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How to Become an Instagram Influencer

Ever wanted to become an influencer? Well, there’s no better time than now. WIth the industry projected to be valued at 15 million dollars by 2022, there’s no denying their popularity and influence when it comes to a brand’s overall marketing plan. Here we will discuss how to break into the industry and the different ways to develop a strong social media presence that attracts followers and brands. 

Who Are Instagram Influencers? 

Influencers are Instagram users just like the rest of us. The difference? They have a following who look to them for their industry expertise. The trust their following has for them is what gives them the power to increase product sales or drive followers to a brand’s website. For example, there was a period where CeraVe shelves were bare due to Skincare by Hyram’s glowing reviews. 

Their loyal following is what’s valuable to brands wanting to expand their reach. Brands hire influencers for increased brand awareness and promotional efforts. And what doesn’t sound better than posting to Instagram about products you love? If you’re looking to break into the industry let’s dive into the two most approachable groups of influencers, nano influencers and micro influencers.  

Nano Influencers and Micro Influencers 

With a smart strategy, you can monetize an Instagram following of any size! To get started let’s learn about the two lowest levels of influencers, known for their high engagement and trusted community. 

Nano Influencers:

Nano influencers are influencers with between 1,000-10,000 followers and they have good, consistent content with high engagement rates. They’re essentially regular Instagram users who use their high engagement rate to get sponsorships. Nano nfluencers are very niche in that their followers share their specific interests. 

Nano influencers have an edge on the competition because they typically don’t rely on social media for their primary source of income and are often more relatable and approachable to their followers. Authenticity is essential for building trust with your audience, and nano-influencers have plenty of it. Because nano influencers are less expensive than higher-tiered influencers, they tend to cost less and have a higher ROI. On average, nano-influencers make around $100 per post. 

Micro Influencers:

Unlike nano influencers, micro influencers have a huge following with anywhere from 10,000-50,000 followers. This Increase in visibility yields them double the return, making about $200 per post. They make about $200 per post-- twice that of nano-influencers, but still considerably less than macro-influencers. Making a solid income from social media is more feasible for micro-influencers as their sponsorships are most consistent.

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Strategy Tips for Instagram Influencers    

The path from 1,000 followers to 100,000 isn’t as far-fetched as you think. Take KKandBabyJ for example who started sharing on Instagram as a way for Keren to document her first pregnancy. Today, they have over 1 million followers and are sponsored by massive brands like Amazon and Crocs. Here’s what they have to say about their journey: 

“The beginning of youtube, like, that’s pretty much how it is. You kind of are just like recording. But as you evolve and once you learn more, it really is planning out content, picking up the camera, getting the cool angles, and thinking about how you’re going to edit it before you shoot it.” — Khoa on BAYTS podcast

It’s all about being intentional with your strategy while enjoying an authentic connection with your audience. Here are our top three tips for creating a bomb Instagram influencer strategy:

#1 Know Your Audience

You can’t build trust with your audience if you don’t get to know them first. When you’re just starting, you need to define your ideal audience. Who do you want to connect with? Who will your content resonate with? 

Evaluating these questions is what separates regular Instagram users from influencers and gets them using the platform strategically. Influencers know who they are trying to reach, what content their ideal audience wants to see and how their audience likes to communicate. Jumpstart the process by studying the audience of a similar influencer in your niche. 

Mia Maples, a lifestyle, fashion, and DIY influencer on YouTube, uses Instagram polls to gauge what her audience wants. Every weekend, she posts a poll letting her audience choose which of her two weekly videos will go up first. This allows her to find out what content her audience likes most and makes them feel involved in the upload process.

#2 Know Your Niche and Content Pillars

Knowing your niche (and sticking to it) is super important if you want to find success as an influencer. If you create content for multiple niches, you’ll have a hard time identifying your ideal audience. Plus, having a specific niche simplifies your content planning process and presents you as an expert in your field. 

Once you’ve got your niche defined, it’s time for exploring your content pillars. Content pillars (also called content buckets) are overarching themes used for brainstorming niche content. Additionally, they simplify the content creation process while keeping your content intentional and niche-relevant. Your content buckets might look something like this:

  • Inspiration
  • Conversation
  • Education
  • Promotion
  • Connection

While yours will be niche-specific, this list of content buckets shows how each theme of posts serves a strategic purpose. 

Molly Burke does a great job with content pillars on her Instagram. She uses her platform to connect with her community and raise disability awareness. 

#3 Craft Community-Building Content

As an influencer, you’ll want a supportive community as your audience. Crafting community-building content will help you grow a supportive, connected community. The more connected your community is to you, your content and each other, the more engagement your posts will get. These days, sponsorship rates rely more on engagement than follower count. The more engaged your audience is, the more valuable you’ll be as an influencer-- and who wouldn’t want a supportive community having their back?

Kirsten Titus has the community-building game down. She became popular with her TikTok account @pepperonimuffin. She started posting inside jokes on Instagram just for her TikTok following to understand. This strategy boosted engagement like crazy and made her community feel a personal connection with her. And as an added bonus, it also helped her migrate some of her TikTok following to Instagram, thus growing her audience. 

A big part of community-building as an influencer is creating strong connections with your brand partners. We reached out to Catherine Mitchell, Director of Brand & Comms to learn what she looks for in a potential influencer partnership for PLANOLY. Here are some tips to help you stand out:

  • Know Your Audience: In addition to having clearly defined rates, be sure to include insights about your followers in your media kit. Expand beyond follower count and typical engagement rates on your posts to include your audience’s interests, pain points and demographics (i.e. average age, income, and geographical information). As a brand, we’re looking to see if your audience aligns with ours so having this clearly outlined is incredibly helpful!
  • Jump on a Call: All of our best ideas for sponsored content have come out of a quick 15-minute brainstorming session on the phone. It saves everyone time in the long run by eliminating back and forth emails and plants seeds for future partnerships. 
  • Stay True to YOUR Brand: Don’t be afraid to push back on content ideas from a brand. We ultimately want to create content that will resonate with your community, so sharing what doesn’t work is just as important to share with us as what does work. If a brand isn’t willing to budge on certain wording or creative aspects that are important to your personal brand, they aren’t the right partner for you. 

Consistency with your Instagram content strategy is key to building an Instagram audience. And planning is the best way to stay consistent.. With our Instagram planner, you can schedule your content in bulk, far in advance. That way, engaging with your community will be your only day-to-day responsibility when you’re just starting out. This method is especially beneficial to Instagram influencers who work full time and don’t have that much free time.

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Carra Sykes

Carra Sykes is the Design Manager at PLANOLY. Her industry knowledge is unmatched and helps lead the team to create compelling designs for our channels.

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