Influencer Marketing Strategy

How to Find Instagram Influencers and Micro-Influencers to Collab With

Need to recruit more Instagram creators to promote your products? Here's how to find Instagram influencers and micro-influencers to scale your brand's collabs!

how to find Instagram influencers cover photo

Trying to figure out how to find Instagram influencers for your brand? Good! 

Because IG influencer campaigns are still booming with CPG brands.

According to our internal data, 45.6% of brands running micro-influencer campaigns promote products on Instagram. Specifically, Instagram Reels are more popular with creators right now.

And so there’s no shortage of potential influencers to promote your brand.

But ironically, this creates challenges for brands that need influencer posts consistently.

What happens when you've exhausted your list of content creators? Where do you even start an Instagram influencer search?

Don’t sweat it! This post covers every corner of how to find Instagram influencers as a brand.

How to Find Instagram Influencers Manually

Brands work with more influencers on Instagram (30 per campaign on average) than ever before.

And for a good reason!

Despite the growth of TikTok, Instagram is still a staple of social commerce and product research. 

However, the ever-changing algorithm and new competition signal the need for more creators to break through the noise. Brands likewise have to do digging to find Instagram influencers to hire.

To kick things off, here's how to conduct a manual influencer search on Instagram step by step.

1. Start Your Instagram Influencer Search with Hashtags

You can think of Instagram itself as its own influencer database. 

But historically, the platform's search features have left a lot to be desired!

Thankfully, recent updates to Instagram’s search features make it easier than ever to hone in on potential influencers to hire with a combination of hashtags and keywords. 

Use Industry-Specific Hashtags to Uncover Creators That Reflect Your Audience

Industry-specific tags are a smart way to find people talking about products similar to yours.

For example, a beauty brand might search tags like #makeupartist or #makeupaddict to find relevant creators.

The more specific a hashtag is to your industry, the better. A niche hashtag speaks to a narrower audience and will typically have less competition. This can help you find Instagram influencers with smaller follower counts (but higher engagement rates). Some tags also lend themselves to product-related posts more than others.

The variety of #naturalhair tags on Instagram is a great example. The further you scroll down, the more potential creators you can uncover. A tag such as #naturalhairdreams or #naturalhairtips would be prime tags for a haircare brand to explore because it's more niche.

Instagram #naturalhairtips search


Try Geo-Specific Hashtags to Discover Local Influencers

If applicable, this is one of the fastest ways to narrow your influencer search.

For example, a restaurant or cafe might target tags such as #brooklynfoodie or #nycfoodinsta to find bloggers to shout them out. Simple enough, right?

IG geo hashtags example

For ecommerce brands, local influencers might not be a priority.

But if your brand has a brick-and-mortar presence, finding local Instagram influencers is a way to create in-store influencer content to support your retail partners. 

For example, let's say your food brand wants to find Instagram influencers to promote your launch at Costco. Through in-store content and using an Instagram geotag, local influencers can highlight your products in local retailers. 

IG example (Costco review)Source

Look for #Ad, #Gifted and #Sponsored Posts to Spot Instagram Influencers

As you’re browsing influencers found via the methods above, be on the lookout for hashtags within their actual post captions.

Anyone who uses the #ad, #sponsored or #gifted tags likely has experience working with brands. This also means when you reach out to these Instagram influencers, they will be more receptive.

#Gifted post example


In fact, we recommend coupling a #gifted search with social media keywords relevant to your industry to find Instagram niche Instagram influencers faster. Unboxings and review posts are perfect for auditing and assessing potential influencers to hire without having to comb through as much content. 

Instagram Influencer Campaign Manager Spreadsheet

2. Take Your Instagram Influencer Search to Google/YouTube

Fact: 43% of Instagram creators have blogs and websites that go beyond their social presence. 

And so one of the best ways to find Instagram influencers is to go off of Instagram.

Blogs and YouTube channels can give you a better understanding of an influencer’s vibe and the products they promote. Check out how beauty influencer Alyssa Beaudoin creates under-minute YouTube Shorts with makeup product reviews and unboxings to promote the brands she partners with.

YouTube example


Google and YouTube are your friends here. Both platforms can help you uncover established influencers who you may have missed on Instagram itself.

You can find relevant influencers through search engine terms like:

  • “[product/industry] blog”
  • “[product/industry] reviews”
  • “[product/industry] round-up”

For example, a simple YouTube search of “eye shadow review 2024” shows creators big and small publishing recent product breakdowns. In competitive industries, you’re pretty much spoiled for choice when it comes to finding influencers to pitch.

YouTube product reviews 2024

Your search will likely return established bloggers and vloggers with high visibility. Although large follower counts are nice, they’ll come with a higher price tag and require a compelling pitch.

That’s why we recommend that brands prioritize collabs with smaller creators, micro-influencers and everyday consumers first and foremost.

3. When in Doubt, Collab with Your Own Instagram Followers!

This might sound cliche but oftentimes your best influencers are right under your nose.

Do you have customers who frequently publish product photos or engage with your content? 

And do they have an engaged following themselves? If so, send them a collaboration email!

People who already know your products and values are awesome candidates for promoting your brand. Outreach is typically easier with these types of customers, too.

Of course, this approach to recruiting your own brand ambassadors is time-consuming and likewise requires consistent legwork. From shipping products to actually getting content, having to do all of the above quickly becomes a full-time job if you collab with more than a handful of influencers.

And hey, that actually leads us to our next method of finding content creators!

Using an Influencer Platform to Find Instagram Influencers

If searching for creators DIY isn't your jam, you're definitely in the majority!

Most brands are overwhelmed with the process of finding influencers on Instagram. So, it's no surprise a lot of them are turning to influencer marketing platforms and tools to speed things up.

Here are some examples of influencer search tools that brands can use to find Instagram influencers:

  • Try Instagram's Creator Marketplace. Although not talked about often, this native platform offers a way to connect with influencers. This feature is designed for brands looking to partner with creators directly. Still, this platform doesn't take away the legwork of manually searching and conducting outreach. Not to mention providing creative direction for content.
  • Access a third-party influencer databases. You can easily pull the extensive lists of Instagram influencers with a database. While these give you plenty of options, you still have to handle the outreach, vetting and management yourself. Again, this can be quite time-consuming and doesn't support scale if you need 20+ influencer posts per month.

  • Use a dedicated Instagram influencer marketing platform. For a more efficient solution that allows you to scale, software is the way to go. Platforms can eliminate tasks related to vetting influencers or managing creators, ultimately saving you time and helping you organize your brand's UGC on Instagram.

For example, tools like Statusphere take over the heavy lifting of finding IG influencers by automatically matching your brand with relevant creators. Using 250+ first-party data points, we ensure that brands collaborate with relevant creators minus needing to negotiate or audit profiles.

statusphere Influencer matching example2

How to Audit an Instagram Influencer Prior to a Collab

Now that you know how to find Instagram influencers, you need to consider what happens next.

Below we break down how to pick the best candidates to collaborate with!

Peek Their Instagram Bio 👀

Bios can reveal so much about an influencer’s personality at a glance. Take a peek at their:

  • Tone and voice (Are they playful? Professional? Sarcastic? Bold?)
  • Word choice (Do they mention any industry terms? What about “creator” or “influencer?”)
  • Contact information and links (think: blogs, websites and affiliate links)

Many creators put their influencer status front-and-center in their Instagram bios. For example, anyone who includes an email address or direct invitation in their bio is definitely open to messages from brands. If someone has a Linktree that highlights product reviews or affiliate links, you know they have experience with collabs.

Below is a great example of an Instagram bio that invites attention from brands. Note how the influencer’s location, contact preferences and interests are all in one place. Bonus points for her personality and use of emojis!

Instagram influencer


Assess their Engagement Rate 📈

Remember that an influencer’s follower count isn’t everything. This is especially true when fake influencers (and fake followers!) are still such a problem.

You can tell pretty quickly if someone’s following is legit just by looking at their post comments. If most of the comments seem spammy or come from questionable accounts (think: @heather10449549424), that’s a red flag.

Besides, the best influencers will receive lots of love from legit followers in the comment section.

As we hinted earlier, micro-influencers with a few thousand followers tend to have more engaged followers than larger ones. If you’re trying to sell products or raise meaningful brand awareness, that level of engagement is more valuable than an inflated follower count.

Keep in mind that there is no magic number of followers or correct engagement rate for Instagram influencers. Excessive spam and questionable comments can help you weed out candidates for your influencer search regardless. 

Dig Into Their Captions and Comments ⛏️

Captions are key to gauging an influencer’s style, voice and level of engagement.

Pay close attention to:

  • Vocab. Do they talk like your target audience? How do they express themselves and their gifted products? Do they talk about other brands how you would want them to talk about yours?
  • Tone. Are their captions friendly? Conversational? Informative? 
  • Effort. See how much passion and creativity they put into their branded and non-branded content. Try to prioritize creators who’ll give sponsored posts 100%!

Don’t forget to comb through their comments, too! Comments can confirm if an influencer’s audience resembles your own. 

For example, @emilybookedup writes in-depth, inviting and informative captions that earn tons of positive comments.

Instagram influencer page Instagram influencer comments 


Notice how her comments illustrate both her target audience and their enthusiasm about her content. Emily also engages with commenters which is a huge added bonus. This is the type of authentic engagement brands can earn via influencer marketing done right.

Why Brands Need to Find Instagram Micro-Influencers ASAP

From raising brand awareness to influencing purchase decisions, the value of influencer partnerships with smaller creators can't be overstated.

To wrap things up, let’s review why it’s worth it to seek out Instagram micro-influencers specifically. 

Micro-Influencers Offer Meaningful Word-of-Mouth at Scale

It’s no secret that people love to follow brands on Instagram.

But product discovery is so much more seamless when someone else is doing the talking.

And the more people you have shouting you out, the better.

Working with a higher volume of smaller influencers is typically more time and cost-effective for brands as smaller creators can help you dominate relevant social search terms, rank in the algorithm and give your IG ads a much-needed boost.

Also, consider that micro-influencers on Instagram already have their own established following that can likely reach more customers than your own account by default.

And that leads us to our next point...

Organic Engagement on Instagram is Falling (But Not for Micro-Influencers!)

We know firsthand that Instagram micro-influencer content tends to perform better than branded content. As noted earlier, smaller influencers tend to earn way more interactions than larger ones.

We've found that micro-influencers average a ~10% engagement rate per campaign based on recent internal data. Every campaign is different, though! 

Don’t just take our word for it, either. According to recent data from this Rival IQ Report, the median engagement rate across all industries for influencers on IG is 5x the industry average.

The study also notes that brands have seen their Instagram engagement drop YoY. This signals the power of influencers as content from branded accounts continues to lose reach. 

Consumers Crave Recommendations from "Real" Creators

Food for thought: 71% of consumers prefer to discover brands via social media recommendations. 

Makes sense, right?

Influencer content provides personality and perspective to products that ads just can’t compete with. Maybe that’s why reviews are overwhelmingly the most effective type of influencer content. 

That’s because creative influencers know how to put their personal trademark on their product reviews to win over their followers.

How to Streamline Your Search for Influencers on Instagram

Finding the ideal influencer for your brand can be a time-consuming process. 

Trust us — we get it! 

Again, brands on average partner with an average of 30 Instagram micro-influencers per campaign.

That's a 36% increase YoY with no signs of slowing down.

Brands constantly need to scale and partner with new Instagram content creators to maintain their momentum.  Scaling all of the above is a full-time job if you’re trying to do it by yourself.

That's where Statusphere's software can save the day.

Our micro-influencer platform manages everything from Instagram influencer matching to actually getting your products into creators’ hands. This means you can scale your next influencer campaign without playing the waiting game or combing through hundreds of Instagram profiles.

Again, our micro-influencer platform can match your brand with vetted Instagram creators based on 250+ first-party data points. Hundreds of brands have scaled with Statusphere, earning 75,000+ pieces of UGC for their influencer marketing campaigns.

Want to see how our platform works? Get in touch with one of our experts today to find out how we can scale your Instagram influencer marketing efforts in a fraction of the time.

This article was first published in August 2016. It was last updated June 6, 2024.   

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