This guest post was written by Natasha Ponomaroff from Instasize.
Recruiting through Instagram? Really? When marketing budgets can be stretched thin and there is a myriad of tasks to keep up within a social media focused role, should we really devote extra time to scouring platforms for potential partners?
The answer is a resounding yes—because recruiting the right individuals doesn’t just give you extra pieces in the content marketing puzzle for a more comprehensive, wide-reaching strategy. Choosing the right people to bring into your business’ social media marketing strategy can actually take a load off your shoulders and make your job easier.
How so? Let’s check out the audience appeal of Instagram for a bit: according to a collection of recent stats by Hootsuite, the social media network now has more than
Setting aside the potential reach that can be gained from high visibility on Instagram, this means businesses can easily find users who share their company’s core values and love using their products or services.
Since posting photos on Instagram is often a means for people to show off their lifestyle and personal aesthetic, they want to follow and buy from brands that fit the bill. Your content marketing strategy should tap into this in order to recruit who can truly bring value and a genuine connection with your brand to the table.
“With the use of social media, and the power of niche leaders creating content and pushing it to their followers, brands have a relatively inexpensive way to market their business. This is why influencer marketing works”. Megan Mosley from Referral Rock
Micro influencers, big g
Influencer marketing campaigns are now part and parcel of Instagram strategy. 67% of marketers believe that influencer marketing helps reach a better-targeted audience, with influencers rising in worth to potentially 10 billion dollars by 2020.
One survey done by the Influencer Marketing Hub last year also shows how brands are willing to set aside budgets for it, and even more expect these allotments to increase this year.
Despite the thousands, or maybe even millions of followers influencers can have, they also tend to demand higher payment per post. Focusing instead on micro influencers can give you as much value at a fraction of the cost.
Micro influencers are those with followers numbering anywhere between 1,000 to 100,000 followers (or maybe even less). These users may not be as well-known as, let’s say, Huda Kattan or James Charles, but they can deliver up to 60% more engagement on posts and 6.7x less spend per engagement.
The fewer followers an influencer has, the tighter-knit the community, with the person being able to respond to messages and engage in conversation more with their followers. This makes them more trustworthy sources of opinions and recommendations than the average user or the largest ones.
A common—and valid—concern when turning to influencer marketing is evaluating success. When partnering with a micro influencer for sponsorships, it’s important that you lay out the campaign’s purpose during the negotiation phase. After all, you want to get your money’s worth and trust the influencer to deliver on their side of the deal.
To ensure influencer marketing ROI, establish KPIs depending on what you want your influencer marketing promotions to achieve. If you aim for:
- Increased brand awareness: Measure the number of impressions your chosen influencer’s posts get in comparison to their total reach.
- Improved engagement: Choose to either measure engagement (meaning total likes, comments, and shares) on the influencer’s posts or Instagram engagement on your own after they promote it.
- Leads and conversions: Provide your chosen influencers with tracking links that can tell you how many visits were made through social conversions.
Another essential step is to communicate your brand’s mission and vision effectively, without being too controlling over what they post. Remember, you’re working together, and you’re leveraging their following. Restricting their unique voice and personality, the very things Instagram users follow them
Likewise, it’s also your responsibility to educate them on your policies.
Find new brand ambassadors
Brand ambassadors differ from influencers. They act as long-term partners and your brand’s representative to the public, continuously marketing what you offer, unlike “regular” influencers who often promote only when a brand sends them one-time access to products or services. You won’t need a brand ambassador all the time, but they’re nice to have—and they work best when hired for a major campaign.
Brand ambassadors won’t just be posting on Instagram. They’ll be the people you send to events, who you want to be seen up and about using your products, and who you want associating with your brand name—and its message. Because of this, you need to be more discerning with who you approach.
One way to choose new brand ambassadors is to build on the relationships you already have. Utilized influencer marketing on Instagram before? That’s a great stepping stone for a full-fledged brand ambassador program. If you opt to “promote” influencers you’ve worked with before, ask the following:
- How’s the quality of their posts?
- Does their audience respond well to sponsored posts?
- Are they easy to work with?
- Are they open to communicating?
Another way is to combine brand ambassador search and social media campaign. Quiksilver Inc.’s brand Roxy, for example, built its brand ambassador program with a multi-step screening process that acted as a marketing campaign in itself. Potential influencers would “apply” by showcasing how they loved the brand and what it meant to them, and they chose brand ambassadors from the pool of those they selected according to whose posts garnered the most engagement.
You can opt to do something similar, or just closely monitor your relationship with the existing influencers you might have already contacted.
Start an affiliate p
We usually know affiliate programs through more classic online advertising methods like placing banner ads. But on Instagram, a social network where no user has a monopoly over the entire site, one of the most common and effective types of affiliate programs is handing out coupon codes for e-
As part of your overall influencer marketing or brand ambassador program, you can let certain users earn a commission from driving signups and conversions to your e-commerce site.
Site visitors get discounts, partners get commissions, and you get sales.
How do you reach out? Leaving a comment on a random post is spammy, and while direct messaging can be good for smaller businesses, sending an e-mail is still the way to go for professional contacts.
Many ecommerce (especially fashion) brands also have a way for users to apply to the affiliate program themselves by having a link on their website with all the criteria for approval and associated benefits users get by signing up. If you wish, you can also open your affiliate program to the public.
Announce your new affiliate program through your social media channels. Hype up the new venture with countdown posts, teasers, and “sneak peek” type posts on your Instagram Stories. Your services’ power users will definitely get interested, and the arrangement is relatively hands-off, other than your brand providing the relevant digital infrastructure to accommodate what affiliates need.
Use this as a chance to look through the major pages on your website—especially the one where the program’s rules and application are laid out—and audit it for usability and conversion potential!
Don’t neglect to disclose
Let’s talk about the one crucial step necessary to keep everything legal and above board: disclosing paid partnerships and sponsored content. Make arrangements for this before speaking to influencers, recruiting brand ambassadors, and creating an affiliate program.
The most basic FTC guidelines for disclosing sponsored content include using the hashtags #ad or #sponsored in a visible spot in the caption—no hiding them in the first comment, between ten or more others.
Alternatively, you can advise partners to explicitly state the paid nature of the promotion in the caption, with no room for interpretation. It’s always safer to have influencers and brand ambassadors say “I’ve partnered with [brand name]” or “thank you [brand name] for sending me these products” instead of relying solely on an ambiguous “I love [brand name]’s products.”
While it may be tempting to not disclose paid marketing in an attempt to make posts feel more organic, remember that Instagram users can see through that quite easily. It is an industry staple, after all.
They’ll appreciate the transparency, which is a point in your brand’s favor.
Work hard and stay dedicated
In conclusion, social media marketing on Instagram definitely isn’t just always paid ads on the feed and curating a lovely-looking grid. Getting the most out of any social media platform means understanding how its users behave and immersing yourself into their communities. With enough time spent using the right tools to do good research, you’ll eventually find partners that fit.
Remember to take advantage of the resources available to you. Check the explore tab, employ social media listening tools, check your account’s followers and their followers, the followers of your competitors…all for the purpose of making a quality, strategic partnership.
Natasha is the Senior Marketing Director of Instasize – a content creating tool kit for anyone editing photos and online content on mobile. A weekly contributor on the site’s blog, Natasha tracks social media trends and updates the millions of “creatives” who are currently using Instasize to curate awesome online content. When she isn’t writing up the latest trend, Natasha is overseeing a team of 10 over at the Instasize HQ – ensuring that the marketing content on the apps various social platforms is ready to go.
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