How to Find & Work with Instagram Influencers

There’s a lot of buzz around working with Instagram Influencers, asking them to be brand ambassadors and cultivating successful, win-win agreements with them. But the question is…how? How do you know how to structure a deal? Who should you be looking for? Where do you find them? How do you make sure it’s successful?

These are all great and common questions, I know because I asked myself the same ones. However, I’m now wiser since setting up an ambassador program from scratch for a client. Read on to see which steps we followed to bring in a positive return from this new marketing tactic.


Know What You Want

Awareness, email signups, specific conversions, and/or sales, what is it that you want? It’s important to know what structure you’re going to move forward with first so that you can set expectations as to what the Influencer may want in return for working with you. In our case, when crafting our ambassador strategy we knew that we wanted to drive sales from discount codes given to our ambassadors.

Some options include:

  • Give the Influencer free product in exchange for a reasonable amount of Instagram posts or stories, blog posts, or a YouTube video.
  • Share a portion of profits with the influencer by giving them a commission on sales.
  • Lend a product out to get honest reviews in exchange for financial compensation.
  • Remuneration on a per post basis. This is usually a rate that the Influencer states for themselves.
  • Hire them for a full campaign.
  • Know who you are looking for

First, let’s clearly define an Influencer and an ambassador. An Influencer is someone who posts consistent, high-quality content on channels like Instagram, YouTube and/or a blog. Most importantly, they have an ongoing relationship with an engaged audience. A clear indicator of this is how they interact with their followers in the comments section of Instagram or their blog. An ambassador is an Influencer who will work with a brand for a longer period of time (over the course of a campaign, rather than for just one post) and who embodies the brand or has a personal connection to it.

There are three levels of Influencers, major, minor, and micro. Major ambassadors have 500,000+ followers and it normally costs about $5000 to post. Minor ambassadors have less than 20,000 followers and it costs between $50-$300 to post. Micro ambassadors have only a few hundred to a couple thousand followers, and usually will post in exchange for a free product. There are pros and cons to working with all types of influencers. Although you may think that follower count is the most important thing to look at for success, you may be surprised to hear that with this client, we actually had the most success with minor ambassadors. Our top ambassador had less than 2500 followers and came first in sales by a large amount.

If you’re struggling to figure out how much to pay influencers, Later has a great blog post that can help you determine what is reasonable, you can read it here. Tools like Hype Auditor can also give an average price per post based on their algorithms, but again it can vary based on location and industry.


How do you find Instagram Influencers?

Now that you know who you are looking for you have to find the right Instagram Influencer who fits your ideal target profile. You can use a paid service that will find Influencers for you and put you into contact with options based on your search results for a fee to save time. Otherwise, you can use Instagram’s built-in tools and your trusty friend Google to help narrow your search.

On Instagram

On Instagram, you can use the search bar to find ambassadors by location or by specific hashtags that pertain to your industry or brand. You can also use generic or location-based hashtags to narrow your search (ex. #ottawa, #613, #yow, #ottawaInfluencer, #ottawalife, #ottawablogger).

Depending on what type of business you have you can niche your hashtags even more based on the demographic (ie. #ottawafamily, #ottawakids #ottawaevent). Don’t be afraid to try different variations of the same type of hashtag. (ie. #ottawablogger, #bloggersofottawa, #ottawablog, #ottawalifeblog, #613blog, #yowblog, etc).

Once you find an Influencer that fits the bill of what you are looking for, Instagram has a feature that suggests accounts to follow if you like a specific account. Click on the suggested friend feature (little arrow pointing down next to their handle), and it will give you a list of suggested accounts that are similar. You can also go into Influencer’s tagged photos and see if they have tagged other Influencers in them. They usually all get invited to similar events and they normally take a photo together to post to social media.

Via Google

Apart from Instagram’s search features, you can also find influencers on Google by searching keywords and combinations. For example, if we were searching for a local Influencer in Ottawa we would type in: “Ottawa Instagram influencer, Ottawa influencer, Ottawa brand ambassador, Ottawa blogger, etc.”

Lastly, one of the best ways to find influential people in a specific industry (beauty, fashion, fitness, etc) is to ask someone who likes and follows people within it. Ask your co-workers, friends and family if they follow anybody locally and what they like about them to see if they would be a good fit.


The Vetting Process

Once you have found an Instagram influencer that you may want to work with it’s best to contact them the way they ask to be contacted, normally dictated in their profile. They may ask you to direct message (DM) them, send them an email, or visit their website.

In your first message, be sure to mention something specific about their feed or website that you like or can relate to. It’s important to do this to establish a good relationship from the beginning and to let them know that you’re not sending everyone the same generic message. Next, introduce yourself and why you’re contacting them. Leave them with something that will make them want to know more if you are sending them a direct message. The goal is to get into an email correspondence with them. Be aware though that influencers get many emails and DMs like yours, so being professional and personalized is key. Know your influencer, otherwise (like with most marketing), your message won’t resonate with them and they won’t respond.

Once you’ve gotten their email address, it’s important to ask for important details that may not be in their media kits, such as engagement rates, viewership on their website/blog, and the demographic breakdown of their audience by gender and location. This information will help you make sure that you are going to be targeting your ideal client. Keep in mind that most minor ambassadors will not have a media kit so you’ll have to gauge authentic engagement by viewing the comments on their posts. You can also use tools like SocialBlade to track followers/following of your influencer to gauge follower authenticity, or pay for a tool like Hype Auditor which will give you a more in-depth breakdown of your influencer’s stats, including whether their follower growth is organic or not.

If you have come to the conclusion that you would be a good fit, then it’s time to write the deal in a formal email or contract.


Working Together

The four key tips to working with an influencer are to:

  1. Set clear expectations and give them all of the necessary tools to be successful (ie. which accounts to tag and which hashtags to use).
  2. Maintain clear communication & expectations. I would recommend using email over Instagram direct messages.
  3. Be transparent in terms of how they are performing compared to both of your expectations. If it’s not quite what you were expecting hop on a call to chat! It’s way easier to determine tone of voice through a phone call than a message.
  4. Be supportive and encouraging. If they are absolutely KILLIN’ IT – let them know it!

Working with influencers can be a great marketing tactic if you have a clear strategy, a creative process to find them, and are ready to encourage others to be excited about your brand!



Finding and working with influencers could be a full time job all on it’s own! To start, look on social media for influencers by using popular hashtags for your area or industry. Alternatively, you can use a paid service to find influencers. Once you’ve found an influencer, reach out with a professional and personalized message. If it’s a good fit, send over a contract! Finally, keep clear communication and be transparent when working with influencers for the best results!

Finding, vetting, and working with influencers can be a part of a solid marketing strategy. At Something Blue, marketing strategy is probably the most exciting pillars of our brand. We love working with clients to create exciting marketing strategies, and implement them throughout the year.