instagram influencer marketing

What is Instagram Influencer Marketing? And How to Use it to Grow in 2021

There is a lot of buzz on social media about tips, tricks, and gimmicks for Instagram growth. It’s nice to have some tried and true methods like Instagram influencer marketing to rely on.

Advertising relies more and more on engagement and quality interactions with customers. 

With a solid Instagram influencer marketing strategy, your business or brand can tap into a highly engaged network of over one billion monthly active users. 

Not to mention that Instagram sees the most average interactions per post per 1,000 followers. 70% of which turn to Instagram for discovering new products. 

“You don’t need the most followers, you need the most engaged followers.” – Neil Patel

This article will get you started and answer all of your basic Instagram influencer marketing questions. Such as “What questions should you ask an influencer? How do you negotiate with Instagram influencers? And, How do you ask an influencer to promote your product?

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What is Instagram Influencer Marketing? And, Why Does Your Business Need It?

If you want to stand out in social media, Instagram far outperforms any other platform to reach new audiences quickly. 

If you’re curious how to leverage Instagram for business in 2021, influencer marketing is earning businesses $6.50 for every dollar spent. Beating out organic search, paid search, and email marketing. 

Over 500,000 influencers on Instagram in a variety of industries are helping to sell a variety of products and services. Instagram can be an ideal place to promote your latest products, acquire new customers, and communicate directly with your existing ones. 

In fact, 49% of customers depend on influencer recommendations. Why? 

The best Instagram influencer marketing is rooted in trust. 

Customers are introduced to your brand from a trusted source – the influencer – which makes it feel like it’s a recommendation coming from a friend. 

When millennials are the top demographic on Instagram, and only 1% of them reportedly trust advertisements, influencer marketing is a great answer. 

instagram influencer marketing

By partnering with relevant influencers with an authentic and engaging voice, your business can be featured to people already interested and aligned to your niche. 

Ready to join the 71% of businesses now using Instagram? Let’s get started with Instagram influencer marketing!

How Much Does Instagram Influencer Marketing Cost?

While it used to be that rising social stars would partner with brands in exchange for free products, prominent Instagram influencers can now cost upwards of $1,000 per 100,000 followers per single Instagram post — not including additional rates for takeovers, Instagram Stories, Reels, IGTV videos, blog posts, and more. 

instagram influencer marketing

Here’s the thing: Instagram influencer marketing is not an exact science given that no two influencers are alike. 

If you set general expectations based on follower size or per post cost, you can have a baseline from which to also negotiate, including factors such as campaign duration, engagement rate, and more.

According to Digiday, here’s an average range of best Instagram influencer marketing costs:

  • 2,000 to 10,000 Instagram followers: $75 to $250 per post
  • 10,000 to 50,000 Instagram followers: $250 to $500 per post
  • 50,000 to 100,000 Instagram followers: $500 to $1,000 per post

You can also consider nano-influencers (500 to 5,000 followers) and micro-influencers (1,000 and 10,000 followers) before reaching out to power influencers (30,000 to 500,000 followers).

Celebrities who have more than 500,000 followers charge a premium. Mega-influencers (over 5 million followers) make up less than 1% of all influencers, and if they’re on par with Kylie Jenner, you’ll be paying $1 million per post.

According to HubSpot, virtually one-third of all Instagram channels are micro-influencers. While their audiences are smaller, nano-influencers and micro-influencers do indeed have an engaged following. 

Using this approach, you may be able to reach more people through a series of posts with a nano- or micro-influencer than you could by investing in a single Instagram post with a power influencer.

Unicorn Instagram Growth Tip: Nano-influencers often have an engagement rate of 7.2% compared to the 1.1% engagement rate that accounts with over 100,000 followers have.

Because they’re more like everyday consumers, nano- and micro-influencers tend to be more relatable, which is ideal for a smaller brand aiming to establish themselves in an existing market or to reach a new audience. 

If a user regularly sees someone they follow partnering with your brand, it further helps to build the trust factor.

How Do I Create an Instagram Influencer Marketing Strategy?

The first step to creating the best Instagram influencer marketing strategy is to understand clear goals for your campaign, starting with a marketing checklist that will optimize your strategy

Your goals could be: 

  • Building brand awareness
  • Driving traffic
  • Increasing sales and lead generation
  • Growing social media followers and engagement
  • Enhancing your reputation

Psst: if you’re a small business, it can be challenging to do #allthethings, so here are 14 basic Instagram marketing tips to get started.

Once you’re clear on your goals, determine your budget. 

On average, 66% of businesses reported they pay under $250 per post, while 27% pay between $250-$1000. 

To increase your ROI, be as targeted as possible in finding the right influencer for your budget to go as far as possible. Finding the wrong influencers could become an expensive mistake. 

The next step is to form a partnership — consider a long-term collaboration, as the more an influencer’s followers see them promoting the same product over and over, the more likely they’ll both trust and purchase the product. 

It all starts with finding the right influencer and here’s how:

#1 Check Influencer Instagram Engagement & Reach
When you are researching how to use influencer marketing on Instagram, ideally, you’ll want to see a minimum engagement rate of 2-3% on an influencer’s posts. 4-6% is considered excellent; 10+% is considered “viral.”

To calculate an influencer’s engagement rate: divide the average number of likes and comments on a post by their follower count, then multiply by 100 to get a percentage.

You might see that Instagram is hiding ‘likes’ in more countries, making this engagement rate calculation harder to discern. It’s common to ask a potential influencer partner to provide a report of their metrics, such as a screenshot of their Insights tab, or use a third-party tool to analyze this data for yourself.

On Instagram, “reach” is calculated as the number of unique users who saw your content and becomes an important metric in determining an influencer’s value.

#2 Determine the Quality of Followers

Similar to market research you’d conduct to determine the ideal audience for your business or how to segment an audience, you’ll want to be sure that the Influencer you’re considering has an audience that matches your own. 

Look for the intersection where your two audiences overlap. Perhaps you share common hashtags or location tags. 

More importantly, keep an eye out to see that their audience seems to be filled with real consumers, given that many influencers can buy followers and likes to boost their appeal to businesses. 

To identify a “fake influencer,” you can look at their follower to following ratio. Influencers tend to follow 1-5% of their following. Then, check at least 10 of your influencer’s posts to verify their average engagement. Generally, you’ll want to see an engagement rate of 2-3% because this will translate into how many impressions your ad will have.

(Note, comments like “great post!” and “love this” can also be the result of inauthentic growth hacks; instead, look for real sentences and feedback specific to the content). Finally, check for the lifespan of your influencer’s account.

#3 Review an Influencer’s Content

Take a look at what content your influencer is publishing across all their channels to best understand their niche. 

Just because their content is beautiful doesn’t mean they’ll garner the kind of performance you’re looking for.

Remember, you pay influencers for them to create content, promote the content to their audience, and provide you with usage rights to the content they create. 

instagram influencer marketing

This means you can repurpose the content on your own Instagram page, blog, Facebook messenger ads, or product pages. 

From there, for brands looking for influencers, it’s time to pitch:
This is the nitty gritty “how to use influencer marketing on Instagram” steps that many of you are probably looking for: 

Step #1 – Send the influencer a brief with information about the type of content you’d like for them to post. Ideally, you’ll want the influencer to have creative freedom, but it’s helpful to give them parameters that accurately represent your brand and avoid them going rogue.

Step #2 – Be safe by ensuring that your influencers are FTC compliant. As a rule, the FTC requires influencers to disclose their followers whenever a brand relationship exists, which can include everything from paying an influencer for a campaign, gifting them free products, offering discounts, commission or perks.

It’s pretty easy to identify an FTC compliant influencer, just look for the ad disclosure on any sponsorship posts. Skim their grid for any product placements, and there should be plain language such as “ad”, “sponsored”, or “advertisement” in the caption. 

How Do I Track the Success of My Instagram Influencer Marketing Strategy?

You’ll want to create trackable links for your influencers with tools like Rebrandly (think Bitly, but with superior analytics, more tools, additional customization, and less expensive). 


You can also ask influencers to paste the link in their bio and in image/video descriptions. This way, you’ll be able to see exactly how much traffic they’re driving to your page. 

Almost 80% of businesses measure the success of their sponsored posts by how much engagement they receive. And yet as Instagram’s capacity as a sales and customer discovery channel improves, more businesses are focusing on bottom-funnel goals, like sales, traffic, and conversions.

Because you’ll be driving traffic back to your own social channels, be sure that you have some essential Instagram marketing tools. That way, you can monitor your own follower and engagement rates around the same time as your influencers’ posts. If you notice an uptick, that means your campaign is working! 🎉

You can also track these conversion rates: 

  • Email subscriptions
  • Product sales
  • Free trial sign-ups

To further optimize your analytics, create a specific landing page (whether that’s for a particular product or piece of content) that your influencer can link to. Use this for the sole purpose of tracking their campaign.

You can also offer discount codes to drive online sales. This is a great incentive for engaging influencers and their audiences to follow through by completing a purchase.

Take heart that if your tracking mechanism doesn’t work the first time around, it doesn’t mean the campaign had no effect. It simply means that you may need to get tighter processes around tracking and measuring.

Who Are Top Instagram Influencers by Industry?

Top Food & Nutrition Instagram Influencers

#1 Jamie Oliver, British celebrity chef and restaurateur, over 7.2 million followers.

#2 Ella Woodward, English food writer and entrepreneur, over 1.5 million followers.

#3 Kevin Curry, founder of FitMenCook, over 1.4 million followers.

Fashion Influencers

#1 Alexa Chung, creator of a fashion line, over 3.3 million followers.

#2 Maja Wyh, German fashionista, over 320K followers.


Parenting Influencers

#1 Ilana Wiles, author of “Remarkably Average Parenting,” over 498K followers.

#2 Kristen Bell, celebrity, over 700K followers.

#3 Louise Pentland, vlogger, best-selling author and plus-size style, over 2.5 million followers.

Can I Create an Effective Organic Instagram Strategy?

Now that you’ve learned all about how to use influencer marketing on Instagram, you will want to find ways to nurture your audience through several new types of Instagram automated messages.

Over the years, many Instagram tools with automation features have disappeared because the DM (Direct Message) inbox on Instagram is “ancient” when compared with other social channels.

#1 Instagram Comment Bot that Autoresponds and Sends DMs! 

Unlike bots that have commented on posts before with obvious lack of human personality, now features an Instagram Comment Bot. It can dramatically increase the engagement and visibility of your posts by sending a DM to people who comment.

You can even add a link to your Instagram posts after people comment. This allows you to send engaged audiences straight into your marketing funnel, automatically. 

This is wildly popular amongst influencers who don’t have time to respond to their overflowing DM inbox. Not only is it engaging and responsive but it can fit into your broad marketing funnels.

Soon, you’ll be able to respond differently to individual posts and comments that contain specific keywords or phrases!

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#2 “Instagram DM (Direct Message) is the single biggest networking or business development opportunity of this decade.” – Gary Vaynerchuk 

Now, you can send automated messages to new followers on Instagram with the Instagram DM Bot.

#3 Automatically greet and engage visitors!

Welcome all your new followers with automated welcome messages that will always launch for first-time users:

instagram infuencer marketing

#4 Auto-reply to mentions on Instagram Stories 

Instagram Stories are critical and it’s a huge help to use Instagram tools to automate everything from saying “thanks!” which adds to goodwill or to send traffic to your funnels.

The most intriguing feature of this new Instagram tool is the ability to add a link to Instagram Stories. Before now, the only way to add a link to Instagram Stories was if you were a verified user (the blue checkmark on your profile) or if you were a business profile with over 10,000 followers.

However, with’s new tools for Instagram, you can instantly add links to any Instagram Story that you or your brand are mentioned in!

Learn how to make an Instagram bot and then get started with Instagram marketing tools from, here!

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