How to Find the Right Influencer on Instagram

By Monday, January 14, 2019

Finding influencers on Instagram isn’t hard. In fact, you can throw a double tap at almost any image on a commercial account, and there’s a good chance you’ll hit an influencer. However, how do you find the right influencer for your brand? More specifically, how do you find the right influencer in the pet or veterinary space?

It’s no secret that pets have the ability to drive sales. This is even true for off-brand industries like flooring companies, home decor brands, car manufacturers, and others. But how do you find that perfect influencer-brand relationship?

Challenges and Solutions to Finding (and Leveraging) Instagram Influencers in the Pet Space

Challenge #1: The ‘Gram is flooded with pet influencer accounts. 

From Doug the Pug with 3m+ followers to your kid’s new puppy, more and more pets are popping up with their own Instagram accounts than ever before. However, that doesn’t mean that those accounts are positioned correctly to publish your brand’s campaign and achieve your goals.

Solution: Start narrowing down the field of decision to those accounts that you follow or that are following you. From there, weed out the ones whose messaging or following isn’t aligned with that of your brand’s.

For instance, does your company culture encourage mixed-breed adoption? Then an AKC or dog show influencer account is not a good match for you. Or, are you trying to reach adventure seekers? Then indoor cat influencer accounts are clearly not a good fit.

Now that you have a smaller list from which to choose, we’re going to expand it again, but a bit more thoughtfully.

Take a look at the influencers that you’re following and those that are following you that you want to work with. You’ll see Instagram’s suggestions for other accounts to follow, based on that account’s following and on your own following.  You can accomplish something similar by going to the “Discover People” feature on the app.

Start whittling down your options using these steps and then you’ll have a great starting point for finding the right influencer.

Challenge #2: The cost.

Sometimes it’s not so much the price tag itself, but it’s the lack of one that poses a challenge. Influencers aren’t going to post rates on their Instagram account. Often, the only way to know how much a placement will cost is to direct message the influencer. They may also have a website, but it’s unlikely they’ll have their prices posted there either.

Typically, the fee depends on the client and the product.

Solution: Going into price negotiations means that you need to understand the value of a placement to your brand. Are you looking to gain new leads/followers? What is your target acquisition cost for each follower? If you’re trying to secure the maximum number of impressions, what does that number look like to you? Knowing these facts and figures can help both you and the influencer to agree on a fee that’s fair.

Challenge #3: Measuring success. 

Measuring success with an instagram campaign doesn’t need to be complicated. If you’re promoting a new product, you may ask the influencer to link to it with an influencer URL specific to him or her. You can then measure sales from that page.

Measuring impressions, follows, likes, and comments are not terribly difficult. The most challenging part of this process may simply be following up with the influencers to get metrics. And, yes, that can be challenging!

Solution: Agree ahead of time on which metrics shall be reported. Any influencer worth their salt should have no problem delivering a report to you at the end of the campaign.

Challenge #5: Finding an Influencer who is using other platforms in tandem with Instagram. 

Using an omni-channel approach is #6 of Neil Patel’s 34 marketing principles to live by. Is Instagram going anywhere? Likely not very soon. But will it become oversaturated as other marketing channels have? Yes. In fact, it’s reaching that point now.

So if an influencer gains your brand 800 followers, how will you reach this audience apart from Instagram? Hopefully, your outstanding digital marketing team will have a plan in place. Instead, though, I have a better solution for you.

Solution: What if an influencer could create a blog post centered on your product, which worked in tandem with Instagram posts and Facebook posts, an email campaign to the influencer’s subscriber list, as well as a giveaway that generated email leads?

Certainly this omni-channel approach is going to yield longer-lasting results and have a higher reach than one photo, or even a series of photos.

P.S. This pain point is what led me to develop my Pick of the Litter Program, an influencer program that uses the exact omni-channel approach I’ve just described.

Challenge #6: Capturing the moment with your product.

There are some amazing examples of pet influencers capturing beautiful images of product and pet together in natural harmony. Loki the Wolf Dog looks perfectly natural next to this Toyota 4 Runner. If your product requires a bit more interaction, though, you may discover some challenges.

For instance, my dog, Chilly, is clever, but not so much that he could use BISSELL’s BARKBATH without assistance. So if the pet influencer in question has a camera-shy parent, they may not be a good fit.

Solution: Seek out influencers whose pet parents are not only “OK” on camera, but really comfortable on camera. If you have to twist their arm for a product demo, it’s not a good fit.

Challenge #7: The reach is too broad. 

According to Later, Instagram nano-influencers are on the rise. That means that brands are increasingly searching out influencers with followings well under 100k, and sometimes even below 1k.

Why is this? Partly because, as the Later post brought to light, authenticity is trendy. People don’t want to see an account with thousands of followers who may actually be bots. They want niche, exclusive, and real. And, let’s face it, “real” is hard to do well when a team (some members being automated) is orchestrating the account.

Solution: Rather than look for influencers with a huge following, look for influencers with a lot of engagement. If the follower numbers are solid as well, that’s even better. But, engagement (likes, comments, and tagging friends) is where the efficacy lies.

Step-by-Step: How to Find the Right Influencer on Instagram

Taking all of the suggestions into consideration, here’s a step-by-step guide to finding your perfect influencer on Instagram:

  1. Make a list based on the influencers you follow and that are following you. Criteria includes positioning and messaging that aligns with your brand.
  2. Decide how you will measure success. Is it follower increase? Sales? Engagement?
  3. Start contacting your list of influencers. Here are some questions you’ll need to ask:
    1. What does a successful campaign look like to you?
    2. Are you familiar with the FTC guidelines for sponsored posts? Make sure they can iterate them back to you.
    3. Are you (the human) able to accompany your pet in the image or video if necessary?
    4. How do you handle reporting?
    5. What other platforms are you using and can we leverage them in tandem with our Instagram campaign?
    6. What are your fees?
  4. Remember that a good influencer doesn’t need babysitting! You should be able to pass off key messaging points and product delivery, and the rest should be in the capable hands of the influencer.

Instagram influencer campaigns, when carefully crafted, are a fantastic way to increase your brand’s reach, authenticity, and credibility.