Instagram celebs and paid partnerships: Who are they & what they can do for you

November 14, 2016

Who is considered the engagement “king” of social media? At the moment, Instagram is wearing that crown. As more and more of our supporters become Instagram loyalists, nonprofits are figuring out how to get in on the action. Many are looking to Instagram paid partnerships as a way to reach new audiences, cultivate engagement and create new content.

And what’s not to like? Instagram is home to 400 million monthly active users nationwide, and 60% of users log in daily, and unlike Facebook, Instagram’s explore function reveals a more diverse view, rather than an echo chamber.  Consumers engage with brands on Instagram at a rate 10 times higher than on Facebook, and 84 times higher than on Twitter. People can’t resist the ‘double tap.’

Partnering with an Instagram celebrity on their own account or channel offers a number of different benefits:

  1. Instagrammers with a big following help you with two major services that you wouldn’t be able to achieve without tapping into their level of quality or magnitude of online community:
    1. Creative content generation
    2. Content distribution, via their following of perhaps hundreds of thousands of new people
  2. Supporters are more likely to interact with authentic content, rather than ads, so they act as a third party validator or bridge to raise awareness about your brand, get their friends to visit your website, download an app, subscribe to a podcast, make a donation, etc.
  3. You’re naturally ensuring that your campaign or organization will be visually engaging and ‘Instagram-worthy’

I tend to divide up influential Instagrammers with big followings into a few different categories. And, here are a few examples of some of my favorite Instagram accounts:

  1. Instagram fame artists—People who really got their start on Instagram and use the ‘gram as their primary medium, like Matthew the Hedgehog.
  2. The multi-tasker—Lifestyle bloggers and personalities who are on everything—Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, like Mommyshorts.
  3. Artists and photographers—People who create their art, craft or photography on another medium, and upload to Instagram as a way to share with the public, like Mari Andrew.
  4. Celeb first, Instagrammer second—Real-life celebs who cultivate their Instagram presence; their content here doesn’t need to be super artistic or original because people will follow them because they’re famous, like Lena Dunham.
  5. Brands and organizations like Seattle Goodwill.
  6. Media outlets like BuzzFeed Tasty.

So you’ve waded through the huge universe of Instagrammers and you’ve narrowed in on a few who might make good partners. Maybe they can tap into a recreational community you’re trying to engage (kayaker, climber or paraglider extraordinaire), have a large and engaged following a specific demographic, or they’re the best at capturing scenes of an iconic place. Here are some tips on how to approach them and work with them:

Vet them by asking:

  • Have you ever worked with sponsors before? Ideally you want an Instagrammer with some experience working with sponsors in the past, but who also mixes up their posts with organic original content, which ensures a more engaged audience;
  • How much control will we have on the message and final product? You don’t want to get overly involved in their creative process—you’ll want to trust their ability to create content that engages their community, and they’re experts at that. But you will want to have some involvement with their envisioning and messaging for the post(s);
  • How much time do you think you’d be able to dedicate to this project? You want someone who’s a good project manager, who takes their work for sponsors seriously; and,
  • What does your schedule look like in [insert month]? Will you be available? Instagrammers are often always on the move, and they’ll have confidence that they can do their job from anywhere (have phone, will travel) but if your project requires in-person meetings or a more intense review process, be sure to flag it for them.

Once you vet them and find a good partner, be open about your budget, realistic about the goals you’d like to accomplish, and aware of the level of effort put in. Some Instagram partners may simply repost a photo used in a sponsored blog post with minimal time spent crafting the post copy. Others will want to go out on a shoot or stage a photo and spend a lot of time editing it to look just right. Obviously, you should expect different budget for these two different scenarios.

In general, partnering with Instagrammers is an enormous opportunity to refresh your content and reach new, like-minded audiences on a platform that they trust and engage with often.

If you’re interested in partnering with an Instagrammer, and aren’t sure where to start, or how far your budget could stretch, please contact us!

Sian Wu

Photo h/t to RM staffer Marcela Gara