Savvy marketers know that personal recommendations from satisfied customers, also known as word of mouth advertising, is the most powerful tool in their arsenal.  It is also the least expensive and simplest way to market–just do a good job, and customers will tell their friends.  No other marketing can beat it.

Social media has added a whole new layer to word of mouth marketing, because people are now recording and posting everyday activities.  The drive to work, preparing dinner, or going out with friends all get plastered across social media, and this has generated a number of Internet celebrities.  Many of these online celebrities use Instagram, posting pictures upon which their fans and followers comment.  Some of these pictures can generate thousands of hits a day.

Now, imagine the poster is using your product.

1Thousands of people seeing your product being used by someone they admire–this is a marketing dream.  It’s a word of mouth endorsement from someone users interact with by following, liking, and commenting on their posts.  It has almost as much integrity as if a family member or close friend had done the advertising.  They are called Instagram influencers, and hiring them to market is the hottest new trend in marketing.  Some of them are celebrities from offline – actors, models, or sports figures – but many are everyday people.

How can a marketer use Instagram influencers to promote their business?  Here are the best ways to find Instagram influencers.

Know Your Niche

The thing that makes Instagram influencer marketing so powerful is that there is a niche for almost everything.  It’s just a matter of finding yours, and finding influencers who are a part of that niche.  Who is your target audience?  Who do you want to reach out to?  Who is most likely to buy your product?  Figure that out, and then look around to find out who they are following.

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It’s All About Engagement

Once you’ve identified your niche, the next step is to find influencers.  Look around Instagram, and see who your potential customers are liking and following.  Look for people who have more than 100,000 followers, but also look at their posts.  Post engagement is when many followers are liking or commenting on a user’s posts.  Posters with high engagement are the ones who will showcase your product the best, because more people are paying attention to their posts.

Make a Pitch

The next step is the approach.  Narrow down your selection to about a dozen potential influencers and start following them.  Make sure you engage with them, and build a relationship.  From there, it’s time to make contact with a short note, explaining that you’re a fan of their posts and expressing interest in having them model your brand.  Explain to them what you want and how their posts emulate these values, and see if they are willing to work out a deal.  Be ready to pay them a fee or with free samples of your product or service, and keep in mind that they have creative control over their account.  Think of this as a collaboration with an artist.

Share Everywhere

Once you have a good collaboration going with an influencer, share it on your own social media, as well as on your product page.  Provide links in your content, or have a form that requires customers’ email addresses.  Advertise with it on Facebook and Twitter.  Create a hashtag, and follow it.  All of this is to monitor how effective the Instagram campaign is, and help you calculate if your marketing is providing a return.

Working with an Instagram influencer can be profitable for both you and the influencer, and many influencers are more than willing to use their Instagram to help you promote your product.  The main benefit is because of the niched nature of Instagram, it is easy to find influencers who will be passionate about your product or service, because they share the same interests and passions that you do!

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