Instagram influencers have become an essential part of marketing strategy, particularly for those in the creative industries such as filmmakers, theatre producers, and actors. Here, Backstage looks at how to find influencers, how much they cost, identifying your niche and core audience, how to plan, budget and schedule your campaign, as well as the rules and etiquette, and what kind of content is most effective for influencers to share on Instagram.
Our daily lives are increasingly taking place on the internet, and an estimated one in three UK adults now watch online video more than traditional TV, so it makes sense that creators and brands are choosing to spend more of their money online.
An exciting aspect of this shift is the power it places in the hands of independent content creators. Not so long ago, getting your name or message out there meant forking out thousands for airtime or buying an ad in papers or magazines, whereas now there are a multitude of avenues for anyone, no matter the budget. And where celebrity endorsements may once have been the way forward, online influencers can now have a similar effect at a fraction of the price.
Instagram is one of the main apps for influencers and has maintained its popularity despite the explosion of video-based competitors led by TikTok. Being an image-based app, it’s perfect for visual creatives who want a personal touch to marketing while maintaining a level of editorial control.
- How do you find your Instagram target audience?
- How do you find influencers on Instagram?
- Do I need macro-influencers or micro-influencers?
- How much do Instagram influencers charge?
- How do you plan an influencer campaign on Instagram?
- What kind of content performs best on Instagram?
- Working with Instagram influencers: what are the rules and guidelines?
Knowing and understanding your Instagram target audience is the key to creating a successful Instagram influencer campaign.
It’s all very well reaching tens of thousands of users, but if those users aren’t interested in what you provide, you’ll have wasted your money and their time. Spend some energy truly thinking about who you want your audience to be. Creatives might like to think their message is universal and filmmakers don’t like to be pigeonholed into genres, but unless you’re with a major distributor or production company with millions to spend, throwing a vague and watered-down message out into the universe is unlikely to do you much good.
Think about the age-range of the people most likely to enjoy your work. Current figures show the majority (84%) of UK Instagram users are under 44, with over 55% of those being between 18–35, so if it’s older audiences or children you’re aiming at then Instagram might not even be your best bet.
Now try to narrow it down even further. Is your cult slasher-horror really best partnered with a vegan organic lifestyle brand? Do you want the money for your Amy Poehler-inspired coming-of-age film advertised on a page for online survivalists? Look for accounts that complement your vision, and whose followers are likely to respond to what you’ve got to give.
Establishing a clear target audience will make finding the right influencers much easier, and increase the likelihood that any money you spend will see returns.
There are a number of methods and tools to find the right influencers for your target audience – influencers who will chime with the values of your content, film, brand, or production.
If you have a decent budget then an easy way to create a campaign is to approach specific platforms or agencies. There are a growing number of sites specialising in partnering brands with influencers. Some of these act more like a regular agency, while others will help you create an entire campaign. Similarly, many talent agencies are expanding into the domain of influencers, either with actors, performers, or models who have big online followings, or people for whom influencing is a full-time job.
Tribe is an industry leader that utilises the combined power of a pool of influencers to achieve maximum reach. Having launched nearly 15,000 campaigns so far, with some huge brand names, it gives you editorial control and puts you in contact with hundreds of influencers. It’s not the cheapest by a mile, but it does allow an easy framework in which to work.
The good thing about going through specialist sites is that many of them have analytics tools and extra information on their influencer’s reach, so you can plan how far you think a campaign can go, and look back afterwards to see how it panned out. Sites like Grin, Upfluence, and CreatorIQ are also big names, but there are a lot of companies to choose from, so do some research to find the right fit for you.
If you want a more hands-on approach, you’ll need to spend time finding Instagram accounts to contact directly. Being clever about who you work with can save you money in the long-term and even enhance your standing in the industry.
First off, look into who’s credible. Does this influencer rely on flashy photos and a good hashtag game, or are they genuinely passionate about what they do? Look at their followers and see if you can spot accounts with similar interests. Remember, it’s not just about follower numbers – it’s also about engagement. Your post could reach 50,000 people, but if only 500 engage with it then that’s not good engagement. Alternatively, if a smaller influencer only has a reach of 5,000 but gets 500 people liking and replying, that’s a high engagement rate.
Look up hashtags connected to your brand and see who turns up in the most posts and with the highest engagement. Maybe you already follow influencers. Who do you trust? Who would you listen to? Who influences you?
Without sounding like a broken record, engagement really is key. When talking to influencers, they might be able to provide you with their statistics, but a little snoop around their account should show you all you need to know.
You’ll need to decide whether you want to put all your budget into one major influencer – a macro-influencer – with a large following, or split your budget among multiple accounts with fewer followers – micro-influencers – who might nevertheless have higher engagements rates and potentially, a more specific niche. Micro-influencers are generally held to be those with 1,000 to 100,000 followers, while macro-influencers are those above the 100,000 mark.
If you can afford a celebrity endorsement that’s one thing, but once you’ve narrowed down your core audience you might find that three or four smaller accounts actually have a greater reach. Some big brands employ dozens of influencers for the same campaign using a specific hashtag to spread the message further and encourage trending, and that can have impressively far-reaching effects.
The amount influencers on Instagram charge depends on many factors, with the number of followers unsurprisingly being one of the main metrics.
Working directly with individuals rather than going through an influencer agency makes pricing somewhat unpredictable as influencers can choose their own fees and freely negotiate what you get for them. One influencer might charge £20 for a post with a limited time period while another might ask for £100 but offer more.
To give an idea of costs, one film-orientated account with over 100,000 followers offers is currently offering:
- £50: One feed post (your post stays in their feed for a week), plus three days’ story promos, plus a Linkin.bio for a week, plus a blog post.
- £10: One feed post for 24 hours plus a Linkin.bio.
- £16: One feed post and one story for 24 hours.
- £8.50: One story for 24 hours.
Another account with just over 75,000 followers is offering a flat £50 fee for a 48-hour post and story promotion.
This is free-market capitalism doing its thing, so make a list of the accounts you’ve approached and their fees, then decide what deals you’d like to pursue. There’s an element of quid pro quo that can go with the influencer territory, too. When accounts are building up a following, they may do something for free in return for a VIP perk – tickets to an opening, for example, or a copy of a film, or some merch. This is worth considering to build loyalty, but it’s important to understand that being an influencer is a legitimate profession and asking influencers to work for free is generally not acceptable.
The above examples look affordable and offer a rough guide to possible costs. However, with data suggesting brands are forecast to spend over £10.8 billion on social media influencers next year, it’s not surprising to learn that some macro-influencers charge hundreds of thousands of pounds for a single post.
The key to planning a successful influencer campaign is to figure out your messaging, key campaign dates like launches and events, and working out your budget.
Carefully mapping out the campaign you want will mean you’ll avoid stress further down the line, so decide on what you want and when you want it. Professional influencers often work on a tight schedule; you could find the perfect influencer but they’re already scheduled up, so think ahead if you want the more popular ones.
Do you want clicks, views and sales, or is brand awareness more your aim? Are you wanting to trend and tap into the zeitgeist, or do you want something that sticks around? While Twitter is about making an immediate splash, Instagram is hashtag-based and a post can often live longer, so make those images count. Think about the message you want to put out into the world and what exactly you want the world to say back.
Once you’ve taken a look at the landscape and narrowed down your potential pool, make sure you properly budget. There’s no point approaching someone you know you can’t afford, so work out how much you can spend.
It’s also important to make specific targets for what you want these partnerships to achieve. You won’t always hit them, but having a list of goals to aim for focuses your campaign and will at least mean you learn from any mistakes made along the way.
The content that performs best on Instagram includes high-quality, attention-grabbing visuals, a strong caption, correct formatting and dimensions, and relevant hashtags.
Those are the basics. But when planning your content for influencers to share on Instagram, consider what Instagram offers that standard advertising doesn’t: a personal approach. You could content-dump the same promo photo around all of Instagram and that could do a brilliant job of getting your name out there, but it might not inspire followers to connect on a deeper level.
In this respect, user-generated content (UGC) may be the way to go. In this context, UGC means giving the influencer scope (within a brief) to become a part of the creative process and promote you in their own way. After all, their following – and therefore, their influence – lies in their distinctive personality, and you chose them because you liked their vibe, so why would you then want to remove their voice with a rigid campaign? If that’s what you want, then stick to website banners and pay-to-click online ads.
There are behind-the-scenes methods to enhance this engagement. Perhaps you want to offer up exclusive content, or ask an influencer to do an Instagram takeover for a day. These are more creative ways to build partnerships and get your projects seen.
The main rule when working with influencers on Instagram is to make sure it’s absolutely clear that an ad is an ad. People recommend things all the time online, but the moment money passes hands, the influencer is providing a service. Forgetting to acknowledge this in the post is misleading; it will get you into trouble and undo all the good you’ve done together. Don’t ruin a great partnership with a rookie mistake, so take some time to read the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)’s Influencers Guide to familiarise yourself with the standards expected of you both.
Once you’ve done your research, set your goals, chosen your partnerships and planned your timeline, allow yourself to enjoy the creative process and watch the buzz grow. While it can feel like the pre-internet age was millennia ago rather than a couple of decades, this whole thing is still very new, and you get to be a part of the first wave of a new way to market online.
If you take the time to research and do it right, there’s never been a better time to be an independent creator.