How to find Instagram influencers

May 4, 2018
24 min
Avery Schrader
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Influencers have risen massively in popularity over the last years. The fastest growing brands, solo e-commerce companies and everything in between are making influencer marketing a key part of their mix. Finding instagram influencers is however, not easy.

Finding influencers on instagram that are actually suitable to promote your product is a massive effort. You have to understand your target audience and start scrolling or using the limited instagram search functionality to attempt to find someone who MAYBE could be suitable to promote your brand.

In this article, we'll walk through using Modash as a tool to find influencers,  how to manually look for influencers and paying agencies to find them for you. Also a note on micro vs micro influencers.

  1. Using Modash to find influencers
  2. Mini guide to manually looking for influencers
  3. Influencer marketing agencies.
  4. Tools are best.
  5. Metrics to consider when finding instagram influencers.

Using Modash to find instagram influencers

The goal of Modash as a product is to help marketers make better decisions about influencer marketing. That means finding the right influencers, based on cold hard facts about the audience they reach.

Illustrating the anatomy of Modash.

To do that, you use simple filters to find instagram influencers that speak to your target audience.

For example, maybe your target audience are young adults in New York City, who are particularly interested in sports and speak Spanish.

Using Modash, we just add that information in a few clicks, and we will find influencers on instagram who have followers that match that audience. 

From there, we can also get important audience insights like how real their followers are, the location, age, gender and much more about the audience. There are also important performance metrics about influencers. You get quick insights into their engagement rate, follower growth, most popular content and a lot more. 

Because Modash is focused on performance marketers, mostly building optimized campaigns and brand ambassador programs, it's not for everyone. We have built it to help you find the best instagram influencers, get important data about them and export details (including contact information). 

We are not an agency. We are not a cumbersome tool that gets in the way of your work. We are the best in the world for finding and getting data on the influencers who speak to your target audience.

3 other ways to find influencers on Instagram

Thousands of marketers every day are scouring the internet to find Instagram influencers. They will pour their precious moments of life looking for the tips, tricks and hacks to save their time.

Only the truth will set them free. There is 3 ways to find influencers on instagram. Manually, with an agency or with powerful tech. Here is the reality of finding instagram influencers in 2019.

Manually finding Instagram influencers.

The old fashion way. Some things never change. Manual data entry can find you the creators you’re looking for. But frankly it’s a shot in the dark, very time consuming and might drive you completely bonkers.

To find Instagram influencers manually, you first need to understand the kind of person you are looking for. Be careful not to base this on characteristics that don’t really matter to your business or campaign.

I have personally witnessed someone type the word “cool” in the Instagram search bar to show me how easy it is to find cool influencers. 

If you must go this route, do so wisely. Clearly define who it is you are trying to reach, the personality of the person you would like to work with, and the traits of the ideal person to represent your brand.

Try to find them amongst your brands current followers, or the followers of brands similar to yours. Ideally, if you must take the manual route you do not simultaneously need to scale out the number of creators you work with. Try partnering with two or three you truly trust and maintain a long-term relationship with them.

Tactic 1: Find Instagram influencers who already follow you

Look to who is following you now. Spend some time watching not only who follows your brand on social but is actively engaging with your content. Then ask:

  • Are they posting things with a style relevant to my business and brand?
  • Are they likely to fit my budget?
  • Are they suitable to meet my goals?  

If the answers are yes, then it’s time to reach out to them.

Tactic 2: Using Hashtags to search for influencers

#Cafe might not get you far. Because it doesn’t narrow the search at all, you will be left with a sea of millions of accounts. You need very specific tags. Search for your business name, something very specific about your company or a colloquial phrase in the language of your target customers.

You can also look to your competitors' accounts and see if people are using branded hashtags for their audience to contribute too. Find their top posts and you will find influencers relevant to your audience.

finding instagram influencers

Bonus: If you’re targeting smaller markets with non-english speaking influencers, you can use it to your advantage. Using hashtags that only makes sense in your language will leave you influencers with a specific target audience

Tactic 3: Finding Influencers by Location

This one is great for targeting geographic areas with your influencer marketing campaigns. Searching the specific areas relevant to your customers is a great way to figure out who is popular and posting in those place. Simply search for your city, local areas of interest or even your competitors locations and look for the people who have the most popular posts in this location. You can look as broadly as the country you’re in, or as specific as “Hard Rock Cafe”.

Bonus tip: double up and search for #Cityname.

In Modash, you can input the target audience's location and the influencer's location. Instantly you willl be given a list of results that match your search.

Tactic 4: Creating a pyramid to find influencers

This one is in my opinion, a true shot in the dark as far as quality, but likely a great way to find influencers in a large quantity. 

As this Techcrunch article explains, you can actually pay influencers to recruit influencers for you, here's what they have to say:

"Create a referral system for influencers: Influencers who sign up others get a % of their sales or signups. This makes a mini-pyramid structure and turns your influencers into a salesforce. Why is this important? Some influencers don’t actually sell products, but just sign up tons of other influencers. Find these people" 

While this is a great way to get a bunch of influential people to talk about your product, I would only recommend it to companies ready to really scale up relationship management and don't have tight budgets. The thing about using data to be selective about your influencers is that you don't need to put resources into managing relationships with creators who might not work. 

Let Influencer marketing agencies find influencers on instagram for you

Especially if you’re working with influencers on the macro end, an agency might be your best bet. Hunting for huge creators is easier than finding micro-influencers on Instagram, as there is far fewer of them. The problem that it’s almost impossible to connect and initiate any kind of conversation, and they speak to a broader, less concentrated audience

If you can establish a partnership with a strong influencer marketing agency, you have probably found the solution to your macro-influencer discovery problem.

Image result for top ten influencer marketing agencies
Source: MediaKix's guide to influencer marketing companies.

An agency can connect you with the influencers they have signed in house and can often help you plan and execute great campaigns. This is essentially talent management, and you should be prepared for an extra professional experience. 

Part of the beauty of working with agencies is their mass experience. They are likely staffed with the best of the best when it comes to ideating, organizing and executing on amazing influencer campaigns.

Be sure to ask about workflow, view case studies and have a thorough understanding of the expectations you can have of the agency and influencer’s while working with them. It also doesn’t hurt to ask them what kind of tools they are using to run influencer campaigns, which can give you a lot of insight into what you’re really paying for. 

Relationships are also more easily handled by an agency than an ill-prepared brand. If you’re not capable of using tools to manage relationships in the long term, then an agency can massively ease this load. They have long term relationships based on contracts with large creators to lean on, giving them a strong upper hand in managing celebrity influencers.

Automated influencer search tools

If you need to save time or aren’t looking to work with a third-party service provider, influencer search tools are the way to go.

With a tool like Modash, you can easily find Instagram influencers that speak directly to your target audience.

In a few clicks, you can use simple discovery filters to find your target audience’s favourite Instagram creators based on their age, gender, geography, general interests, brand interests and more.

These platforms are great for companies that want to keep marketing in-house, want full control of their budget, don’t want the additional costs of hiring an outside agency, don’t have time for manual data entry and really want to take it to the next level of results with influencer campaigns. 

Using lookalikes, after Veriff found 1 influencer they liked, they quickly found almost 100 more like them. The same audience, interests and style as the first creator they were so excited to work with.

Suddenly, you have the power to analyse any Instagram influencer in the world. But, what about the specific metrics you need to consider when finding instagram influencers?

When you've found instagram influencers, how do you choose the correct one?

Now that you've found an influencer that seems to be a fit, you need to check the data.

Some marketers hesitate to look to data for answers as it can be intimidating, difficult or to time consuming. In influencer marketing, numbers matter. The good news is that there isn't so many metrics to consider.

  1. Follower credibility
  2. Follower location
  3. Age and Gender
  4. Engagement rate & PPP
  5. Audience interests

Find instagram influencers with high follower credibility

Influencers have fake followers. In fact, all of us do. 

In 2018, it was reported that there may be more than 95 Million fake instagram accounts posing as real followers on instagram. These come from highly lucrative businesses selling fake followers for just a few cents a piece. The question is, how many followers are fake?

graph showing how much costs buying fake followers

The only way to accurately determine how many followers are fake is to use a tool that identifies fake influencers on instagram. You can use Modash to do this.

The best way to find out how many fake followers an influencer has without a tool would be to look at the engagements that the creator has. If the creator has thousands of followers but gets couple of likes, then those followers are likely fake.

Identifying fake instagram followers, manually.

Robots don’t make for good conversation. While they are successful dropping comments on posts to drive engagement, they suck at saying anything of substance. Check out the comment section and look for some of these red flags:

🚩Short, meaningless comments like “So cool”, “Great” or “Amazing shot”.

🚩Comments without words. Emojis only.

🚩Long, unnatural text that doesn’t fit the context. “Wow. This is looking like the best shot I have seen today. I can’t believe it!” 

The rule of thumb: Ask yourself if a real human would write that. 

Genuine people behave on Instagram as if they are speaking with their friends. See if the creator replies and engages with their audience. If comments have nuance and bring an honest discussion in the comments, you have checked the first box of finding an influencer.


follower credibility bar on modash platform

If you find out that a creator is active in their comment section, engaging with their audience and provoking discussion you’ve found true potential for a strong brand ambassador. They keep their audience interested and solve a lot of your problems from educating the customer to customer support.

How many fake followers is too many fake followers? 

With a tool like Modash, you can check fake followers. Just check out this easily understandable percentage. How we judge the authenticity of an influencer lands loosely on these guidelines:

🚩80% – 100% follower credibility – The influencer hasn’t purchased followers nor have they participated in follower boosting activities ( Follow for Follow, Like for Like, Engagement Pods and so on ).

🚩70% – 80% follower credibility – Influencer likely has not purchased followers, but might have participated in follower boosting activities ( Follow for Follow, Like for Like, Engagement Pods etc).

🚩60% – 70% follower credibility – Influencer has likely purchased followers, or has heavily participated in follower boosting activities ( Follow for Follow, Like for Like, Engagement Pods and so on ).

🚩0% – 60% follower credibility – Influencer has almost certainly purchased followers and we advise to look for more credible influencers to work with.

Keep in mind that not every audience is created equal. Bots on Instagram crawl through thousands of accounts, liking and following in an attempt to gain followers. It could be that a person with 75% follower credibility has never done any follower boosting. They may have gotten very unlucky.

How to find influencers by follower Location

The location of the audience is key in choosing instagram influencers. The influencer might be from a country that you are targeting, but the followers may not be.

Maybe they lived abroad for a while. Maybe they do content specifically for a different audience, in a different country.

Consider a social media creator with 100,000 followers. If only 25% of their audience is in the location that you need to target, you’re quite heavily overpaying for reach.

Although it means that they have 25 000 followers still in that region, there are much more efficient ways to reach that audience. 

audience data graph showing where influencer followers are from

Find influencers with the right target audience age and gender

There is a strong difference between celebrity social media accounts and genuine social media influencers. In some cases, working with celebrity creators can be effective, but usually you overpay for untargeted reach.

Celebrity influencers don’t build rich niches for themselves. Contrarily, they have wide reaching audiences of all demographics. Most products are designed for a certain niche. Celebrity influencers are best suited for brand awareness and typically charge a hefty premium.

According to CNBC, celebrities like Kylie Jenner are charging nearly 1 million per post on instagram. Selena Gomez and Cristiano Ronaldo both charge approximately $800,000. These numbers are not efficient or even possible for most brands.

For smaller brands to start off is best to tackle one specific niche of the market with influencers who speak specifically to that target audience.

In other words, don’t work with over-priced creators who don’t reach your target audience’s demographic.

How modash shows audience demographics data

Figuring out stats like the age, gender or location of an influencer’s audience manually, sucks. If you can afford to use a tool to find instagram influencers, I highly recommend doing so. 

If not, there are a few tactics to try.

Focus on target markets with niche languages. For example, a German influencer is likely speaking to audiences in Germany. 

Click through a large number of follower profiles to attempt to identify the average age and gender of that audience. 

Focus on influencers with hyper local audiences of no more than 10,000 followers. This makes it easier to understand who follows them. 

During outreach, ask for audience data before agreeing to the collaboration. 

Alternatively, you can use Modash to quickly analyze audiences. 

Find influencers with high engagement

We’ve mentioned engagement rate a couple of times in this post, but how is it calculated?

Image showing how engagement rate is calulated: Engagemet = (likes+comments)/followers

Engagement rate is an important metric. It shows how many people are actively engaging with the content. More active followers are more likely to take the advice of a creator. Your message will reach an engaged audience.

At Modash, we take the engagement rate from analyzing the latest 30 posts the influencer has made.

Under 2% – low engagement rate

2% – 5 % – average / medium engagement rate

5% – 10% – high engagement rate

Over 10% – very high engagement rate

Before calculating the engagement rate make sure that the engagements are authentic. Just as many creators buy fake followers, fake likes are a dime a dozen.

You can take a guess at the authenticity of the comments, but verifying likes is trickier. 

Look out for posts that have abnormally high number of likes. If the content is not unique or memorable it can be a sign of purchased engagement. 

If they are sponsored posts, huge red flag.

If you previously verified the authenticity of the followers, you can already be quite confident that those engagements are real as well.  

Paid post performance is also worth considering. To calculate this, compare the engagement rate of normal posts, vs those that are obviously sponsored. Ideally, sponsored posts have the same or higher engagement rate as normal content on the influencers feed.

Consider your audience’s interests when identifying their favourite influencer

It’s not unreasonable to think that the content an influencer is producing directly correlates to the interests of the audience. However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes the very opposite.

A lifestyle influencer could have a majority audience interested in luxury items, travel or health and fitness. 

It could be that you didn’t notice his career as a comedian or his failed attempt to run for local mayor.

Viewing the followers and the content they post is a good indication of audience interests. Identify what kind of people are following an influencer and what kind of topics are they bringing out in the comments. If it matches up with your expectation, you might have found your perfect influencer. Although predicting this accurately is near impossible.

But… don’t go too niche. 

Make it very clear what and who are you looking for. Sometimes it is not as obvious as you may think. 

Let’s say you are in the business of making mugs. 

If you start looking for “mug influencers “ you are already in trouble. Think how many people you know who post and follow profiles specifically dedicated to mugs.

None, there is no such thing as a mug influencer. So take a look who are your potential buyers as a general group, and find the people they listen to. 

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