Influence marketing is powerful. Perhaps that’s why so many businesses (big and small alike) are seeking lucrative relationships with individuals and brands that hold a high status among their target market on social networking sites.

Hines Ward - Social Influencer Example

Connecting with influencers in your niche can power up your online presence and grow your business. But in order to see real results, you need to know what you’re looking for and how to create effective relationships.

What is an influencer, anyway?

The first thing people think of when they hear “influencer” is someone who has a large fan or follower base.

It’s absolutely true that social media influencers have a large (sometimes massive) audience, but there are other important traits that will make someone a powerful influencer for your business.

The first is context: does an influencer’s audience fit within the context of your target market? Does an influencer reach people who would be interested in what you offer? Someone with a million followers sharing your message won’t do you any good if none of those followers are actually interested in your offer.

The most important trait for an influencer to have is their access to people that fit your target market specifically.

Secondly, influencers need to be able to drive action. If you’ve found an influential Instagram user whose audience is in line with yours, than you probably already have this covered. But it’s important to mention anyway, because it doesn’t matter how many followers someone has if that can’t actually spark action on your behalf. True influencers have loyal audiences who trust and respect their opinion. Therein lies the power of an influencer: their ability to dive action among a large group of people.

Why leverage influencers for your business?

Building relationships with influencers gives you one extremely powerful benefit: the ability to reach a massive, relevant audience with your message in the form of an endorsement by someone respected.

Did you catch that part about an endorsement? Having someone else – especially someone who is prominent and respected – endorse your product, service, or business is incredible. What other people say about you will always carry more weight than what you say about yourself.

This is the bottom-line reason for lining up with the influencers in your industry: gaining their endorsement so you can spread your message – and your products – to their followers.

How to locate influencers on Instagram

There are several ways to track down influential Instagram users.

Using Hashtags to find Instagram influencers

The first is with the handy hashtag. Use Instagram’s search feature to type in a hashtag that is relevant to your niche or your target market. Instagram will return all the latest content with that hashtag, and you can sift through to find posts with high engagement. Those high-engagement posts will likely lead you to an Instagram user with a large, loyal following within you target market.

Alternatively, you can use your current followers to find influencers they are interacting with. To do this, navigate to the heart-shaped icon at the bottom of the Instagram app and click the “following” link at the top of the page. This will show you the activity of your current followers. Look through the list for content your followers are sharing and engaging with that is relevant to your target market, then check out the user who originally shared it.  Note users with a large number of followers, and add them to your potential Influencer list.

Once you have a handful of potential influencers, you need to do your homework. Remember, you want to connect with influencers who have a loyal following and the ability to drive action. You won’t find that on profiles that spout mostly promotions or who have no engagement (commenting, sharing, etc.) on their content. Take a look at the profiles you’ve identified and make sure their followers are interested and engaged.

How to Calculate Instagram Engagement Rate

A simple way to measure the influence a particular Instagrammer has is to calculate their engagement rate which can be done as follows:

Engagement Rate = (Number of “likes” + “comments” / Instagrammer’s number of followers) * 100 

How to build (effective) relationships with influencers

One of the easiest ways to get on an influencer’s radar (and the radar of their followers) is simply by interacting with them. Begin engaging with their content on Instagram by favoriting, sharing, and commenting on their posts. You can interact with their audience directly in the same way.

After you’ve built a foundation for the relationship by interacting with them on Instagram, you can reach out personally to an influencer via phone or email. Introduce yourself and let them know that you have something you think their audience would love. If they are interested, you can offer a free sample of your product or service for them to try, and then tell their audience about.

You can make it even simpler for influencers to spread the message about your company by providing them with ready-to-go content. Give them well-crafted photos, captions, and hashtags that they can use to talk about your stuff in order to cut down the effort they’ll need to make.

Connecting with influencers on Instagram can have a huge impact on your success. These key social players can connect you to a large and eager section of your target market, and give you endorsements that are far more valuable than any marketing you could do on your own. Remember: find influencers with relevant, engaged audiences, build an authentic relationship with them, and make their involvement with your brand as easy as possible by being helpful.

Ready to increase your influence on Instagram? Check out Soldsie Influencer which can help you amplify your influence and social sales.