How to find Instagram influencers [w/ free and paid tools]

Awario Team
by Awario Team on March 24, 2022

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Article summary

Influencer marketing can make your product reliable and appealing when nobody knows you. Instagram influencers are powerful enough to make it rocket. Here’s how to choose the strategy and find trendsetters which are right for you.

  1. What is influencer marketing?
  2. What kinds of influencers exist on Instagram?
  3. Is Instagram influencer marketing really that successful?
  4. Why is influencer marketing so successful?
  5. How to find Instagram influencers
  6. The outreach

Influencer marketing is one of the hottest, most discussed, and most effective forms of marketing today. Here at Awario, we’ve talked times and times again about the hows and whys of influencer marketing. And we don’t intend to stop. Only this time we’ll focus on finding such social media influencers as Instagram influencers specifically and turning them into brand advocates.

Here’s why we decided to focus on Instagram influencers:

  1. According to the Pew Research Center, Instagram is used by 40% of adults, whereas 71% of 18- to 29-year-olds use the platform keeping its popularity above Snapchat and nearly twice above TikTok.
  2. So far Instagram takes the 4th row in the most-used social platform rating giving way to Facebook, Youtube and WhatsApp, according to Hootsuite.
  3. Since 2017, when $800 million was spent on Instagram influencers, the figures have grown up to $2.3 billion by the end of 2020 and are expected to keep rising, as reported by MediaKix.

The only real rivals on the horizon for the top Instagram influencers are the rising TikTok influencers. But it’s still some time before they could top the all-time favorite platform that has advertising and marketing at its core.

Yes, you heard me right. If you consider Instagram to be, first and foremost, your personal photo album, it’s all good. However, you can’t ignore the constant rise of ads and the ridiculously high number of people who make money, get famous, and spread the word about brands on the platform. And this isn’t by chance: Facebook is all about monetization, and them buying Instagram meant the platform is here to make money.

The good news? Instagram isn’t only making money for Facebook. It can do it for you, too. In this post, we'll discuss why influencer marketing is successful (if so), what kind of influencers are out there, how to do the outreach for the influencers in your niche, and answer the most important question of all: how to find Instagram influencers. 

Let’s get started. 

What is influencer marketing?

Yes, you probably already know what it is, but I have to tell the ones who don’t.

Influencer marketing means finding influencers in your niche and using their reach to promote your brand. Celebrities are the classic influencers - we all know that they make as much on advertising as they do by acting or singing or playing soccer.

Pepsi ad
Good old Pepsi ad times


However, it’s social media that has made influencer marketing affordable to anyone, as tons of people have become "online famous" since social media entered our lives.

Kylie Jenner influencer

Still, even on social media, there are different kinds of influencers. Let’s dig deeper to find out who they are.

What kinds of influencers exist on Instagram?

Celebrity influencers

Celebrity influencers might’ve achieved their fame by doing something viral on social media, being relatively famous in real life (and then building up this fame on social media), or just being constantly and increasingly interesting to their followers on Instagram and growing a truly gigantic audience. Working with them is usually only possible for large enterprises as the prices of the posts of top Instagram influencers are terribly expensive.

Celebrity influencer instagram
198 million - undoubted celebrity status

Social media influencers

Social media influencers, aka mega influencers, are social media stars, somewhat between real celebrities and macro influencers (will talk about them below), they became prominent mainly thanks to social media. They simply outgrew their previous status becoming a particular distinctive icon for a group slightly beyond the niche audience and became recognizable even to those who never visited their accounts but saw them in magazines, collaborations with famous brands or famous people who work in the same industry (e.g. fashion). They typically have above 1 million followers and more.


A post shared by Jeanne Damas (@jeannedamas)


Macro influencers

Your average influencer has the following between 100,000 and 1,000,000, though remaining under the impressive million. They are the ones usually being targeted by the companies as for many of them this type of influencers is an optimal way to increase brand awareness. Macro influencers and their team in most cases have a set workflow of how they approach brand promotion, how much they charge, and so on. They are the ones to target if you have a settled budget for influencer marketing.

yoga instagram influencer

Micro influencers

If your budget is limited, your goal is to find Instagram influencers that have around 10,000 – 100,000 followers. This group of influencers can be called top Instagram influencers too – with the only difference that they are being such within some niche. Micro influencers won’t charge much and sometimes they will mention or review your brand in return for a product discount, free trial, or as a part of building a mutually beneficial relationship. Micro bloggers’ audience is still quite dedicated and might be united by one location, even though there can be tens of thousands of them, so if you’ve managed to partner with a relevant Instagram influencer with a relatively small but trusting audience, it's a clear win. The biggest challenge is usually to find influencers like that for your niche.

Instagram micro influencer

Nano influencers

Their follower count is below 10,000. Considering the relatively small reach, although many successful influencers started there as well, their audience is truly loyal and attentive to their opinion and advice. Nano influencers might even know in person the big share of their followers, which involves some really justified trust there between an account owner and an individual from the audience, which makes the audience not just targeted but reached indeed.

Instagram nano influencer


Is Instagram influencer marketing really that successful?

The short answer is yes. 

The long answer is: according to the study by the Influencer Marketing hub in 2022, every $1 spent on influencer marketing will bring $5.78 on average. The forecast for this year shows that the popularity of micro and nano influencers will grow among brands, especially those who are willing to spend no more than $100 per post and yet to extend their overall reach.

Why is influencer marketing so successful?

Probably, because other forms of marketing are failing hard. There is so much advertising online that people developed something that’s been dubbed “banner blindness”. The Internet users don’t see ads anymore, they don’t attract their attention. Besides, tons of people install AdBlock.

What about other digital marketing tactics? Google Ads are extremely expensive, SEO is more of a necessity than something that gets you an advantage over your competitors. Social media marketing only really works if you’ve already gained a large and engaging audience. And how do you get a large and engaging audience? Again, with influencer marketing. It’s a vicious circle. 

And now to the main part.

How to find Instagram influencers

According to Econsultancy, 72% of brands, which are satisfied with influencer marketing impact and use these strategies frequently, are convinced that finding an influencer who you can truly bond with or who meets your purpose and values, making sure you find right representation in this person, means more than the number of followers he or she can address.

There are several tools to find influencers on Instagram, and each can be truly called an Instagram influencer marketing platform. As you would expect, some of them are free, some are freemium, and some are paid. Here are our brief guide through the best Instagram discovery tools in no particular order. 

1. Awario

Awario is a solution quite simple in use but comprehensive in what it can offer regarding analytics. To begin your search, create an Alert and enter a few Keywords in accordance with which the topic you are interested in will be monitored, remember to fill in some Excluded keywords to make sure you will track only the subject you need.

In Advanced alert settings feel free to indicate Language of your future results, Locations, Sources (e.g. Instagram) and Date range, which is important in case you want to find recent discussions featuring the topic of your interest.


awario alert keywords

You can also switch to Boolean search: this type of search is indispensable for those who are prepared for an extremely precise monitoring, know which exactly keywords should be included, which ones – excluded and in which conditions, creating complicated and strict algorithm using Boolean search syntax and operators. Don’t hesitate to try, there will be all the needed prompts given for you, just unroll the Formatting help and follow the brief instructions.

As soon as your Alert is created, the system begins to aggregate Mentions, thus keeping you aware of who talks about your subject and where, and how actually hot among users the topic is.

The Dashboard opens the detailed view of your topic Mentions. Here you will see their total number, the Reach, i.e. how many people could see these mentions, the Sentiment graph dividing these mentions into Positive and Negative ones, Author Gender and Age, evaluate the subjects popularity thanks to ranking by Top mentions and Top influencers, a responsive map with mouseovers showing the percentage of mentioning distribution around the world in the Countries section of the Dashboard, Topic cloud, revealing other popular mentions which frequently accompany your searched topic, and more.

awario dashboard sentiment

Clicking the name of your Alert will bring you to the Feed which provide you with flexible filters: sort mentions by dates, group them by conversations, filter the Time period, Reach to look through the influencers with a specific number of followers, sift the results regarding the Sentiment, Tags, Language, Locations as well as Custom search, letting authors’ names, snippets, website urls and titles narrow down the search.

Awario has another valuable feature – Leads. To make it work just add Product description in the format of Keywords, type in a few Competitors, and don’t forget to fill in some Excluded keywords to enhance the project’s output. As soon as you complete the adjustments you begin to receive complaints and negative opinions users and influencers might post about your product’s competitors which can give you a helpful insight into your potential target audience and a trendsetter to collaborate with.

Pricing: Purchase for $39/mo choosing the Starter plan, opt for the Pro costing $119/mo or switch to Enterprise plan for $399/mo in case you find the demo version meeting all your requirements and opt for a monthly subscription. By choosing the annual billing you will save up to 40% each month having Starter at $24/mo, Pro - $74/mo and Enterprise – $249/mo.

Free trial: Available.

2. Klear

Klear search is focused on providing a user with the most relevant influencers offering monitoring with versatile segmentation, including Topics, Locations, Brand values, Niche topics, #hashtags, Past collaborations, Influence level, Price range and more.

Thus, before you start searching you can set these Advanced filters which will shape the results in accordance with your specified preferences.

FakeSpot technology will neutralize up to 83% of fake engagements and followers during the launched monitoring letting you receive only true and relevant search output. Besides, use the Klear Influencer Score to discover influencers with powerful and inspiring leader’s potential.

Also, you can track Instagram stories automatically with the help of the tool. The collected stories will be shown in a dedicated campaign report.

The product is equipped with advanced graph algorithms to bring a customer the most fitting for a planned campaign influencer to make a noticeable difference when choosing collaboration as your marketing instrument.

To track you Instagram campaign communication use Klear Connect serving as a built-in CRM and allowing you to get updated on your campaign activities, approve posts, stay regularly notified concerning your campaign processes and more. ROI and True Reach metrics are part of a downloadable campaign report which have the principal analytics presented to measure campaign achievements and overall impact.

klear interface influencer tags
klear influencer search

Pricing: The cost of a basic license per user starts at $249/mo.

Free trial: The brand provides further details at request.

3. Heepsy

Start looking for a relevant influencer using the product’s own resources with the help of an AI-powered search capabilities among millions of stored Instagram accounts by Category, Location and Follower count, whereas the Engagement rate, Audience demographics and Authenticity tracking features will further specify your outputs.

To launch the search, you need to choose Instagram as the required platform and add the abovementioned filters.
The software explores the topics and products an influencer is focusing on. You can create lists, where different influencers will be collected by you and compared in accordance with their statistics assessing the effectivity of their campaigns.

There are various criteria to sort out from, including Expertise, which determines an influencer’s type of content, Popularity, Authenticity & trust, which analyzes an influencer’s integrity regarding promotion choices, and Brand alignment – this one lets you understand whether your future representative’s beliefs and priorities correspond to your product highlighted strengths.

The Heepsy engine is far more complex than mere stats accumulation, it is designed to distinguish influencers who are renowned experts in their subject.

Fill in all the necessary parameters, including the Advanced metrics to adjust your search with regard to such indicators as Branded posts and Cost estimate.

heepsy instagram influencer
heepsy instagram influencer authenticity

Pricing: Three plans offer Starter at $49/mo, Business at $169/mo and Gold at $269/mo. The product can be tried for free and booking a demo will help you to choose the right plan.

Free trial: Available.

4. Hype Auditor

The program offers monitoring of influencer statistics providing you with 12 million Instagram accounts and over 35 metrics for a precise search.

As far as you get to receiving results you will see the contact information of influencers. You will also see the topics an influencer posts about, so you will know whether a person is right for you.

An influencer’s audience authenticity is analyzed, and the rating is shown within the Country, Global and Category rankings to help you figure out whether a person’s reader list is genuine. You get the results based on the number of true followers and engagement rate.

hype auditor interface

Such information as residence, spoken language, ethnicity, gender and age, as well as audience interests, which might be the most important matter, are also provided.

You will also clearly see the type of an influencer’s audience. This parameter will help you stay away from a person with a big share of fake supporters.

hype auditor instagram influencer

You can benchmark an influencer’s Engagement rate comparing it to other famous users, examining Comments activity, Likes-to-comments ratio and Likes distribution.

The monitoring of Follower growth will let you observe the increase of negative trends concerning the monitored account. The abnormal jump in a follower dynamics will be shown on the Followers growth graph.
Pricing: The Basic version is advised to those who are making their first steps in influencer marketing for $399/mo, Pro Add-Ons pack elaborates the Basic one, and the Enterprise version is customizable, pricing is available at request.

Free trial: The limited version is available for free.

5. Ninja Outreach

The software allows you to find an influencer, the most relevant one for your business and current marketing campaign, among millions of accounts stored in the database, as the product has its own resources, it is also a crafty utility when it comes to tracking influencers’ conversion. You can choose a user, who is sought-after by your peer competitors, in your corresponding niche and location. Entering related keywords will be enough to launch the search.

The needed category and location can be indicated within the Filter. The extent of an influencer’s follower involvement is available in the Engagement rating section. You will also see the average number of likes as well as replies per post which will let you evaluate the real followers’ interest and interaction with the brand.

The emails of the stored influencer data are collected by Ninja Outreach and are saved as soon as an influencer is picked by you and added to the list.

Manage your influencer marketing and outreach campaigns with the built-in CRM. Filters and Notes will help you put results in order, whereas the product’s interface allows you to track Clicks, Replies, Conversation histories and Email opens.

The product native library stacked with special templates for each purpose, whether you are going to send a message seeking to procure a collaboration opportunity, interview, sponsored post, or a review will help you to compose a considered request.

ninja outreach instagram influencer search

Pricing: The brand supports two subscription plans billed yearly and monthly. The annual one will bill you $155/mo for Flex and $259/mo for Pro. Paying per month will cost you 60% more.

Free trial: Available.

6. Promoty

Promoty is an influencer marketing platform that offers brands and agencies tools for finding the right influencers as well as influencer management.

With their Influencer Discovery, you can search for influencers from their global database of Instagram influencers. In addition to the general filters like the location and engagement rate, you can also filter by hashtags, keywords, and interests; audience demographics and audience interests. Additionally, you can see a detailed report of every influencer’s Instagram profile: brand affinity, audience insights, followers’ credibility, and many more. In total, there are 72 million Instagram accounts in Promoty’s database.

Promoty also has influencer relationship management and campaign management tools. With influencer CRM tools, content pre-approval, automated posts’ and stories’ tracking, and automated payouts, Promoty helps brands and agencies not only to find the right influencers but also save time and money on influencer marketing.

Northern Europe and India also have local country managers with extensive local knowledge in the field. They also offer a campaign management service for brands who lack time, have hard time finding influencers by themselves or want to level up their influencer marketing – that includes creating a strategy, managing the collaborations, tracking results and giving regular campaign updates. 

Pricing: Plans for Influencer Discovery and CRM start from $49 monthly. For campaign management, custom pricing applies.

Free trial: Available (without a credit card)

The outreach

Building the relationship 

The perfect outreach starts with you attempting to build a relationship with the Instagram influencer prior to any direct outreach. And this is where any of the above-mentioned Instagram influencer marketing platform is about to help. The goal here is for the influencers to possibly notice you and your product before you even get a chance to talk about it. Obviously, this could only work with macro-influencers and those who cover certain topics for smaller audiences, not the Kylie Jenner types. This could also only work with the relevant influencers because they are the ones that might actually care about your product.

Remember, it’s equally important for niche influencers to stay up-to-date and discover exciting things as it is for you to gain access to their audience. They have to post very often and they have a dedication to their followers to always come up with something new to say and to offer to ensure their share of continuous success. It’s not easy being an influencer.

cat mop

So you have a good chance to simply “get noticed” by one. Yes, just like in Hollywood. That is, of course, if your all-vegan make-up kit or a cafe with the best donuts in town or extremely cute toys are worth being noticed. 

Your chance of getting noticed and building a relationship increases if you do the following:

  • Engage with the influencers’ Instagram posts - like, comment, share, use relevant hashtags - you know the drill
  • Mention the influencers and link to them in your posts

The outreach

The common mistake that so many marketers and business owners make is to reach out to the influencers en masse. Standard outreach messages look like spam that even most of us common people tend to avoid like crazy. Influencers even more so: they are constantly targeted by social ads and hunted by marketers. Poor people are sick and tired of the same sales-y automated messages so they delete them without reading waiting for something new to impress them. 

To increase the chances of your message being read and responded to, make it personal and approachable, though don’t abuse an individual’s privacy (but we know, you wouldn’t). None of that “I was a fan of your blog on pollution and sexy swimming suits since I was five”. Your message should include:

  • A short presentation of yourself, your brand, and your product
  • A suggestion on how you can collaborate and what’s in it for the influencer

 Make sure to do some research before contacting the influencer to find out what it is that you can offer.

Kenza instagram influencer

What you can offer:

  • Free products/experience

It’s still acceptable among micro-influencers to exchange favors. Simply offering an Instagram influencer a free product or an extended trial and asking them to share their opinion and then to voice this opinion online could work well for your brand.

  • Paid posts

There are a number of ways to pay influencers. The most popular ones are pay-per-post, cost-per-click, cost-per-acquisition, and cost-per-engagement. It’s up to you to research which one could appear to be best (A/B tests to the rescue!) and negotiate the model and the price with the influencer.

Whenever you get those terrible feelings deep insight about paying someone a hundred bucks for an Instagram post, remember that on average for every $1 spent on influencer marketing you get $5.78.

However, also measure your results regularly and don’t hesitate to change influencers, adjust the paying method, and generally constantly make your next campaign better based on the experience from the previous one.

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