10 Steps To A Successful Instagram Influencer Campaign


Here’s how such partnerships work: A brand selects, and then hires several influential Instagrammers to post photos on their behalf. The Instagrammers hence expose the brands’ promotion to their large network of followers. Promotions can be for a new product, an app, a service, a campaign…

While these partnerships spread within various industries, their quality tend to vary greatly from one to another. In this article, we’re giving you a 10-items checklist to ensure a successful Instagram influencer campaign, with quality photos.

1. Adapt according to your campaign goal (creating content, gaining followers, increasing awareness about a product)

We’ll start with the obvious here: you have to know what this campaign is for in order to define the strategy you’ll put in motion and what you’ll ask your partner creators to do.

A few popular campaign objectives are:

  • increasing awareness about a product
  • gaining followers on your brand’s Instagram account
  • creating content for your brand’s account.

Note that these 3 goals are not mutually exclusive. You can launch a new product while creating fresh content for your account. But that’s a point we’ll discuss later.

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Left: partnership with National Geographic and Davidoff to raise awareness on protecting our Oceans: #lovetheocean
Right: partnership with Naturebox promoting their snacks

2. Hire only talented Instagrammers who share authentic and creative photos

Searching online, you’ll stumble upon a lot of popular Instagrammers of varying amount of talent. These Instagrammers are commonly referred to as “influencers”. But the ones sharing great, original photos, are what we, at TOTEMS, call creators. They are the ones you should try to contact.
Steer clear of accounts re-posting others’ photos, or those who simply share bad ones.

A good rule of thumb is to check out this “inspiration” page from Instagram and look for creators who fit in that style.

@sweatengine is a member of the TOTEMS Community

3. Aim for inspirational images

Don’t forget you’re hiring talented people who often make money from their photography skills. Help them express their creative genius while staying on-target with Instagram’s visuals.

Get a head-start by reading our article about photos Instagrammers love to take that can also work for your brand.

A post from @the_gris on the campaign for Lens maker Lensbaby

4. Hire Instagrammers with a high Engagement Rate (>1%)

If you’re paying the money, you want your photos to perform well on Instagram. Look at Instagrammer’s past posts and see how well they did. The most accurate measurement of this is Engagement Rate (ER) calculated as follows:

ER = Average number of Likes / Instagrammer’s Number of Followers

Choose Instagrammers with an ER over 1%.

5. Create a story, not a sales pitch or an ad

Keep in mind it’s Instagram we’re talking about. Where posts are genuine, real, and often personal. When copywriting the creator’s captions (or reviewing them, depending on how you decided to work with creators), make sure that they’re telling a story, and that it’s not a blatant sales pitch. Sales pitch will have followers raise eyebrows.

As an example, here’s a story by @lydiaemillen:

They say love is blind. I disagree. Infatuation is blind. Love is all-seeing and accepting. Love is seeing the flaws and blemishes and accepting them. Love is accepting the bad habits and mannerisms, and working around them. Love is recognizing all the fears and insecurities, and knowing your role is to comfort. Love is working through all the challenges and painful times. Infatuation is fragile and will shatter when life is not perfect. Love is strong and it strengthens because it is real…But also love is knowing exactly what she needs after a really really bad day! – author unknown @lovooapp #lovoo #lovooapp

6. Add a clear call to action in the caption

Now, even if you tell a story, that doesn’t meant you should get rid of the call to action (CTA) all together. There is still a bottomline to achieve with this campaign. Make your CTA clear and straight-to-the-point.
Always keep in mind that the goal isn’t to trick the creators’ followers into doing what you want, but letting them know about what you do, and offering them the chance to follow through.

7. Schedule the posts at the right time

In social media, timing matters. Since you’re building a distributed network of Instagram creators, you’ll possibly cover various time zones. You’ll have to take this into account when scheduling posts.
But there will also be an overlap in audience between your partnering Instagrammers. You don’t want people to suddenly see many posts about your product and then nothing. Spreading posts in time is a key to a successful campaign.

Posts for the Honest Tea campaign

8. Engage with the creators’ photos

Once the photos are live, keep the pace going. Have your community managers check on the posts on a regular basis, and reply to the comments made. A like never hurts either.

9. re-share creators’ posts via your Instagram account

The photos shared by the creators are a fresh source of beautiful, on-brand content for your brand’s account. Take this opportunity and re-share their posts. It’s a win-win situation for creators who, in turn, get exposed to more people via your brand’s account.

A few important things to note:
Make sure to tell creators of your intentions before re-sharing their posts.
One last thing: don’t use a re-sharing app. Instead, download the photo and re-upload it yourself. Apps facilitating Instagram re-shares cut down on the image’s quality and often add a watermark, which won’t look good for your brand.

Davidoff re-posting from creator @jessewald.

10. If gaining followers is your goal, populate the destination account with great content before the campaign launch

Between an empty account with barely any information and one with some good-looking photos already posted on it along with relevant information in the bio, which do you think will attract the more followers? Kind of obvious, isn’t it? Make sure to populate your account before launching your follower-acquisition campaign.

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