Identifying your ideal Instagram influencer

The influencers you select have a significant effect on your campaign’s ROI. You first need to decide who your ideal influencer is. Typically, the type of people your brand should be partnering with would be very similar, if not identical, to your ideal customer. In this case, you can bet that the influencer’s audience is composed of thousands of your ideal customers – a recipe for success.

In this guide, we’re going to show you how to find Instagram influencers using manual processes as well as platforms available online.


How to find Instagram influencers

First, lay out all the characteristics of your ideal influencer before you begin contacting your list of Instagram influencers. Here are some of the things you should be considering:

  • Audience demographics
  • Age of the influencer
  • Quality of their content
  • Quality of their sponsored content
  • How much Instagram podding is happening on their posts
  • How many followers they have
  • What their engagement rate is
  • How often they promote other products
  • If they actually need your product or service
    • Ex. You wouldn’t pitch beard oil to a beardless male influencer
  • The quality of engagement
  • It’s important to check the comments they get on their posts – are they long and thoughtful? Or exclusively emojis and spam?

Now that you can envision the perfect brand partner, you can start scouring Instagram influencer marketing platforms to begin putting together your portfolio. There are endless platforms online that aggregate social media influencers across a variety of channels. Some may offer slightly more advanced search features, but for the most part, you’ll have basic filtering options like audience, interests, gender, age, etc.

Two platforms that we recommend using that offer free Instagram influencer search discovery are CloutHQ and Influence.co. Using these discovery tools, you can identify content creators that may be interested in partnering with your brand.

You’ll get their social reach, engagement rate, and audience demographics, but you’ll need to dig deeper to find more qualitative factors, such as their content quality, engagement quality, and reactions to other sponsored content they’ve done.



There are more manual processes you can use to find influencers for free and can be particularly effective (and sometimes even necessary) when attempting to find hyperlocal influencers or those who have already visited a certain location – perhaps your restaurant for example.

  • Location Tags – Search location tags directly within the app to find the Instagram influencers who are creating the most engaging content at that physical location.
  • Hashtags – An effective way to find true thought leaders and influencers on Instagram is by discovering who’s driving the conversations through hashtags. Hashtags can actually be targeted communities of people who care about a specific topic. By searching these hashtags direction within the app or browser, you can discover influential content creators in your niche. Suppose you manage an influencer marketing campaign for a food delivery app-based company, you may consider #foodondemand a relevant hashtag. This would be a great place to start.
  • Similar Accounts – When you do come across the perfect influencer, click the little drop down arrow next to the follow button and discover what other accounts are similar to the one you’ve just found. Instagram actually does a great job at showing you similar accounts.


Putting together your Instagram influencers list

Depending on your budget and how many influencers your brand wants to activate, you’ll decide how many influencers you’ll likely need to contact to land your desired number. Your response and close rate will depend heavily on your outreach templates, your brand and product, and who you’re contacting.

If a controversial detox tea brand is reaching out to top-tier influencers with a non-personalized outreach template, they can expect to see a very low response rate and level of interest. In contrast, a brand like Nike reaching out with a personalized outreach template, will surely see a much higher level of interest.

Typically, a safe assumption is that you’ll see a 15-25 percent response rate and if your offer is fair, you can expect to close 50 percent of those sponsorship deals. If you find yourself on the lower extreme of these numbers, you should rethink your outreach strategy.

How deep should you vet influencers on your first look?

Your time is valuable, so spending 10-15 minutes vetting each influencer before you first contact them is wasting time. We suggest getting very familiar with what your ideal influencer looks like and then spend no more than a minute looking through their account before adding them to your Instagram influencer list of those to contact.

Now that you know how to find Instagram influencers, let’s say you’d like to partner with ten of them. Well, you’ll likely need to contact around 80-100 to land your desired ten. If you had spend 15 minutes on each influencer, you would have spent roughly 25 hours vetting profiles. Instead, spend the time reviewing only those that reply to you interested.

This means that you significantly decrease the amount of time you spend sourcing influencers on Instagram.


Influencer applications

To further improve your influencer sourcing strategy, you can create an application process. When you reach out to influencers and they respond as interested, you can request that they fill out a brief application.

You can acquire this information easily through Typeforms or Google Forms. Have them self-identify things that are important to your brand and the collaboration. Perhaps your brand sells vegan supplements, you may ask if they’re vegan, what their level of knowledge of supplements is, if they have a degree in a nutrition related field, and what flavor of protein they prefer.

Gathering this information in an application is a nice and tidy way to get the information that you need. Sticking all these questions in an email makes it very difficult to get all the answers you’re looking for. You may also find lower response rates to those emails – people prefer short and concise communication.



The influencers you partner with have a substantial impact on how consumers perceive your brand. While the right partnerships can certainly help you achieve 11x higher ROI than all other forms of digital marketing, the wrong partnerships will deplete your marketing budgets with nothing notable to show in return.