Influencer Marketing for Small Business: 7 Steps to Finding the Right Influencers (+ Free …

 In Later

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When it comes to growing your business on Instagram, influencer marketing has proven to be a huge growth asset.

And it’s not just for the mega brands — influencer marketing for small businesses can seriously level-up a campaign, build brand awareness and reach new audiences, without blowing the budget. 

But working with influencers on Instagram can seem daunting — not only do you have to find the right influencers for your brand, but you also need to set campaign goals and deadlines, track and measure your success, and manage the budget at the same time!

To help you get started, we’ve broken it down into 7 easy steps to follow so you’re guaranteed to always find great Instagram influencers to work with and create an awesome Instagram collaboration. 

Plus! We have a complete Influencer Campaign Kit for Small Businesses that includes free worksheets, checklists and email templates for you to use every step of the way: 

Influencer Marketing for Small Business Step #1: Identify Your Influencer Campaign Goal 

Before you can find Instagram influencers for your campaign, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with your campaign. 

Whether you’re planning to run a short-term, seasonal campaign to raise brand awareness, or planning a longer-term ambassador-style partnership with an influencer, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. Both in terms of marketing goals, and physical results. 

For example, with an influencer partnership, you could be aiming to improve your follower growth, boost your engagement on a branded hashtag, build a stronger community, or generate more leads to your website to make more sales. 

All of which are valid, viable goals to set for your influencer campaign or partnership! 

Once you know what you want to achieve, you should be able to hone in on what kind of physical results you’d like. 

For example, you may want to create a co-branded product with your influencers or have them shoot and take great product shots for your business. So it’s worth thinking about these “physical deliverables” as well as what influencers you choose to be part of your campaign. 

Whatever the business goals for your influencer campaign, once you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve nailed down, it will be easier to find the right influencers, based on their skill set and previous experience! 

Are you running your first ever influencer marketing campaign and not sure where to start? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Instagram Influencer Marketing for everything you need to know to get started with a successful campaign! 

Influencer Marketing for Small Business Step #2: Research Influencers on Instagram & More 

Now you know what you want to achieve, you can really focus and find the right influencer for your campaign! 

We have some awesome free resources to help!

Fill out the form below and we’ll send you the complete Influencer Campaign Kit for Small Businesses — it includes an Influencer Campaign Goal Setting Worksheet, an Influencer Research Checklist and 7 email templates to use when you want to reach out to influencers! 

Ready to start researching and finding the right influencers for your campaign?

Here are a few tips to help you thoroughly research and find the perfect influencer for your campaign: 

Tip #1: Pay Attention to Your Instagram Comments 

If you’re looking to collaborate with an influencer on a branded campaign or co-branded project, it’s a good idea to find someone who is already interested and engaging with your brand. 

Not only does it mean that they’ll have a real passion for the project, but when they announce the collaboration with their followers, it will naturally feel like a good collaboration fit as that influencer (more than likely!) will have featured and mentioned you a lot in the past! 

Check out how fragrance brand Jo Malone teamed up with beauty and lifestyle blogger Fleur de Force on a limited edition Mother’s Day collection. Fleur has been a fan of the brand since 2014 and has shared her passion for their fragrances with her followers over the years: 

One of the best ways to find influencers who are already actively following and engaging with your brand is to check out your posts’ comments! 

Look for standout comments from your followers in your posts — is there anyone who continually pops up? Or someone who has shared genuine interest and excitement over a recent product launch? 

It’s also worth checking your “tagged in” posts and DMs — if an influencer has tagged you in their stories or posts, it’s a good sign that they’re already sharing news about your business or products with their fans! 

Tip #2: Search Relevant Hashtags to Find Influencers in Your Niche 

Have you got a branded hashtag for your Instagram posts? Or a collection of hashtags you regularly use to reach audiences in your genre? It’s time to really look through these hashtags to find Instagram influencers for your campaign! 

If you have a branded hashtag with an engaged community that regularly posts using the hashtag, it could be a gold mine for potential collaborations! 

Check out the hugely successful #bekapten hashtag by travel accessories brand @kaptenson — their branded hashtag has nearly 60k posts where thousands of travel influencers and photographers have tagged them in their posts! 

Influencer Marketing for Small Businesses: Branded Hashtags

By just looking through who has posted using their branded hashtag could turn up hundreds of potential influencers to reach out to! 

If you don’t have a branded hashtag for your business, don’t worry! Just by searching the right, relevant hashtags, you could find some awesome influencers to partner up with. 

Try looking at ultra-niche hashtags too — you may discover some super-active and engaged micro-influencers working in your field too! 

Tip #3: Use Influencer Research Tools like Fohr and People Map 

Influencer marketing is a big business — in fact, it’s on pace to become an $8 billion dollar industry by 2020

That means that there are now tons of third-party tools like Fohr Card, SocialBlade, and People Map that can help you find Instagram influencers for your campaign! 

Fohr Card, for example, offers a number of tools for businesses to determine whether or not an influencer has an authentic following on Instagram. 

The Follower Health Tool provides a breakdown of an influencer’s followers-to-following ratio, username, bio, number of posts, and then calculates an overall “score” based on how the influencer ranked in each of those categories. 

Influencer Marketing Small Businesses: Fohr

It’s a great resource if you want to investigate how authentic an influencer’s following is (more on this later in this blog post!) 

People Map also lets you search for relevant influencers in your niche, and review their average engagement rate and average likes per post, which makes reviewing an influencer’s reach really simple to navigate: 

Influencer Marketing for Small Businesses: People Map


Plus with People Map, you can really focus your research efforts for your niche, and find influencers who are active and engaged in your specific field.

For example, if you’re fashion brand specialized in streetwear, you could find an influencer who heroes and champions streetwear trends on their Instagram feed.

By setting up search filters on People Map based on most used hashtags (remember they can be as specific as you like!), follower count, caption and bio keywords, and much more, you can save time and find only the influencers that are most relevant to you and your business!

Tip #4: Look at Your Competitor’s Instagram Accounts 

It’s also worth taking a look at your competitors’ Instagram accounts! 

Firstly, you’ll be able to gauge what kind of influencer marketing they’re working on, and who they’ve been working with. 

This will give you an idea on what to do (and what not to do!) and if there are any influencers that could potentially already be signed to your competitor as an ambassador. 

Secondly, if you comb through your competitor’s comments and branded hashtags (just like you have with your own!) you might spot some potential (and even verified!) influencers for your project. 

Influencer Marketing for Small Businesses: Comments in Daniel Wellington

If they’re liking, commenting and engaging with your competitors’ posts, there’s a strong chance they may like your products too! 

Tip #5: Ask Your Instagram Audience 

What better people to ask who you think you should collaborate with than your own Instagram followers! 

Your followers are your eyes and ears on the ground — they probably follow a ton of other brands and influencers and they’ll quickly be able to tell you who they’d like you to partner up with! 

Check out how we recently asked our audience on the Later Instagram account with the Question sticker on who we should collaborate with on a recent project: 

We received tons of responses — all of which were really valuable for our research and we treated them as a personal recommendation!

PS. Stay tuned and sign up to our Later newsletter to be the first to know more about this exciting project! 

Once you’ve honed in on your influencer research, you might find you have a long list of potential influencers to reach out to. But before you do, take a couple of extra steps to really dig deep into their experience, skills, and strengths for working with brands! 

Here are some extra tips for fine-tuning this research stage: 

Tip #6: Review Your Potential Influencers’ Demographics 

To find out whether an Instagram influencer’s audience matches your own, you need to look at their demographics. 

Things like geographic distribution (where are the influencer’s followers are located), age breakdown (how old they are), gender, language, approximate income, and more are so important if you want to run a successful campaign. 

Just keep in mind that the goal isn’t to reach an influencer’s entire audience but rather to find that intersection where your two audiences overlap. This is one of the best ways to get in front of the “right” eyes and showcase your products and/or services to a customer segment that’s most likely to convert.

Influencer Marketing for Small Businesses: Follower Count

Unfortunately, these days it’s not uncommon for influencers to buy followers and likes to boost their appeal to businesses.

So it’s worth spending some time investigating their followers and the genuineness of the comments on their posts.

Keep an eye on how many followers they have that don’t have a profile photo, or have an Instagram handle that appears to be a random letter and number combination — both of which are signs that they may not be genuine accounts.

Similarly, the location of their followers is important! If you’re looking to work with an influencer to promote a product to a UK audience, you want to make sure that the majority of their following is based there too!

You can ask the influencers to screenshot and share their audience location breakdown (accessible from their Instagram Analytics!) or share their media kit with you!

Audience Location: Instagram Analytics

If the majority of their following is based outside of their home country (for example, if they’re a parenting blogger and influencer with a target audience of UK mums, but the highest percentage of their followers is based in Indonesia), not only is this is a sign of a disingenuous following, but it won’t help you reach your campaign goal!

Tools like SocialBlade can help you do this, but it’s also important that you do your own research and always look at their followers-to-following ratios and the authenticity of their comments. 

Knowing how to identify fake influencers and find authentic ones is extremely important when trying to find the right influencers to work with. You can read more on how to spot a fake influencer in this blog post

Tip #7: Understand an Influencer’s Engagement Rate

When an influencer has a high engagement rate, it means their followers are paying attention and taking action on their content. And it comes down to much more than just how many likes their posts get or how many followers they have! 

That’s why many businesses and Instagram agencies use engagement rate to evaluate who is an ideal influencer.

If you want to calculate an influencer’s engagement rate on Instagram, divide the number of likes and comments they get on their posts by their follower count, and then multiply by 100 to get a percentage.

Instagram Metrics to Track: Engagement Rate Calculation

Generally, you want to see an engagement rate of 2-3% on influencers’ posts. A ratio of 4-6% is excellent, while posts in the high tens and twenties are considered “viral.” 

Tip #8: Review their Content Style and Quality

Just like how you researched the quality of an influencer’s followers, analyzing the content that an influencer publishes across all their channels (including other social media channels), will help give you a better understanding of their content style, and the quality of their work. 

Make sure that the influencers you shortlist align with your own brand or Instagram aesthetic and that they can deliver the high-quality content you need for your campaign.

Australian beach towel start-up brand Tesalate (53K followers) recently collaborated with travel vlogger and micro-influencer Christianne Risman (18k followers) to help promote their innovative travel towel — and it’s easy to see why it’s the perfect pairing!

Their aesthetics match perfectly, and Christianne’s styling and photography works for the adventurous Tesalate audience: 

Don’t forget to review who they’ve worked with in the past as well — have they worked with competitor brands or organizations in the same niche?

Also, look at the quality and scope of their work. If you’re planning a video-based campaign, it’s a good idea to look for influencers who have a strong track record with producing high-quality videos for brands and businesses.

Similarly, if you know your Instagram aesthetic is all about gorgeous flat-lays, make sure your influencer kno

This post was originally published on Later

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