eCommerce Insiders

The Step-by-Step Guide to Identifying Online Influencers on Instagram

So, you’ve decided that you want to work smarter not harder when it comes to increasing the visibility, website traffic and, of course, sales for your ecommerce business. Awesome!

Expect you’ve hit a wall.

A major part of that plan includes working with online influencers to help you gain more reach than you could ever hope to achieve alone.

In this article I share step-by-step sleuthing tips to help you identify who the online influencers are in your niche, then, what data you should be looking for to help you decide whether reaching out to them and investing in a relationship will provide a good ROI for your ecommerce business.

It starts with your hashtag master list.

You probably already know that Instagram is driven by hashtags if you’re at the stage where you are looking for online influencers to partner with your brand. If you were a jewelry brand, your master hashtag list may have terms like:

#silverjewelry (including variations of the spelling on jewelry)




You would use this keyword list to start smoking out online influencers, but really that’s just the start.

Look for images that contain people, not just images of the jewelry.

Most online influencers include themselves in their content, even if it’s not a facial or body shot. You’ll need to go through these posts under each hashtag and weed out images that belong to other brands, isolating those that belong to bloggers.

The only way to do that is to get click happy, and to read the bios of all the profiles that are of interest. Another tip, is to add the word “blogger” to the hashtag of your keyword so you can quickly identify bloggers in that niche.

Now be warned, this research can be pretty time consuming and, if you’re not super focused, lead you down a massive rabbit hole where you waste lots of time. I suggest using a timer to help you stay focused.

As you go through this process, keep an eye out for hashtags that you haven’t thought of or haven’t used yet which are already popular or trending on the platform. This stage in your research, if done thoroughly, will unearth some keywords that will naturally help you grow your followers.

Decide on your influencer criteria.

Now before you starting following influencers and filling up your Instagram feed, there a few things I’d like to highlight which are relevant at this stage of the process, but also at later stages of your research, and that’s: what qualifies as an influencer?  But for now let’s keep it within the context of Instagram.

Here’s what to look for on Instagram:

  • They post regularly – at least once per day.
  • They create quality, consistent content.
  • Their accounts don’t just have lots of followers – but lots of follower engagement – don’t be fooled by accounts with tons of bought, low-quality followers. Genuine online influencers have engaged followers.
  • They state that they work with brands in their bio – if they provide an email address even better.
  • They appropriately tag and reference the brands they are currently working with in their content.

At this stage, you should shouldn’t discount the idea of working with influencers on the rise, rather than just going for the big guns. These early stage influencers should have an audience of 3k or more, but a consistent content style and posting schedule, and their followers should be engaged.

If they are already working with other brands this is a good sign that you should get on board early – while they are still affordable and accessible.

One tip is to go through their follower list to see if their followers look like the type of audience you want to engage? Want to save time and hack the system? Start following some of those followers straight away, using the jab, jab, right hook system – I’ll explain that system properly in the follow up to this post.

I also like to do a responsiveness test by asking them about one of the items featured in their content. I’ll look for speed of response and the amount of detail given, i.e. whether they direct me to the retailer–which they should.


Use Instagram’s follower suggestions.

This is the best way to hack this influencer identification process. Find a list of 20 influencers based on your hashtag search, then let Instagram serve up the other influencers for you–as they usually suggest three similar profiles when you first like a new Instagrammer. Then rinse and repeat the relevant steps.

Take your research off the platform.

Serious online influencers often have large and engaged followings on more than one platform. Go over to their other social media platforms and have a look at how well these platforms are maintained, and whether they keep each of their communities engaged in a way that will positively represent your brand?

You also want to look for cross-promotion: are they sharing their Instagram content on Facebook, Pinterest, etc?

Bloggers who naturally cross-promote their content in fresh and exciting ways across all their profiles, represent far more value for time and money than those who stick to only one platform.

In order to get the very best ROI for your investment, you need to start thinking like an advertiser and not just a brand. Remember, this isn’t just about pretty pictures, this is about value producing ‘reach’ – and that’s where a blogger’s media kits come into play.

Read their media kit.

The serious players will have these ready, up-to-date and readily available on their website, quite simply because they want you to know they’re open for business, and to avoid answering the same questions over and over again.

These kits should give you information on stats, like:

  • Daily, weekly, monthly unique and repeat visitors.
  • Page views.
  • Audience demographics – age/sex/location – don’t be afraid to ask for a Google analytics screenshot before you get into a paying arrangement with an online influencer.
  • What other advertising opportunities do they offer?
  • Their top referring keywords – in other words, are your ideal customer ending up on these influencers blogs/social profiles as a result of the keywords that your brand wants to be found for?

At this stage you should have a 10’000ft view of a blogger, and a fairly good idea of whether they would be a good fit for your brand, not just visually, but from the sort of value and traffic their collaboration is likely to drive to your Ecommerce store.

Take it back on to Instagram.

Now you have a master list of the sort of influencer you want to engage, you’re about to start a new process. I’ll detail this in a future article, so make sure you get signed up to Ecommerce Insiders and add their blog feed to your RSS/reader so you don’t miss it. But for now, I’m gonna use the Gary Vaynerchuck analysis, and say now it’s time for the: jab, jab right hook…

Oh! And if you haven’t already started blogging for your brand, check out this complimentary 7 day mini-course on blogging for brands that mean business! It’s packed full of everything you need to know and do to get started.

Stacey Herbert

Stacey Herbert is a marketing and business coach for fashion entrepreneurs, and the founder of #TOMB The Online Marketing Boutique – the premier group coaching program and training portal for online boutique owners. Take a class, accept a challenge, or access expert marketing advice 24/7 – 365. To discover more, check this out.

Ready to experience brazen profits in your eCommerce business? Get in touch today.

Join her private community for online boutique owners on Facebook and follow her on Instagram.

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