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Influencer Marketing on Instagram: Engagement and Measurement

This story originally appeared on PR Newswire's Small Business PR Toolkit

Editor's Note: This is the second in a two-part series.

In last week's article we provided the building blocks needed in order to create a well-planned strategic campaign on . In this week's post we will focus on how to cultivate meaningful, deliberate with and ways to measure the reach and effectiveness of these influencers.

How to Engage Instagram Influencers With Your Brand

After establishing and nurturing these relationships, contacting Instagram influencers to engage them in your marketing campaigns is more like a warm sales lead than a cold lead. In fact, you may find that Instagram influencers you've built solid relationships with begin to share your content and promote your brand even without your asking.

This is the ideal, but it doesn't always happen this way. More often, you'll have to make an effort to get their attention and get them on board. You can do this using a variety of techniques, such as making direct contact and asking for their engagement, including influencers in a list of the best Instagrammers in your niche, asking for a quote or tip for an article or blog post, or by engaging with them through hashtags, tags, and mentions.

When it's time to make direct contact, do so via email or phone with a personal message. Introduce yourself and your company and explain exactly how their audience will benefit from what you have to offer. Offering a free sample of your product or service or something of value can seal the deal. Whether or not you offer some form of compensation, you should provide Instagram influencers with turn-key content they can use to spread your message with little additional effort. If you're asking someone to help you, make it as easy for them as you can.

How to Measure Reach and Effectiveness of Influencer

Instagram's search feature allows you to search for photos or people using keywords. This is not only a useful tool for discovering Instagram users well-suited to serve as influencers for your campaign, but it's a helpful way to measure the effectiveness of influencers and campaigns. For instance, if your campaign asks influencers to post photos with a branded hashtag, a quick search for this keyword will show you the content that's been shared.

Hashtags on Instagram function in much the same way as hashtags on , serving as a means for categorizing and organizing content and making content easily discoverable by users who don't follow you. Using hashtags to optimize your photos and videos on Instagram expands your reach beyond your followers to anyone searching for content related to the keywords you use in your hashtags.

The ideal number of hashtags is three to five (no more than five), and they must be relevant to the content of your photo or video. Irrelevant hashtags are viewed as spam, and using them in this manner can quickly damage the reputation of even the most well-respected brand.

According to TrackMaven's "The Fortune 500 Instagram Report," most brands post the most content on Thursdays, although there is no obvious "best day" to post on Instagram in terms of the highest levels of engagement. In the same study, TrackMaven found only a six percent difference in engagement for content posted during working hours compared to content posted during off-hours, suggesting that the time a photo is posted has little effect on the engagement it receives. Video content, on the other hand, does receive greater engagement when posted between 9pm and 8am.

You can determine the best days and times to post your own content by measuring the engagement your posts receive during different time frames. There are a multitude of tools that monitor Instagram analytics, showing data on the number of likes, comments, and shares your photos and videos receive. In fact, Instagram showcases this very data on your posts, although Instagram does not yet offer a complete analytics solution for its platform users. Monitoring and analyzing this data is the best way to measure the effectiveness of influencers, your own content, and your overall strategy.

Brands With Successful Influencer Marketing Campaigns

These tactics aren't just theory; many brands have proven that influencer marketing on Instagram is a viable when implemented properly. , for instance, earned 10 million impressions and 40,000 engagements in just two weeks with the help of six professional photographers to whom the company "handed over the keys" to its account. Overall, the influencer content earned 23 percent more engagement than the company's other Instagram content.

SHREDZ, a direct marketing nutritional supplement company, posted $90,000 in revenue at the end of 2012. By the end of 2013, the company posted $5 million in gross revenue, a success attributed in part to a savvy influencer marketing campaign on Instagram. How did they do it? The company engaged with dozens of influential Instagram users with large followings, offering "free supplements and monthly payments in return for posting images of them working out with the SHREDZ product."

In Short

Instagram is the up-and-coming next big thing in : the next frontier. The platform is not yet overly saturated with promotional content and advertisements, plus, Instagram reaches millions of consumers in the key younger demographics targeted by many brands today. Engaging the right influencers on Instagram can catapult your company to success in the likes of Nike, American Express, and Starbucks. Take advantage of the opportunity to reach millions of consumers in key demographics with an influencer marketing campaign on Instagram. The iron is hot and opportunities are abundant.

Written by Sarah Ware, co-founder and chief executive of Markerly, an influencer marketing platform.

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