Instagram Influencer Marketing – What Really Works?

Updated 13.05.2020

As we’re swinging through 2020 in full speed, it’s time to look over your marketing strategies and ensure you’re up-to-date and set to compete and stand out this year.

In broader terms, we’re seeing a decline in traditional advertising. Sure digital advertising is on the rise, but with that we also get increased costs. It’s becoming increasingly expensive to run ads for your offers. Competition is literally eating up your profits.

Moreover, we cannot rely only on digital advertising. A majority of the people find ads intrusive and annoying. In the United States, about 30.1% of the people blocked these ads.


As a business, it’s imperative to know that the consumers of today are knowledgeable and it’s not easy to sway them with traditional marketing approaches.

It’s an era where it takes more than a sexy offer to persuade consumers to take action.

They want social proof.

For in-depth information about your product, brand or services, consumers turn to peers or a network of trusted authorities. One study noticed that nearly 82% of the people make a decision based on recommendations by influencers. This makes influencers vitally important to brands.

Several successful brands like Coca-Cola and H&M are leveraging influencer partnerships to boost engagement, awareness, and sales.

Did you know that the global spend on influencer marketing is predicted to reach $5-$10 billion by 2020?

Yes, influencer marketing helps to build an audience, boost sales and increase brand awareness.

More importantly, it costs significantly costs less than traditional advertising (if done right).

What is influencer marketing?

Think of influencer marketing as a hybrid of old marketing and new marketing techniques, implementing the idea of celebrity endorsement in a modern day scenario driven by content.

Influencer marketing is when well-known figures promote an offer, service or a product to their audience in exchange for money, free product or any other form of payment.

It’s not necessary to hire Stephen Curry to promote your new line of sneakers. In fact, a majority of the influencer marketers who are successful aren’t working together with very famous influencers.

Instead of a famous person to promote your brand, you need someone who has your target audience’s attention and trust. Ideally you want to have them as many as possible.

You might want to check out this guide as well – influencer marketing campaign guide.

In this article, we’re focusing on Instagram influencer campaigns. It’s important to know how the platform works, who and what is an Instagram influencer and what are some of the Instagram marketing networks, where you can find influencers to work with.

Now the big questions is:

Does influencer marketing work?

In short – absolutely. 

Here are some campaign ideas that you can use with your influencers. A lot of influeners can suggest you these campaigns as well, after all they know their audience the best.

Influencer Marketing for Businesses: Pros and Cons

Before we go into specific ways you could use influencers for your business or if you’re reading this as an influencer you might pick up some ideas for your upcoming partnership.

Influencer marketing is the talk of the town today. It has benefited a number of businesses across different niches.

However, just like any other strategy, influencer marketing has its dark sides too. Not sure if this is for you?

Take a look at its pros and cons:

The Pros of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing can help you:

  1. Improve Your Reach and Credibility – When an influencer endorses your brand, they can expose your business to a new audience. Successful influencer partnerships can also help you grow your online following substantially. Moreover, the right influencers can get people to trust your brand.
  2. Save Time – Influencers can save you a whole lot of time by taking up the responsibility of content creation. Moreover, owing to their ability to impact people’s buying decisions, they can shorten your sales cycle.
  3. Impact Your Bottom Line – In the end, the goal of every business is to see an increase in paying customers. By publishing detailed reviews, how-to videos, and other branded content, influencers can help you increase conversions.

The Cons of Influencer Marketing

Conversely, some of the main challenges associated with influencer marketing include:

  1. It Can Hurt Your Reputation – If you partner with the wrong influencer, their content could be disregarded by your target audience. This can paint your brand in a bad light.
    In addition, if influencers end up ignoring FTC guidelines or presenting skewed data using bots, your brand can suffer enormously.
  2. Measuring Its ROI Can Be Challenging – Often, marketers find it difficult to measure the success of their influencer campaigns. For easier tracking, you can make use of UTM codes and custom promo codes. This will help you track the clicks and sales driven by an influencer.

All in all, just like other marketing strategies, influencer marketing has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

However, if you tread carefully, you can largely benefit from it. You can also use influencer marketing platforms to streamline your efforts. I’ve reviewed some of the best ones in my post on

To learn more about the pros and cons of influencer marketing, you can check out the infographic below.

The Pros and Cons of Using Influencer Marketing for Your Brand
Image Courtesy:

Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, content marketing, and SEO. He is the co-founder of Attrock, a digital marketing agency. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.

Alright Let’s move to specific ideas for your influencer marketing campaigns.

1. Instagram giveaways


Who doesn’t like free stuff?

Consumers love taking part in contests with a chance to win free products.

There was a time when Oprah gave selected winners cars. Not only did the recipients smile from ear to ear but so did everyone who tuned in to watch the show.

With the help of influencers and some free stuff, your brand could reach thousands of people. It really depends on the influencer and what you have as an offer, these things usually go down either on Instagram or YouTube.

Milk Makeup, a makeup brand, partnered with Jkissa, a celebrity makeup artist and a YouTube star, to giveaway products worth $600.

For customers, giveaways are a fun way to connect with a brand. The opportunity to win something motivates people to engage with your brand, even if you’re just starting out.

Pro Tip: Include signature products in your giveaway which everyone loves. Later, you can shower your audience with lesser-known or new-products. This strategy will not only keep customers happy but will also highlight other products.

If the aim of your brand’s marketing campaign is exposure, brand awareness or introducing your product or service to your target market, then collaborating with an influencer for a giveaway is an excellent way to achieve this.

Important! Keep in mind that the giveaway prize should be relevant and you’re doing the giveaway for the people that actually care about your content.

It doesn’t make much sense for a makeup brand to do an iPhone giveaway. Sure it’s desirable, but this doesn’t attract targeted followers. Also bluntly giving away Amazon gift card might not be ideal (unless you’re Amazon…duh).

Giving a free money usually ends with attracting a lot of participants that actually don’t care that much about the product. 

We’ve already tried jumping into that rabbit hole.?

2. Affiliate marketing

Influencer marketing doesn’t revolve merely around brand awareness. Ultimately, as a brand, you want your calculated moves to produce sales for your business.

Binding influencer marketing with affiliate marketing can help you establish a relationship with an influencer that can be even more beneficial for both parties.

In a nutshell, for every sale the influencer brings to your store, you’ll pay them a commission.

If you want this method to work well, you need to be clear from the get-go. Lay out the process, your expectations and the commissions for each sale.

There is no guarantee that an influencer will accept your offer.

That is okay.

Take your time and look for the right individual who fits your marketing bill and also believes in your values.

At the end of the day, affiliate marketing is an effective means of reaching results in your business. This together with influencer marketing, will help you get results.

Pro Tip: if you want to succeed with an affiliate marketing partner, make it as easy as possible for promoters to work with you. Provide them sales materials, banners, sample Instagram posts, weekly ideas and news what to post and how. You could check out ReferralCandy or GetAmbassador to manage your links and campaigns with your affiliates.

Alternatively, if you’re running an e-commerce store a simple unique coupon code per influencer isn’t a bad option either.

3. Instagram takeovers

The doors to communicating with brands opened because of social media. It’s a platform that’s devoted to interactions and it’s a space where influence thrives.

Influencer takeover is when you hand over the reins, the control of your social media, to an expert in the field who engages with your followers for a certain period of time. Your followers will witness new content and experience a different journey.

In marketing there’s nothing better than disrupting the pattern people are used with.

A change evangelist and millennial keynote speaker, Brian Fanzo, took over Buffer’s Instagram account. During his takeover, he gave advice about community building and social media.

This is an exciting way to show your followers something new and keep things fresh.

Pro Tip: If you’re worried about the quality of the takeover content or concerned about the security, then have the influencer prepare the story a few days ahead and then send to you so you could post it yourself. Your audience will never know.

4. Host an event

As an e-commerce store, you can get stuck promoting only online.

It’s easy to assume that all the good stuff happens online. While you sit pretty and continue promoting online, there is a world of consumers engaging with brands offline.

From a special event exclusively for influencers to conferences to pop-up stores to product launches and workshops, there are plenty of ways to attract consumers.

In-person events allow you, as a brand, to invite influencers over to share the experiences with their followers.

Say you host a food festival, a majority of your influencers should be from Instagram who will post incredible photos of the food on display. You can find these people pretty easily – simply research some popular food related hashtags and filter out users with the highest engagement and following.

Make sure to also use geo-filters as well to find the right influencers in your area.

A successful event not only improves your brand’s visibility but also enriches your relationship with influencers. But to pull this off, you need to have a guest list full of influencers who are relevant to your brand and can get the word out about your brand.

Pro Tip: Prioritize lighting and décor. You want influencers to take a lot of pictures which they will post on their channel for followers to see. The venue should look both true to the theme and inviting.

5. Cause marketing

Cause marketing is the norm in this new era of social responsibility. Audiences like to see that you have the desire to make the world a better place and that you support important causes.


To make your brand more human, partner with a cause along with influencers.

A well-known pet food company Pedigree worked for a cause with influencers. Their campaign “Buy a Bag, Give a Bowl” showed support for a pet-related cause. With every bag of Pedigree that a customer purchased, an animal shelter received a bowl of Pedigree dog food.

By writing social media posts and blog posts, influencers heightened the buzz. This campaign generated 62,800 views and 43 million impressions.

6. Sponsored Ads


I’ve spoken about the rise of Instagram ads a lot in the past months.

Look, we already know that on Facebook you have to pay for your posts to be shown. Organic reach is almost dead. Pay-to-play is the name of the game and Instagram is moving towards it as well.

Typically, advertising is associated with mind-numbing content that companies insist that customers see. At times they misinterpret how the consumer relates to the brand or promote a subpar product. The thought of advertisements usually gets consumers running in the opposite direction (unless you do incredibly sexy ads).

For example, Nespresso, to show off their coffee machine, collaborated with Food Feels. Their Instagram page has a gorgeous picture which gives viewers the product experience. The love of the audience for the picture is expressed in the comments section.

For sponsored ads to be successful, you need to steer the focus of the ad to the customer instead of your product or brand. This is an effective way to gain the attention of your audience.

Think outside the box and do sponsored ads differently to spark interest in the consumer. For example in your advertisement you can suggest your audience send you a direct message instead of just clicking away from the post to the website. This builds a better relationship with the potential future customer-to-be.

Pro Tip: instead of traditional photo post, experiment with video. Video ads get significantly cheaper reach, are more memorable and have stronger impact.

7. Gifts


Also known as product seeding, this is where products are sent to an influencer with the hope of free publicity.

A free gift makes influencers happy.

Their reactions, thoughts and the product is all captured on camera and shown to their followers. It shows their followers a first-hand experience of your product which can transpire into a positive review for you. This along with a coupon code or product link can result in increased sales.

Lo & Sons, a company into bags, gifts free products to those influencers who have more than 100,000 followers. Paola Mathe, a popular Instagrammer who has more than 131,000 followers, mentioned Lo & Sons in several posts and promoted their products.

Daniel Wellington also uses this approach by gifting elegant and minimalistic watches to their influencers who create stunning posts which revolve around their watch.

What’s a better way to get your products out there than have people talking about them.

8. Brand ambassadors

Want to take influencer marketing to the next level?

Well, many brands are reaching out to their trusted influencers to become brand ambassadors.

As a brand ambassador, one has to use the brand’s product on a regular basis and continuously promote them. The ambassadors are ‘faces of the company’ who share posts, represent the brand at various events and even give out freebies to attendees.

This is definitely a go to strategy if you’re thinking long-term. Usually getting an outstanding result out of one influencer post is pretty difficult. However, working a selected few influencers over a 3-6 month period gives you a good understanding what’s the ROI.

Speaking of which..

Measure influencer marketing ROI

You need to know if your marketing campaigns are profitable and helping you to reach your goals. Although it sounds trendy to say you’re working with influencers, what’s the use if you aren’t generating results?

Ensure that whatever method you choose, you track your campaign.
Even though it feels like getting mentioned by an influencer has non-monetary value, make no mistake; there are plenty of ways to track the revenue an influencer generates.

For instance, one of the simplest ways is to give your influencers a unique personalized promo code which they will share with their followers. Every time a customer uses this code, you can link that sale to a specific influencer.


Few years ago, Kellogg’s Special K launched a campaign to encourage people to follow their New Year’s resolutions. They partnered with many influencers on social media to create content using their #FuelYourResolution hashtag. By tracking this branded hashtag, Special K was able to measure the impact the influencers had on the campaign.

Like this, there are many other ways to measure ROI. Experiment and find what works best for you.

Start leveraging influence

Influencer marketing plays a vital role in the marketing strategies of brands. Use it to your advantage and expose your products in front of your target audience.

This trend is not going to come to an end anytime soon. Influencer marketing will remain a driving force for those brands who want to improve sales via social media and grow their audience.

As a brand, you need to stay on top of the trend to get the most from it and see real success. The real question is what are you going to do to get the most out of influencer marketing?

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below this article. Let me know if you have worked with influencers or are you an influencer who has worked with brands. What has been your experience so far?

Want more content ideas for your business? Check out this article: 10 Content Marketing Ideas for Brands to Succeed on Instagram.

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Johannes holds a Masters degree in Business IT. He has more than 7 years of experience in online marketing and holds certifications from Google. Additionally, has helped to develop several start-ups. He enjoys good food and feels slightly awkward talking about himself in third person.