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What is Instagram Influencer Marketing?

In this post, we want to highlight a few important things to remember about Instagram, influencer marketing, and partnering with Instagram influencers to boost your visibility, drive engagement, and draw customers.

by Sorilbran Stone

Businesses are constantly on the hunt for different ways to outwit search engines, one-up competitors, and just show up where their customers are hanging out online. Well, one of the best ways to do all three is with Instagram influencer marketing.


What is Instagram Influencer Marketing?

Instagram influencer marketing is a word-of-mouth marketing tactic in which brands hire and partner with Instagram creators to promote the brand’s products and increase a brand’s visibility among targeted audiences. Brands hire influencers to help them turn scrollers into clickers.

Influencer marketing, in and of itself, can occur just about anywhere an audience exists. But the most recent iteration of influencer marketing grew alongside the popularity of Instagram influencers.

Today, when most people think of influencer marketing, they think of Instagram, and with good reason. Instagram is the most popular platform for running influencer campaigns by a long shot, with about 68 percent of brands using Instagram for influencer campaigns, compared with TikTok (45 percent),  Facebook (43 percent), YouTube (36 percent), LinkedIn (16percent), and Twitter (15percent), according to Influencer Marketing Hub.

Influencer Marketing Channel Utilization

Why Choose Instagram for Influencer Marketing?

Well, there are several really good reasons to launch an influencer campaign on Instagram. The first, and most important, reason for choosing Instagram for your influencer marketing efforts is that Instagram is one of the most active and profitable marketing channels for brands. Working with Instagram influencers to promote products is a proven way to reach new audiences.

Grammers don’t mind branded content

Believe it or not, most Instagram users don’t mind seeing sponsored content from their favorite influencers. Legitimate influencers tend to be very particular about the types of brand collabs they accept. In fact, influencers are more likely to turn down an opportunity than to accept it if they don’t believe the brand would be of interest to their followers.

It’s how they keep their sway, their credibility, their followers. In that way, professional Instagram influencers follow influencer marketing best practices. Instagram users are accustomed to seeing brands in their feeds. In fact, something like 200 million Instagram users visits at least one business profile every day. About 8 in 10 Instagrammers use the platform to research products and services.

Users rely on Instagram for product discovery

Instagram’s also emerged as an important marketing channel for reaching consumers at a time when they don’t mind being approached by brands. That’s worth mentioning because that’s not always the case, right? If you’ve ever let your finger hover over the countdown to YouTube’s Skip Ad button, you understand what we mean.

According to a Bustle survey, 81 percent of millennial women polled say their time on social media is the best time for brands to reach them. For Gen Zers, 73 percent of teens say Instagram is the best way for brands to reach them.

Instagram Influencer marketing could end up being a great opportunity for you to find the right target audience for your brand and increase your visibility, engagement, and clicks.


Brands can reach their customers on Instagram (and influencers are EXPERTS at getting organic reach)

Over two billion people use Instagram every month and spend around 12 hours a month on the app.

Now, it’s true that Instagram reaches approximately 25 percent of the global population. But it’s also true that organic reach is down to its lowest ever, with the average post from an Average Joe reaching less than 1 percent of Joe’s audience.


That leaves the 71 percent of US businesses currently using Instagram as a marketing channel needing a legitimate plan to get eyes on their products.

Part of what makes influencers so valuable to brands is the fact influencers are really great at getting people to engage with their content. The more engaging a social media creator’s content is, the more the Instagram algorithm will favor their content and show it to wider and wider audiences. That’s how brands are able to solve the organic reach problem.


Tips for Building Your Influencer Campaign on Instagram

The logistics of building an influencer marketing campaign are actually pretty simple IF you understand that there are lots of moving parts. If you are not working with an influencer marketing agency and you don’t have an in-house influencer marketing team, think of these tips as good advice for building strong influencer campaigns that will help you hit some of your most important campaign KPIs.


gif: Influencer marketing logistics chart - gif

Set realistic campaign goals 

Determine first what you want your influencer campaign to accomplish and that will determine whether you build a brand awareness campaign, a clicks-focused campaign, or a content-focused campaign. Know your goals also determines which metrics you’ll track to determine the ROI of your influencer campaign.

Plan your campaign early

The “lotta moving parts” thing? Not an exaggeration. So, give your team plenty of time to plan and execute an Instagram influencer marketing strategy that will be successful. Planning ahead will help to ensure the most important aspects of running a successful influencer campaign are handled without making the process unnecessarily stressful or unfruitful.

The average influencer campaign takes anywhere from 10 to 16 weeks to go from signed contracts to campaign results, with 12 weeks being the sweet spot. If you’ve run campaigns in previous years, plan a little extra time because one of the influencer marketing trends The Shelf team has seen is that it’s taking longer to get contracts signed. This is true of micro influencers and nano influencers as well. So, you’ll need to work in a little extra time to find relevant influencers for your campaigns.

Identify your target audience BEFORE you contact influencers 

Instagram influencers are awesome, but they’re not psychic. So, identify your target audience so you know exactly who you’re trying to reach before you start the influencer selection process.

Here’s something a lot of agencies skip: Finding the right influencers for your campaign means figuring out which potential influencer partners have followers who most closely resemble your ideal customer. Remember, the whole point of running an Instagram influencer marketing campaign is to get in front of your customers. So, it’s crucial that you have a method in place for analyzing an influencer’s followers.

Use creative concepts to keep content interesting

Social media influencers are experts at creating compelling content, sure. But it’s okay to provide them with a framework of different campaign concepts they can use to generate influencer content.

This all sounds fantastic, but that means there needs to be someone on your team or a strategist within the influencer marketing agency that’s managing our influencer campaign who can dream up these creative concepts.

St Pierre Bakery

St Pierre brings the baked delights of Paris to your local grocery store, so you don’t have to travel far to get a taste of France. Inspired by the centuries-old recipes of master French and Belgian boulangers (that’s French for baker), St Pierre takes the crêpes popularized as street food back in the 1200s and packages them for sale at your neighborhood grocer. St Pierre Bakery launched in the US in 2014, and they are now the number one French brioche brand in the country.

St Pierre’s number one goal for an influencer marketing campaign was to create brand awareness so that people would know they could find St Pierre’s bread products right where they do their normal shopping.

Our job was to make Parisian baked goods accessible to audiences where St Pierre is sold. In fact, campaign aside, it was kind of our civic duty to tell people to scan their store bakery section for that orange packaging to find St Pierre’s line of brioche – buns, rolls, danish, loaves baked with fruit or chocolate chips, loaves twisted with cream cheese or vanilla (your mouth watering yet?). We were very enthusiastic about this message.

We ran two campaigns for St Pierre’s products: one focused on summer grilling, and the other more about making sweets with the brioche, like French toast.

We sought out 30 influencers in each campaign who could break up the boredom of lockdown with drool-worthy recipes and pics.

Can anyone say backyard barbecue?! Influencers inspired audiences to get cooking and swap in St Pierre brioche as their fancifully delicious alternative to your run-of-the-mill hamburger and hot dog buns. To highlight St Pierre’s grilling products for the summer, we promoted The Brioche Burger Bun, The Brioche Slider Rolls, The Brioche Hot Dog Rolls, and Brioche Baguettes.

Then, we had influencers make their desserts a little more magnifique by baking St Pierre’s brioche products into sweet recipes like chocolate chip muffins and french toast breakfast bread pudding. YUM!


Amplify your campaign with cross-channel marketing

Most Instagram users are active on other social media platforms as well. So, it may make sense to amplify your campaign by cross-promoting to other social media channels. And this doesn’t necessarily have to put a huge dent in your marketing budget.

Often, content creators will use social media scheduling tools that allow them to auto-post a single piece of content to multiple social networks with a single click. So, someone can post the same video to Instagram Stories to reach their Instagram audience while posting the same content as a Pinterest Story Pin to reach a wider audience on Pinterest. We call those value-adds, and they usually won’t cost much more than what you’ve already negotiated.

Yes, most influencer marketing strategies are Instagram-based, but if the audience you’re targeting also spends a good amount of time listening to podcasts or minding their Pinterest boards, you can boost your campaign results by looping in podcast influencers and other platforms into your social media marketing.

Monitor and optimize campaign performance

The Shelf influencer marketing platform includes a dashboard that allows our team and our clients to monitor the performance of each influencer’s content. This way, we get a sense of the kind of Instagram posts and messaging that resonates with the target audience in real-time. Ideally, you could optimize underperforming content to get more engagement, thus making it more visible since Instagram’s algorithm favors popular content.

We also make it a point to launch a whitelisting campaign to run paid social ads alongside the primary Instagram influencer campaign. Whitelisting is turning an influencer’s organic posts into a paid ad and running it through the influencer’s account (instead of running an ad/dark post through your brand’s account).

Whitelisting is a really effective way to boost the visibility and engagement of your marketing campaigns so that you can get better and better ROI over the course of your campaign.


The influencer marketing industry is replete with agencies that will Instagram provide influencer marketing services. But there is a method to what seems like the madness of partnering with social media creators to promote your brand and products. Hopefully, this post has been useful in helping you to forge a general path forward.

We have published influencer marketing guides on a wide range of topics, from conducting influencer outreach to auditing the influencer marketing agency running your campaigns. They’re free and you can use these guides to help you map out a fortified influencer campaign that will help you reach your marketing goals.

👀 Psst! There’s More Instagram Influencer Marketing Content Where This Came From!

We pulled together a nice, tidy rabbit hole for you on related topics that will make you an expert at this whole Instagram Influencer Marketing thing. #yw

Fantastic Campaigns

We are a full-service influencer marketing agency creating meaningful stories, experiences, and content by working with influencers who know how to spread the word about your brand. With our unique, professional, and longstanding influencer marketing expertise, we create the most genuine connections to deliver the results you deserve.

Schedule a quick call with one of our strategists and learn how one of our campaigns can guide your customers through each stage of their decision-making process, from activation to conversion.   Schedule a Strategy Call