Using social media power users to promote brands has become a part of the standard digital marketing playbook, especially when it comes to Instagram - the platform where a significant amount of influencers spend their time creating and posting content. Just why are these influencers so… influential? Well, it’s all because of the power of word-of-mouth. Emotions are at the forefront when it comes to buying decisions, and people are more likely to make decisions when people they trust do the same. A significant number of consumers say reviews from family and friends influence their buying decisions. Here’s a basic guide to Instagram influencer marketing if you’re planning to dive into it for the first time.

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Ask the important questions. Remember that just one post isn’t an effective way to get the word out—it might just drown out amongst Instagram’s fast-moving feed. Partnering with an influencer is effectively hiring a brand ambassador to have a continuing relationship with your brand. Additionally, using just one influencer for your campaign may not be enough. You’ll need to establish how many individuals you aim to contact as well as the expectations and guidelines you want them to follow for the duration of your partnership. List out essential details: will you be sending them products to try or sponsoring a post? How many posts do you want them to make? What will you do to ensure that they can stick to your brand voice and stay on message? Get all of this in order before you reaching out to ensure a smooth process.

Find Brand Partnerships

Base your search on your marketing objectives. While many brands would want to get the most popular influencers with the most followers to promote their products and services, an alternative to finding the right partnerships for you is to consider micro influencers. They may not have as many followers as mainstream, insta-famous users, but their smaller communities means more engagement for niche audiences, which is especially useful for small businesses and entrepreneurs. If you want to get the word out, though, an influencer with many more followers can amplify your brand messaging. Check whoever is following your brand or talking about you, search hashtags related to your industry, and see whose posts you find creative and interesting. Remember however that influencers charge more the higher their follower count is—those with fewer than 2,000 followers can charge around $124 per post, and that may increase to $258 per post for those with 75,000 to 100,000 followers.

Disclose Sponsored Posts Properly

An important non-negotiable when using Instagram influencer marketing as a strategy: Federal Trade Commission regulations state that you must always disclose when a post has been sponsored or a product has been sent for free. Encourage the influencers you choose to adhere to this and provide them with posting guidelines to ensure cooperation. This can easily be done by placing a phrase in the caption mentioning the fact. Luckily, Instagram now has their own tools to streamline the experience for brands. Creators can now tag clearly whether a feed or Stories post is a paid sponsorship (and it mentions the brand name), and businesses can approve those who tag them.

Leverage Hashtags

Hashtags aren’t just helpful when searching for finding partnerships. Having the right hashtags in post captions can give context to the image and tie them to your larger marketing campaign. Hashtags increase discoverability when keywords are used, giving influencer posts a wider reach, and branded ones in particular can make post engagement easier to track for you when used with a slogan, product name, event, and campaign. Have a hashtag for the product or service you intend to promote with Instagram influencer marketing, and a separate one for your entire brand. One tip: recommend additional hashtags be kept in the first comment on the post rather than the main copy to lessen clutter.

Track Success and Grow Your Brand

If you have a Business account (we hope you do!), use Instagram Insights to track post performance. If your partner influencers are using Instagram’s Branded Content tools, you can track their posts’ performance when you’re tagged. If not, though, coordinate with your partners and look for the following: how many people have engaged with the posts in likes and comments? How much reach (or views) do they have? Have more individuals started talking about your brand or following your account since?

Hopefully this guide will have helped create a framework for your influencer marketing plan and pointed you in the right direction. After all, it doesn’t do to just jump into a whole new strategy unprepared. Take the right steps, know what you want your brand and products to convey, and build lasting relationships with those who understand them.