Social media has grown into an information hub where consumers can learn about new products and services and get recommendations from trusted sources. Instagram influencers—social celebrities who are experts on specific topics ranging from local dining to home goods—wield tremendous power in guiding consumers’ purchases. And brands have noticed: Instagram influencer marketing is a billion-dollar industry, according to agency Mediakix.
As you consider the role Instagram influencers could play in your marketing, explore these tips for effective collaborations
1. Start with Strategy
Outline your business goals and values to determine where influencer partnerships may fit in. When New York’s Baked NYC planned its 2018 marketing, the bakery prioritized authenticity.
“We didn’t want to be too gimmicky,” says co-founder Matt Lewis. The team invested in long-term relationships with influencers who are skilled bakers and devised a campaign in which they create and promote limited-time offerings sold at Baked.
2. Seek Out the Influencers
Start your search on Instagram. Find local influencers using area-specific hashtags, like
#DetroitFoodie. Seek accounts that align with your brand: Try home bakers and dining experts. Examining how influencers’ audiences engage with posts will tell you if they’re your target audience. And focus on quality, not size: Microinfluencers—social media icons with thousands, not hundreds of thousands, of followers—tend to be more affordable. And smaller players exhibit the best combination of follower reach and engagement (likes, comments and shares), according to influencer marketing platform Markerly.
3. Hast Out Your Budget
Will you host an event for influencers to try samples? Pay them for promotion? Ink a long-term deal? Consider your budget.
“The influencer compensation scale is all over the map,” Lewis says. Price is shaped by campaign length, your bakery’s alignment with the influencer’s brand and more. Read up on influencer payscales and ask local eateries what they’ve paid.
Or start small: Invite influencers to your bakery or send them treats to review. Without pay, you won’t be guaranteed promotion, but you may get a friendly shoutout. Even these strategies need resources though, so assess tactics early.
4. Seed Respect
While social media moves quickly, influencers may not respond immediately. “A lot of influencers work 40 hours a week and do this on the side,” explains Minneapolis-based Kim Ly Curry, also known as Lil Miss Foodie on Instagram, where she shares pictures with more than 40,000 followers. It’s important to be patient and professional when you reach out to influencers. In addition, be polite and as clear as possible about your intentions to ensure a positive relationship from the start.
5. Measure Success
Decide upfront what metrics matter. Baked is tracking its new campaign by regularly measuring the ratio of follows to unfollows. Also, closely monitor sales of bakery items promoted by influencers. Social media isn’t permanent, but if one of Baked’s influencer-created dishes proves popular enough to earn a lasting spot on the menu, Lewis says, “there’s a great narrative in that permanence.”