3 tips to strengthen Instagram influencer campaigns

Instead of analyzing a campaign’s impact after it ends, how can we make a brand’s marketing dollars work harder from the start? The answer lies in using historical data, says Zeno’s Colleen O’Hara.

Only by evaluating the data can marketers evolve influencer strategies, says Zeno's Colleen O'Hara.
Only by evaluating the data can marketers evolve influencer strategies, says Zeno's Colleen O'Hara.

In the last few years, the communications industry has moved from hoping a campaign is performing to knowing a campaign is driving a brand’s bottom line. For today’s influencer marketing campaigns, this is no longer a dream, but an expectation. 

From a mere $1.7 billion in 2016, influencer marketing was expected to reach $13.8 billion in 2021. As the industry has matured, so have communicators’ abilities to better set up campaigns for success from the start.

Instead of just analyzing a campaign’s impact after it ends, how can we make a brand’s marketing dollars work harder from the start? The answer lies in using historical data to your advantage.

Recent Zeno Group research synthesizes thousands of Instagram posts from nearly 100 influencer campaigns. In the agency’s report, titled Influencer Intelligence Report: Breaking Through on Instagram, Zeno uncovered the top-performing influencer attributes and the most impactful content formats for Instagram influencer strategies and executions.

Based on these findings and the ever-evolving Instagram algorithm, where should marketers set expectations? Where should they challenge brands to diversify their Instagram influencer strategies?

Prioritize carousels and Reels over in-feed static posts

Most social media communicators now know that Instagram’s latest algorithm shifts mean the platform is prioritizing video in all forms, but especially Reels. However, when video isn’t an option, the best bet is carousels, which consistently outperform all other content formats in terms of in-feed engagement rate. Zeno’s research found the average engagement rate for each post type is as follows:

Single image: 2.86%
Image carousel: 3.37%
Instagram Reel: 3.23%
In-deed video: 2.53% 

With Instagram Stories, capture the audience’s attention right away

Instagram Stories’ intimate design and linking capabilities provide a unique opportunity for marketers to promote their brand like an insider’s secret and drive cost-efficient traffic with influencers. Not to mention that 500 million people are viewing Instagram Stories daily

Zeno’s analysis found that the biggest drop in Story views comes between the first frame and second frame, with an 8.49% follower drop, meaning content producers need to place the call to action early and create an engaging first frame. Failure to do so could jeopardize the rest of the Story’s performance.

Leverage influencers in broad verticals like lifestyle for better results

The influencer’s vertical largely predetermines whether or not influencer content will ultimately perform well. Influencers with broader interests more successfully drove results in their sponsored in-feed Instagram content, headlined by lifestyle (3.87% engagement rate) and family (3.54% engagement rate). Meanwhile, more narrowly focused partners, like food (2.76% engagement rate) and education influencers (2.50% engagement rate), drove lower results.

Similarly, lifestyle partners drove the strongest results in Stories with a reach rate of 7.02%, 72% higher than the reach rate from food influencers, the lowest vertical measured. Other high performing influencer verticals across Instagram Stories included home and do-it-yourself partners (6.69% reach rate) and health and wellness partners (6.51% reach rate).

By including a mix of verticals within influencer rosters, both for Instagram in-feed and Story campaigns, brands can get a variety of content from industry experts and meet their engagement or reach rate goals.

The moral of the (Instagram) Story?

By measuring performance over time and understanding performance trends, marketers can stack the cards in their favor and proactively combat a lower-performing vertical or content format. Only by evaluating the data can we evolve influencer strategies with the ever-changing industry and show the meaningful business impact that influencer marketing campaigns can make. 

Colleen O’Hara is VP of digital at Zeno Group. 

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