If you’re on this article, chances are you typed, “How do I search for Instagram influencers?” in Google. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Influencer marketing, as an industry, has been in the spotlight for a while now. It has grown more than 13 times in the last 5 years. In fact, it was worth $21.1 billion in 2023.
Image via Statista
If you want to join the bandwagon and find success with influencer marketing, you need to make sure that you find the right influencers. In this detailed guide, we’ll take a look at how you can find the right influencer match for your marketing campaigns.
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Which Criteria Should You Look at While Shortlisting Instagram Influencers?
Even before you start looking up influencer profiles in your niche, you need to be clear on the shortlisting criteria. In this section, let’s take a look at some of the things you should consider before you begin your influencer search.
1. Influencer Marketing Goals
The first criteria to consider is what you want to achieve through your influencer marketing strategy. Some common goals for influencer marketing strategies include:
- Boost brand awareness
- Increase engagement rate
- Create more content
- Boost sales
- Increase follower count
- Get more app downloads
By establishing a clear goal right from the start, you’ll have more clarity on what kind of influencers you should look for.
For instance, if your goal is to get more engagement, you could work with micro-influencers. Typically, they have fewer followers but have a higher engagement rate.
On the other hand, if you want to boost brand awareness or increase your sales, it is more suitable to work with an established influencer in your niche.
2. Brand Affinity
Instagram influencers that you want to collaborate with should be a good fit for your brand. Go through their Instagram feed to figure out which values are important to them.
Check their bio, posts, and captions to get a sense of what they care about. Do they stand up for causes that are important for your brand? Do they talk about any issues that you want to specifically avoid?
Collaborating with an Instagram influencer isn’t just about creating content together. It’s about aligning your public personas. You could also use a specialized platform like Tagger Media for a quick background check.
Well-suited influencers who champion the same causes have the potential to become brand advocates in the long term.
Here is an example of an influencer collaboration based on the same core values:
LA-based shoe company, Toms collaborated with Instagram influencer, Blair Imami, who shares their belief that everyone should have rights. Due to this, their collaboration comes across as organic.
Check out a screenshot of one of the promotional posts from their influencer marketing campaign:
Image via Instagram
3. Target Audience
Are millennials your target audience? Or do you want to reach out specifically to women of different age groups? Depending on who your target audience is, your choice of influencer will change. While defining your target audience, make sure to be as specific as possible.
If you target a broad category, you might reach a wider audience, but not necessarily a relevant pool of people who may be interested in your brand.
For instance, if you sell toys for toddlers, you’ll want to work specifically with maternity and mom Instagram influencers. That way, there is a better chance of reaching a relevant audience.
4. Follower Count
Do you want to work with a big-shot celebrity or someone who is still building their audience? Depending on the kind of influencer you want to collaborate with, you should begin your search.
An influencer’s follower count can give you an idea about the reach that you’ll get on your branded content. Typically, influencer profiles can be categorized into four different groups based on their follower count:
- Mega-influencers: This category includes profiles that have over 1 million followers on Instagram.
- Macro-influencers: This category includes profiles that have followers between the range of 100,000 and 1 million.
- Micro-influencers: This category includes profiles that have followers between the range of 1000 and 100,000.
- Nano-influencers: This category includes profiles that have less than 1000 followers.
Keep your brand size and budget in mind while deciding which tier of influencer you want to work with.
Influencer rates vary greatly across industries and influence levels.
Higher-tier influencers may charge thousands of dollars per promotional post. On the other hand, lower-tier influencers may be ready to work for even $100.
In fact, some influencers are also open to posting branded posts in exchange for gifts or access to exclusive events.
Before you make a list of influencers you want to reach out to, decide on the influencer tier you want to work with. Also, have a rough idea about the budget you are willing to allocate to your influencer marketing campaign.
5. Engagement Rate
Sure, an influencer’s follower count is an important factor when gauging their level of influence. But there is another metric that is considered more important for marketing campaigns — engagement rate.
Through this metric, you can get an idea about the level of engagement a branded post is likely to generate. To calculate the engagement rate for any Instagram influencer, here is the formula you can use:
Engagement Rate = (Likes + Comments) / Followers * 100
Typically, an engagement rate of anything less than 1% is considered low. Anything up to 3.5% is considered average, while anything between 3.5% to 6% is considered quite impressive.
Did you know that influencer fraud cost businesses $1.3 billion in 2019? Some of the fraudulent methods that influencers employ include joining comment pods or purchasing fake followers.
To avoid such a scenario, make sure you vet influencers thoroughly. A quick way to assess the authenticity of any Instagram influencer profile is to check the follower count.
Next, take a quick look at the photos and videos that they’ve posted. Do the number of likes and comments seem proportional to the number of followers they have? If there is a huge gap, chances are they have fake followers on their profile.
Another way to weed out fake influencers is to use specialized influencer marketing platforms. Some of them have special indicators to signal you about Instagram fraud. Even if an influencer’s top affinities are not in sync with their primary niche or content topic, there is a special indicator to signal less authenticity.
7. Posting Frequency
While going through any Instagram influencer’s content, make sure you keep an eye on the posting frequency for the sponsored content.
Typically, influencers post content every 2-3 days. If you notice that there are too many promotional posts added one after the other, their credibility may be questionable. In such a scenario, there is also a chance that the influencer may have already worked with one or more of your competitors.
8. Influencer Reputation
As a part of your preliminary research, invest some time in conducting a quick background check on any shortlisted influencers. If they’re a higher-tier influencer, you are likely to find their mention in press releases or online articles.
You should also check their past collaborations to see if they follow FTC guidelines for transparency. Do they add #ad or #sponsored to promotional posts?
With a thorough evaluation, you could dodge a bullet by avoiding a collaboration with any influencers who may have a shady reputation.
With the above-mentioned criteria, you can compare influencer profiles and reach out to those who seem like a perfect fit. However, keep in mind that not all the criteria are likely to be fulfilled. You need to prioritize the ones that are most important for you.
9. Content Quality
High-value influencers create quality content. A quick look at any Instagram influencer’s profile will tell you if their content quality is top notch or average. Pay special attention to the sponsored posts that they have on their profile.
Is the content informative or too promotional? Is the brand mention done naturally? Do you find their content to be shareworthy? These are some of the questions you should ask to evaluate their content quality.
Also, take a close look at their captions and the comments section. Do they provide detailed, accurate information? You should partner with only those Instagram influencers whose work you value and admire. If you find any content to be sub-par or duplicate, do not collaborate.
Once you’ve checked all the parameters mentioned in this section, it’s time to move on to the next part of the influencer discovery process.
How to Search For Instagram Influencers: 11 Different Ways You Can Try
There are multiple approaches to finding the right influencers for your campaign. Ideally, you should combine different methods to widen your search and find more suitable matches.
1. Use Relevant Hashtags
One of the easiest ways to find Instagram influencers is to leverage the hashtag feature. Each hashtag that you look for will showcase a collection of Stories and posts related to the search term.
Make a list of hashtags that are relevant to your industry and brand. You could also use trending hashtags to find posts on topical content. Some of the top posts are likely to be influencer posts.
As you can see in the screenshot below, the results for #organicfood lead to a post with over 3000 likes.
Image via Instagram
When you click on it, it takes you to Diana’s profile who believes in organic food and sustainable living.
Image via Instagram
The best part about this method of finding influencers is that the “Top Posts” section on Instagram gets updated frequently. Every time you create a search, you will find new influencer profiles.
There is also another interesting way to use hashtags on Instagram to find local influencers. Pick any location-specific term and add the suffix “influencer” to it.
For instance, if you want to look for influencers in Miami, you should use, “miamiinfluencer.” As you can see, there is a post with over 1000 likes in the first row of the results page.
Image via Instagram
2. Track Brand Mentions
If your brand has been around for a while, chances are Instagrammers have already been posting about it. Track your brand mentions to search for Instagram accounts that are popular and have a decent follower count.
An easy way to find such accounts is to create a branded hashtag. Take inspiration from American fashion house, Calvin Klein. They came up with the hashtag #mycalvins to promote their undergarments.
There are more than 900,000 posts on Instagram that use that hashtag, out of which many are from influencers.
Image via Instagram
When you reach out to an influencer who has already mentioned you on their profile, there is a better chance of getting them interested.
Another way to monitor your brand mentions is to use dedicated tools for it. With just a few clicks, you will be able to get a list of profiles that have given you brand mentions along with their profile metrics.
3. Check Your Database
The best brand advocates for your brand are your customers. Look at your customer database to find influential people that may be loyal to your brand. Make a list of such profiles and reach out to them via email or DM.
This strategy is all making the most out of the connections you already have. It’s low-effort and can help you build long-term associations.
4. Check Top Lists
Gaming, fashion, beauty, food, crafts, gardening, or anything else — whatever your niche is, there is going to be a list of the top influencers online. In fact, you can find lists that are country-specific as well.
All you need to do is run a quick Google search. Someone out there has done all the research, so why not make the most out of it? It will save you a ton of time.
Here is an example of a list of top influencers in the fashion space in the US:
Image via Google
If you combine profiles mentioned in such posts, you could combine them with a comprehensive list.
The only drawback with this method of finding influencers is that it is likely to include only the top-tier influencers. If you want to work with micro or macro-influencers, you will need to specify that in your search.
5. Check Out Suggested Profiles
Using the tactics mentioned above, you can come up with at least a couple of influencer profiles that you want to check out. When you visit their profile, click on the “arrow” button next to the “Follow” button.
This will open up a section that features similar profiles just below the Highlight section. Here is what it looks like:
Image via Instagram
In the sliding bar in the section, only a few profiles are visible. However, you can check out more similar profiles by clicking on, “See All” in the top right corner.
6. Check Your Follower List
If your brand has been active on Instagram for a while, some influencers may already be following you. They could make for great brand ambassadors since they are already fans of your services or products. This strategy is great if you want to build authentic influencer relationships.
All you need to do is check the Follower section on your profile. However, it can be tedious to scroll through the entire list. Instead, you can also check the “Tagged” section to check if any influencers have tagged you in their posts.
Some people also tag multiple brands and influencers in their posts. This can be another quick way to find more influencer profiles that you may be interested in.
7. Check the Explore Page
A simple and free way to find relevant influencer profiles in your niche is to go through your Explore page.
In that section, Instagram curates videos and photos based on your interests. Along with content from other brands, you’ll see influencer content as well. Scroll through this page to see if you can find any good influencer accounts that are fit for your brand.
8. Check Competitor Profiles
Another clever, low-effort way to search for Instagram influencers is to check out your competitors’ profiles. You can find relevant influencer profiles in their Followers section.
You can also check their posts to see if any influencers are liking or commenting on their posts. There is an added benefit too — You can figure out if there might be a conflict of interest.
9. Subscribe to a Paid Influencer Database
Till now, we’ve discussed free methods to search for Instagram influencers for your marketing campaigns. If you are willing to spend a few bucks to find the best influencers, you could also opt for an influencer database.
It will enable you to browse through a list of curated influencers. Plus, you will have stats available for all influencer profiles, including their follower size, location, engagement rate, posting frequency, contact information, and more.
With an influencer database, you won’t have to spend any time on research. Such influencer databases may not offer tools to run your influencer marketing campaigns.
This means you’ll have to use other platforms to launch and track the campaign. If you’re launching only a small-scale campaign, then the whole process may seem too cumbersome.
10. Opt For a Special Influencer Marketing Platform
They’ve got more than 6 million creator profiles across niches. You can save hours of work and eliminate the need for adding influencer data in complex spreadsheets. Instead, you can easily log on to the platform and find high-value Instagram influencers to work with.
11. Ask Your Followers
Your Instagram content should entertain and engage your followers, right? So why not ask them whom you should collaborate with?
Your Instagram followers are likely to be following other creators and brands in the same space. They’ll come up with useful suggestions on whom you should partner next with. By including them in the decision-making process, you also get them more engaged and build a sense of community.
All you need to do is post an Instagram Story with a question Sticker. Asking your audience for recommendations is likely to give you options that you may not have considered before.
1. How do you search for Instagram influencers in your niche?
Here are a few different ways to search for Instagram influencers in your niche:
- Pick a generic term that describes your niche. Add that term along with the suffix “influencer” and search on Instagram.
- Look for influencer profiles on your Explore page.
- Ask your followers for influencer suggestions in your niche.
- Use an influencer marketing platform or an influencer database
- Check online for top influencers in your niche.
2. How do I find Instagram influencers in my area?
To search for Instagram influencers in your area, you can use a location-specific hashtag. For instance, if you want to find influencers in Chicago, you can use the hashtag #chicagoinfluencers.
Another way to find influencers in your area is to use an influencer discovery platform and filter your results by location.
3. How to find micro-influencers for free?
You can find micro-influencers for free via influencer databases, online influencer lists, or relevant hashtags. You can also use a dedicated influencer marketing platform to find micro-influencers in your niche.
4. How to find influencers on Instagram for free?
Here are some ways in which you can search for Instagram influencers for free:
- Check the Explore section.
- Search for relevant hashtags.
- Monitor your brand mentions.
- Look at suggested profiles on Instagram.
- Check competitors’ followers.
- Search for top influencers on Google.
- Check your follower list.
5. How do I find Instagram influencers as a new brand?
As a new brand, here are some strategies you can use to search for Instagram influencers:
- Use location-specific or industry-specific hashtags.
- Check influencer profiles on the Explore page.
- Look at your competitors’ profiles.
- Opt for a paid influencer database.
- Sign up for an influencer marketing platform.
Ready to Get Started With Your Influencer Search?
Before you start finding Instagram influencers, be clear on your values, marketing goals, budget, and target audience. While checking influencer profiles, make sure you vet them for authenticity, content quality, engagement rate, brand affinity, and the other criteria mentioned above.
Once you are clear about it, you can start finding Instagram influencers via hashtags, brand mentions, online lists, influencer databases, or specialized platforms. Use a mix of the strategies mentioned above to zero in on the influencers who are the right fit for your brand.
Do you have any questions about finding Instagram influencers? Please mention them in the comments section.