How to find Instagram influencers

A quick guide on how to find the right Instagram influencers for your business: what you need to prepare before you start looking and the tools that will help you with the search.
You've almost certainly been hearing a lot about the buzz surrounding influencer marketing. It took off a few years ago as a super-effective way of promoting products and services. Riding the wave of popularity for so long, you might think the market would be on the verge of saturation, but, as it turns out, there's still a long way to go before we hit that point.
Don't take our word for it – here are some stats which prove that influencer campaigns continue to be one of the most effective forms of marketing, and Instagram is the all-round favorite with marketers and influencers alike:
  • name Instagram as the most important social network, followed by Facebook and YouTube in terms of popularity.
  • in Google Searches for Influencer Marketing was registered between 2017 and 2019
  • say that ROI from influencer marketing is comparable to, or better than, other channels
  • between 18 and 34 years old were actually influenced to make a large purchase after seeing a post on Instagram.
And here's another one: according to InfluencerDB statistics, Instagram currently has more than 500 000 active influencers. And that's just the accounts with over 15 000 followers. So, how does one go about finding influencers that fit your business in this abundance of options?
Understand what you should be looking for
Before you hit up Instagram, there's some work that needs to be done in order to clarify your overall goals. Once you've sorted out this step, you'll be free to concentrate on details. Influencer marketing is all about trust, authenticity and relatability. These are the main factors that attract people to social media content and turn them into customers.
Achieving this is one of the main challenges in influencer marketing. Surveys show that 61% of customers unfollowed an influencer when they felt they were endorsing too many products, while 43% characterized influencers as "often inauthentic".
It should be the right influencer, who can deliver the right message to the right people.
Here are 3 steps that will help you saddle up for the search:
  • 1
    Define your target audience
    The main value of an influencer is the connection they have with their audience. So, in order to find the right instagram influencer, first you need to build a very clear understanding of your brand's audience. How old are they? What do they do? Who do they follow on Instagram? What kind of content are they interested in?
    Knowing your audience will help you address their beliefs and values and build a trusting relationship.
  • 2
    Work out the message
    Knowing who you want to address will give you an idea of what your message should be. Ask yourself what you would like to achieve. Is it about increasing brand awareness or generating leads? Do you want to build your reputation or work on customer loyalty? Or is it simply about driving engagement?
    This will inform the type of posts you make: guest posts, mentions, contests and competitions, reviews or test-drives, sponsored content, discounts, etc.
  • 3
    Work out what kind of influencer you need
    There are four types of influencers depending on the size of their following. The number of followers doesn't just tell you how many people you can reach. This is the first thing you should think about in relation to your goals and the type of message you would like to deliver.
Mega-influencers have millions of followers. It's celebrities like Kylie Jenner or Selena Gomez – actors, singers, sportsmen – who enjoy international recognition and, as such, have an extremely diverse audience. Apart from 6 or 7-figure costs for a single post, this means that their audience could be into absolutely different things and their relationship with their followers is very distant.
These types of partnerships only work out for big international brands, for example, huge sportswear brands like Nike or Adidas.
example of mega-influencer on Instargam Kylie Jenner
Macro-influencers have a following of 100K to 1M.

These are people who got famous for what they post on social media.

They will give you access to a broad, yet engaged, demographic (for example, young females), which makes for successful partnerships with brands that sell general appeal products.
example of macro-influencer on Instargam Molly Yeh
Micro-influencers with a following between 1,000 and 100,000 are often industry specialists or opinion leaders in a niche area.

They have a fairly uniform audience that is interested in a specific topic.

This makes them ideal partners for any brand regardless of the size, which is demonstrated by their high demand.
example of micro-influencer on Instargam: account sweatandtell
Nano-influencers are those who have under a thousand followers (although according to different sources this number can go up to 10 000). In the same way as micro-influencers, the engagement levels of their audience are very high as these are usually the kind of people who have influence within small local communities.
They also receive more trust from their followers than macro-influencers. This type can be a good solution for small- to medium-size businesses, especially local ones or those that sell very niche products.
example of nano-influencer on Instargam Bricely Liriano
Where to look for Instagram influencers
After you've worked out what kind of influencers you would like to work with, we have the question of where to actually find them. There are different ways of doing that.

This method will cost you nothing but might require quite a lot of your time. Still, it might be a good starting point.

First, you can go to Instagram and try searching for hashtags that relate to your topic.

example of manual looking for Instagram influencers
Sometimes, it is useful to check out blogs on other social media platforms. For example, if you have a cafe, you can find popular users on TripAdvisor, who are often reviewing restaurants. Usually, they also develop other channels, and it is highly likely that Instagram is going to be among them.

You can also check out your competitors by going to their profile and clicking on the first icon from the right that will show you all the posts they were tagged in:
Instagram accounts of companies H&M and Oreo
When you are looking for macro influencers, another quite obvious, but still useful, tool is Google. For example, if you type in 'top vegan bloggers on Instagram' you will almost certainly get the results you need:
search of top vegan bloggers on Instagram by query in Google
Social listening tools
Monitoring your brand with a social listening tool will also allow you to find influencers. Apart from giving you an idea of your audience and their feedback, social listening platforms can show you if any of the potential influencers are already talking about your brand online. And don't forget to take a look at what your competitors are doing.

Here you can see if any of the people who are talking about the brand have a big following on Instagram. Most of the platforms offer a function for filtering influencers by engagement and the number of followers.
example of one of the social listening tools to find influencers
Influencer platforms
You might need those if you need to find a lot of influencers but still don't want to outsource it to the agency. Influencer MarketingHub reviews all leading influencer marketing platforms and provides a comprehensive list of solutions to find good influencers, as well as managing and analyzing your campaigns. It is quite easy to wind up drowning in a sea of choice there, so here are the main types of the platforms that help to identify Instagram influencers and a couple of the most popular examples.
A big chunk of offers on this market are aimed at discovering influencers. One popular content marketing platform – Buzzsumo.com – has a wide set of tools that include a solution for finding Instagram influencers. It lets you see their account metrics and contact details.
Some platforms like Influencer.co operate as a marketplace, where you can post your product as an advertiser and wait for the offers from Influencers who are interested in promoting it.
If you want to have more control over the search parameters (for example, find influencers locally) you can use services like https://www.aspireiq.com or https://upfluence.com/. They work as a self-service influencer discovery tools that allow you to select keywords, community sizes, engagement rates, languages, precise geolocations and audience demographics. A lot of them have AI-powered recommendation engines to help you find similar influencers in your industry.
Metrics to look for in an influencer's profile
Once you've established that you like the way an influencer's feed looks and that they are the kind of person that will be a good fit for your brand, it's time to check out their accounts.
The booming popularity of influencer marketing has led to a lot of people trying to grow their following at all costs. There are people who are posting fake sponsored content in an attempt to advance their influencer career or simply buying followers, likes and comments.
It is quite easy to spot a fake influencer, though. One of the most telling indicators is the engagement to follower ratio. Engagement is measured in likes and comments. An engagement rate of 1.5-3% is considered normal (i.e an influencer with 10 000 followers getting around 150-300 likes and comments for each post). Everything that falls below 1% or goes over 10% might be considered suspicious.

Likes are very easily bought and might disappear from Instagram altogether. Comments can tell you a lot more about an influencer's follower base. Of course, it is possible to buy comments as well but they never look authentic. They would typically consist of one word or emoji. Sometimes the comments can be completely unrelated to the topic (the so-called spam). You can even check some suspicious comments to see if the accounts they were posted from belong to real people or bots.

Platforms like InfluencerDB or free tools like IG Audit tool let you analyze the quality of followers more thoroughly. With their help, you can check the percentage of real followers and identify suspicious spikes in follower growth over time.
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