campaigns. There’s no clear process yet in place since team members are just starting to feel comfortable with what it’s like to work with influencers for the first time. Leveling up your IG influencer program as a beginner looks like:
    • Using top-performers as a guide for future creator recruiting
    • Refining IG campaigns to identify best practices
    • Attributing IG creator ROI and tracking those results
    • Consolidating program data and workflows into an Instagram influencer marketing platform
  • Intermediate: At this stage, the program is running smoothly, and processes for tracking and managing influencer campaigns are clear. Going from intermediate to advanced includes:
    • Settling into a strong Instagram influencer marketing tech stack
    • Growing your influencer management team
    • Refining your influencer program to include different types of creator partnerships
    • Running more frequent and targeted IG campaigns
  • Advanced: Advanced programs often have fully integrated influencer programs that impact every piece of their marketing plan. They may even work closely with IG creators to develop new products or invest heavily in cutting edge techniques like whitelisting and dark posting. Advanced programs can continue leveling up by:
    • Analyzing where to trim waste to lower costs
    • Capitalizing on new opportunities to boost returns
    • Improving IG creator attribution among new and returning customers 
    • Leveraging IG influencers to assume leading roles in brand communities, customer advocacy programs, and experiential campaigns

8 tips to level-up your Instagram influencer marketing

Tip 1: Assess your current program.

Using the three phases described above, decide where your current program lies and what next steps look like for your brand. 

Auditing your current program may also mean revisiting your Instagram marketing goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). It’s critical that you understand how ROI works across your entire marketing funnel

For example, if your current program is heavy on sales, you might want to see how you can bulk up your brand awareness and audience nurturing campaigns. A full-funnel influencer program is the best way to lower your acquisition costs and increase your customer lifetime value (CLV).

Tip 2: Identify your top performers.

Not every IG creator will be a good fit for your brand, and that’s okay. A key part of leveling up your Instagram influencer marketing program at any stage requires you to think carefully about your ideal influencer profile.

The best place to start is by looking at your top-performing influencers on Instagram. These creators usually possess the greatest brand love, authenticity, and audience alignment to your brand.

Once you’ve identified your top performers on Instagram, you can gain deeper insights to…

  • Find similar influencers
  • Perform an audience analysis to refine your influencer and buyer personas
  • Collaborate more closely with those creators (commissioned content, whitelisting, co-branded products, etc.)

Tip 3: Test different types of content and cross-platform promotion.

If you segment a portion of your budget to try new content types and collaborate with your favorite influencers for testing purposes, you’ll quickly discover new opportunities to connect with audiences.

Instagram has a wide selection of visual posting options:

  • Image posts (standard)
  • Stories
  • Live events
  • Reels (short-form videos)
  • IGTV (long-form videos)
  • Guides

Using Facebook Ads Manager, you can promote your best IG posts or repurpose influencer content for Instagram Ads.

You can also use your Instagram influencer marketing program to venture onto new channels. For example, if one of your top-performers is also active on TikTok, work with that creator to begin promoting your brand on that channel. Many popular posts on Instagram work well on other channels, so long as you customize the post (dimensions, word count, etc.) to that platform. Your IG creators will be more than happy to guide you through this process for best results.

Tip 4: Consider whitelisting top-performing creators.

Whitelisting is a technique that promotes branded content through an influencer’s ad account. 

Facebook’s ad management features makes it easy to whitelist on Instagram. From the creator’s ad account, you can choose to promote certain posts.

For best results, make sure to approach only those creators with whom you have a strong relationship. That creator needs to be able to trust you before they grant you advertising privileges.

Tip 5: Experiment with different types of campaigns.

In addition to testing new content types and incorporating paid ads, consider trying out new Instagram influencer marketing campaigns.

There’s nothing wrong with a lifestyle image that showcases your product and generates consumer excitement. But there are many different things you can do to boost audience interaction and interest.

For example, Instagram Live lets you host virtual events with two people. You and your influencer can lead a Tutorial, FAQ, or special announcement event and engage followers in the comments.

Contests and giveaways also perform well on Instagram because they drive user-generated content, website traffic, and sales – all of which will help your brand’s bottom line.

If you feel uneasy about brainstorming new campaign ideas by yourself, don’t be afraid to involve your creator team in the planning process. They’ve likely done many different Instagram influencer marketing campaigns, and they know their audience very well. As a result, they can offer a list of ideas that you would not have considered on your own.

Tip 6: Leverage your best influencer relationships to plan Instagram influencer marketing campaigns.

When you have a good relationship with your creators, there’s almost no limit to how helpful they can be to your campaign planning process. 

In addition to asking for help to brainstorm new campaign ideas, consider asking your best Instagram influencers how to make your current campaigns better. The more thoughtful feedback that you get, the better your program will be.

Tip 7: Incorporate post best practices into your campaign briefs.

Each of the steps above will show you exactly how to get the most out of every Instagram influencer marketing campaign. To set your influencers up for success, you can offer guidance in your campaign briefs on things like:

  • How to use links, promo codes, and hashtags effectively
  • Product knowledge and case uses
  • Post colors, backgrounds, style, etc.

Tip 8: Set aside funds for “test spend.”

To scale your influencer program on Instagram, it’s understandable that you would want to put all or most of your funds into “sure wins.” However, doing the same thing over and over again has the potential to make your IG strategy feel stale.

Instead, consider splitting your budget. Your primary budget can be for campaigns/strategies/creators that you know will perform (core spend). The other portion – your test spend – can be for trying new ideas.

Organizing your spending in this way ensures that you reach your IG marketing goals while also growing your program across new post and campaign types.

Conclusion: Instagram remains a leading channel for social commerce and effective influencer collaborations. 

Keeping up with the latest developments will ensure you’re always being as strategic as possible with your influencer program initiatives. Instagram continues to push the envelope on social media and ecommerce trends. Taking your Instagram influencer marketing to the next level can have powerful results for your brand.

Spend less time jumping from platform to platform and more time increasing results. Do it all in one place with GRIN.

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What the best brands are doing to drive revenue from influencer marketing

Whether you are just getting started with influencer marketing or already have your program in place, this guide gives you the tools to get the return on investment your C-level will love. 

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