Instagram influencers have changed the course of online marketing in the past few years. They do this by being a face for people to market their products and serivces instead of just posting it online and using SEO to promote it. Influencer marketing indeed puts a human face to product marketing. Instagram influencer marketing is on the rise, with every other marketer now trying to leverage the option to their advantage.

But it’s not always easy to find the right influencers of your brand – and even when you find the good ones, it’s another thing altogether to get them to work for you. Of course, there are influencers who will work with any brand for money or free products, (especially if they are still upcoming), but this is not always the case. Instagram influencers are now very critical of brands they work with, so they need to have a positive image of your brand.

The first thing to do when looking for IG influencers is to position your brand very well on the road to success. With this in place, you now have to start thinking of ways to find Instagram influencers that would work for you. Your first influencer interaction sets the tone for all of your future communications, therefore, it’s important to approach influencers the right way and make a great first impression.

Here is how you can both find and approach instagram influencers for your product or service.

How to Find Instagram Influencers

  1. Instagram Influencers are just a hashtag away

Hashtags make discovering high-performing content and popular accounts on Instagram easy, and they can lead you to influencers easily too. To make use of hashtags to find instagram influencers, you have to first of all know what niche the IG influencers you are seeking to get roll in. To make things easy for yourself, you can use a tool like Hashtagify to check hashtag popularity, find similar terms, and stay on top of upward trends. You can equally use social listening to find Instagram influencers.

  1. Make use of popular search tools

To find influencers outside of your audience, try using a search tool designed to identify major content creators and Instagram users with significant engagement. For example, tools like Buzzsumo allow you to search for influencers in certain niches and locations and then analyze their impact based on reach, engagement, and other factors.

You can also create lists of potential partners to follow and connect with. Platforms like TapInfluence offer a more comprehensive approach to influencer marketing that includes discovery tools, Instagram profile searches, and performance data.

  1. Listen to your followers

When searching for Instagram influencers to work with, you have to listen to your followers to know if they’d connect with the people you have in mind. The reason you’ve chosen to work with influencers is that they’re able to reach and engage your community authentically. If you have an established Instagram brand account with a following who is representative of your target audience, monitor how they engage with your Instagram content.

Which posts do they “like” most, or which posts prompt them to comment positively? You can also look into what influencers they follow by peeking at their following list. Additionally, stay alert for those who are mentioning or tagging your brand on Instagram. You may discover that influencers or brand advocates are already promoting your business to a loyal and relevant following.

These Instagrammers will be more prone to working out a formal partnership with your brand. By understanding who already supports your brand online and what your audience responds well to, you can quickly narrow down on a short list of Instagram influencers.

  1. If all fails, try Google Search 

This may seem an obvious step to finding Instagram influencers, but there are a few tips that can make a standard Google search yield impressive results. First, key in your search terms by industry. Instead of searching “top Instagram accounts,” try searching “top 20 cooking Instagram influencers.” As can be expected, the first search would yield you general and broad results.

A deeper look at this first search produces many mainstream Instagram accounts including celebrities, such as actors, athletes, and rockstars. Of course some of these lists may irrelevant for what you are looking for, but at least you are getting somewhere. To find both relevant and reputable lists and sources, try a more targeted search that pinpoints the influencer channel and category. The results you get here are more specifically tailored to brands, products, or services within a specific industry, and my more likely be what you are looking for.

  1. Review Influencer Instagram Content For Engagement

While finding Instagram influencers is a laborious process, you need to do your due diligence to ensure those you’ve identified have a track record of genuine partnerships and productive engagement. Your efforts will be futile if your brand sponsors an influencer who’s bought fake followers, doesn’t comply with FTC guidelines, or comes across as inauthentic in their messaging. Audiences have become attuned to detecting content that’s not genuine, so this step cannot be emphasized enough. Whatever it will cost you to get a genuine IG influencer is worth it.

  1. Locate Previous Instagram Sponsored Content & Review Performance

Despite influencer marketing being a relatively new addition to advertisers’ repertoires, it’s been around long enough that anyone can locate sponsored content from prior influencer campaigns. This can be done by searching for posts with the tags #sponsored or #ad, or you can skim through influencers’ previous posts to find ones that mention or tag another brand.

If your brand already has a wishlist of influencers in mind, you must have likely come across these sponsored content before. Be sure to search for fresh sponsored content and review closely for evidence of how the collaboration performed to ensure a partnership with said influencer will be a natural fit.

To take it one step further, look at who else engaged with the sponsored post to see if any other influencers “liked” or commented on it. In most cases, influencers have built vast networks with similar influencers, so their sponsored and organic content will likely attract the attention of fellow influencers.

  1. Go through popular Influencers’ Instagram Networks

Speaking of influencer networks, you can also filter through the followers of influencers you’ve already identified to locate new ones. Despite being a more manual process, this strategy proves to be an invaluable way to stumble upon similar influencers to ones you’ve already identified. Just be careful not to careen down a rabbit hole by allotting a fixed amount of time to this task. Lineup of this kind of list can be so vast, and you can end up getting lost in it.

Likewise, check who your identified influencers are following. To quicken the search through thousands of Instagram followers for a given account, scroll through and look for the “verified” checkmark or for handles that are cleanly spelled. Don’t feel compelled to scroll through the entire list of followers. Use your best judgment to maximize your efficiency and of course time.

  1. Ask for targeted referrals

This is yet another great networking tactic that brands can use when they’ve already established long-term partnerships with other influencers. Having strong rapport with influencers will often mean they’re more inclined to refer you to other influencers they know or work with. If you’re confident you have a solid, healthy relationship with an influencer, reach out directly for a referral.

Since current influencer partners already understand your company’s messaging and goals, they’ll likely know who else within their influencer network would be interested in partnering with you. And generally, they are going to be more than happy to fulfill your request. This opens up the door for more direct and trusted influencer discovery.

  1. Leverage Influencer Talent Networks

Sometimes, reaching out to talent networks can produce viable Instagram influencer connections. Influencer talent networks, such as Digital Brand Architects or Gleam, often have hundreds of available influencers who are on the lookout for collaboration opportunities.

Talent managers are normally eager to help and will strongly suggest their own influencer clients with the rule that managers take a percentage of the payment. You can also get summarized influencer bios and channel follower stats, and the option to contact to the influencers directly.

10. Work With An Established Influencer Marketing Agency

Perhaps even more important than knowing how to find Instagram influencers is knowing which Instagrammer will perform and produce bottom-line results for your brand. Though high-reach usually correlates with price, it doesn’t always correlate with high campaign performance. With several influencer tiers (such as nano- or mid-tier influencers), choosing the size of influencer(s) to work with can be a challenging task without the direction of an influencer marketing agency.

Established influencer marketing agencies who specialize solely in vetting the best Instagram influencers for each industry can provide case studies and documentation to support a track record of successful campaigns. For brands with the budget, agencies can give you direct access to viable Instagram influencers.

Working with the right influencer marketing agency not only facilitates the often arduous process of finding Instagram influencers but also ensures best industry practices when it comes to workflows between brands and influencers, adherence to sponsored content FTC guidelines, and optimized campaign management and reporting.

11. Concentrate on micro-influencers

Micro-influencers, or users with expertise in niche areas, but with more modest follower numbers than celebrities, tend to have better engagement rates and more targeted audiences. The content they post is often more authentic and unlike celebrities, they are more likely to reply to comments and answer their follower’s queries. They are your best bet to getting what you want.

How to approach Instagram Influencers

1. Start making contact 

Once you’ve identified and vetted the Instagram influencers that would be the best fit for your brand, the next step is to find a way to reach out to them. Some Instagram influencers will have an email in their bio description or within free influencer databases, so you can email directly. If no contact information is immediately available, you can try direct messaging them through Instagram.

Present the potential opportunity, but keep it vague so you can ask for their email to follow up with more details. While this method may seem intrusive, it can lead to fruitful influencer relationships when you craft a thoughtful, concise message. Keep in mind that influencers are often inundated with inquiries. To increase your chances of catching their attention, engage with their content in advance by liking and commenting on their Instagram posts.

Ensure you follow them on Instagram and show a vested interest in their work so they can be confident that you’re serious about becoming a partner. Influencers can usually distinguish whether or not the email sender has done their research, so don’t jeopardize your opportunity by sending out mails that carry no content.

2. Draft an Irresistible Proposal

Once you have gotten settled with your influencer, you have to monitor them carefully so as to get points you can use in drafting your proposal. Study the work of your shortlisted influencer. Go through the content they have created and see how their followers engage with their posts.

This will give you an idea about their authenticity and engagement rates. Also, research which brands they have endorsed in the past. This will help you understand whether they are a good fit for your brand. You can use these insights to draft a proposal that will be hard for them to reject.

3. Put your best foot forward

When you approach your potential influencers, ensure that you’re ready with a proposal they won’t turn down. You should cover all important points such as your expectations from the campaign and the remuneration you’re willing to offer. It is better to maintain transparency from day one. There should be no room for confusion or misunderstanding. A well-drafted proposal can help you convince your selected influencer to partner with you.

4. Keep it short

Short and simple is the best way to grab someone’s attention. It may seem hard to sum up all those previous tips in just a few sentences, but try to think about the kind of email you would like to receive. If it was overwhelmingly long, would you bother reading it? Of course no, so do yourself and the Influencers you are contacting a favour by keeping things short.

5. Be Direct and Polite

No IG influencer will work with you if they suspect you are dodgy. You should be straightforward in your approach. Don’t talk vaguely when you discuss the collaboration proposal with them. You should directly convey what you’re looking for and what they can expect in return.

But, at the same time, it is important to ensure that you’re polite and professional in your approach. Any negative review from an influencer can harm the reputation of your brand. So, you should try to leave a positive impression on them.

6. Be clear with your intention

The art of being subtle can be useful when you’re hoping to get someone to share your article, but there are certain times where it’s easier and more effective to be clear about what you want. If you want to write a guest post, ask someone to write on your blog or be a part of your affiliate program, you shouldn’t go around it in circles. Be straight-forward and, once again, focus on the value you have to offer.

7. Don’t be pushy with requests

Remember you are the one who’s interested. The influencer doesn’t owe you anything and, therefore, if you sound like you’re demanding a fast reply and an immediate interest, no one is going to bother getting back to you. No one likes a rude customer.

8. Prepare to give gentle follow ups

Influencers often receive a lot of collaboration requests. You should be distinct in your approach so that they remember you. Give them time to respond. If you don’t get a response within a few days, follow up with them through gentle reminders.

Don’t be aggressive in your approach, you might scare them off. The main purpose of influencer marketing is to create awareness about your brand and products, and boost sales. Collaborating with the right influencer can help you get a huge traction for your brand.

9. Engage With Them on a Human Level

Influencers are ordinary everyday people. Just like you, they have good days and bad days. They also have questions and problems of their own. If they’re asking for help with a particular question or problem, see if you can help, even if it’s just by sending them a word of encouragement. If they’re hanging out on Twitter or blowing off steam, sharing some light-hearted banter, a well-timed pun or a funny GIF or meme can go a long way to connect with them on a personal level.

Free Tools For Finding Instagram Influencers

Along with knowing common mistakes people make when finding influencers, it’s helpful to know what free tools are available to search for Instagram influencers. We’ve gathered a list of some of the most resourceful, free tools that you can use in your hunt for Instagram influencers.

  1. Socialblade

SocialBlade is an incredible, free resource that provides continuously updated rankings (top 10, 100, and 500 channels) from multiple platforms including Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch. On the quest to find high-reach Instagram influencers for sponsored content, it’s helpful to know the top social media influencers from other platforms. The tool also gives insights into audience size, user demographics, followers to following ratio, and other important channel statistics.

  1. Hypeauditor

HypeAuditor is a tool that lists the top 1,000 Instagram influencer rankings by the number of “quality” followers and how much authentic engagement their posts receive. Using AI, the tool analyzes Instagrammers by gathering open-source data, evaluating authentic engagement, and tracking and ranking the top Instagram influencers daily.

Searchers can filter from a list of several categories and countries, or they can simply type in the username of known Instagram influencers to find out basic information on audience demography and interests, follower growth, account activity, and rank at the worldwide, country, and category levels.

  1. Klear

Klear enables marketers to find, research, and measure Instagram influencers. With a database of over 900 million Instagram profiles broken down into 60,000 topics, Klear touts that its repository of Instagram influencers is the most advanced worldwide. The search functionalities on Klear also allow marketers to cast a wide net or hone in on more niche categories of influencers.

Another beneficial feature is the option to filter by Celebs, Power Users, Casual, and Novice. Additionally, the platform is equipped with demographic features that show which audiences follow the influencers you’re interested in working with. This obviously increases the likelihood of selecting influencers who will resonate with your target audience.

Ajaero Tony Martins