... and it was my fault!
While running one of my first dropshipping stores, I decided to try hiring an Instagram Influencer after nearly pulling my hair out because of Facebook ads. I looked through an obvious hashtag, found an influencer with over 100k followers, and thought that was the end of it! Well, it was the end of my $50 as it resulted in zero sales for my store. The worst part was that is my fault because I didn't do my due diligence in researching their account.
It was, however, a huge learning lesson that forced me to research and understand what distinguished a good influencer from an ineffective one. All over dropshipping groups and websites, I constantly see people asking if “this %” or “this many followers” is good enough. You need to remember that the numbers don’t always tell the whole story. Here's my way to distinguish a good influencer from a bad one!
The first thing you want to look at and consider is their follower count. It might seem like a good idea to try and get the biggest influencer for the cheapest amount, but that’s not always the best tactic. Larger influencers are more accustomed to being an influencer as a business and that comes across very clearly in their posts. Because of their familiarity with how influencer marketing works, they might also have much higher price points.
Smaller influencers on the other hand are usually easier to work with. They will be more open to responding to your DMs and having an open conversation about their rates. Additionally, they are usually much more open to the type of payment, and instead of cash have been known to consider a sample product or making a percentage of future sales.
To give you an example, my business reached out to influencers with less than 50k followers. Rather than offer direct payment, we offered free sample products that cost us $10 each. Numerous influencers accepted and we were able to get a $25-50 promotional spot for a $10 necklace instead!
Next, you want to check the engagement rate of the influencer you are considering hiring. An account’s engagement rate is a percentage reflecting how many likes and comments they get based on their overall follower count. This number is not a tell-all, but it really helps to figure out if the influencer purchased followers from a third party.
Here you can find an engagement calculator to help you see what the percentage is. Most dropshippers suggest a minimum of 4-5% engagement rate. However, Under the Influence examined “more than 500 top influencers on Instagram and found that “general engagement rates decreased as popularity grew.”
When reviewing your influencer, you’ll want to keep in mind that naturally larger influencers have smaller engagement rates. What that does mean, is that you might want to consider hiring two smaller influencers rather than one larger one. Two smaller influencers, with really good engagement rates, will have a strong sense of trust with their audience and make for great customers!
Finally, the last way to quality check your Instagram influencer is to read the comments on their post. Simply having comments does not mean they are legitimate. Many accounts use bots to comment on their posts and others because it draws people to their profile. Very simple comments such as “cool feed” should be ruled out. Read the comments to make sure they’re reflective of the actual content. It’s always good to go a step further as well and click on some of the profiles to make sure they’re real people.
If all of these tests come back green, I feel confident reaching out to the influencer and discussing further. Hopefully, you can use some of these tips to help you make sure you don’t make the same mistake I did. What have your experiences been with Instagram influencers? Have you ever lost money like me?