Finding Relevant Influencers with Instagram Analytics

Niraj Sharma |
 06/20/19 |
5 min read

Influencers are a big deal – especially for brands where aspiration to a certain lifestyle is part of the marketing strategy. Instagram is a major channel for such influencers to be found – which is why Instagram analytics should be a crucial component of your influencer strategy.

Not All Influencers Are Equal

If influencer marketing was simply a matter of finding those with the highest number of followers, everyone would be putting the biggest celebrities to work endorsing their brands. Unfortunately, volume of followers alone doesn’t guarantee influencer success.

In addition to some other factors – which we’ll get to – you’ve got to consider the audience perception of any potential influencers, as well as the value of the engagement they generate.

Why does audience perception matter? Isn’t it enough if the influencer likes your brand, or aligns with your brand’s values and messaging?

Those things certainly count as well, but if the audience you want to attract doesn’t have a high opinion of the influencer, your campaigns will be dead in the water.

Similarly, if social audiences like your influencer – meaning they follow them – but don’t actually engage in social discussions with their posts, how will that help your brand awareness grow across social? It won’t.

Tools for Analyzing Influencers on Instagram

Instagram analytics became more challenging to obtain with Instagram’s API changes in late 2018. However, with a nimble social analytics tool – focused on being ready for all such changes as they happen – the resulting analytics are more robust in many ways.

If Instagram is your best channel for reaching your audience – and the odds certainly suggest it would be – a little preparation goes a long way. Be sure you:

  • Have multiple authenticated users ready to go, so your efforts aren’t hindered by Instagram’s limited API calls per hour
  • Are set up as a business account – and that any influencers you’re working with on Instagram also have business (not personal) accounts
  • Have thought through the hashtags you want to follow – as, again, there are limitations; but having multiple authorized users helps on this front

Instagram’s API offerings are pretty generous – at least with regard to owned pages and influencers you’re already working with, i.e., they’ve given you access via authorizations.

You can analyze post text, media, like counts, comment counts, permalink, bio, follower counts, interests, professions, potential impressions, comment text and comment user names.

The challenge is, you lose access to comment text and comment user names with competitor posts, and influencers you aren’t already working with.

With social sentiment such an important part of the equation, is this enough data to find influencers and assess their potential?


Instagram Influencer Engagement Metrics Explained

The best way to find influencers able to catapult your brand to the next level is by understanding your audience – and what they gravitate toward. Social listening across all channels, and especially Instagram, will allow you to analyze sentiment in relation to everything they talk about on social.

Using the channels and keywords in your established Instagram data pool provides these insights. And then mining the post text and bios of potential influencers for information, like interests and professions, allows you to find that cross-over that could mean they’re a fit for your audience.

For example, if you’re a brand with a segment that cares about sustainable, eco-friendly efforts, you’d want to vet any influencers passionate about sustainability efforts as well.

As we said above, common interests alone aren’t enough. The point of influencers is to help increase social conversation and raise your brand’s profile through these interactions – which can be more appealing and authentic to your audience than direct-from-your-brand marketing efforts.

What matters in this case? Number of followers? Or likes? Or comments?

All of the above factors in, but quality is preferred over quantity. It’s less about who has the biggest following, and more about who has the most relevant following for your brand. Engagement requires real followers. If you contract with influencers who have inflated numbers you’re essentially paying for counterfeit goods.

But how do you tell the difference? By using Instagram analytics to understand what’s driving the engagement. And then following up and monitoring the results they produce once you bring an influencer on board.

Tracking Influencer Impact

Finding influencers isn’t the end of the journey – far from it. Once you bring an influencer into the fold, you want to continually analyze their content to understand what gets your shared audience excited – so you can create campaigns that are relevant to those conversations and put their influence to maximum use.

Here’s an example from the NetBase Holiday Retail Best Practices Guide, using influencers of retail brand Zara to illustrate:

Looking at Engagements it seems the clear influential winner is Holly Willoughby – but hold on. Engagements per Post put Kanika Mann in the lead. This matters because it means there’s more engagement happening consistently per Kanika’s posts.

Finally, look at Engagements per Post per 10K Followers. Kanika Mann remains in the lead, and William Franklyn Miller takes second place – placing each of them well ahead of the others, even though others’ follower counts and overall engagements are higher.

These two influencers are having the most impact for the brand – even though they might not have looked as impressive at first glance. This is important to remember as you assess the value of micro-influencers – who may have smaller, but equally devoted and engaged, followings. Sometimes those small followings are much more powerful than large followings. Don’t be distracted by surface insight!

Continue by tracking owned, earned and partnered posts to understand lift, engagements and sentiment shifts in messaging pre, during and post campaigns.

This is something FabFitFun, for example, must do as they bring on an assortment of influencers for their seasonal boxes.

You wouldn’t necessarily expect The Big Bang Theory’s Mayim Bialik to be an obvious choice for the brand. Though they often partner with TV personalities like the Real Housewives and others in the entertainment category, Bialik isn’t one that’s known for being glam-obsessed.

But she has a solid following – both on her personal profile and that of her community GrokNation – and could be the perfect person to engage a new audience segment. Not to mention, she’s a great choice to let people know the boxes aren’t all about cosmetics and skin care.

The key is analyzing engagement for the duration and deciding if she’s an influencer worth keeping around. Because only time can determine whether your chosen influencers will have the impact you hope for. And you want to hold tightly to those that do.

This is why you’ve got to keep your Instagram analytics running, particularly as there are API changes, so you can make decisions as the insights pour in without missing out on important intel.

When your Instagram analytics tools are accurate and up-to-date, you don’t have to second guess those decisions. And you wouldn’t want to.

Has your brand navigated Instagram’s API changes, or are you still struggling? Get in touch and we can help!


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