5 Influencers Nailing Instagram and What Brands Can Learn

Instagram is the perfect platform for influencers and micro influencers. We love getting a behind-the-scenes look at what they’re up to and Instagram posts, stories, and live vids provide a window into their world.  In 2021, 66% of brands will raise their spending on influencer marketing and last year a whopping 2.5 billion dollars was spent on this marketing strategy. Find out more about the benefits micro-influencers can have for brands. So, let’s look at who’s getting it right and what we can take away from their success. Here’s 5 influencers nailing Instagram and what we can learn from them.

IG Influencer Stats

  • There are over 25 million businesses on Instagram
  • There are 500,000 active influencers on Instagram
  • 89% say ROI from influencer marketing is comparable to or better than other marketing channels
  • 19% of marketers will spend $1,000 – $10,000 per year on influencer marketing in 2020
  • 18% are spending between $100,000 – $500,000 per year
  • User-generated content has a 4.5% higher conversion rate
  • Instagram is the most popular channel for influencer marketing

#1 Authenticity prevails

Part of the appeal of Instagram is the chance to get up close and personal with those that we follow. We want to see the real stuff – not just the polished and perfected posts. Sarah Nicole Landry aka @TheBirdsPapaya (pictured below) is a pro at this. She grew her Instagram from 70,000 followers to 1.9 million in around two years. The reason so many people love her posts? She’s authentic.

Body positivity is something that’s been rightly celebrated in recent years. Among other posts brimming with authenticity, Sarah and her pregnancy stretch marks really resonate with her followers. This, in sharp contrast to the photoshopped and airbrushed world of the Kardashian clan, is distinctly refreshing.

Being insincere or producing staged influencer posts is likely to get you lashed by a fed up online audience.

UK Instagram influencer Scarlett London received serious abuse for a sponsored post of her “perfect morning” that featured fake pancakes and an empty cup of tea. The post, which was an ad for Listerine,  featured 24-year-old lifestyle blogger Scarlett posing on her bed with a plate of “pancakes” and strawberries while cradling a cup of tea, was called out by eagle-eyed followers who stated that the sweet treats were  tortillas, and that the cup of tea was empty. Oh dear.

Other social media fans called out the “staged scene” that featured balloons, perfect hair and Listerine by the bed!



What can brands learn?

Not everything we post needs to be (or should be) preened and polished. In fact, 86% of consumers say authenticity is a key factor in their purchasing decisions. Give your customers the inside scoop on your brand and let them see your human side. This applies in all sectors too, not only beauty. In the finance sector? Let’s meet your risk manager and find out what keeps him awake at night. In the tech sector? Let’s meet the people innovating for your brand and discover what makes them tick.

How to do it:

  • Post behind-the-scenes views into the office, warehouse, or upcoming products.
  • Focus on the human aspect – people prefer seeing people over places and things (by a landslide) with photos of real-life humans shown to increase conversion rates.
  • Utilise Instagram stories and lives give employees a voice and show off your great workplace culture.
  • Made a mistake in a video? Keep it. Your audience will warm to you if you appear authentic on camera.

#2 Add value, not noise

Instagram is used by more than one billion people. With so much content being uploaded every day, you are competing against an infinite supply of posts, stories, and lives for users’ engagement. For this reason, you need to aim to add value, not noise i.e. pointless posts or unrelenting brand promotion with no other angle.

Offering your audience something for free is a simple but effective way to grab attention. Pictured above is Andrea Dormer aka @shetalksfinanceuk promoting her free webinar. By offering a free webinar, eBook, masterclass etc. you not only garner engagement and enhance your audience reach, but you also get the opportunity to snag more leads. Your audience are much more likely to give you their email addresses if they get something out of the deal too. Offering something of value in return for contact details is a sure-fire way of growing your list of qualified leads.

What can brands learn?

Ask yourself if what your brand is putting out into the world is valuable – something that your audience wants to see or learn about. Check out forums and common FAQs to make sure you’re answering the questions people really need. You can also check in with your support or social media team to learn their insights about your audience. They will know exactly what they want as they are on the frontline.

How to do it:

  • Add value by giving a webinar, eBook or training session. This has a secondary positive impact on your brand in that you’re presented as a knowledgeable and generous industry leader.
  • Hold a competition or a giveaway for your products or services.
  • Don’t have tangible products to give away? Team up with another influencer or business for a powerful collab. EG – a free dinner for two at a local restaurant or vouchers for an online bookstore.

#3 Hashtags, hashtags, hashtags

One thing that influencers are great at, is utilising hashtags to draw in new audiences. On average, each post on Instagram has 10.7 hashtags. Hashtags on Instagram allow users to search for a particular term, for example, #FinancialFreedom. When a user searches this term, your post will show up in the results (if you’ve used the hashtag).

Hashtags are one method that Kumiko Love aka @TheBudgetMom (her post pictured above) has used to grow her account. Something clever that this fin-fluencer does is to post all of her hashtags in a comment on the post. The hashtags do their job just as well, but she’s able to keep her caption looking cleaner. Alternately, you can keep the caption clean by following it with five rows of single full stops, then inserting your hashtags; this forces Instagram to collapse the remainder of the caption after the dots, hiding your mass of hashtags.

What can brands learn?

Think of hashtags as a bit like buying a lottery ticket – the more you use, the greater the chance of a new customer discovering you. As TheBudgetMom says, ‘[hashtags] help people discover posts from other content creators who are dealing with the same areas of interest, and it will help people find you.’

How to do it:

  • Use as many hashtags as possible (30 on Instagram) but keep them relevant to your post
  • Not all hashtags are created equal – some will draw more engagement than others. There are now services that aim to find the ideal Insta hashtags by industry/post topic
  • Utilise trending hashtags if you are able to time your influencer collaboration posts to match dates like #internationalwomensday
  • Make your hashtags #accessible. Use camel case so that customers using screen readers are able to have the hashtag properly read aloud to them. Camel case looks #ABitLikeThis

#4 Use humour, but don’t go overboard

The majority of consumers like to see humour used in marketing. Humour is a tool that can resonate with huge demographics and create a sense of unity among your followers. Some brands have funny bones. And that’s good news considering 40% of consumers follow social media accounts specifically to be entertained. Since covid-19 hit and the world got a little gloomy, 58% of consumers want to see more content that make them laugh. But, use it wisely. Getting out the joke book too often will come across as disingenuous; you risk making it look as if your brand is using humour to mask a lack of expertise or substance.

You should also gage whether your brand is suitable for the humour route. For example, Charmin below, produce toilet paper so they can definitely add some humour. Whereas health and wellness products, pharmaceuticals and safety products probably shouldn’t take that route.

In terms of influencers nailing humour, there are plenty. Cole Sprouse, known for his role as Cody Martin on the Disney Channel series The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and its spin-off series The Suite Life on Deck is too darn funny on IG. In addition to his regular Insta account, he also has a second one called @camera_duels which is dedicated to pictures of people attempting to take sneaky pictures of him.

How to do it:

  • Take note of how other brands in your industry use humour to appeal to consumers – see what works, and what doesn’t land so well. Read up on 10 brands that use humour on social media
  • Work with influencers who know how to craft humourous posts and don’t take them too far
  • Find a unique humour angle for your brand and influencer collaboration
  • Make it humorous but relevant – all content should serve a purpose whether it’s building your community or directly promoting your brand

#5 Engage in conversation

The underlying purpose of Instagram is community building and the facilitation of conversations. It’s important to allocate time for engaging with your followers on a regular basis (daily). Fashion influencer, @EmilyCanham, is no stranger to this.

Emily says, ‘I’m always talking to my followers and I spend hours replying to comments along with numerous DM groups on […] Instagram that I set up.’

What can brands learn?

Did you know that 40% of consumers expect a response from a brand in just one hour on social media? The bottom line is that you need to be fast on the reply button – this is a key part of building your community on Instagram. If you’re working with influencers on IG then you need a contract that includes rules. Will they respond to comments or will you? Should they share the content to other channels? Will you be paying them to engage further than just a proactive post?

How to do it:

  • Devise a documented strategy for your brand to respond to your followers. This includes DMs, post comments, replies to stories.. or, get an agency to take care of this for you.
  • Use the question sticker feature to create AMA sessions with fans
  • Working with micro influencers, particularly those already in your space, is likely to yield more post engagement

These five influencers have been nailing Instagram, and your brand can too. Ready to take your Instagram reach and engagement to new heights but not sure how to do it? Contact me to discover how managed social media with an external agency can help your brand.

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About the author

Charlotte Day, known as Charli, is a content marketing strategist heading up social media and storytelling at Contentworks Agency. A content marketing thought leader, she has 1000+ articles published, guest writes for leading social media hubs and frequently speaks at events. She also maintains her own blog at www.charlisays.com and a writer’s life presence on social media. When she’s not writing and managing the agency, Charli enjoys swimming in the Mediterranean, writing poetry and reading.