Influencer marketing is undoubtedly becoming one of the most effective ways for brands to reach customers. According to projections and studies, the entire influencer marketing industry was set to become a $5-10 billion industry by the end of 2020.
And with online platforms becoming some of the most effective platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more brands will probably make the move to work with influencers who are able to promote their products to a broader audience.
What is Instagram Branded Content?
Of course, influencer marketing requires the right strategies and tactics if you’re to get the best ROI.
For instance, teaming up with the right influencer is like having a business partner that aligns with your personality and professional goals. A well-planned influencer marketing campaign can increase traffic to your ecommerce shops or websites, boost awareness about your brand, expand your reach, generate more leads, and grow your sales.
And one of the best ways to leverage your professional relationship with influencers is through Instagram’s built-in Branded Content feature.
Branded content is a creator or publisher’s content that might feature a business partner, i.e. your brand. More often than not, these posts by influencers and sponsored content creators are paid for by the brand, or at least included in the sponsorship agreement. With their branded curated content, influencers at their best are able to affect the shopping behavior of consumers and their purchasing decisions.
It’s also a win-win for brand and influencer: by boosting their content, they stand to gain more followers and grow their audience, while the brand benefits by being exposed to the influencer’s existing audience on top of the usual benefits of influencer-created content.
Read on to find out how to use Instagram branded content ads and partnerships with influencers to generate more leads and grow your conversions.
Ways to Use Instagram Branded Content Ads with Influencers
1. Brand Awareness
Instagram’s branded content ads are shown just like any post on the user’s feed, so it fits organically with the user experience. By using branded content ads on Instagram, brands can expand the reach of an influencer’s content beyond their follower count.
Brands can also promote the posts made by influencers under their profile. Even though each post is still labeled ‘Sponsored’ or tagged with ‘Paid Partnership’, customers still value that the content is shared from the influencer’s handle.
Branded content ads on Instagram are effective because they not only reach a wider audience and target specific leads for better conversions.
2. Product Launches
For a long time, brands have been teaming up with celebrities to launch and to promote new products. But nowadays, it’s more effective to collaborate with influencers for your product launches.
Big-name celebrities are more likely to have a lot of followers with very different sets of interests. Their promotions may have wider reach but are less likely to convert the audience. The audience knows that celebrities are only endorsing a product because they got paid for it, so the trust level between the brand and the consumers is low.
Today’s consumers are more savvy about ads and hate being advertised to. That’s why 43% of marketers turned to influencers to reach the millennial demographic who are found to prefer non-celebrity influencers for promotions.
Because of their connection with the audience, influencers are seen as credible and trustworthy experts in their particular niches. So their followers are people who have a sincere interest in that area.
3. Frictionless Shopping
Social media’s effect on e-commerce cannot be overstated. People are changing the way they shop, and they want to be able to tap on a product and buy it right away without fuss. Using branded content ads, brands can turn leads into paying customers easily.
But customers can get lazy when they have to switch between apps just to check out a product they saw through an Instagram ad.
Thankfully, you can use the Instagram Shopping feature to promote your products through a Story or Post and lead customers directly to your website on the app’s browser.
4. Leverage User-Generated Content
Brands with a big enough and loyal following can greatly benefit from user-generated content campaigns.
You can consider starting an Instagram hashtag contest using your own branded hashtag and encourage your influencers and their followers to share content about your brand. It’s an interesting and creative experience for the consumer to share their genuine experiences using your products.
User-generated content is also a good way to build connections and foster trust with your customers because they know that the brand notices them and appreciates their experiences. If customers’ posts don’t quite match the design of your Instagram account, you can use branded hashtags and feature customers’ content on your Story.
Make the most of your relationship with your influencers by not only getting them to create content around your brand but even encouraging them to ask the same of their followers.
Many followers of these influencers like to imagine they could be just like their favorite social media accounts, so it may be easier for them to create user-generated content if they see influencers they like doing it first.
Starbucks launched the #WhiteCupContest in 2014, sparking interest in the brand and encouraging creativity among consumers.
5. Retargeting Campaigns
Branded content can also be used for retargeting campaigns to reach and nurture leads and idle browsers and get them to convert.
Using the content made by your paid influencers, you can reach existing audiences on Instagram who haven’t pushed through with a purchase on your site. Make use of the best and highest-performing content made by influencers to target the leads who have clicked the CTA link but haven’t converted.
This way, they’re reminded of the products or services they might have checked out on your website after interacting with the influencer’s post.
Remember that some leads need more nurturing than others, and maybe they just need to be reminded of the great content made by a trusted influencer before they finally check out their carts.
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Instagram Branded Content Best Practices
1. Have an influencer marketing strategy in place
Setting up goals, establishing KPIs, reviewing the buyer persona, and crafting the influencer persona are just some of the steps in building an influencer marketing strategy on Instagram.
A successful Instagram campaign involves open and clear communication between the brand and the influencer. Remember, the influencer will eventually become an extension and representative of your brand, so cultivating a healthy working relationship with your chosen influencer will do wonders for your brand.
Consider the kinds of content you expect from your influencers, talking points that they need to know about your products, and KPIs the two of you can work together to achieve. This way, you don’t enter an influencer agreement blindly, and you’re able to maximize your influencer marketing budget and results.
2. Optimize the landing page you’ll use for your campaign
One of the best and most direct ways you can increase sales using Instagram is to create ads for products that are linked to your e-commerce website.
Instagram is designed for seamless shopping because it allows you to add a CTA and clickable link on the branded content post.
But creating an eye-catching product post and urgent CTA is not enough. You also need to optimize the landing page of each link that matches the product on the post in order to increase conversions.
As a recent example of how well an optimized landing page can boost your campaign results, Out and About Healthcare in Brisbane, Australia gained 3.8 times the lead volume from their ad campaigns and minimized their cost per lead by 74% in 2020. And a significant part of the success of their campaign is their redesigned website which drives traffic, encourages inquiries from customers, and facilitates easier conversion.
Here are some other tips to help you optimize your landing page for the most conversions:
- Enable one-click checkout for ecommerce items
- Have one main CTA for non-sales landing pages (e.g. signing up for a free trial, opting in to a raffle, etc.)
- Make sure your landing page headline matches the copy of the influencers’ posts on Instagram
- Use eye-catching buttons and links so users can follow through and complete your desired CTA
- Keep all important elements above the fold. Depending on the kind of landing page (e.g. opt-in, or online store), you’ll want to keep your main CTA—such as Add to Cart buttons, or Sign Up buttons—easy to find and access
- Because most of Instagram’s branded features run only on mobile, check how your landing page looks on mobile devices before publishing
3. Choose the right influencers
You might get swayed by an influencer’s follower count, but more often than not, the quality of their followers trumps the quantity when it comes to building trust.
Don’t be fooled by the massive follower count of mega-celebrities. These huge accounts often have what’s called “ghost followers” — or accounts that are inactive, used for promotional campaigns, or generally just bots.
On the other hand, micro-influencers and nano-influencers share expert content on a specific niche and tend to attract followers with a genuine interest in that topic. They don’t have Hollywood-star levels of popularity or fame, but that’s actually an advantage since you know their followers are more likely to be true fans of their content.
Because of that, these influencers are seen as more sincere, have a better social influence, and get better engagement from their followers.
If you’re looking for more places to actually find these influencers, influencer marketing platforms like Brybe exist to help you connect with the right influencer for your brand whose values and persona aligns with yours.
Brybe’s extensive database of micro-influencers from the US and other countries makes it easier for brands to collaborate with those that best represent their brand.
Want to see other ways you can find the right influencers for your branded campaigns? We’ve got you covered with these tips:
- Take time to review the most recent posts of potential influencers. While you can normally determine their niche and audience at a glance, you glean even more information about their audience and their unique value if you spend time looking through specific posts and even their Stories.
- Check which brands they’ve already worked with in the past. If they’re currently working with a direct competitor, you can either steer clear of them or figure out if there’s a favorable way to still work together.
- Explore different ways they create content. Could you work together on a Live or IGTV video aside from feed posts?
4. Track and monitor your results
Of course, you also need to use the right tools to track and measure the effectiveness of your influencer marketing campaigns.
In influencer marketing campaigns, marketers often measure engagement rate, clicks, impressions, reach, product sales and conversions to determine the success of their campaigns.
With platforms like Wishpond, you can leverage Instagram to reach targets and expand your business opportunities using expertly crafted influencer campaigns.
Here are some ways to track your branded content ad campaigns with influencers:
- Use tracking links or branded landing pages specific to each influencer, so you can track how each partnership is doing. You can tie this in with tools like NeoReach, TapInfluence, or Grin to really see data at a glance.
- Check your referrals list on your chosen analytics tool like Google Analytics.
- Create unique discount codes for each influencer and monitor how many times it was used after a certain period.
On its own, Instagram branded content ads can effectively help you get the word out about your brand, build relationships with your leads and customers, make shopping convenient and easy, and even improve your conversion rates.
It gets even better when you incorporate this in your influencer marketing campaigns because these influencers give your ads the much-needed social proof they need to convince your customers to take action.
The key to experiencing the results shared in this article is to make sure that everything you need is in place.
Create a strategy to guide your efforts, plan out assets like landing pages and unique links and codes, and then invite the right influencers onboard.
Then follow the tips above to marry your influencer and branded content campaigns, and start seeing brand awareness and conversions increase over time.
About the Author
Kevin Payne is a content marketing consultant that helps software companies build marketing funnels and implement content marketing campaigns to increase their inbound leads.