, Influencer Marketing

Grow Your Instagram With Influencer Marketing In 2021


Everyone has heard of Influencer Marketing. But what is it, exactly?

In this guide, we break down everything you need to know about using Instagram influencers to grow your followers in 2021 and beyond.

Beyond optimizing your profile, hashtags, and content, influencer marketing will take your Instagram growth to the next level.

In this blog post, we’ll identify how to reach your target market, the types of influencers and how to get them on board with promoting your brand.

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What Is Instagram Influencer Marketing?

If you’re familiar with digital marketing you’re probably aware that influencer marketing is a strategy that involves partnering with social media influencers to promote your brand.

The word “influencer” conjures up images of girls in bikinis on yachts, taking carefully curated pictures. But they encompass a wide variety of hobbies and messaging that can be invaluable for reaching your target audience.

Our main focus is to identify the perfect fit between influencers and your brand. Instagram has over 1 billion users (as of October 2019) and it has the highest level of engagement compared to other social platforms.

A powerful shortcut is to reach an account with tens of thousands of followers that wouldn’t otherwise see your product.

Now that you understand the power of leveraging Instagram influencers, let’s identify how to find them, how to pitch them, and how to leverage them to grow your account.

Types of Influencer Collaborations

Sponsored Paid Promotions

This is the most common type of collab between brands and influencers. The influencer simply posts content that includes your business in exchange for a fee.

Rates can vary from as little as $50 for a small influencer to tens of thousands for those with a large audience. You’ll come across these in your Instagram feed with the hashtag #sponsored to disclose that it’s an advertisement.

Sponsored posts have become quite popular with brands, as it’s a flat-rate way to reach thousands of people potentially interested in your business. Brands are willing to pay absurd sums of money, for example for a celebrity endorsement.

Affiliate Collaborations

This is a powerful and common type of influencer collaboration used by major brands. It can either be combined with a flat fee for the promotion, or strictly performance-based.

The influencer is given a unique affiliate link (ex: brand.com/influencername) where a website visitor would be assigned a unique cookie. This would attribute any sales or actions taken on the website to that specific influencer. This is known as affiliate marketing.

Many massive companies have been built on effective affiliate campaigns and programs.

Then, the influencer would be paid out a percentage of the sale. Typically this fee is anywhere from 5-15%, depending on the product and profit margins.

This is an effective way to collaborate from both sides of the transaction.

From the brand’s perspective, it’s low risk (especially if there’s no flat rate and it’s only a commission). It directly rewards the influencer for driving sales.

From the influencer’s side, if they have a large, engaged audience their earning opportunity is much higher and possibly ongoing, rather than a flat-fee arrangement.

Often, if you drive a large volume of sales you get a better percentage and a dedicated affiliate manager.

Influencers can even proactively sign up for these programs on brand websites with a simple application process. Search the site for “affiliates,” typically it’s at the bottom in the footer section.

Some examples of popular brands that leverage influencer affiliate marketing, that you’ve likely seen before on the platform are:

Free Products, Giveaways

This is a powerful way to reach influencers on a budget. Simply put, you get exposure to their audience in exchange for a free product.

This works better in some verticals than others. Typically, it’s only effective with smaller influencers.

Instagram accounts with large audiences recognize that there’s a concrete value to their posts, and charge accordingly.

If you’re trying to keep marketing costs low and trying to leverage Instagram influencers, this can be an effective way to do it. Make sure your product, service or brand is a good fit and you think they would genuinely enjoy it.

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How To Find Instagram Influencers

It’s important to find influencers that align with your brand. If you’re a fitness brand, you would want an influencer that posts gym, nutrition and fitness content. They would have followers that are interested in fitness, so they may be interested in your supplement eCommerce business.

Beyond finding Instagram influencers directly on the platform, there’s a number of other ways to assist in your search.

Types of Influencer Collaborations

Google Search

This involves searching on Google for contact info and keeping the information on a spreadsheet. Your spreadsheet should include relevant columns such as name, niche or industry, total followers, engagement rate, contact info, and additional info (budget and type of promotion they prefer).

With your spreadsheet ready, head over to Google and start searching with industry-related keywords. If you’re targeting potential influencers in the beauty niche, instead of searching for “top Instagram influencers” search for “top Instagram beauty influencers”.

Searching for something generic like that won’t be very helpful unless you’re a large brand with a big budget. Oftentimes you’ll only find massive influencers. Not very relevant to finding a targeted niche to align with your brand.

The more specific, the better. You’re more likely to reach an audience that resonates with your brand, product or service. Meaning they’ll take the action you want–whether it’s followers, reach or sales. It’s probably best to pursue other avenues to find the perfect influencer for your campaign.


Instagram Hashtag Search

When searching on Instagram use hashtags related to your brand. If you’re in the beauty niche search for #beauty. Look for an influencer post then click on it to find other hashtags related to beauty. Instagram also suggests related hashtags.

You can also follow hashtags related to your industry. Doing this will help you to keep tabs on who is using the hashtags and the kind of posts you should use.

Think outside of the box and try to niche down to more specific hashtags. “Beauty,” for example, is a very large topic that may include influencers that wouldn’t be effective for your influencer campaign. Check out the top posts to find accounts with high levels of followers and engagement.


Influencer Marketing

Another way of finding influencers using Instagram is by searching for previous sponsored posts using #ad and #sponsored. Look for new posts using these hashtags and look at the engagement on the posts. This way you can tell if an influencer is going to be a good fit for your brand.

You can also visually identify from their content feed if they’ve done previous sponsorships, as they’ll have posted content of them using or promoting the product.

Types of Influencer Collaborations

Third-Party Instagram Influencer Platforms

Marketing tools offer real-time information on influencers. Think of them as influencer platforms, where they connect brands and influencers.

Depending on your budget you can use a free one or go for a paid tool. Here are some of the marketing tools you can use:

  • AspireIQ – this tool has hundreds of thousands of influencers and they offer three levels of pricing.
  • HYPR – this is for larger businesses and has over 10 million influencers.
  • Influence.co – free to use and you can filter based on follower count and location.
  • Scrunch – offers free and paid plans and it is ideal for small businesses.
  • Takumi – charges per service, not monthly, and they vet influencers first before accepting them.

Social Media Databases

Databases are tools that will scrape sites for you. This means you will get publicly available data without manually searching. With this method, you will spend more time vetting the influencers to find a good fit.

Some of the popular databases include Social Blade and Inpowered.

With Social Blade you can view stats such as follower counts, engagement rate, follower growth for free.

How To Vet Instagram Influencers

Before selecting an influencer to work with you need to vet them, but you might not know how to do it.

Here are some actionable steps to help with the vetting process to find the right influencers:

Types of Influencer Collaborations

Check Their Followers

When looking at the followers don’t limit yourself to the follower count only. Follower count might mislead you because some of the accounts use bots to grow their followers. Often times they will also purchase fake followers to trick brands into sponsorship deals.

You can use a tool like HypeAuditor to see how many fake followers an Instagram account has.

Engagement rates on posted content are a sure way of knowing whether you should work with an influencer or not.

If you’re looking at an influencer with say 100,000 followers and you see less than 500 likes and a few comments, that’s a red flag. The engagement rate is key to having a successful campaign.

Although you should check the engagement rate on posts, keep in mind that the rates vary depending on the niche, and some of their content will have more engagement than others.

Also, check the demographics of the followers. Do the followers fit your target audience? Check likes and comments on posts to see the kind of people interacting with their posts.

Check Their Posts

When looking at influencers’ posts you should first consider how frequently they are posting content. You would want to consider someone who is posting frequently. This means even when they are not promoting anything they are still posting.

Check the type of content they are posting. Is the influencer creating content that will align with your brand? For example, If you’re in the beauty industry, a person posting travel articles isn’t a good fit. Also check on the language used, if it doesn’t fit your brand don’t work with the influencer.

Also, check the quality of the posts. Are they posting photos that tell a story? Are the captions full of grammatical and spelling errors? If you see anything amiss on the posts avoid them because they will most likely repeat the same mistakes when you work with them.

Check Previous Instagram Influencer Collaborations

Before you hire an Instagram influencer research on previous collaborations they had with other brands. This will help you get a clear picture of their work ethic. You will also see how their followers engage with sponsored posts.

You should also check if the influencer has worked with your competitor. If they did, check how long ago they did and ask if they had an agreement with your competitor. If the agreement has a non-compete policy then you shouldn’t work with them.


Instagram Influencer Trial Posts

A trial post will most likely be granted by micro-influencers, not macro-influencers. This is a test and if it is positive you will know that the influencer is the right fit for you. If you don’t get the expected results during the test, keep searching.

If you’re in a product or service business sometimes smaller influencers (1,000-5,000 followers) may do a promotional post in exchange for a free product.

While these influencers have a smaller audience, don’t discount them. A small, dedicated audience that engages in your niche can be invaluable. If you leverage a dozen micro-influencers you can reach a lot of engaged people on Instagram.


How To Contact Instagram Influencers

You now have your list of potential influencers and you want to contact them. How do you do that? By simply emailing them or direct messaging them on Instagram.



This is the best approach if you can get the email. To get the email check the bio. Here is an example of a profile with an email.  Often serious influencers have a dedicated email for business inquiries.

If you do not see an email but there is a link to a website click the link to visit the website. On the website, you might find a contact form or an email that you can use.

When sending an email make sure you’re clear on what you need. Make it short and simple, don’t send an email with all the info about your company. No one wants to read long emails. Tell them who you are and why you want to work with them.

At the end of your email make sure you add a call to action. This will enable the influencer to know what to do to reach you if he/she wants to collaborate with you.

If stuck on what to say, here’s an example template. Here’s where learning about sales and cold emailing would come in handy, which is another topic entirely.


Hi (first name),

My name (your name) is from (your company). I follow your Instagram page and I love your posts.

I’m reaching out to see if you can collaborate with us. This is our page (link), have a look and see if we’d be a good fit.

If interested you can reach us via (Skype, email)

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Talk soon,

(Your name)


This template is short and straight to the point. The influencer will know you, your company, how you got their email, and what you want from them. Try to offer value upfront.


Direct Messages (DMs) To Influencers

Direct messages are another way of connecting with people who have not listed their emails. Like emails, ensure your message is short and simple. When direct messaging remember this is an informal way compared to emails.

Before you send your message make sure you follow the page, like and comment on a few posts. This is a way of warming them up so that when you send your message they will have seen you.

Here is a template you can use for Instagram DMs:

Hi (name), I love your page and I’m reaching out from (your company) to see if we can collaborate. Let me know if we can work together.

This is a good template because they will know who you represent and that you need their help with social media marketing.

Always remember to send follow up messages. If they don’t respond after sending follow-ups, don’t keep searching for the right fit.


How To Use Instagram Influencers To Grow Your Followers

You’ve found the influencers you want to work with and now you want to use them to grow your followers. Let’s look at how you can do that.


Bulk Influencer Campaigns

This involves working with several influencers to promote your brand. Depending on your budget you can choose to work with either macro, micro or nano influencers in your market campaigns.

Either way, the aim here is to work with several influencers who are relevant to your brand.

This strategy is effective and has been used by companies such as Coca-cola and Sperry. Coca-cola worked with 14 influencers (6 were macro-influencers and 8 were micro-influencers) in the

#ThisOnesFor campaign. The influencers created 22 sponsored posts with @cocacolaeu tag and #ThisOnesFor hashtag.


Influencer Content

This is where you use influencers to tell your brand’s story. You can achieve this by giving an influencer free products that he/she can use to tell your story. The influencer shares a story on how to use the products plus the benefits of using the products.

Influencer Marketing

Measuring Success

As with anything, what is measured gets managed. It’s important to track your KPIs. What are you looking to achieve? Ask yourself these questions before starting your campaign to identify the key elements of success. If it’s sales, make sure to track carefully the impact of the campaign.

Often with collaboration, you’ll be able to receive stats from the influencer for your specific post, so you can measure its impact. Make sure to track, analyze and review: reach, actions taken (link clicks, traffic sources), sales, etc.

Here’s a guide on how to leverage Instagram influencers:



You just discovered how to grow your Instagram with influencer marketing. However, a word of warning – just knowing how to work with influencers isn’t going to grow your Instagram.

That’s because the key is that you need to take action on what you just learned. And that’s why you should reread this article, and then start implementing everything right away. Because the sooner you do, the sooner you’ll grow your Instagram!

If you’re looking to explode your organic Instagram growth beyond the influencer market, check out Hypeplanner. We accelerate your Instagram growth with our team of growth experts.

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