“Can you give me a shout-out?”
This is a very common question that I get in my Instagram Direct Messages or email. It is followed by a link to a business page or a Instagram profile, and if I’m lucky, I get a good description of the product, service or project that is being promoted. Sometimes it’s so well done that I want to reply back and work with them right way, and sometimes I am straight up confused as to what my role in such an engagement would be.
I get it. This whole social media marketing business is still fairly new and good resources on how to effectively use social media are limited. If you are a business owner who is looking into utilising the powerful world of Instagram to market your business, this three-part blogpost is for you. I’m writing it from the perspective of an Influencer who has received and dealt with hundreds of collaboration requests and hope that it can give you some good food-for-thought.
In my opinion, there is some homework you need to do before you even think about approaching an Instagram Influencer for marketing. Then, you need to find that ideal Influencer for your product, service or project. And lastly, you need to know what an influencer expects in return from you. Yes, it is always a two-way commitment. Sometimes it’s a barter transaction and sometimes it is monetary and rightfully so. We will get into all the details.
Summary of what you will learn:
I. What you need to know before you approach an Instagram Influencer
II. How to find the right Instagram Influencer for your project
III. How to reach out to and work with an Instagram Influencer
Part I: What you need to know before you approach an Influencer on Instagram
This is the most basic and perhaps the easiest part of this whole process: Know thyself! Having clear answers to these questions will in turn help you find the right influencer for your business. To make it easy for you to understand the information, I have broken it down into six questions that you can ask yourself:
- Who is my ideal client?
Hopefully you have answered this question when developing your business idea. It should be easy for you to know what their age, gender, preferences and other psychographics are. Do you sell to clients who value in-person shopping experiences and like to attend events or shop in malls? Do you sell to busy moms who like to shop online? It’s one thing to know your customer and another thing to know how to find them online. Certain influencers cater to moms, some cater to young professionals who love travelling, some cater to people who love makeup and others to those who love photography. You get the idea. You need to know your ideal client so that you can then look for the right influencer.
- Where do I want to promote my product with an Influencer?
There are two parts to this “where” question – the geographic location as well as the internet location. Defining your geographical location is very important. Where do your customers reside? Do you sell your products in person? Are you looking to sell online to customers in North America only or worldwide? You will want to work with bloggers in those specific geographic areas. Your favourite blogger might live in Sydney, Australia, but they may or may not be the perfect Influencer if you are looking to sell products to people living in Toronto, Canada.
As for the “internet location,” you need to learn where your ideal customer hangs out. Are they spending a lot of time on Facebook, or Snapchat, or are they addicted to Instagram? You need to spend some time doing careful observation of online behaviour of your potential customers. As a general rule (and this changes from time to time), older people (40 years+) are more active on Facebook, younger people (20-40 years) are on Instagram, and teenagers are on Snapchat. As for Youtube, it is used by almost everyone for all sorts of information and entertainment. Since this blogpost is about Instagram Influencers, that is what I will be focusing on.
- When is the best time for me to promote my item with an Influencer?
Is your product seasonal or is it something that people use all-year round? If you are selling ice-cream, it is best sold in the summer. If you are selling umbrellas, they are best sold in rainy months. If you are selling Christmas decor, they are best sold in November and December. Know the peak time for your business and when to reach out to an Influencer in advance and perhaps “reserve” time with them before they get too busy. You don’t want to rush yourself or them.
- Why would an Influencer want to work with me?
Influencers get emails and messages everyday from a wide range of businesses to help promote their products. Why would they choose to give time to you? Have you noticed that they like to use products similar to what you sell? Have you noticed them or their audience complaining about a problem for which you have the solution? Do you notice that your product will fit well into their overall lifestyle, even if it is not what their account is mainly about? Don’t be harsh on yourself and conclude that you have nothing to offer to anyone. You never know what someone is looking for. But at least try to answer this question so that you can mention it in your email/DM to the Influencer to help grab their attention and stand out.
- Is my Instagram page/website updated?
I can’t stress this enough. Hopefully your answer to this is “yes.” But if it’s “no,” then drop everything and first run to create some good quality content for your page. First of all, if the last post on your page was 6 months ago or the pictures on your page aren’t the best-looking (yes, visuals matters) you run the risk of looking like a scam or not looking serious enough and getting ignored by an Influencer. If an Influencer does decide to work with you, there is nothing worse than having them give you a shout-out, only to have hundreds of people landing on your page and seeing nothing much of value and simply leaving. You need good photos and you need to demonstrate a clear sense of what your business is about. You might say, “well that is what I am trying to do. I’m not good at photography and that is why I need help to get my page up and running.” In that case, you can definitely still work with “content creators” to help you take pictures at first, as opposed to people who are busy “Influencers” on Instagram and engaging with lots of people.
- What is my marketing budget to work with an Influencer?
Yes, you need to have some sort of a monetary budget for marketing with Influencers. You are basically leveraging the work that they have done over a few years to build a community of like-minded followers around their account. If you start a new page, you will realize how difficult that can be. It takes time and high quality work day in and day out to do that. Influencers are also the best “all-in-one” deal you can get. They can take pictures for your products, edit them, write captions, and promote your products to your desired niche. Therefore, paying influencers is expected and frankly, makes a lot of sense.
If you’re just starting out, you might say, “well I have $0 to spend.” You might have invested all of your money into developing your product or purchasing inventory and simply can’t afford to spend any more. That is understandable and there are ways in which you can still have your product promoted online. However, a little investment in the name of marketing can really have an impact. If you set your budget at $500 and spend your money in the right way (with the right influencers on the right channels), you can have an amazing outcome. Your budget could also be $100 worth of product giveaways. So think about it. How much is your product worth and how much are you willing to spend to spread the word about it? Once you know that, you can find Influencers for your niche who are willing to work with you within that budget.
I hope you found this blogpost useful. If you have any questions about this part, do leave them in the comment box below. I’ll be monitoring it to answer them for you.
Until next time, ciao ciao!
NEXT WEEK… Part II. How to find the right Influencer for your project
Come back next week for this part of the blogpost. I am basically creating a cheat-sheet for you with actual links and tools that you can use. Here is what it will include:
-How to check an Instagrammer’s engagement rate
-What is engagement and why it should matter to you
-How to analyze an Instagrammer’s profile to determine their true “influence”
-How to get an idea of an Instagrammer’s audience demographics for best results