Instagram Influencer Marketing: How To Find the Perfect Influencer for Your Brand

There are about 37 million active Instagram influencers. Having so many options makes choosing the right one overwhelming — find out how to make the right choice here!

Meaghan Federspill
min read
Instagram Influencer Marketing: How To Find the Perfect Influencer for Your Brand
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What images come to your mind when you think about influencers? Glamorous lifestyles? Private jets? Perfectly-curated Instagram feeds?Influencers come in many forms and your job as a social media manager is to make the best possible choices for your upcoming influencer marketing campaign. It’s a difficult choice, though, since it’s estimated that Instagram has 37 million active influencers!We created this article to help you narrow down your options. You’ll learn how to get the most value out of your influencer marketing dollars, and how to collaborate with influencers who will represent your brand well to your target audience.

What Is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing involves collaborating with an Instagram content creator who regularly posts content and has an active social media following. This collaboration helps promote your brand’s products or services to an audience that follows someone they know, like, and trust.The relationships that influencers have with their followers are more authentic and relatable than the relationships that Instagram users have with business profiles. In fact, 60% of marketers surveyed by MediaKix stated that influencer-generated content performs better than branded content.Traditional media ads (television, radio, billboards, etc.) will continue to be included in marketing campaigns. But it’s not surprising that marketers are increasing their influencer marketing budgets since it performs better and has an ROI of $5.20 per $1 spent. Influencer marketing is here to stay.

What Is an Influencer?

Influencers are content creators who share authentic experiences and opinions on topics that matter to them. What they share helps them build a community of like-minded people who readily engage with their content. It’s often thought that an influencer has to be someone with a large following, but that’s far from the truth — influencers don’t need a large following to have a significant impact. In fact, influencers with small followings can have a greater impact on their audiences than those with large followings.

The Four Types of Influencers: Which One Is Right for Your Business?

You need the right influencers if you want to run a successful influencer marketing campaign. Thankfully, accounts with a large number of followers and low engagement rates aren’t your only options. Whew!There are four types of influencers with follower counts ranging from 1,000 to millions. Let’s look closely at them so that you can find the influencers who will create Instagram posts that give you results.


A nano-influencer has between 1,000 and 10,000 Instagram followers. That may seem like a really low follower count and may make you question whether these Instagram influencers are worth your marketing spend. Amanda Amar, Aldo’s brand’s global director of social media and PR, said it well in an interview with Fashion United:“You have to look beyond the big glossy number at the top of [Instagram]. Working with [nano and micro influencers] is also a great way to start and test, often somebody who’s just an incredible content creator that will eventually blow up. It’s better to be with them from the get-go, [foster] that loyal relationship, and grow together.”Deja Palmer is a great example of an up-and-coming nano influencer. She posts about hair care, family, and fashion. Some of her posts have an average engagement rate of 12.6% despite only having 1,401 followers! She would be an ideal influencer for black hair product brands and family-oriented haircare businesses.

Is a Nano-Influencer Right for Your Business?

A nano-influencer is right for your business if that person:

  1. Has an engagement rate of at least 3.69%. Research conducted by Aspire reveals that nano-influencers achieve more than double the engagement rate of macro-influencers, with 3.69% being the average. You can use this figure as a benchmark for assessing potential influencers.
  2. Demonstrates authenticity. Nano-influencers have higher engagement rates because many of the people who follow them are people they already know. Any endorsement of your brand would come across as a word-of-mouth recommendation rather than a way to sell products. Their content should come across as genuine rather than salesy.

Nano-influencers can be great for your influencer marketing strategy, not only because they have higher engagement rates, but they also cost far less than other types of influencers since they have a lower follower count. There are also nano-influencers who will promote brands for free in exchange for free products. This means you can easily use several nano-influencers as part of your Instagram influencer marketing strategy — lower cost, greater ROI.All types of businesses can benefit from nano-influencers, but local businesses can often see the greatest benefits from working with these types of influencers.


A micro-influencer has between 10,000 and 100,000 Instagram followers. They have higher engagement rates than macro-influencers and mega-influencers, hovering around the same as those of a nano-influencer.Michelle Carigma is a great example of a micro-influencer. She posts about fitness, fashion, and nail designs. Engagement on her posts fluctuates between 6.7% and 9.8%, and she has collaborated with Oner Active. She also has 27,200 Instagram followers.

Is a Micro-Influencer Right for Your Business?

In an interview with Forbes, Stephanie Abrams-Cartin, co-founder and co-CEO of Social Fly, says, “Brands are realizing that they don’t have to pay influencers $10,000 to do one post. They can do a campaign with 50 micro-influencers for the same price and have enough content for their feed for the next few months, and be able to reach even more people.”Stephanie’s quote says it all: Micro-influencers can have a huge impact on your business because they cost far less than macro- and mega-influencers. Also, micro-influencers are more likely to engage directly with their followers.Nicole DiGiacobbe, a former micro-influencer (she’s now a macro-influencer) who participated in the same Forbes interview, says that she does read all her direct messages and responds to them as best as she can. She also includes a very honest review in her responses.“When I’m promoting a product, let’s say a high-chair, and someone reaches out to me and says, ‘Hey, do you really like that high-chair?’ I will give them an honest review. I’ll tell them what I like and don’t like about it. An influencer with a million followers is less likely to respond or have the time to respond.”Micro-influencers can be your brand’s secret weapon, especially if you are a new or small brand with a tight budget. There are multiple benefits of having micro-influencers as part of your digital marketing strategy, but the benefits highlighted above build a strong case for finding your ideal micro-influencers. If you’re curious to learn more, check out our article on the seven benefits of working with micro-influencers.


A macro-influencer has between 100,000 and 1 million followers. Macro-influencers are typically viewed as experts in their fields and share their knowledge with their social media communities.Dr. Alena Maze’s Instagram account is an amazing example of what a macro-influencer’s Instagram feed should look like. Her posts have a down-to-earth vibe, and through them she shares her experiences as a mom, mathematician, and partner in an interracial marriage. She has partnered with Hasbro Gaming and many other family-oriented brands to help them reach her 414,000 followers.

Is a Macro-Influencer Right for Your Business?

Macro-influencers offer three main benefits:

  • Greater reach because of their larger audiences. Macro-influencers have 22x more reach than micro-influencers.
  • Access to a wider audience. Macro-influencers are great for brands serving multiple customers in various niches. It would require several micro-influencers to mirror the reach of a single macro-influencer.
  • Exclusivity. Higher price tags make it easier for macro-influencers to offer exclusive content creation to brands.

For these three reasons, it’s best to hire a macro-influencer when you are a larger brand with a bigger marketing budget.


A mega-influencer has over a million followers and is considered a celebrity — whether in the traditional sense (e.g., they are television or movie actors, singers,  etc.) or through internet stardom.Tamera Mowry-Housely is a good example of this type of influencer. Best known for her role in “Sister Sister” and as a talk show host on “The Real Daytime,” Tamera has carefully curated an Instagram feed that showcases her love for family, cooking, and motivation. Her 9.8 million followers have seen sponsored posts from Orgain, Dairy Queen, and many other brands.

Is a Mega-Influencer Right for Your Business?

You should work with a mega-influencer if mass brand awareness is your goal. This is a great way to get your brand in front of millions of eyes — fast.However, you won’t get the authentic audience connection like what you get with nano- and micro-influencers. You also have to be very selective and strategic about the mega-influencers you partner with — the wrong partnership could damage your brand’s reputation.

What To Look for in An Instagram Influencer

There are several critical factors to keep in mind when trying to find Instagram influencers. In order to make the right choice, you first need to have a solid grasp of your own goals: What do you hope to accomplish with your campaign? Are you trying to increase brand awareness? Introduce a new product? Increase sales? Clearly define your goals before you set out to find an influencer to collaborate with, so you can be sure you find someone who will help you reach those goals.Once your goals are in order, there are four key considerations to keep in mind while seeking out the right influencer for your brand. Let’s explore these four considerations in detail to help you make the best choices.

1. Does This Influencer Align With Your Brand?

The influencer’s Instagram aesthetic and values should align with your brand’s. After all, this person is essentially acting as a representation of your brand — and is in front of your target audience. First impressions are lasting, so collaborating with an influencer who shows your brand in a good light is what will help you build trust with your audience. Otherwise, your influencer marketing efforts could be in vain.

2. Does This Influencer Have a High Engagement Rate?

The more engaged followers are with an influencer’s posts, the better the ROI of your influencer marketing efforts.There are three ways to calculate influencer engagement rate on Instagram (Note: The influencer must have an Instagram business account in order to get the data needed for these calculations):

  1. Engagement by followers = [(Likes + Comments) / Number of Followers] x 100

This is the easiest metric to use when you’re searching for the right influencers because you won’t have direct access to the number of impressions on a post for the other calculations. That value is only visible in the analytics portion of an Instagram business profile.

  1. Engagement by impressions = [(Likes + Comments + Saves) / Impressions] x 100

This calculation is more accurate than the previous because it’s based on the number of people who actually saw a post and chose to interact with it rather than follower count. Also, it’s quite possible that some influencers have fake followers — and you wouldn’t know who these people (or bots) are to eliminate them from the calculation.

  1. Factored engagement rate = [(Important metric x 2) + Other Interactions) / Impressions] x 100

Here, you’re adding weight to what you deem the most important metric. Multiply the metric that matters most to your brand by two. The metric could be comments, shares, or whatever you think plays the most important role in measuring the success of your influencer marketing campaign.

3. Previous Marketing Campaign Success

This is a big one. An influencer who has successfully completed other influencer marketing campaigns has the experience you need to get things done quickly while providing the best representation of your brand.This doesn’t mean that an inexperienced influencer won’t provide you with similar (or even better) results. It all boils down to you being clear about the types of influencers you’re going to use for your campaign, how you’re going to structure the collaboration, and the type of support you’re going to offer.

4. Excitement or Love for Your Brand

Has the influencer already organically shown interest in your brand? Maybe you’re scrolling through the influencer’s profile and seeing a post or two where your brand was mentioned. That’s a great indication that the influencer already genuinely likes your brand, and will likely be willing to share whatever you have to offer with their audience.

How To Find Influencers

You could use a marketing agency to find Instagram influencers, but that option may leave you with a limited number of choices and an impersonal experience. There are other options, such as influencer marketing platforms and the DIY approach of searching with hashtags. Both options are discussed below.

An Influencer Management Platform Such as From Popular Pays

From Popular Pays is an influencer management platform that allows you to find influencers who match your criteria with a few simple clicks. Our platform also provides you with the tech you need to manage all aspects of your influencer marketing strategy. We have over 60,000 influencers in our influencer community and that number keeps growing! Check out what we have to offer.But From Popular Pays isn’t your only option. We’ve carefully selected a list of 30 of the best influencer marketing platforms that are worth looking into.

Hashtags and Scrolling Through Instagram

You can also go the traditional route of using relevant hashtags to find influencers. Here’s how:

  1. Tap the magnifying glass at the bottom of the Instagram app.
  2. Type a hashtag that represents your niche.
  3. Click on any of the suggested hashtags.
  4. Scroll through the Instagram post results until you find a post that catches your eye.
  5. Click the post, view the profile, see if the Instagrammer matches your criteria, and reach out if there's a match.

How To Reach Out to Instagram Influencers

Finding influencers is one thing — but what you do after you’ve found the influencer is what matters. Gretta Van Riel, founder of Hey Influencers and entrepreneur, uses a seven-step process contacting the right influencers. Here’s an overview:

  1. Use an influencer you like as a base to find other like-minded influencers (we call this the "carrot method.")
  2. Send a simple message and wait for a response. For example, “Hey Delilah! We’re huge fans of your content. We’d love to send you a free perfume sample set.” This is a short and sweet way to kick off the relationship.
  1. Like a few of the influencer’s most recent posts and comment on some of them.
  2. When the influencer responds, share what you’re offering and what you’d like in return.
  3. Provide a unique discount code or tracking URL so that you can track direct sales (if increasing conversions is your aim).
  4. Keep in touch with the influencer you’ve sent your free product to. Not all the influencers you send free products to will actually post about them, so it’s best to reach out to several influencers at a time. One ballpark figure is 10 to 30 influencers per month, depending on the size of your influencer campaign.
  5. Measure the success of the campaign and then reach out to the influencer with a paid opportunity if the campaign went well.

How Much Does Influencer Marketing Cost?

The rates Instagram influencers charge can vary widely. On average, you can expect to pay $271 per sponsored post. The cost will depend on your niche, how involved the content creation process will be, the number of posts you require, the types of posts you require, and the type of influencer. Some marketers use the “one cent per follower” rule as a baseline for calculating how much to pay an influencer and then add on the costs of these other variables.The table below from Influencer Marketing Hub provides a breakdown of the price per post you can expect based on the type of influencer you work with:

  • Nano-influencers: $10 to $100 per post
  • Micro-influencers: $100 to $500 per post
  • Mid-tier influencers: $500 to $5,000 per post
  • Macro-influencers: $5,000 to $10,000 per post
  • Mega-influencers: $10,000+ per post
  • Celebrities: Varies, but $1 million+ isn’t unheard of

In some cases, you won’t pay any money to the influencer at all, because you’re exchanging free products for posts on the influencer’s profile. The only costs you incur in these situations are shipping costs — and the cost of the product.

How to Measure Performance

Successful Instagram influencer marketing campaigns rely on accurate data. But you won’t know if your data is accurate if your goals aren’t clear. As we mentioned earlier, before you launch an influencer marketing campaign, you need to start by identifying your goals. Decide whether you want to build brand awareness, increase engagement, boost conversions, or something else.Clear goals help you determine the best metrics to track. Depending on your goals, you should pay attention to:

  • Impressions and reach if brand awareness is your focus
  • Engagement metrics (likes, shares, comments, clicks, and follows) if engagement is your priority
  • Conversion rate and ROI if your aim is to increase conversions

By tracking these metrics against benchmarks, you can assess whether the campaign was truly successful. Your benchmarks could be based on industry standards, your brand’s past performance, or a combination of both.You have two options to measure your campaign’s performance:

  1. Manually track influencer data: This is the budget-friendly option where you have to do everything yourself — from sourcing the influencers to keeping track of their performance using spreadsheets and UTM parameters.
  2. Use an influencer marketing platform to track data: Influencer marketing platforms provide an all-in-one package for helping you easily source influencers and track their performance. This method will save you a lot of time.

Note: You’ll need a tracking URL or discount code that’s unique to each influencer you partner with for the data tracking process to be effective.Learn more about how to use both methods in our article, How to Measure Influencer Marketing Performance.

Find Influencers and Manage Your Influencer Marketing Campaign From One Platform

Instagram influencer marketing can help you reach potential customers in a way no other marketing channel truly can. Remember, it’s not about having an astronomical number of followers. What truly matters is your ability to find influencers who will represent your brand well and help you achieve your marketing goals.Get started on your search for the perfect social media influencer for your next influencer campaign — find out what Popular Pay’s industry-leading influencer database can do for your brand today!

Meaghan Federspill
Meaghan is a professional social-scroller, trend reporter, creative ideator and friendly Senior Creative Strategist at Lightricks.

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