Instagram influencer marketing is booming, and the financial stakes are higher than ever for brands and marketing agencies. We estimate $1bn will be spent on Instagram influencer marketing this year alone. But despite millions of dollars being poured into influencer marketing campaigns, while some were wildly successful, most flopped miserably. So how can you create a winning campaign and avoid wasting time and money on failed influencer campaigns? The answer is simple and yet also very complex: choose the right influencers.
Easy words to say, of course, but with millions of influencers to choose from, how do you possibly select the right ones? Here are 3 tips to ensure that you choose the right influencers for your campaign.
Summary: Quick Jump Menu
Let’s say you are promoting a new brand of custom made golf clubs, Which influencer would be better to partner with? Hannah Davies, a pro golfer with 24,000 followers, or Kim Kardashian with over 100 million followers?
The answer should be obvious. Per marketing dollar spent, Hannah Davies would be a much better investment. Why? Because she is likely to have a much higher concentration of golfers in her Instagram audience.
If you want to confirm this scientifically, you could download each influencer’s followers and analyse the proportion of times the word “golf” appears in their followers’ Instagram Bios; whichever influencer has the highest ratio wins. However, often human judgement is sufficient.
Relevancy is extremely important. There is no point wasting marketing dollars on pushing your sponsored post to people who will never buy your product.
An influencer with more followers, is not necessarily better. What matters is engagement. How much do an influencer’s fans care about their content? How many likes and comments do they get?
To make it easy to compare one influencer to the next I would recommend calculating a standardised metric called the engagement ratio. This is a percentage score calculated as the average number of likes per post, divided by the number of followers and multiplied by 100. A common follow up question we often receive is: ‘What is a good level of engagement?’ Is 1% engagement good? Is 4% engagement good?
To answer this question scientifically, we analysed the engagement ratio for a random sample of over 100,000 Instagram influencers drawn from the Moju database. In the chart below, the engagement ratio is shown for the bottom 10% of influencers (blue), the median influencer (orange) and the top 10% of influencers (white).
For an influencer with less than 20k followers, an engagement ratio of above 2% is good - they are in the top 50% of influencers. An engagement ratio of 7.5% is exceptional - they are in the top 10% of influencers.
I would aim for above 2% and to be wary of influencers with exceptionally high engagement because it could be a sign it has been faked. This brings me to my next tip: authenticity.
Influencers have learned that the more followers and likes they have, the more cash they can earn. Unfortunately some influencers have turned to dishonest methods to boost their numbers and an entire industry has emerged to meet this need. Instagram is swarming with tens of millions of fake bots, artificially boosting likes and followers. Every so often Instagram culls these fake bots, but after the cull the bots multiply again.
This follower looks fake.
That’s why looking at the raw data for followers and engagement can only get you so far. A qualitative examination of an influencer’s Instagram profile is crucial before you decide to work with an influencer. Key things to check are:
- Has their number of followers grown steadily over time, indicating natural growth? Or have there been big spikes, indicating they’ve bought fake followers?
- Do they have a consistent number of likes on each post, or do a few of their posts stand out as having a suspiciously high numbers of likes, indicating they have purchased fake likes to boost selective posts?
- Does the quality of their photos and content justify the high level of likes they are reportedly getting?
- Do their comments look varied and real?
- Do their followers infrequently post but follow huge numbers of accounts?
Putting the 3 Together
In conclusion, the key factor that will make or break your influencer campaign is choosing the right influencers. First this means working with influencers whose content and style is relevant to your brand, and whose followers are likely to be in your target market. Second this means working with influencers who have loyal fans and score above a 2% engagement ratio. And finally this means working with influencers who have genuine authentic audiences and aren’t faking it. If you get these three things right you are on your way to creating a successful influencer campaign.