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How to Find Instagram Influencers to Promote Your Product (the DIY Way)
Looking for the perfect creators to grow your brand on Instagram? Here's how to find Instagram influencers to engage your target audience and drive sales.
Trying to figure out how to find Instagram influencers for your brand? Good!
Because partnering with creators is one of the best ways to introduce your products to more people.
A whopping 44% of people use Instagram to shop weekly. With so many social shoppers seeking out their next purchases on Instagram, brands shouldn’t be shy about promoting themselves.
And there’s no shortage of creators to hype up your brand.
That’s the problem, though — where do you even begin your search?
Don’t worry: this guide covers everything you need to know about finding Instagram influencers.
How to Find Instagram Influencers the DIY Way
Thankfully, the popularity of influencer marketing means that there’s someone out there that…
- Understands how to speak to your target audience
- Aligns with your brand’s values, content and aesthetic
- Already has a highly-engaged following on Instagram
Heck, there are probably dozens (or hundreds!) of creators that fit the bill.
They aren’t going to come running to you, though! If you’re trying to find Instagram influencers for your brand, the steps below can help.
Start with a Hashtag Search
Think of Instagram itself as its own influencer database.
Recent updates to Instagram’s search features make it easier than ever to hone in on the right influencers via hashtags.
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 ideas and creators you can uncover. A tag such as #naturalhairdreams or #naturalhairtips would be prime tags for a haircare brand to explore.
Use Geo-Specific Hashtags to Discover Local Influencers
Let’s say you’re a brick-and-mortar business or you’re looking to build brand awareness in your community. If so, you should try to find Instagram influencers local to you.
For example, a restaurant or cafe might target tags such as #brooklynfoodie or #nycfoodinsta to find bloggers to shout them out.
Look for #Ad, #Gifted and #Sponsored Posts to Spot Established Influencers
As you’re browsing influencers found via the methods above, be on the lookout for hashtags within their actual post captions. Anyone that uses the #ad, #sponsored or #gifted tags likely has experience working with brands. This likely means they’ll be more receptive when you pitch them.
Photo Credit: @growingupwithmollyrae
Use Google to Uncover Established Influencers and Content Creators
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 influencer Stacey Lopez creates five-minute makeup tutorials and unboxings to promote the brands she partners with.
Photo Credit: Stacey Lopez
Google and YouTube are your friends here. Both platforms can help you uncover established influencers that 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 2022” 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.
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 work with smaller creators, micro-influencers and everyday consumers that are the right fit.
Why? For starters, scaling is easier. You’re able to work with multiple creators at once and raise brand awareness without breaking the bank.
Smaller creators are often eager to work with brands. Their size makes them feel more “real,” maintaining a much-needed sense of authenticity that helps your posts shine.
Oh, and micro-influencers typically have more engaged audiences than celebrities or bigger influencers (but more on that later).
Look at Your Own Followers!
Sometimes the best influencers are right under your nose.
Do you have customers that frequently publish product photos or engage with your content?
And do they have an engaged following themselves? If so, ask for a collab!
People who already know your products and values are awesome candidates for promoting your brand. Outreach is much easier for current customers, too.
How to Figure Out if an Instagram Influencer is a Good Fit
Now that you know how to find Instagram influencers, let’s 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 that 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!
Photo Credit: @thatsosofi
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. 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 that’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.
Photo Credit: @emilybookedup
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.
Why You Need to Find Instagram Influencers ASAP
From raising brand awareness to influencing purchase decisions, the value of partnering with creators can’t be overstated.
To wrap things up, let’s review why it’s worth it to seek out influencers in the first place.
Influencers and Creators Instantly Increase Your Word-of-Mouth
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. In fact, consumers trust word-of-mouth the most when it comes to product recommendations. Authentic content from influencers delivers a one-of-a-kind sense of trust versus ads.
Also, consider that influencers already have their own established following that can likely reach more customers than your own account.
And hey, that actually leads us to our next point…
Organic Engagement on Instagram is Falling (But Not for Influencers!)
We know firsthand that influencers’ content tends to perform better than branded content.
Don’t take our word for it, though. According to recent data from Rival IQ, the median engagement rate across all industries on Instagram is 0.67%. Compare that to the 1.18% engagement of influencers. As noted earlier, smaller influencers tend to earn way more interactions than larger ones.
The study also notes that engagement rates across Instagram are down 30% year-over-year. This signals the power of influencers as content from branded accounts continues to lose reach.
Social Consumers Crave Recommendations from Actual People
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.
Photo Credit: @magicallyshay
You Know How to Find Instagram Influencers — Now What?
Finding the ideal influencer for your brand can be a time-consuming process.
Trust us — we know!
After going through the steps above and picking out your potential influencers, you’re ready to start reaching out to them.
But getting responses, setting up meetings and negotiating contracts is a totally different (and tedious!) project. Scaling all of the above is pretty much a full-time job if you’re trying to do it by yourself.
We handle everything from influencer matching to actually getting your products in creators’ hands. The best part? You can scale your next influencer campaign without playing the waiting game or combing through hundreds of Instagram profiles.
Want to learn more? Chat with one of our consumer-to-consumer marketing specialists today to find out how we can match your brand with Instagram influencers that’d be the perfect fit.
Originally published August 30, 2016. Last updated February 10, 2022.