Influencer Marketing 101

How to Contact Influencers on Instagram (Tips + Best Practices)

Now’s the time to ramp up your influencer outreach. In this post, you’ll learn how to contact influencers on Instagram so your pitches don't go unnoticed!

How to Contact Influencers on Instagram

Trying to figure out how to contact Instagram influencers? Well, you’re definitely not alone.

That’s because influencers are in high demand. 

Consider that influencers earn more engagement than brand accounts on Instagram right now. If you want to extend your brand’s reach and boost engagement, teaming up with influencers can help.

Thing is, the average influencer is flooded with DMs and emails daily. Contacting Instagram influencers can be super daunting if you don’t have an outreach strategy.

So, how can brands ensure that their messages stand out? This blog breaks down how to contact influencers on Instagram step-by-step so you can do just that.

Why (and When) Brands Should Contact Instagram Influencers

Pop quiz: why do you want to connect with influencers in the first place?

No tricks or surprises here! Still, you need a reason for making contact beyond “just because.” 

Think about it. Influencers are busy people by default. If an outreach message feels totally random or directionless, they’re likely to ignore it. The more focused your outreach is, the more impactful your emails and direct messages will be.

And so step one of contacting Instagram influencers is providing context to your outreach.

That means setting goals. For example, you might conduct outreach among influencers to:

  • Pitch a collaboration or promotion. In short, you might propose a potential collaboration and ask an influencer if they’re interested in learning about your brand.
  • Kick off a product gifting campaign (see below). For brands new to influencer marketing, product gifting can be a cost-effective way to get people posting about you.
  • Ask someone to become a brand ambassador. If there’s an Instagram influencer that already tags you, making your partnership “official” makes perfect sense.

example of influencer gifting on Instagram

Source: @twincities.twinmom

No matter your goals, don’t contact influencers on Instagram until you’re ready to take action!

You should be ready to ship products or compensate them if they’re interested in your pitch. Forcing influencers to play the waiting game makes it feel like you’re wasting their time. Being prepared is a huge point in your favor.

How to Find Relevant Instagram Influencers to Contact

Keep in mind that not every influencer will be a perfect fit for your brand. 

And hey, that’s okay! 

To maximize your time spent contacting Instagram influencers, it’s important to target the right people. Doing so will increase your response rate and result in better campaign content.

You’ll need to do your homework and narrow down your list of potential contacts. There’s no shortage of influencer talent out there, so don’t be afraid of being picky. Here are a few tips to help you hone in on relevant influencers:

  • Look for influencers that align with your industry. Many influencers will put their audience, profession or niche front-and-center in their bio. For example, a beauty brand might contact an Instagram influencer that labels themselves as a “makeup artist” or “stylist.”

  • Search hashtags related to your industry (see below). This will uncover influencers posting about products relevant to your target audience. For example, a skincare brand might search through beauty hashtags (#makeuptips). Smaller, niche hashtags (#foundationhacks) might uncover more micro-influencers. If you search “#gifted” hashtags, you can instantly find creators already promoting brands.

  • Mind follower counts and audience sizes. Based on research on the latest Instagram algorithm, micro-influencers with a few thousand followers earn more engagement than macro-influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers. Smaller influencers are traditionally more cost-effective and likewise eager to work with brands.

  • Research your top buyers and existing brand advocates. Sometimes the perfect influencer for your brand is right under your nose. Do you have repeat customers or folks that constantly tag your brand on social media? If someone’s already a big fan, contacting them to collaborate is a natural next step.

gifted hashtag example on Instagram

How to Tell if Someone is Actually an Influencer Before You Contact Them

We get it: the definition of “influencer” keeps changing.

Still, there are certain “tells” that can clue you in on whether someone is open to being approached by brands. Reviewing these pointers can save you some time as you contact influencers on Instagram:

  • Peek their bio for collaboration info. Do they have a social media landing page (like a Linktree) with promo codes and affiliate links? Do they label themselves as a “creator?” Do they list an email address for business opportunities? If so, chances are you’ve found a solid outreach candidate.

  • Check out their content for brand collaborations and promoted products. Any #gifted posts or brands being tagged? Are they regularly recommending products to their audience? This can clue you in on if they’re comfortable with collabs and if their audience actually engages with them.

  • Look at their follower count. This isn’t a hard “rule” but having a follower-to-following ratio of 2:1 (or better) is a good sign. For example, if an influencer has 3,000 followers but only follows 500 accounts then they’ve likely grown their following organically. This also signals their status as a creator worth following. 

Instagram influencer bio example

Source: @naps_and_nursing

Follower count is not make-or-break but you obviously want to get your products in front of as many people as possible. Again, micro-influencers with a few thousand followers are ideal for most brands.

Note: The preliminary research above benefits both creators and brands. It’s a waste of your time (and theirs!) if you’re pitching influencers who don’t have the audience, following or content you’re looking for.

Instagram Influencer Campaign Manager Spreadsheet

How to Make a Positive First Impression Prior to Contacting Influencers

Once you’ve picked out your influencer outreach candidates, you’ll want to engage with them prior to pitching.

Influencers are more likely to respond if your first point of contact is authentic and feels organic. Building a relationship beforehand can improve your chances of working together. For example, you should consider:

  • Following their account for at least a week or two prior to outreach.
  • Engaging with a few of their posts to prove you’re familiar with their content.
  • Leave personalized comments to prove that you’re a legitimate brand.

You’d be surprised how small touchpoints like this can make a big impression on influencers. Still, give influencers credit: they know what brands do in an attempt to warm up to them. As long as the influencer is a good fit and you’re positive and welcoming, you’re golden.

Note: If you don’t have an established relationship already, cold contact can work as an outreach strategy. Granted your pitch is benefit-focused and you’ve determined that the influencer is a strong fit based on your brand and products.

5 Tips for Perfecting Your Influencer Pitch 

When it comes to your pitch, anything that makes your messages feel personal is a plus.

Because contacting influencers shouldn’t be a game of “copy and paste.” 

While it’s totally fair game to use outreach templates to speed up the process, you need to give each and every message a personal touch. Below are some ideas and tips:

  1. When opening your DM or email to an influencer, mention a specific post of theirs that you loved (and why).

  2. Share something your brand has in common with your potential influencers (think: mutual followers or products they’ve shared that you’re a fan of).

  3. Compliment their aesthetic, content style or voice. Be specific!

  4. Explain how you landed on their content (and why it stood out to you).

  5. Reference a recent, time-sensitive piece of content (like an Instagram Story). This highlights that you’ve been following them for longer than five minutes.

Again, personality and authenticity are crucial to successfully contacting Instagram influencers. If you want to win over outreach candidates faster, keeping your messages brief and outlining key details can help. Here are a few points to include to make your pitch more actionable:

  • Explain how you intend to compensate them (think: gifted products).

  • Explicitly state why you’re contacting them (think: an ambassador program invite, giveaway collaboration or product samples).

  • Provide a timeline for when you want to collaborate (think: by a specific date or to align with an event such as a product launch that’s two months away).

Note: Before you craft your pitch, review our influencer outreach do’s and don’ts!

How to Pick the Best Way to Contact Instagram Influencers (Email vs DMs)

Finally, it’s time to decide how you’re going to contact your potential influencers.

The question, though? Should you send an email or hop into their DMs?

The short answer: it depends!

Despite popular belief, there is no “correct” contact method. We’ve seen plenty of brands use both email and DM templates to win over influencers. There are pros and cons to both methods but they're pretty much negligible.

For example, emails obviously offer more real estate and opportunities to go into greater detail about your offer. On the flip side, DMs are more casual and harder to miss if your influencer is super active on Instagram (which they likely are).

That said, oftentimes influencers will be explicit about how they prefer to be reached by brands. When in doubt, review their Instagram bio to make sure you’re contacting them on their terms. 

Some influencers do not want brands in their DMs. Others might have a dedicated business email address for collaborations. Don’t miss out on an influencer because you didn't read their “fine print!”

Below is an example of an Instagram influencer with a preferred contact method (email!) clearly stated upfront:

influencer contact method

Source: @cherekeerthana

Again, many influencers have social landing pages (like a Linktree or Linkin.bio) in their bios. These can also point you to their preferred way of being reached. Regardless of where you contact Instagram influencers, it’s important that your messages are warm, personal and benefit-driven. 

influencer pitching

Need Help Connecting with Instagram Influencers? We Already Work with Thousands of Them!

Building relationships with influencers is an awesome way to build brand awareness and get yourself in front of new customers. 

Once you get the hang of contacting influencers, doing it again is a lot less daunting. Still, influencer outreach can be a long and totally tedious process when you’re doing it all yourself.

Not only do you need to find the right influencers but also fine-tune your pitch for each and every person you contact. If you want your pitches to land, you have to put time and effort into them. All of them.

Struggling to scale your outreach or get your influencer marketing campaigns off the ground?

Statusphere can help. Through our network of thousands of hand-picked influencers, we make it a cinch for brands to connect with creators no matter what their niche is. Our full-service platform handles everything from influencer matchmaking and shipping products to tracking the results of your campaigns.

Want to learn more about how the process works? Get in touch with one of our consumer-to-consumer marketing specialists to see how we can get influencers posting about your brand ASAP.

This article was first published in March 2021. It was last updated May 22, 2022.   

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