Instagram Influencer Marketing [2024 Ultimate Guide]

Instagram influencer in front of a camera

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If your brand’s target customers are in the 18-to-34-year-old age demographic, you need to seriously consider Instagram influencer marketing as a core element of your marketing strategy.  

Instagram is where the world’s young hang out, with 62% of them in this cohort dominating the platform’s user demographic and 200 million businesses wooing 2.3 billion active users daily.  

Before you go searching for a good Instagram consultant for your marketing, though, it would help to know what Instagram influencer marketing is all about, so you can work with your Instagram marketing consultant better.  

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What Is Instagram Influencer Marketing?

male influencer promoting a product

Instagram influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing that involves working with content creators on the video and photo-sharing platform to create branded content for your business.

These creators are people who have built a large and engaged following on Instagram. They are also known as “influencers” since their loyal followers admire and respect them and try to emulate their lifestyle and the products and services they use and recommend. 

Businesses looking to more authentically market their brands to their target customers partner with these influencers to create paid posts that their audiences strongly resonate with and engage with.

Compared with conventional marketing and advertising methods, influencer marketing makes audiences feel that the brands presented to them are more “genuine” since they are offered by people they already admire.

In the old days, influencer marketing would mainly take the form of celebrity endorsements. Today, influencer marketing need not engage big-name celebrities. Everyday people who are “celebrities” in their own right in their spheres of Instagram influence can be effective influencers since they are more relatable to their followers who feel more connected to them.  

Instagram Influencer Marketing in 2024

Instagram user pie chart

According to the Global State of Digital 2022 report, the majority of Instagram users are Millennials (born between 1981 to 1996) and Gen Zs (born between 1997 to 2010), comprising almost 85% of the total user base, with the following specific age group distribution for all users:

  • 13-17 years old (Younger Gen Z): 8.5%
  • 18-24 years old (Older Gen Z): 30.1%
  • 25-34 years old (Younger Millennials): 31.5%
  • 35-44 years old (Older Millennials): 16.1%
  • 45-54 years old (Gen X): 8%
  • 55-64 years old (Gen X to Boomers): 3.6%
  • 65 years old and up (Boomers, Post-War, WWII): 2.1%

Overall, Instagram is Gen Z’s favorite platform, even over Tik Tok. If the 16 to 24 age cohort is a group you’re looking to reach, Instagram is where you should be communicating with them from.  Gen Z (28%) is also the demographic cohort that is most responsive to social media influencers, followed by Millennials (23%), Gen X (16%), and Boomers (9%).

In terms of sex distribution balance, Instagram is unique among social media platforms as it has an almost even split between male (50.7%) and female (49.3%) users. Facebook and Twitter users are skewed towards male users.

Instagram Marketing Trends

Map of the US showing the number of Instagram users

Total Instagram ad reach relative to the total number of Internet users is 29.9%, growing at 21% annually, or more than 257 million users year-on-year. The top countries reached are India, the U.S., Brazil, Indonesia, and Russia.  

India has more than 230 million users and is the fastest growing market at 16% growth quarter-on-quarter, with 21% reach relative to the country’s population aged 13 and above. The United States has 159,750,000 users, with 56.7% reach. Brazil has 119,450,000 or 67.4% reach, while Indonesia has 99,150,000 or 45.8% reach, and Russia has 63,000,000 or 51.6% reach.  

Other top 20 countries with the largest Instagram advertising audiences are, in ranked order after Russia:  Turkey, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, Argentina, Spain, South Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Colombia, Canada, and Ukraine. 

In terms of countries with the largest population reach, Brunei tops the list at 92% of its residents using the app, followed by Guam and the Cayman Islands. If you’re looking to connect with these audiences for your brand, Instagram is the place for you.

Economically, Instagram audiences come from a wide range of backgrounds, but 60% are from higher-income homes.  This makes them very good prospects for e-commerce campaigns for Instagram Shopping and those social media calls to action.

In terms of interest demographics, 91% of audiences say they use Instagram to follow their interests, with the top interests being travel (45%), music (44%), and food and drink (43%). By country, audiences in India favor technology, while those in Argentina, Brazil, Korea, and Turkey consider film as one of their top three interests. Brands in these industries would benefit much from Instagram influencer marketing. 

Micro and nano influencers will become more important to brands looking to both maximize their influencer marketing budgets and work with influencers more deeply connected to their audiences than bigger influencers. One-off projects will be a thing of the past as brands look for ongoing partnerships with these influencers with performance-based contracts.

Influencers will become more specialized while collaborating with other specialist influencers. Authenticity remains key to success as cause and issue-driven marketing and employee-driven content grow.

Future Direction

Instagram’s potential advertising reach is a fast-growing audience of 850 million. About 73% of U.S. teens say Instagram is the best way for brands to reach them. Businesses respond fast, with an 85% completion rate of their brand Stories, and 60% of them use interactive elements every month on their Stories.

Content is still king, with “authentic” and “unfiltered” content gaining more traction than ever, with high-quality photography still a professional must. The challenge for brands and creators is to collaborate on producing high-quality visuals that don’t look contrived. What matters to audiences is that the content is relatable and believable.  

Instagram users need to feel an emotional connection to the businesses they follow, and they engage more with business accounts that support causes that matter to them, too. With Instagram being the top platform for engagement, this trend is expected to grow over the long term. On Instagram, it’s not just about socializing but also about taking a stand.

Influencer marketing will become more powerful, and Instagram provides the right environment for this, with micro-influencers increasingly proving their true value to advertisers and brands. It will become so competitive that more influencer managers or specialists will be needed.

Biggest Instagram Influencer Marketing Spenders

As of 2020, these are the top 10 biggest spenders:

  1. Fashion Nova, $40 million
  2. Flat Tummy Co, $13.5 million
  3. Ciroc, $11.8 million
  4. Walmart, $9.3 million
  5. PrettyLittleThing, $7.6 million
  6. LucBelaire, &7.6 million
  7. Carolina Lemke, $6.2 million
  8. BoomBod, $5.9 million
  9. Calvin Klein, $5.3 million
  10. SugarBearHair, $5 million

According to MediaRadar, despite the recession, many advertisers continue to increase their ad spending on Instagram. 

The top five advertising categories are in media and entertainment, retail, apparel, technology, and services, with a combined ad spend of $3.3 billion, which is equivalent to 71% of the total spend on Instagram.

Biggest Instagram Influencers

screenshot of Cristiano Ronaldo's Instagram account

According to the Top Authentic Influencers Ranking list based on the number of followers, engagement rate, and authentic engagement, these are Instagram’s top 10 biggest influencers: 

  • Cristiano Ronaldo (9.6M authentic engagement from 500+M followers, with an engagement rate of 2.358124%)
  • Lionel Messi (6.2M of 0.4B, 2.109849%)
  • Kylie Jenner (3.3M of 0.4B, 1.376763%)
  • Kendall Jenner (3.6M of 0.3B, 2.137342%)
  • Ariana Grande (3M of 0.3B, 1.21994%)
  • Neymar Jr. (4.2M of 0.2B, 3.133309%)
  • Zendaya (5.1M of 0.2M, 4.166209%)
  • Selena Gomez (2M of 0.4B, 0.726791%)
  • Taylor Swift (2.6M of 0.2B, 1.489049%)
  • Kim Kardashian (1.6M of 0.3B, 0.675751%)

Developed by The Influencer Marketing Hub and HypeAuditor, the list is generated from a thorough artificial intelligence (AI)-based analysis ranking influencers by quality audience and authentic engagement. The order of the influencers is based on their level of influence, not just their follower numbers.

In terms of the highest-earning influencers, the following are the top 10 biggest influencers:

  • Cristiano Ronaldo ($1.6M per post)
  • Lionel Messi ($1M)
  • Selena Gomez ($700K)
  • Dwayne Johnson ($650K)
  • Kim Kardashian ($620K)
  • Ariana Grande ($620K)
  • Beyonce Knowles ($600K)
  • Niki Minaj ($600K)
  • Khloe Kardashian ($500K)
  • Justin Bieber ($470K)

The monetary value of an influencer’s post is usually calculated based on the size of their social following and the platform they are using, adjusted further for the influencer’s reach and relevance. On Instagram, industry experts recommend a price point of $1,000 per 100,000 followers. On YouTube, the price point is $100 per 1,000 views.

Why Instagram Influencer Marketing Works

At the most fundamental level, Instagram influencer marketing works because of the high level of trust that social influencers have built up with their following, and Instagram provides a strong enabling environment for this. 

Here are the top three (3) more specific reasons why this is so:

1. Instagram influencer marketing allows brands to locate and advertise directly to their target audiences. At the same time, it makes it very rich for users to stay for hours with the vast visual array of artists, celebrities, creators, and brands there.  

To date, Instagram is the preferred social media platform for brands who engage in influencer marketing, with 79% of marketers considering Instagram as integral to their campaigns.

2. Influencers operate independently, creating their own content and integrating a brand’s advertising specifications into it. The influencer maintains control of the brand’s message and how they would like to portray it. This promotes more authenticity and helps reach and connect with target niche audiences.  

To support creators/influencers, Instagram created Creator Profiles for them, when they used to only have personal and business accounts.

These Creator Profiles have enhanced analytics, inbox management, shoppable posts, growth insights, and other features. The data from these tools help creators do their jobs better by knowing their audiences more and understanding what resonates best with their target audiences. Creators can also share this data with their brand partners.

3. Instagram is the most influential social network in marketing. According to a study, Instagram generates more sales and consumer responses than any other social network. The most responsive users are Millennials with 68% saying they are more likely to buy a product if it was recommended by someone they follow on Instagram.

Another study shows that Instagram influences almost 75% of user purchase decisions. Businesses get $4.87 of earned media value (EMV) for every dollar spent on Instagram influencer marketing, provided they do it right.

According to Shopify, 97% of marketers regard Instagram as the most important influencer marketing channel. Instagram’s strong visual feature allows products to be front and center without too many words getting in the way, encouraging its users to visit the product’s website and purchase something.

Visual content comprises 93% of human communication and is easier to process and understand, especially when the user doesn’t have much time to read, reflect, and make a purchase decision. 

How To Choose The Right Influencer For Your Campaign

Choosing the right influencer

In creating a winning Instagram influencer marketing strategy and campaign, you need to match the right influencer with your brand image and message, after you’ve targeted your intended audience and clarified your marketing objectives.

There are five (5) categories of influencers, based on their follower numbers, with each category having its advantages and limitations as a brand partner:

1. Nano-influencers: 1K to 10K  followers

With the smallest follower count, they offer brands narrow and modest reach, but they make up for it with the highest engagement rate from 5% to 8.8%.  

Engagement rate is the percentage of their audience who follow, like, comment on or share their content. Engagement rates tend to decline as the follower count increases, with around 1.6% at the celebrity level.

Nano-influencers’ content is hyper-personalized and more authentic for their audiences, so brands working with them can expect to engage their target audiences in more unique and different experiences.

They are also the most cost-effective. Some don’t even charge brands financially. They allow for exchange deals in the form of product samples and brand service freebies as they build up their following and partnerships.

If your brand has very limited resources and you have a well-defined niche target audience, nano-influencers are good to partner with for a start.

2. Micro-influencers: 10,001 to 50K followers

Micro-influencers make up almost half of all influencers, and 77% of marketers are more interested in working with micro-influencers than celebrities. They have higher engagement rates, too, but with bigger audiences than nano-influencers.

Micro-influencers also have an intimate connection with their followers and are niche-focused. Eighty-two percent (82%) of consumers are more likely to buy a product recommended by a micro-influencer they follow.

3. Mid-tier influencers: 50,001 to 500K followers

Mid-tier influencers may not be at celebrity status yet, but they already have a powerful influence over a bigger number of followers. They offer brands wider reach and polished content, with authenticity, authority, and familiarity to each post they publish.  

They most likely spent years climbing from being nano-influencers to micro-influencers and now to nano-influencers, so they are very experienced in terms of creating content that connects with their audiences. They charge higher price points than influencers with lower follower counts for the high value they provide.

4. Macro-influencers: 500,001 to 1 million followers

Macro-influencers may be celebrities, television personalities, athletes, or thought leaders in their fields. They leverage their reputation with a larger reach for brands. Their content is typically more professionally polished. 

They also have higher price tags than the previous three (3) types of influencers with smaller follower numbers.

5. Mega-influencers/celebrities: more than 1 million followers

Mega-influencers are very visible on social and other forms of media because of their celebrity status. They’re very active on platforms where their fans spend the most time, although their engagement rate is not as high as those influencers with smaller follower numbers. Understandably, it’s difficult to authentically engage more than a million followers.  

Because of their mega reach, they carry the most expensive price tag, too.

Choosing the right influencer for your brand depends on your marketing goals and who you’re trying to influence, aside from your marketing budget for Instagram influencer marketing, among other things.

Instagram influencer pricing averages $271 per post. Influencers with less than 1,000 followers start at $83 per post, while those with more than 100,000 followers start at $763 per post. To get the most return for your dollar, learn more about how to find the most valuable Instagram influencers here.

Essentially, to choose the right influencer for your campaign, start with making sure that their follower demographic matches your target audience well, and that their following and engagement are authentic, not made by bots.

You can easily check for this by using online tools like InstaCheck, which is designed to detect fake accounts by analyzing their engagement, spam, and overall activity.

Instagram Influencer Marketing Tools

Instagram Influencity screenshot

There are Instagram influencer platforms you can use to identify, manage, and work with influencers for your marketing campaigns.

These platforms are software solutions that provide you with influencer discovery tools, searchable databases of potential influencers, relationship management services, campaign management services, influencer marketplaces, third-party analytics, and influencer content amplification.

Popular influencer marketing tools include Influencity, HypeAuditor, Brandwatch, and TrendHero. The Influencer Marketing Hub has reviewed and curated the top influencer marketing platforms to consider. 

However, if all these technological tools and AI stuff sound overwhelming to you, and what you need is a human Instagram influencer marketing expert to help you define your niche, measure your campaign results, and accompany you throughout your influencer marketing journey, then connect with Growth Collective’s pre-vetted marketing specialists.

Instagram Influencer Marketing Success Stories

Here are three Instagram Influencer Marketing success stories to inspire you and to emphasize the point that you don’t necessarily need celebrity endorsers to do it successfully.

1. Wolf Gourmet

screenshot of Wolf Gourmet website

Selling innovative kitchen appliances and countertops, Wolf Gourmet partnered only with one niche influencer, Natasha from Natasha’s Kitchen, which has around 900K followers. They ran a single-giveaway campaign which offered only one reward—an expensive Wolf Gourmet blender.  

Natasha wrote a sponsored blog post on different blender recipes and detailed the reasons why she loves Wolf Gourmet’s blender compared to other brands. At the end of the post, she announced the special giveaway and encouraged her followers to participate.

The campaign resulted in 14,000 entries submitted by her followers, proving that influencers like Natasha can drive plenty of engagement and increase brand awareness.

2. Daniel Wellington

screenshot of Daniel Wellington's website, a brand that engages in influencer marketing

This watch and jewelry brand collaborates with many fashion and lifestyle niche influencers to create luxurious but relatable content that works as word-of-mouth marketing to reinforce its brand presence.  

In 2010, when Instagram was born, this Swedish watchmaker had already partnered with several influencers on Instagram before the term “influencer” was even widely used. The brand reached out to influencers and offered free products. This was a brilliant cost-saving strategy for them since their margins were at 50% because of their watches’ very low production costs.

They reached out to many influencers in different fields:  fashion models, painters, other artists–anyone related to art and luxury with an engaged following on Instagram.

Their user-generated campaigns (UGCs) became so popular that other influencers started buying watches and posting these using the hashtag #DWpickoftheday so they could be featured on the brand’s official profile. The hashtag has generated more than 60,000 posts since then, which is equivalent to 15 new influencer/UGC posts per day.  

The brand’s UGC campaigns involved their active participation, commenting on influencers’ photos and asking permission to repurpose these for their own marketing campaigns, not just on Instagram but on their product pages and Pinterest profile as well.

From a startup with only $20,000 capital, Daniel Wellington was able to sell one million watches worth $228M in just three (3) short years and is now the household name that it is today.

3. American Express

screenshot of American Experess' Instagram post

Although it partners with celebrities like Shaquille O’Neal, it also collaborates with many micro-influencers, promoting rewards for its card services such as the platinum card, using the hashtag #AmexAmbassadors.

American Express’ Instagram influencer marketing story is a showcase of how to promote not just physical products but services, too, in a way that feels organic to the influencers’ aesthetics. It does this by mirroring the content that appears on its influencer partners’ posts, living organically within the influencers’ non-branded content so its brand doesn’t feel out of place.  

American Express takes a multichannel approach in its influencer marketing, partnering heavily with Instagram for consumer campaigns and LinkedIn for its B2B clientele. It also uses YouTube for long-form content and supports these strategies on Twitter and Snapchat.

It selects the influencers it works with based on the brand’s message. For long-term influencer relationships, the brand leverages the lifestyle. They work with influencers who have passions and audiences with similar passions that align with their own customers’ interests–travel, dining, entertainment–who then talk about the benefits American Express offers. 

This brand proves that focusing on authenticity works very successfully.

3 Biggest Mistakes In Instagram Influencer Marketing

Doing Instagram influencer marketing right means avoiding the mistakes others have made.  Here are the three (3) biggest and most harmful ones to avoid because they are so foundational to the whole process: 

1. Not positioning your brand as purpose-driven

Today, consumers prefer to buy products and services from brands that stand for more than just profits but align with their personal values and beliefs. Brands with a unique story or a bigger purpose, like caring for people and the planet, are what audiences resonate with more.  

Sustainability is one of the hottest topics in retail. Since 2016, searches for sustainable products have increased by 70%. The way companies view and address social issues and implement environmentally friendly practices are significant purchasing decision drivers now, making 89% of consumers more likely to purchase from brands that make a positive impact in these areas.

These sustainable brands’ stories, vision, and bigger mission also lend well to creative marketing efforts such as influencer marketing that distinguish them from the crowd. These also help the influencers they partner with to sell their products and services better.

2. Not clearly defining a marketing campaign goal

Clearly defining your marketing campaign goal is crucial to selecting the right influencer, crafting a relevant campaign, keeping focused and staying on target, and measuring your campaign’s performance.

It also guides you in regularly measuring your results vis-à-vis your objectives, and helps you tweak and improve your campaign over time to achieve your goals.

What do you see as the end outcome of your Instagram influencer marketing campaign? Do you want to raise awareness about your brand, gather useful consumer data, improve customer loyalty, or increase conversion rates? How are you going to measure these?  Clarify these first before you even partner with influencers.  

3. Working with the wrong influencers

Popular influencers with huge follower numbers are not necessarily the right influencers for your brand. If their audiences are not right for your brand, they’re the wrong influencers for you and can even harm your brand’s reputation.

Before hiring influencers to partner with, research their relevance, reach, and resonance—the 3Rs of successful influencer marketing-- to your industry, brand, and niche.  

Begin with these questions to guide you in your choice:

  • What are their expertise in your field and your product?
  • What is their level of engagement with their followers?
  • Do they post good quality content that aligns with your brand and message?
  • Are they easy to work with?  Do they respond promptly?  Do they have the time to do your project well? Do they take their responsibilities seriously?
  • Have they already established a meaningful level of influence in your niche, and do they have a significant number (at least thousands) of real, engaged followers?


1. Is Instagram the most-used platform by influencers?

Yes.  Recent research shows that 72.5% of marketers use it for influencer marketing in 2022, which is a 4.6% annual increase over 2021.

2. Do all Instagram influencers get paid?

All get paid in some form, but not all get paid financially through direct sponsorships. Some, especially those starting and building their reputation and follower base like nano-influencers, work in exchange for products and services. Some also work for affiliate commissions. 

3. Which niche is best for Instagram influencer marketing?

As of 2022, the top 12 Instagram niches for growth are health and fitness, beauty, fashion, lifestyle, online entrepreneurship/e-commerce, animals/pets, food and cooking, travel, parenting, crafts, and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, memes, and motivational quotes.

Moving Forward with Instagram Influencer Marketing

social media influencer waving her hand

Now that you know what Instagram influencer marketing is about, you can decide to incorporate it into your marketing strategy, especially if your brand’s target audiences are those in the Gen Z and Millennial age cohorts. 

You have the option of using AI-powered Instagram influencer platforms or hiring human Instagram influencer marketing experts that have been pre-vetted for quality performance in delivering successful and measurable results. Connect with your Instagram marketing consultant here now.

Jeanette Patindol
Content Writer
Former company
About Author
Jeanette early-retired in mid-2020 from her 23-year academic career as an Economics, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Communications professor to dedicate the rest of her life following her bliss doing what she loves to do most: writing. She has been writing for publications and various clients on multiple platforms since she was 14 years old. Now, she intends to help individuals and businesses across the globe achieve their goals by creating exceptional content that resonates well with their audiences.
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