Identifying Instagram Influencers in Your Market

As social media channels continue to become diluted, more independent e-commerce retailers are turning towards influencer marketing. Studies show that utilizing influencers can lead to higher conversion rates, increased audience reach, and deeper trust from customers. Here are a few statistics to provide a clearer understanding of the benefits influencer marketing brings.

  • 86 percent of women turn to social networks before making a purchase. (Study)
  • On average, businesses generate $6.50 for every $1 invested in influencer marketing. (Study)
  • 71 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on a social media reference. (Study)

With its new features such as multi picture/video posts, profile stories, and business insights, Instagram has become the dominant platform for influencer marketing. With the help of this guide, you will be able to identify key influencers in your market, determine the authenticity of their posts/following, and leverage your marketing efforts for the highest ROI possible.

Identify the Influencer

The simplest way to find influencers within your market is through hashtags. Identify the most popular hashtags specific to your target audience. These hashtags are often based on location, niche, or industry. An example of location-based hashtags would be #expcols, #drinkupcolumbus, or #lifeincbus.

All of these hashtags are popular and relevant to both consumers and businesses within the Columbus, OH area. Notice that we avoided using hashtags like #columbus or #ohio because they are too broad and watered-down with spam and unrelated posts. The same rules apply to different markets and industries such as photography. Searching the millions of posts in #photography will not help you find any influencers. Aim for hashtags that have anywhere from 10,000 to 200,000 posts. If you’re struggling to identify hashtags in your market, try using services like Hashtagify or Webstagram.

Once you have identified popular hashtags in your market, look through the ‘Top Posts’ section for each. This is where posts from key influencers will most likely be found. However, this photos listed under ‘Top Posts’ change frequently, so be sure check multiple times. If searching through hashtags isn’t working, a simple user search using relevant keywords may do the trick. For example, searching “weightlifting” in the ‘People’ tab on Instagram’s search function will connect you with relevant pages that related to weightlifting in some way.

Quality over Quantity

Now that you’ve discovered a list of key influencers within your market, it’s time to weed out the best of the best to determine which influencer works best for you. It’s common for marketers to simply look at the follower count and assume the higher the number, the better. This is not the case at all with Instagram. Like many social media channels, Instagram has been slightly diluted by bot accounts and black market services that allow users to buy followers. However, with the right knowledge, you can identify accounts with real value that can give you the highest ROI.


The question that is on every marketer’s mind; “What is the ideal engagement rate?” There are two tiers of influencers on Instagram. The lower tier contains influencers who receive 5% engagement. This is the average engagement rate for most influencers with a following over 5,000. Don’t expect 5% engagement on every post, especially promotional ones, but a majority of posts should receive at least 5% engagement.

The second tier is much harder to find, but will be more valuable to you in the long run. Influencers in this tier will see 10% engagements on their posts. The drawback; these influencers often have under 10,000 followers. What this tier offers that drastically increases its value is a loyal fanbase that has been organically grown to cultivate its own culture. The followers of these influencers will share posts, frequently leave meaningful comments, and extend the influencer’s audience reach by landing them on the explore page. Establishing a relationship with these influencers will grant you access to a real target audience that has been developed organically over time. Expect to see an increase in your own engagement, following, and conversions.

What about videos?

Video engagement is perhaps the most perplexing analytic for marketers to understand. On all mediums, video is becoming the most popular form of content, with live streams trailing close behind. Video engagement on Instagram breaks into two types; ‘Likes’ as you see on traditional posts, and views. Both of these forms of engagement go hand in hand. You should expect to see real influencers receive views that equal at least 20% of their following. This may seem like a high number, but it ties back to likes. Videos receiving more likes will land on Instagram’s explore page and often times double or triple their views over a period of a few days. This is why smaller influencers may have 10,000 followers, but often videos will show over twice as many views. Be on the lookout for these influencers if you plan on promoting your own product/service in the form of a video.


This guide is meant to provide the appropriate steps to finding and identifying real influencers on Instagram. Results will vary depending on your niche or target audience. If you have trouble finding influencers in your market, that may be an opportunity to establish yourself as an influencer and stay ahead of the curve.