Let’s talk: Instagram influencers


social media brand marketing Instagram influencer for small business

Featured | Let's Talk

By Loren Webb

There is no doubt that social media can be a highly effective marketing tool for small businesses in order to build brand awareness and generate leads.

Within social media marketing, we have Instagram influencing; essentially paying people with a high amount of influence on the platform to endorse your product or service.

It is becoming a more and more popular option for marketers, with some interesting results in terms of Return on Investment. However, does growing popularity really mean that it’s essential and effective for every business?

Like any good choice in business, there needs to be a clear reason for that choice and a wider strategy behind it. So today we’d like to break down the if’s, why’s and how’s of venturing into the world of Instagram influencers so you can be confident with your choice to include (or not include) this in your marketing plan.

We asked CEOs, founders and experts “How do you know if Instagram influencing is a viable marketing option for your business?” and these are their responses.


Kristy Chong, CEO and Founder, Modibodi

The Modibodi ethos is about authenticity and positivity amongst people of all walks of life. Our mission is to challenge societal taboos, which sometimes means mainstream media doesn’t want to work with us, and we have even been censored in the past. However, with the onset of social media and influencers, we have seen a huge increase in people who are happy to discuss these taboo issues that affect all of us in a public forum, which prompted us to begin influencer marketing.

When we work with key opinion leaders and influencers, we always ensure that the people who represent our brand truly understand our product and genuinely believe in the positive impact we are trying to make as a brand and a business. When we work with influencers who align with our brand and our values, we can usually see a direct correlation in sales spikes as a result of the collaboration. We are now in a fortunate position that we are approached more than we are actively approaching people to represent our brands and share their stories, and we have developed a framework we follow when selecting influencers to work with globally. 

Michelle Meredith, Social Media Marketing Executive, Red Paddle Co 

In 2020 social media marketing remains one of the best tools available to businesses in communicating effectively with customers and building brand awareness.

The skill of a good influencer is in removing the sales element from the selling. Consumers no longer want to be actively sold to, rather they need to see how a product can enrich their lives in a more subtle and organic way. If your product is highly aesthetic, a good influencer can create beautiful, persuasive content that will speak directly to their audiences – provided you have carefully chosen the most appropriate influencers for your market/industry their followers should be precisely the ones you need to hear this messaging.

When it comes to assessing viability and choosing the right influencer, size isn’t always everything. It can be more beneficial to choose a micro-influencer with very high engagement over an huge influencer who struggles to get likes, comments and shares. Micro-influencers often have incredibly high trust levels and a smaller, more primed audience nurtured over time is far better for your brand.

Justin Babet, Co-Founder, Chief Nutrition 

People of influence are ALWAYS a good marketing option for any business. Using influencers isn’t new, it’s a strategy that’s been around for a lot longer than social media, it just used to be called celebrity endorsement. Now, there’s a whole lot more people with influence thanks to social media. This makes it harder to find the right people to represent your brand. How many followers someone has is a terrible metric to rely on because people can and do buy followers, or they don’t have true influence over their audience. For example, a bikini model followed by lots of guys probably won’t help you sell more bikinis. On the flip side, people with a low number of followers can have a lot of influence and have a decent impact on your business. Use tools like q-83.com to get a better understanding about potential influencers, particularly ‘engagement’ which is a reasonable proxy for influence.

Adala Bolto, Founder, Zadi Training 

I believe there are many benefits in collaborating with Instagram Influencers to market any business, so it’s not a question of ‘is it a viable option?’ it’s a question of ‘how can I make it viable?’

Working with Instagram influencers provides businesses and brands with a very strong return on their investment making it a very viable marketing tool.

However like any marketing activity, the success will come down to a well-planned strategy, consistency in the messaging, brand alignment between both parties and clever execution of each campaign.

Collaborations with Instagram influencers offers businesses more opportunity and diversity in who they can reach out to and work with both geographically and demographically which in marketing is traditionally very difficult and expensive to achieve. It gives businesses flexibility to customise the way they choose to work with each influencer. For example, contra offers can be utilised if both parties are aligned on the mutual benefits. In most cases there is little or no red tape compared to going through marketing and talent agencies.

Ultimately, working with social media influencers now offers business a very effective way to drive their message to a targeted audience with maximised reach, engagement and strong brand positioning.

Christina Garcia, Head of Integrated Marketing and Partnerships, Redbubble

As a creative digital platform that invests in social media strategy, influencer engagement has grown to represent a sizable portion of our marketing portfolio. Our partnerships with them unlock opportunities at all parts of the funnel from awareness to conversion.

The future of Instagram and other social media platforms is ripe with opportunities, especially with our main audience of Gen Z and Millennials who are constantly looking for ways to express themselves creatively.

We go through a rigorous selection process to engage partners that are the right fit for our brand, and able to effectively narrate the Redbubble story. Engagement and authenticity are very important to us.

Instagram is a cornerstone channel for most of our influencer partners who produce IG-first content despite having presences on other channels such as Snapchat, Tik Tok, Facebook and more.

Though we’ve seen most success top-of-funnel with IG partnerships, the platform continues to expand its full-funnel potential with the incorporation of features like stories, click-to-buy and collabs manager.

Mikaela Crimmins, Planning Director, Orchard

 While there is certainly room for improvement in terms of demonstrating genuine and meaningful ROI, Instagram influencers can provide immense value to a brand. The onus lies on brands, however, to clearly articulate the problem they are trying to solve by partnering with an influencer. Below are some of the brand problems Insta-famous identities can help to address:

  • Craft brand appeal: If you’re trying to reposition your brand in the mind of your customers, sometimes the best shortcut is to see your brand on the feet or in the hands of the type of person you hope to appeal to
  • Unlock access to their audience: This is particularly valuable if you’re a niche brand, and is a great way to reach new and previously ‘untapped’ customers
  • (Relatively) low-cost content creators: If you’re a hummus brand and want to showcase 101 ways to entertain with the delicious chickpea spread for example, influencers are often the most efficient way to generate low-cost, quality content

Yes, brands must scrutinise the impact of influencer marketing on their brand metrics, but it would be foolhardy to discount it entirely from marketing plans. Influencers can solve some of your most gnarly brand problems ― you just have to find the right ones.

Omar Sabré, Co-Founder and Creative Director, MAISON de SABRÉ

Instagram influencer networks are wide reaching and ever-expanding, however influence doesn’t always follow the same trajectory. While a social strategy helps many brands, a key factor for success is determining whether the audience you’re tapping into is actually relevant to your business, interested in your product or even shares the same values. As Instagram fills with sponsored posts and #ad content, it becomes even more important to strategically engage with an influencer that is a natural fit and clearly has mutually aligned interests that their audience will be receptive to.

With MAISON de SABRÉ, we used a varied network of influencers from around the world to introduce our brand ethos and values to their audiences – seeing it as a brand awareness strategy as opposed to a revenue driving campaign. This soft touch approach makes it easier for audiences to discover a new brand and interact with them on a more personal level.

Read more: How brands can better and effectively use influencers

Mark Renshaw, Chief Marketing Officer, SiteMinder

For a B2B business looking to instil brand confidence and engage new audiences in a niche space, influencer marketing can be a powerful way to cut through the sea of content online and help potential customers shortcut a lengthy purchase process.

When deciding your approach, it’s important to first consider your buyer personas and shape your decisions accordingly. Are they active on the platform you’re looking at? From there, take the time to deeply understand the landscape, using the right software to help you navigate this process and find the source of truth.

Engaging influencers who are authentic, highly knowledgeable and trusted as a peer is critical. Consumers of tech want to hear from other customers, and purchasing decisions are increasingly determined by reviews and verified recommendations.

In this light, your current customers are often your best advocates. By effectively connecting with them, a business extends their marketing team, not only putting their products in front of new audiences, but doing so with an element of social proof attached. An influencer program can be a direct route to fresh conversations, and within a niche sector, your best spokespeople are often close to home.

Emma Lo Russo, CEO, Digivizer

When Instagram announced that it was removing Likes from posts (last July) reactions were mixed: would this mark the end of influence on Instagram? How would influencers measure the performance of content? How would individuals balance privacy and insights?

As we said at the time, most people choose to follow accounts they know or who inspire them around their passion points, and they can use hashtags and who they follow to discover those that may be of interest. Influencers and creators can choose either to have a Creators Account or a Business Account that provides metrics to enable them to see how their content is performing, and the demographics and insights that help determine which activities work for them.Instagram is only one account they may be active on, however.  And the opportunity is for brands to also understand (with permission) influencers’ performance in relation to impressions, engagements, click -throughs and conversions that they are delivering.  That is where Digivizer has focused our platform solution. We provide influencers, creators and brands with the opportunity to see best performing content across all major platforms, across all important metrics and the ability to compare across owned, earned and paid.

So the removal of Likes does very little to change the value in what Instagram allows individuals and businesses to measure.

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