Instagram influencers: the myths, the reality and the benefits

category: guide|author: Ilona Iftode|updated: 28-08-18

Instagram influencers are to social media marketing what movie stars were back in the TV glam days to advertising. Today, TV has lost its mass appeal and, as we all know because we practically live there now, the Internet is the new king of entertainment (and marketing). And, in the online world, we’re all enjoying our “15 minutes of fame”. We can even talk about a surge of micro-stars popping up all over the Internet, voicing opinions and gaining followers and momentum. They are not stars, but influencers.

There’s no doubt about the fact that Instagram influencers are all around us, with a 325% increase in Google searches in 2017. The real question though is: how are these Instagram influencers really aiding brands with their marketing efforts? We’re certain that you’ve spent quite some time pondering about how much of the Instagram influencers’ fame is well-deserved and how much is just hot air. And it’s only natural to be skeptical since we’re talking about putting a big chunk of your marketing budget on the line for Instagram influencers. But worry not! In this article, we’re going to cover the most important aspects of influencer marketing and learn exactly what’s real and what’s not, while revealing the most efficient and creative ways of mixing Instagram influencers into your Instagram strategy.

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What makes an Instagram influencer

There are many aspects that amount to the creation of an Instagram influencer. However, the two main ingredients are:

  1. a respectful base of followers
  2. awesome engagement rates

Usually, these 2 metrics are great indicators of whether or not a certain user is influencer material. Because the reality is that Instagram influencers are just normal people with passions. What sets them apart from the rest is their willingness to discuss their passions at length and invest time in sharing info with others. Once they gain credibility, followers will not only trust their words and advice, but they’ll also follow their lead.

what are the ingredients that make true Instagram influencers

And this brings us to the magic ingredient that really shapes Instagram influencers: their ability to make people act on their advice. Basically, Instagram influencers are not only “idea” shapers, but they’re also “behavior” shapers. Instagram influencers are trusted and admired, turning into role-models or aspirational characters for different user pools.

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What are the benefits of using Instagram influencers in your marketing strategy

benefits of using Instagram influencers

Before even thinking about including Instagram influencers in your marketing campaigns, you need to consider the overall benefits these can bring. Only after doing this reality check you’ll be able to assess whether or not Influencer marketing is a good idea for your marketing mix. While it’s true that Instagram influencers wouldn’t have become so big if they weren’t of real use to certain brands, that doesn’t mean they can work wonders for all businesses. In order to discern whether or not Instagram influencers are for you, here are the benefits:

1. accurate target selection (and specific niche reach)

Instagram influencers have the advantage of reaching target audiences and niches that maybe are not receptive to other types of marketing and advertising. Maybe there individuals don’t watch TV or don’t read magazines or are immune to billboards. Whatever the case, the only messages that can get to them come from Instagram influencers. If that’s true for one or more of your audiences, then Instagram influencers can become your biggest allies.

2. speak from a position of trust

Since Instagram influencers have already gained the trust of their followers, your message, coming from them, will be received with the same open mind. This way, you’ll increase your conversion/engagement chances.

3. leverage the ‘halo effect’

This benefit is similar to the “trust benefit”, except it covers a wider area; actually, leveraging the power of an influencer means benefiting from all their fame and good name to increase your chances of engaging with more followers.

4. gain free media coverage (fingers crossed)

If your campaign is creative or interesting enough, it might catch momentum with the help of your chosen Instagram influencer. Yeap, the good news is that you can expect a lot of free PR and even loads of shares that will take your message further than you initially imagined.

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What are the challenges and risks of using Instagram influencers in your marketing strategy

This is not the first time we tackle the Instagram influencers burning issue, and it’s definitely not going to be the last. And, since we always like to have a complete perspective on the subject, we also need to take a closer look at what the challenges of working with an Instagram influencer are.

challenges when working with Instagram influencers
  • find the right influencer for your brand & campaign needs
  • manage the relationship with the influencer
  • collaborate with an influencer who gets in trouble
  • make a deal with a ‘fake’ influencer who has a “paid followers” base

Good news is all these challenges can be managed if addressed from the beginning. For example, there are various tools that can help you to select the right influencer for your brand, while social media agencies can help you to manage the relationship with your selected one. Also, a good PR plan and thorough research will keep you at bay if problems arise.

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How much do Instagram influencers really cost

Most social media managers believe that Instagram influencers cost an arm and a leg. While it’s true that certain macro-influencers are quite expensive to hire for bigger campaigns, that doesn’t mean that all Instagram influencers are out of your budget league. Actually, according to each influencer and the specifics of the marketing initiative you have in mind, most costs are negotiable.

cost of Instagram influencers

Of course, there are some guidelines Instagram influencers all follow when it comes to discussing their fees and you should also be aligned with the industry. For example, the yearly average expenditure expected from marketing departments revolves around $25 000 - $50 000. Here are the factors that affect the costs of Instagram influencers:

  • popularity of the social media platform
  • number of followers
  • engagement rates
  • the industry in which you operate
  • the type of campaign you plan to implement
  • the number of intermediaries involved
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How much influence do Instagram influencers really have

The online marketing text-book preaches that Instagram influencers can directly affect the behaviors and wishes of their followers. Whether we’re talking about an aspirational relationship or one that is focused on the role-model mindset, Instagram influencers induce a sense of action among their follower base. That means that brands have a real chance to tap into an already existing customer base and make their entrance through a trusted advisor: the influencer.

do Instagram influencers have any influence?

However, not all influencers are created equally. Some have more power than others when it comes to getting their followers to act in a certain respect. Some are micro-influencers and others are macro-influencers and each of them does a particular job best. Micro-influencers might help you reach targets you wouldn’t usually be able to get to, while macro-influencers can help you gain more awareness and improve your brand image. Regardless of their scope, the question remains: Do Instagram influencers have any influence?

The answer is: “yes, they do”. But don’t expect miracles. Like always, we’re going to give you the straight facts. Truth is, at the present moment, there are no quantitative research results to attest or measure the effectiveness of Instagram influencers. Sure, most companies measure the success of the campaigns that leverage Instagram influencers, but these are affected by so many variables that it’s hard to extract specific numbers. That means that if you expect to grow your sales with a very specific percentage, no Instagram influencer can guarantee you the results (and don’t believe the ones that do). However, no one can deny the appeal of Instagram influencers and the fact that they can help a brand reach a broader audience, increase awareness and generate messages from a vantage position. Thus, we suggest you use Instagram influencers in the smartest way possible and make use of their power of bringing together communities. If you develop genuine value and send that message across influencers, you will see real results.