October 23, 2020

How to Work with Digital Influencers to Increase Your Instagram Followers

If you’ve been wondering how some newly launched brands go from 0 to 100,000 new followers on Instagram in the blink of an eye, we’re here to shed some light on the situation: They work with digital influencers.

Digital influencers are online content creators who have a digital following (such as social media followers, YouTube subscribers, blog readers, etc.). The people who follow influencers care about their opinions so when an influencer recommends trying a product or following a brand account, a good number of their followers are likely to take that recommendation on board.

If you want to grow your Instagram following and sales you’ll want to establish relationships with the digital influencers in your niche.

Use this post as a guide to help you get started!

Working with Digital Influencers Directly

Where to Find Digital Influencers

One of the fastest ways to get started with influencer marketing is by reaching out to digital influencers directly. You can do this by searching for bloggers or YouTubers or social media users who have curated a following around a specific industry (like beauty, fitness, tech, etc.).

There are software tools available that will help you identify a list of influencers in your space like Famebit and Grapevine, however, a simple Google search can work, too.

For example, if you want to reach runners, just Google “running blogs” and you’ll receive a bunch of results.

Once you get onto a specific blog you’ll know that the person who writes it is an influencer if:

  • They have a lot of likes, comments, or views on each post
  • You click through their social media links and find a lot of followers
  • They update their blog or YouTube channel frequently

Similarly, you can search for a specific hashtag on Instagram or Twitter such as #running and look for posts that have a lot of likes, views, and comments. You can also look for users with a lot of followers.

Once you identify a list of digital influencers in your niche, it’s time to apply some filters. As you will see, there are many influencers in most domains, but you’ll only be working with a couple of them. Here are some things to consider when looking for the right collaborators:

  • Type of Audience: You should observe the type of people who follow the blogger and their accounts to make sure they fit your customer profile. After all, you don’t want to address people who don’t need your product or service!
  • Topics & Tone of Voice: The influencer should be a good fit for your brand and mission, so first make sure they support similar ideas. For instance, as a sports footwear company, you may not want to be represented by a runner who encourages barefoot running.
  • Size of Following: This feature is directly proportional to your budget. An influencer with a huge following will ask for more money to present your product, however, this doesn’t mean that small companies don’t have access to this type of promotion. You just need to find the right influencer for you. Look for bloggers with smaller followings and you have a bigger chance of being heard by more people.
  • Other Collaborations: Before jumping in bed with an influencer, it’s best to see who they’ve worked with before or what other current collaborations are in place. While most influencers won’t represent two competitive brands at once, you may not be happy with some of the other brands on their list.

When you have a list of relevant influencers to work with, you’ll want to contact them either via email or a Direct Message (DM) to start a conversation.

In your initial message you’ll want to:

  • Introduce yourself
  • Tell the influencer about your product and why you think they/their audience would be interested
  • Inquire about their current rates or tell them what your budget is

Yes, you will need a budget for working with digital influencers. Back in 2009/2010, it was common for influencers to work with brands in exchange for free products but today the largest digital influencers post to social media, blogs, and YouTube for a living. That means they will require payment for their services.

The rate you’ll pay will vary based on the number of followers an influencer has, the engagement they receive from their followers, and the industry they work in. If you’re not sure what the going rates are for your industry it’s best to reach out to a handful of influencers. That way, you’ll see what all of their rates are and will get a feel for what is normal.

Working with Digital Influencers Through an Agency

Many of the largest digital influencers today work with an agency partner that negotiates their brand deals.

As payment, the agency will generally take 10-30% of the influencer’s fee. Included in this fee would be finding and negotiating brand deals, helping an influencer find a photographer to work with, and hooking an influencer up with stores where they can borrow products for their work.

If you want to work with an influencer who has an agency, your first point of contact will likely be the influencer’s manager who will vet whether you’re the kind of company that meshes well with the influencer. For example, an influencer in the beauty space would be unlikely to work with a tire manufacturer. Even though she may need tires for her car, promoting tires wouldn’t fit in with her brand.

The beauty of working with an agency manager is that they treat the transaction in a very business-like manner. While some new digital influencers may not know what stats like Average Click-Through Rate and Average Conversion Rate are, it’s part of the job of the agency manager to monitor these stats and have them ready.

This will help you greatly when choosing which influencer to work with. While the cost of working with an influencer is marked up, you can feel much more comfortable knowing what to expect for your investment.

Prices for working with digital influencers through an agency will vary greatly depending on each individual influencer’s target audience and how many followers they have. Generally, a digital influencer who has about 100,000 social media followers on platforms such as Instagram can charge anywhere from $1000+ per sponsored social media post and it scales up pretty evenly from there.

Blog posts and YouTube videos will generally cost more as they require the influencer to create more content than a single picture for social media. A blog post may cost $5,000+ and a YouTube video may cost $15,000+ or more if the influencer has a decently-sized audience (100,000 – 500,000 followers). Some influencers with 10 million+ followers may charge upwards of $25,000 per video review. Videos tend to be the most expensive type of content since they require the talent to record, edit, color correct, and then promote the content.

Note: Every digital influencer establishes their own rates, so the fees mentioned here are only given as an example to offer a ballpark figure. The rates could be much lower or higher depending on each digital influencer’s discretion, so if you’re interested in working with an influencer contact them or their managing agency directly to get details on their rates.

Working with Micro-Influencers

If your budget isn’t quite big enough to work with big digital influencers, you can always reach out to micro-influencers.

Micro-influencers are those who have a small following; usually around 1,000 – 10,000 followers. This likely consists of friends, family, and a small audience of other followers they have collected along the way by posting interesting content to social media sites regularly.

In many cases, partnering with a micro-influencer is much more accessible than larger digital influencers because their audience is smaller. While their reach is significantly reduced compared to a bigger influencer with a larger following, the cost can be more affordable for small or bootstrapped companies. Some micro-influencers may be happy with just receiving free products as compensation for their work while others will have set fees and rates they operate by. Again, it’s up to you to contact the micro-influencer to determine what kind of compensation they require for their work.

If your company can’t afford to work with a big influencer this is a good way to dip your toes into influencer marketing and you can always move on to bigger influencers as your company grows.

Although micro-influencers have a smaller number of followers, it doesn’t mean their followers are less receptive to the content they post. You can usually expect a decent engagement rate from their posts since the majority of followers will either be personal contacts of the micro-influencer or highly interested in the niche they post about. Recent studies have shown upwards of an 8% like rate from micro-influencers vs. a 4% like rate from larger influencers.

According to DigiDay, “As a following base continues to increase, like rate keeps decreasing. Instagram influencers with 10,000 to 100,000 followers see a 2.4% like rate, compared to 1.7% for those with 1 million to 10 million followers and more. Comment rate follows a similar pattern.”

Of course, 1.7% of 10 million is still a lot more people than 8% of 1,000 followers.


Now that you have a better idea of what to expect when it comes to reaching out to launch your first influencer campaign it’s time to get started.

Whether you have $100,000 or $1 to spend on digital influencers, the first step is reaching out. Remember it’s not all just about how to get Instagram followers, it’s also about establishing a relationship with someone who can help you grow your sales.

Your goal should be to develop a friendly, long-term relationship with the influencers you work with. After all, if they really like you and your brand they may give you free promotion from time to time. So be nice, be transparent, and be ready to see your sales grow!

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