Influencer marketing is now one of the best ways to gain attention online.
Did you know that 4 in 10 millennials say their favorite influencer understands them better than their friends? Those are some deep connections being forged purely on social media.
If you’re more facts than feelings, consider that Visual.ly found influencer-shared content to get 16 times more engagement than company-owned content.
If there’s so much to gain through influencer marketing, why don’t more people do it?
The simple answer: they don’t know how to get started.
It’s such a new and unique niche that business-owners just don’t know how to contact Instagram influencers or how they work. They don’t know how to reach out in a way that’s meaningful and memorable, or what to expect in return.
Fortunately, we’re here to help with tips and even templates to get your foot in the door.
How to Contact Instagram Influencers: The Basics
Influencer marketing is a little …complicated.
The SOCE found that influencers are becoming increasingly particular about the kind of content they share and the brands they work with. Unfortunately, this means that most of your top picks on Instagram will delete your DM with barely a skim. #TrueStory
The good news is that if you can make the right first impression (and second, and third), you can unlock the power of influencers in no time. All you need to do is get your direct message templates right and play the numbers game.
Here, we offer steps that will guide you to connect with social media influencers. Before anything else, remember this golden rule — whatever you send, make sure that it’s:
Ready to start being influential? Let’s go!
Step 1: Find Your Influencers on Instagram
As anyone who has worked with a 3rd party to create content can guess, the right influencer makes all the difference. You need someone who’s going to speak to your target audience. Generate a list of 20 Instagram personalities who you think can do that. Include anyone from minor celebrities to local micro-influencers with a decent following.
Once you have your list, research each person in depth. Check out their social media pages on other platforms. Visit their websites and also see what people are saying about them in other forums. While you’re researching, make sure they meet your criteria. For instance, ask yourself:
- Are they currently trending in my industry?
- Are they a good fit for my products or services?
- Have they interacted with brands like mine before?
According to one study, 49% of consumers rely on recommendations from influencers. So don’t miss your shot by getting the wrong people on your team, people that might not get you or whose audience can’t use your services.
Once you’ve narrowed your list to no more than 10 influencers, make sure you follow all of them on Instagram and their other social media platforms. It helps to start commenting or liking some of their posts before ever direct messaging them so that slowly but surely, they notice you.
Step 2: Prepare Your First Direct Message Template
You’ve been following a few influencers who best fit your marketing strategy. Now it’s time to reach out.
The first email or DM you send is an important first impression, but just an initial introduction. It should simply establish contact and build familiarity with your brand.
You don’t need to speak to your influencer about sharing content in this email. Instead, just break the ice. Let them know you’re interested in building a relationship. You can say something like:
Hey, [First Name] – I love your page! Especially that [specific content] you shared. [Emoji] I’m reaching out from [Your company] to see if we might be able to collab on something. Let me know if you’re interested!
This DM accomplishes a few key things. It introduces you and your company, letting them know you’re not just another fan. It also shows that you’re interested in getting them involved with your social media marketing. However, it isn’t pushy and follows the golden rule.
Step 3: Promise Value in Exchange for Influencer Marketing
If your influencer gets back in touch, that’s the signal to reel them in.
The best way to do that is to promise value.
You can even do this in your initial outreach message if you’re feeling confident. Influencers on Instagram get dozens of messages every day. If you want their attention and help boosting your word-of-mouth marketing, you might need to try a little bribery.
Remember that influencers love being on top of the latest trends. If you can offer them the chance to try something before anyone else does, they’ll appreciate it.
Don’t worry about giving freebies away. It pays off! Influencer marketing campaigns earn about $6.50 for every dollar spent.
Once you’ve made that first round of correspondence, try upgrading your direct message templates to offer a specific value, like this:
Hey, [First Name] – We think you’d look awesome in one of our latest hats. [Include a pic] Like it? If so, we can send one your way!
Once they get back in touch, remember to follow through on your word and send the item ASAP. Your influencer won’t want to wait around.
Send them another quick message letting them know when it’s been shipped. You can even include a picture of the package. Some extra contact or tracking information is useful, in case the parcel goes missing.
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Step 4: The Follow-Up DM
Influencer marketing works – but it’s not like hiring a consulting firm and it only works if you do it properly.
If you want to work with influencers, you can’t be put off whenever you don’t get an immediate response, and you need to accept a certain amount of apparent flakiness.
A follow-up message can be a good way to check up on a pending #ShoutOut. Or just remind your influencer that you’re still around. If you’re following up on a possible celebrity endorsement, try this:
Hey (First name)! Just following up to see if you want those freebies! All we need is an address. Hit me up!
If you’re following up when you’ve sent an item already, try:
Hey (First name)! We just wanted to make sure you received our stuff. Hope you like it!
Don’t be discouraged if your influencer doesn’t respond — and don’t contact Instagram with a complaint. That’ll just give you a bad reputation. Instead, move onto the next influencer on your list. Hopefully, you’ll have better luck this time.
How Not to Contact Influencers
Before we sign off, we thought we’d share an insight into what kinds of messages can bore or turn off influencers on Instagram. It’s not our first rodeo (an interesting metaphor for connecting with these personal-brand promoters) here at Jumper, so here’s what we’ve learned from a case study or two.
An example of one of the direct message templates that didn’t work at all for a client:
Heyyyyyy, so I think you’d be a perfect fit for a project I’ve been working on. We’ve got these cool new dad hats and are looking for up-and-coming influencers to snap some photos in our hats and post on their Insta with our hashtag. What do you think? I can definitely send you one of the hats if you’re interested!
The reason this didn’t work is simple. It’s too long.
It’s a fine line, but you want to make sure you get right to the point with influencers, so they know exactly why you’re contacting them.
Should you contact potential influencers via email?
First, ask yourself if you have their email address. Sometimes you can get it directly from their instagram account (if they have a business profile).Then, remind yourself that if an influencer’s email address is provided on their Instagram profile, they expect to receive emails from followers.
If an influencer has a business profile, they will have a link to contact them via phone or email in their bio section. Then, all you have to do is click on their email address and it should direct you to compose an email.
If you decide to go the email route, make sure you’re straightforward, just as you would be if you were sending a DM through Instagram. However, since you aren’t contacting them through Instagram directly, make sure you tell them that’s how you found them. You can say something like:
Hey (First name)!
My name is (your name) from (your company). I follow you on Instagram and love your posts!
I wanted to see if you’re interested in collaborating with us. Take a look at our page and see if we’d be a good fit for your content (link to page).
This template is friendly, yet straight to the point. The influencer knows who you are, how you found them, and what you want. If you do link to your Instagram page, make sure it’s the only link and extra information you include. You don’t want to overwhelm them with too much information before you’ve even found out if they’re interested in doing business with you.
How do I reach out to top influencers? (The Secret Trick to get a Response)
When reaching out to top influencers, remember that their inboxes are bombarded with pitches, comments from followers, and other offers. So, you need to find a way to stand out and make your presence known.
The trick is to start engaging with your influencers weeks or even months before you make direct contact. This includes liking, commenting on, and sharing their posts. You can even give them a shout out as experts in their niche so your followers can follow them, too.
This works because you’re boosting their engagement levels while assigning them more value as experts in their niche.
If you’ve posted about a particular influencer, then a smooth way of sliding into their DMs is to let them know you featured them on your post. This gives them the opportunity to share your post and give you a shout out for the love.
Once you decide to contact a top influencer about a possible collaboration, make sure you make it about them. Tell them how a collaboration can help boost their engagement and bring in more followers. Because you’ve already steered traffic their way, they’ll be more inclined to believe you.
If you don’t get a response, then figure out alternative ways of contacting them.
And while some influencers are bad at checking their DMs or emails, they’re very good about responding to comments on their posts. After commenting something relevant to the post, let them know that you messaged them about collaborating. If an influencer is highly active on Twitter, then shoot them a tweet letting them know you’re interested in working with them.
The secret is to be straightforward, but not too pushy.
How can I find brand ambassadors for Instagram?
Brand ambassadors are similar to influencers in that they represent your brand through their posts. However, brand ambassadors are hired for long-term representation, while an influencer is like a contractor who is hired for a short-term campaign. You can compensate brand ambassadors monetarily, through discounts on your product/service, or with free products/services.
There are a few different ways you can recruit brand ambassadors, and most of those ways don’t involve anything more than looking through Instagram and a few strategic posts.
The first thing you have to do is pay attention to your followers. Who’s constantly hyping up your brand by liking, sharing, and commenting on your posts? Reach out to them and ask them if they’re interested in becoming a brand ambassador for you. They’d be stoked at the opportunity!
To reach out, you can say something like:
Hey (First name), we love that you love (Brand)! Would you be interested in representing us as a brand ambassador?
You can also create posts on your Instagram or on your Story letting your followers know you’re looking for ambassadors. Of course, keep the message simple, and then redirect anyone who’s interested to your website for more information, including how they will be compensated.
There are several benefits to having brand ambassadors. First, because you have a long-term commitment with them, you can use them for ongoing campaigns. Second, because you work with them on ongoing campaigns, you have more say in what they post and when they post it. This means you have more opportunity to get quality content to reach existing and potential customers. Check out more on finding brand ambassadors here.
Where to Find Instagram Influencers to Contact
Don’t know where to start when it comes to influencers? No worries, there are easy and free ways to find influencers who fit your niche.
The first thing you can do is see if any influencers already follow you. Look for fans of your brand who have commented, liked or shared your posts. Check out their profiles to see what they usually post and what their following is like. Are their followers usually engaged with their posts? Do they get a lot of likes and comments? If they seem like they’d be a good fit, then reach out!
The easiest route to finding influencers is by using free online tools designed specifically to connect businesses to potential influencers. These tools are great because they can help you find influencers in your niche, some of them help you find influencers who are actively looking for business. It’s one thing to find an influencer, but it’s another to find one who’s interested in getting more business.
Some of these online tools include:
- HypeAuditor: this website helps you find top influencers with high authentic engagement rates. This tool will also tell you what the influencer usually posts about and what country the majority of their audience is from.
- Influence.co: This website serves as an influencer profile directory, which makes it easier to search for influencers in your niche. You can also check their engagement rates and other stats.
- BuzzSumo: This website has all sorts of content marketing tools for you to use, but for the purposes of this article, the content research and influencer research tools are your best friends. The content research tool help you discover popular content for specific keywords while the influencer research tool helps you match relevant keywords to influencer profiles.
How to Improve the Instagram Influencer DM Open Response Rate
Since influencers are used to getting pitches, they learn how to identify messages that could be worth their time.
Before opening your message, most influencers will probably look at your profile to see what you’re all about. If your brand doesn’t seem like a fit for their niche, then they’re more likely to ignore your message. So, make sure that your brand is on-brand with their brand before reaching out.
Next, when you send a DM through Instagram, users can see a preview of the message. So, if you haven’t taken the time to personalize the message, influencers are going to catch on pretty quickly, and most likely ignore you.
As stated multiple times in the article, make sure you’re message is straight to the point, while focusing on what’s in it for the influencer. This includes how you plan to compensate them.
About the Word “Collaborate”
If you’ve been reading closely, then you’ve probably noticed that we’ve used the words “collaborate” a lot. Here’s the thing: a collaboration implies that both parties are supporting each other and working together for a common goal.
That common goal is building a loyal customer/follower base. You want customers who are not only interested in your products/services, but who are interested in maintaining a connection with your brand so they come back for more. Influencers want followers who trust them and believe in the products/services they swear by.
Furthermore, you and the influencer collaborate because you have equal roles. You are responsible for increasing the influencer’s repertoire while the influencer can help build yours.
Good Luck Wrangling Influencers!
Ourselves included, 22% of professional marketers consider influencers to be the best way to obtain customers.
The value of this marketing tactic grows every day. After all, consumers feel more comfortable with their Instagram influencers than a traditional brand promoting itself.
Remember, you won’t get a response from every influencer you contact; don’t panic. Not everyone’s going to want to work with you, even if you get your message right. But by putting a little extra effort into deciding who you contact and how you’ll end up ahead of the game.
For related content, listen to our podcast, Under the Instagram Influence hosted by Ian Ryan, episode “How to Contact Instagram Influencers and Get Their Attention”