Finding the right Instagram influencers for your influencer marketing campaigns can be a time consuming, expensive and challenging process. But to use influencer marketing, you’ll need to identify relevant, engaging, and well-matched influencers for your brand. 

But… how do you find Instagram influencers?

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn exactly how to find Instagram influencers for free as well using paid methods. It also includes 9 criteria to look for in influencers, as well as several tips to ensure your collaborations run smoothly and successfully!

Which influencers should you work with?

Before searching for influencers or setting up your marketing campaign, you need to first clearly outline your influencer marketing strategy and campaign goals. Your goals can include:

  • Brand awareness
  • Content creation
  • Sales or app downloads
  • Newsletter subscribers or social media followers

Influencers can contribute to your goals in different ways, so you should have an idea of what you’re trying to accomplish. By establishing your goals, you’ll be able to choose specific influencers you know are likely to help you reach them. 

As you start finding Instagram influencers to work with, keep your eye out for these 9 criteria:

Target Audience

To reach potential consumers, you’ll need to find Instagram influencers who have a relevant target audience for your brand. You can utilize our Audience Demographics feature to identify influencers who have an audience in your target location, age, or gender.

Engagement rate

Engagement rates indicate whether Instagram influencers’ followers respond well to their content through likes and comments. To determine if influencers have great engagement rate, you should compare their average engagement rates, to Instagram benchmarks. Have in mind that micro influencers have significantly higher ratio of likes and comments than larger accounts.

Content quality

When you work with influencers, you’re giving them creative freedom to create sponsored content for your brand. Because they will be representing you, it’s important to check whether their content is of high quality. You should look for photos and videos that are clear, well-composed, creative, consistent, and optimized for Instagram.

Relevance

Influencers you collaborate with should be a good fit for your brand. When you’re looking through their social media profiles, you should be able to imagine your products and services being advertised there. Influencers who are well suited to your brand will have a following that’s well-aligned to your target audience.

Values

You should check if you and the influencers you want to work with have similar values. You can get a sense of their values by going through their Instagram bio, photos & videos, and captions. Well-aligned influencers are more likely to become brand advocates.

Authenticity

Authentic influencers have a dedicated following. They build up audience loyalty and trust by becoming experts in their niche. They also show their expertise by sharing genuine stories and tips. To gauge authenticity, you can scroll through their posts on Instagram and look for well-thought-out captions that convey a story.

Frequency

When you go through influencer’s content, be sure to look at how often they publish normal and sponsored content. To build a loyal audience, influencers should ideally publish high-quality content every 1-3 days. If you notice that they publish 3 or more sponsored content in a row, their credibility may be at risk.

Reliability

To ensure your collaborations run smoothly, the influencers you work with must be reliable. They should respond to all your messages promptly and professionally. 

Audience quality

Whenever you find Instagram influencers, you are always likely to encounter those who have fake followers or engagement. To determine whether they’re engaging in fraudulent activity, it’s important you keep your eyes peeled for these 10 abnormalities:

1. The influencers’ content quality is poor, but the influencers have a large following.

2. The influencers publish very little content, but they have a high number of likes and comments or a large follower count.

3. They have a very high or low engagement for the size of their following.

4. The influencers have more people they’re following than followers. 

5. A large sample of influencers’ following have a combination of the following traits: (a) little to no content, (b) no profile photos, (c) strange usernames, (d) anonymous profiles, (e) suspicious follower to following ratios, (f) copied bios, and (g) stock photos for their profile photos.

instagram fake followers

 

6. The influencers recently created their account, but they already have a large following.

7. There are sudden and irregular follower patterns on the influencers’ Instagram feed. They may suddenly display massive bursts of follower growth, then experience large drops in their following. 

8. The majority of the comments left on their posts are spammy, generic, and repetitive.

9. After publishing content, the influencers’ post quickly gains a large number of likes in a very short period of time.

10. The influencers’ videos have a low number of views compared to their follower size.

Bear in mind that even if  Instagram influencers profiles may display one or more of the abnormalities listed above, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the creator is fake. Their Instagram accounts must be examined as a whole and in the correct context.

Now you know what you should be looking for to create a successful influencer partnership. Next, you’ll discover our pro-tips on how to find Instagram Influencers for free.

Find Instagram influencers under “Suggested” (free) 

You may already have an Instagram influencer in mind who would be ideal for your campaign. If you do, you can search for similar influencers using the “Suggested” feature on Instagram. 

1. Go to your ideal influencer’s Instagram account.

2. Click on the “Arrow” icon next to “Follow” or “Following.”

Clicking on the arrow icon to find influencers under the "Suggested" feature on Instagram

3. When you click the “Arrow” icon, Instagram will suggest profiles similar to your ideal influencer’s profile. You can find the suggested profiles above their post on Instagram.

Suggested profiles on Instagram

4. Click “See All” and go through the profiles that Instagram has suggested.

Scrolling through the Instagram's similar account suggestions

Find Instagram influencers by searching through hashtags (free)

You can go through hashtags that are relevant to both your industry and market on Instagram. Because of language differences, it’ll be more effective for you to search for language-specific hashtags in a relevant industry. This will help you narrow down your search. You’ll be able to find Instagram influencers who fit your brand and are located in your target market.

1. Start with influencers that you know would fit your niche, industry and market.

2. Go through the their captions to look for commonly used hashtags.

Commonly used hashtags in different categories and location on Instagram

3. Click on a hashtag and scroll through the posts. Keep your eye out for high-quality content and good engagement. If there are over 200 likes on any content, it indicates the posters has a solid following.

4. Click on their profile name to check out their profiles in detail.

Higher engagement on an Instagram post indicates the user has a solid following

5. Be sure to look at the “Related Hashtags” that are suggested by Instagram. You’ll find similar hashtags to the one you’re going through.

Instagram suggesting related hashtags to the one you're looking through

This method works great when looking for micro influencers as they are likely to seek out popular hashtags in order to grow their following.

Find Instagram influencers by checking out your followers and “Tagged” posts (free)

Check out the followers on your brand’s profile to see if there are any relevant influencers you can work with. Influencers who follow you will be great ambassadors for your brand. It’s likely they follow you because they’re already fans of your products or services, so working with them will result in authentic collaborations!

1. Go to your brand’s profile on Instagram.

2. On your profile, scroll through your “Following” to look for influencers who follow you.

Clicking on the followers on your brand's Instagram profile to search for influencers

3. Scroll to the followers to see if there’s anyone you’d like to work with.

4. Go back to your profile. Checked your “Tagged” posts to see if influencers have tagged you in their posts.

Looking through your "Tagged" posts on your Instagram brand profile

If the people who have tagged you have good content and over 200 likes on the posts, it’s a good indication that they have a solid following.

Click on their profile names to check them out in detail.

Higher engagement on an Instagram post indicates the user has a solid following

5. As you go through the profiles under “Following” and “Tagged,” check the influencers’ posts to see if they’ve tagged any fellow influencers. If an influencer is a good fit for you, it is likely they are also friends with influencers in your niche.

To do this, look for posts with multiple people. Tap on the post and click on the profile names that pop up.

Tapping on Instagram posts to see if there are any influencers tagged in them

Find Instagram influencers by “Location” (free)

You can search through “Location” tags on Instagram to find great profiles that are relevant to your brand. Though finding influencers in a specific location with this method can be difficult. Many people on Instagram use tags even if they don’t live there, especially when they are on vacation.

1. Go to an influencer’s post on Instagram and click the “Location” tag.

Tapping on a post's location to search for influencers

You can also type in a location in “Search.”

Typing in a location on Instagram to find influencers

2. Scroll through the profiles that used the “Location” tag.

If you come across good content that has over 200 likes, it’s a good indication that you’re looking at influencers with a solid following.

Click on their profile name to check out their profiles in detail.

Higher engagement on an Instagram post indicates the user has a solid following

Search for Instagram influencers on Google (free)

Using Google to find Instagram influencers for free, may not cost anything, but it also may not be the most effective method, but it can be used as a last resort. You’ll come across lists of top Instagram influencers across different niches. This means they’re likely to be celebrity influencers who will be expensive and in-demand.

1. Start by searching for your niche + influencers in your location in Google.

Searching for top influencers in different niches on Google

2. You should see many results of “list posts”. You’ll need to go through these one by one to find the right potential collaborator. 

Google search results of influencer search

3. Most lists include Instagram links, so you’ll be able to click on profiles that interest you. Though there may be social media influencers from other channels also.

We’ve tried using advanced search and special operators in the past but have found that it narrows down the search too much in order for you to find enough quality lists.

Use an influencer database (paid)

Influencer databases are tools that allow you to browse through a directory of influencers. They scrape thousands of influencers they identify as influential online to create a list of potential influencers.

Typically, there will be information available for every influencer. You may be able to find their social media channels, follower size or subscribers, location, posting frequency, and more. 

Once you find the right Instagram influencer to work with, you can usually access their contact information too. Most influencer databases don’t have tools to fully launch and manage Instagram influencer marketing campaigns, but some may offer them at a cost. This means you’ll likely need to turn to other tools or use spreadsheets to organize and track your campaigns. You may find the process time-consuming even if you launch small-scale campaigns.

Subscribe to an influencer marketing platform (paid)

An influencer platforms offer you thousands of influencers to look through. But unlike influencer databases, influencer platforms are opt-in. Because influencers voluntarily create accounts, platforms have a smaller number of influencers available for you to browse through. But this isn’t a huge drawback to worry about – the influencers available on platforms are usually all curated for quality.

On inzpire.me, we have strict platform guidelines in place. All influencers who sign up are required to go through a vetting process. Their profiles are reviewed for content quality. They’re also checked for fake engagement and followers. Because of this process, you won’t need to spend time manually going through and filtering out profiles that are low quality or fake.

Searching for influencers on inzpire.me

Influencer marketing platforms also have the advantage of providing comprehensive campaign and reporting tools. You can use these to launch, monitor, and understand your campaigns as well as find Instagram influencers in your niche.

Search & filter influencers

Filter influencers by location, price, niche, and more. Take a deeper look into each profile by reviewing their average engagement rates, Audience Demographics, Top Hashtags & Mentions, and Personality Traits Analysis.

Using Filters on inzpire.me to search for influencers

Once you have found the right influencers you can use these platforms to contact influencers & manage campaigns. Most platforms let you message influencers, pay them, measure the results of your campaigns in real-time.

Some platforms such as ours also enable you to reuse content in ads, as well as in your social media marketing, webpages, and emails.

With these campaign and reporting tools, you’ll be able to avoid the manual work of finding Instagram influencers and working with them.

Now that we’ve uncovered how to find Instagram influencers for free and how you can streamline the process with paid tools, there’s only one thing missing. We’ll cover this in the next section…

How to get influencers to work with you

Once you find relevant influencers for your campaign, you’re ready to start collaborating! But how do you convince influencers to work with you? Here are a few tips you should keep in mind to increase your chances of success:

Send clear briefs

Influencers need to understand the briefs, or contracts, you send them to get excited about collaborating with you. To make them easy to read, you should create a well-structured brief that clearly outlines your collaboration objectives, guidelines, and deadlines. It should be both informative and concise.

You should also separate the content of your brief into sections and avoid long-winded explanations. Great briefs will save you time from needing to clarify certain aspects of the collaborations. It’ll help influencers avoid making any mistakes. It’ll also be easier for them to check whether they’ve completed the collaborations according to your expectations.

Remember, if you’re working with micro influencers you’ve found using the free tools above, they may not have done this before. So be clear in your expectations.

Have great communication

To convince influencers to join your campaign, you need be present to answer any follow up questions promptly. They may need to clarify parts of your brief or ask logistical questions. Your speedy and informed responses will help them decide whether they want to join your campaign and give them a positive experience with your brand.

Grant creative freedom

One of the most important aspects of influencer marketing is the influencers’ authentic storytelling and content. But in order for collaborations to be genuine, you need to leave them room for creative freedom.

There’s a fine line between telling influencers what to post and working together to create inspiring stories. Imposing strict limitations on captions and photos will make them feel like the collaborations are inauthentic and restrictive. It’ll result in an ineffective campaign. By granting influencers creative freedom, they’ll be able to use their creativity to create content about your brand and present it in a way their audience will enjoy.

Pay influencers fairly

When you send bookings requests to influencers, you need to offer compensation that’s fair and mutually beneficial to pique their interest. Influencers invest a lot of time, resources, and effort to deliver collaborations that build your brand’s credibility, and they want their work to be appreciated.

Depending on the types of campaigns you run, there are a few ways you can pay influencers for collaborations. Here are 5 of the most common methods:

– Pay per post: Influencers are paid flat fees for collaborations

Pro-tip: The flat fees you pay influencers should be based on their performance in impressions and reach. The fees can then be adjusted according to how much they can help with your campaign goals.

To calculate performance-based fees, you can use free tools like our Instagram Pricing Calculator. The Pricing Calculator will provide you with a range of fees. The fee you choose to pay will depend on how much you believe they can contribute to your campaign goals. You can learn how you can choose a higher or lower fee in our Instagram Pricing Guide.

– Pay per click (PPC): Influencers are paid for each click they generate from their sponsored post

– Pay per acquisition (PPA): Influencers are paid for each sign up or sale they generate from their sponsored content

Pro-tip: For PPC and PPA deals, influencers often feel that they aren’t being offered fair payments because their content is being undervalued. They may not earn enough in PPC and PPA deals to compensate for the effort they put into creating sponsored content. This is why influencers tend to decline these types of offers.

Additionally, influencers may not be compensated for every sale in PPC and PPA deals. For instance, their followers might not click on the link the influencers share, but they may end up buying the products from the brand anyway. In this situation, the influencers wouldn’t be compensated for the purchases.

– Pay by follower size: Influencers are paid for the number of followers they have on their social media channel

Pro-tip: To maximize your ROI, you should avoid paying creators based on their number of followers. As we’ve learned in our Instagram Benchmarks Report, influencers reach a smaller percentage of their following when it increases in size. This means you’ll generate a lower ROI when you adopt a pay per follower method and collaborate with influencers with large followings.

– Product for post: Influencers are paid in brand products and services

Pro-tip: Influencers have been less likely to accept these collaborations. They often feel that they should be compensated for the time, effort, and resources they use to produce content. They may work at a discount if they love the brand that reaches out or if their product is worth a considerable amount.

Acceptance rates can also vary depending on whether influencer marketing has matured in the markets the influencers are located in. Influencers are less likely to accept products as compensation if the market has standardized.

Act reliably

On inzpire.me, once influencers accept your booking requests, you enter a binding agreement with them. This means you’ll both be expected to follow the guidelines in the brief. This will ensure the collaborations are completed as you’ve requested. It also helps influencers feel safe entering collaborations.

Once you send booking requests to creators, you should avoid adding or editing any guidelines. By making any changes, you’re essentially creating a new brief. Unexpected changes can leave influencers feeling frustrated that the booking request isn’t what they saw initially. It’ll also give them a negative experience with your brand.

If you need to make changes to booking requests, it’s best that you communicate the changes with the influencers first. If they agree, you should send them new booking requests with the edited brief.

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