You have a distinctive voice and you have amazing content, but you’re not sure how to promote it. You’ve heard how a majority of marketers – around 72% – are using influencer campaigns on Instagram to promote their businesses. But you may be wondering if your unique brand has a place in the influencer sphere.
The answer is: Yes, it does! And we’re going to show you how to enter that sphere, regardless of how big your target audience is or what kind of niche you create content or products in.
First, we’ll explain what Instagram influencers are and what makes them, well, influential. Then we’ll teach you 30 different types of social media influencers (yes, 30!), and how to select the one that will promote your brand most effectively.
Lastly, we’ll show you the real steps to becoming an influencer, so that you can begin using this social media strategy to your business’s advantage as quickly as possible.
Are you ready to get started? Let’s go!
What are Instagram Influencers?
Let’s start with the basics. What are influencers on Instagram? Who are they, and why do marketers, brands, and businesses use them to promote their goods and services?
An influencer is someone on social media who influences other people – typically their followers on a social media platform – to perform a specific action.
In most cases, that action is to buy a product. But it can also be to sign up for a subscription or a course; follow and engage with a sponsor; or spread awareness about a special cause or a hot-button issue.
Influencers persuade their followers to perform an action by posting content to their feeds. This is called an influencer campaign, and on Instagram, it can consist of content such as photos with captions, Instagram Stories, and Instagram Reels.
An effective influencer will use more than one method of persuasion.
Regardless of how the influencer markets the product, you can always tell when their content is promoted by a brand because it will have the hashtag #ad or #sponsored somewhere on it. Those labels are required, so that users aren’t deceived into thinking they’re looking at a completely authentic, unpaid recommendation.
In 2021 alone, around 3.8 million Instagram posts featured the #ad hashtag, which was an almost 30% increase from 2020. All those posts aren’t just chaffing in the wind, either. In the Influencer Benchmark Report for 2021 by Influencer Marketing Hub, 90% of marketers who were surveyed believed that influencer campaigns are an effective form of marketing.
Another compelling reason to become an Instagram influencer to promote your brand or business is the sheer number of users on the platform. The number of users is expected to reach a whopping 1.35 billion by the end of 2023! If you can gain the interest and engagement of even a miniscule fraction of that large group, your influencer campaign will be extremely successful.
And you can do it, too! But, to get started, you need to know what type of influencer you should become.
Different Types of Influencers Based on Follower Count
The first five types of Instagram influencers you should become familiar with are defined by their follower count.
Believe it or not, you don’t have to have millions or even hundreds of thousands of followers to become a popular, influential Instagram profile. In fact, some marketers prefer much smaller counts! We’ll explain why as we dig into each of the five types below.
Nano influencers are accounts with less than 10,000 followers. As such, their posts tend to be more personal, less curated, and more genuine (at least in appearance). A significant percentage of their followers may be friends and family, rather than random strangers on the internet.
Despite their small fanbases, nano influencers are influential because the people who do follow them value and trust their opinions, recommendations, advice, etc. This means they also get more engagement from their followers, with whom they have a more intimate connection since they are so few in number.
The downside of becoming a nano influencer is you only have a small pool of followers to sell to. This might not be a problem if the product or service you’re selling is high in price, which means you don’t need as many buyers. But if you want widespread fame and attention, you may want a bigger reach.
Also, if you become a nano Instagram influencer to add an extra stream of revenue for you or your business, you’ll want to treat it as a side hustle. In general, such a small follower count is not effective for generating a lot of sponsorship offers. As it is, you’ll typically earn just $10-$100 for every sponsored post, according to Shopify.
On the other hand, nano influencers’ low rate is more attractive to smaller businesses who are unable to pay premium prices for more popular influencers.
Micro-influencers have between 10,000-50,000 followers. They have a slightly larger audience than nano influencers, and as such they tend to receive more engagement.
Simultaneously, however, since their follower count is considered “small” by social media standards, they still enjoy the same advantages that Nanos do. Their content tends to be more intimate and personal, their feeds are not as carefully curated, and in general, they appear more authentic.
Once again, though, you likely won’t earn much money just from being a micro Instagram influencer. The typical pay rate for a micro-influencer per post is $100-$500. That’s great for a part-time gig, but not for a full-time career. It’s also an affordable option for businesses who want to start their own influencer campaign.
Mid-tier influencers sit right in the sweet spot between the smaller nano and micro levels and the elite macro and mega levels. Accounts with followers between 50,000-100,000 followers tend to fall into this category.
One advantage that mid-tier influencers have over macro and mega influencers is, since their follower counts are lower, their audiences are more targeted. And the advantage they have over nano and micro-influencers is that they reach a lot more people, so brands are more likely to want to sponsor more of their posts.
It’s here at the mid-tier level that influencers can start making more money. The going rate for mid-tier influencers starts at $500 and goes all the way up to $5,000 per post. That’s also an affordable price to pay for most brands.
Now we’re getting into the big players! Macro influencers have anywhere from 100,000-1,000,000 followers. These are accounts with huge reach, and as such they’re often sought after by bigger brands.
With more popularity comes a larger rate – $5,000-$10,000 per post! But it’s worth it because of the influencer’s sheer selling power.
From an influencer’s perspective, that kind of fame does come with a huge responsibility. You’ll have to put a lot of time and energy into content creation and promotion to gather, as well as maintain up to 1 million followers.
Mega influencers are by far the largest, most recognized profiles on Instagram. (Some of them are your favorite celebrities!) They always have over 1 million followers, and they typically get the Verified blue checkmark to indicate that they are a well-known public figure.
To promote your posts on a mega influencer account, you can expect to pay upwards of $10,000 – per post! But that’s a small change for a big brand that wants their sponsored posts seen by millions of people.
It’s certainly not a small change for influencers, though! The challenge, of course, is getting that many followers when you’re not already a recognizable public figure. But with time, quality content creation, marketing, and lots of patience, anything is possible.
Different Types of Influencers Based on Content
So far, we’ve covered the types of influencers that social media marketing experts define based on the number of followers to an account. There are many more types, however, that are based on the content an influential account produces or promotes.
Among the 25 types of influencers with examples listed below, you’re sure to find one that describes your personal brand or business.
Now that we’ve gone over a total of 30 types of influencers, it’s time to choose one for your brand.
How To Choose the Right Influencer Type for Your Brand
Here’s how to choose the right Instagram influencer type that will promote your brand most effectively (while still keeping you inside your marketing budget).
Step #1: Find Your Content Niche.
First, find your content niche. This is the specific kind of content you intend to post on your Instagram account.
To find it, look over the 25 different types of influencers based on content that we listed in the previous section. Which one matches the product, service, or aesthetic you want to sell to your followers?
You may find that your particular brand fits into more than one niche.
Once you know what type of content influencer you want to be, you can move on to discovering the next type, which is based on your follower count.
Step #2: Establish Your Budget for an Influencer Campaign.
This step is intended for brand owners who want to hire an influencer rather than becoming influencers themselves.
Before you can choose an influencer type based on follower count, you need to establish your influencer campaign budget.
If you’re a small brand, you’ll probably want to stay within the nano, micro, and mid-tier influencer ranges. This way, you’ll pay anywhere from $10-$500 per sponsored post. If you’re a large brand with a large marketing budget, then you can consider moving up into the macro and mega influencer categories. But it’s important to know what you can afford first, so that you can set realistic expectations for your influencer campaign going forward.
Step #3: Know Your Target Audience.
Knowing your target audience will help you choose the right type of influencer for your brand, whether you’re hiring one or becoming one yourself.
Perform market analysis and research to find out what type of content your target audience prefers, and how they engage with influencers on Instagram. With this information in hand, you can choose an influencer type that is effective at connecting with your brand’s customer base.
At this point, you know what type of content you want to post to influence your target audience, and you also know approximately how many followers you need to reach your desired customers. How do we put it all into action?
Kickstart your influencer career into action with the following steps.
Step #1: Start a Business Account.
Start a Business account for your brand, business, or name on Instagram. This essential step will give you access to a lot of amazing features that will help you build your presence, like analytics, ads, post-scheduling, and more.
Step #2: Optimize Your Instagram Profile.
Optimize your Instagram profile by uploading a clear picture of yourself or your brand logo, describing your brand in your bio with relevant keywords, and including a link to your website or online store.
Step #3: Consistently Post New, Engaging, and Quality Content.
Upload new, engaging, and quality content (i.e., photos, Reels, and Stories) at least once a day. With Stories, you can even post multiple times per day. Include hashtags and keywords that are relevant to your brand, industry, or content niche in your captions to help your posts rank higher in the Instagram search algorithm.
Your goal with such a consistent, fast-paced schedule is to draw new followers to your account and keep them engaged. With that in mind, you should also ensure that your content offers something of value to your target audience that will make them want to come back to your feed for more.
Step #4: Network with other Instagram Influencers in Your Niche.
Network with other Instagram influencers in your niche, so that you can establish a presence on the platform and let users know you’re there. You may even consider asking to collaborate with other influencers to get your brand out to their followers.
Again, the goal with this step is to expand your sphere of influence and grow your followers.
Bonus Step: Buy Instagram followers
An extra step you can take to grow your influence faster is to buy Instagram followers.
Buying Instagram followers will raise engagement with your account, which will make your account appear more credible, as well as more popular. These two characteristics will draw even more loyal, unpaid followers to your side.
Keep repeating steps 2-4 and the bonus step as your popularity on Instagram increases. It will take time, but with enough patience, determination, and great content, your brand will benefit from your budding influencer status.
FAQs If You’re Influencer or Marketer
What Benefits do Instagram Influencer Campaigns offer Marketers?
Instagram influencers have a lot of followers, whom they can influence to perform certain actions, like buying a product. For that reason, influencer campaigns are extremely beneficial for marketers looking for customers.
How do you Contact Influencers on Instagram?
Instagram influencers often have a business email address where you can send proposals about influencer campaigns. Some smaller ones may prefer to be DMed, in which case you can simply send them a detailed private message on Instagram.
Why do Brands Need Instagram Influencers?
Brands benefit from Instagram influencers’ reach, which extends to a large number of followers. The more people who become aware of a brand, the more opportunities there are for making a sale.
What is the Number of Followers You Need to be Considered a Success as an Instagram Influencer?
There is no set number. The key to success is to use high-quality content to build a loyal base of followers who respect and value your opinions, and who will take your recommendations for products and services.
Which Instagram Influencer Makes the Most Money?
Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano) makes the most money on Instagram. He earns around $2.4 million per post.
How can you tell which Influencers are Fake?
You can tell which influencers are fake by paying close attention to the consistency and quality of their content. The fake ones tend to heavily edit their photos, stage all their photo and video content, and only share product recommendations if they are sponsored by a brand.
Any brand or business, no matter their niche or their target audience, can have an influential presence on Instagram! All it takes is knowing the type of influencer you want to be, or that you want to hire for your campaign. Once you establish that, you can use the tips we shared to build a strong presence for your brand on Instagram.