Wondering how to make first contact with an influencer on Instagram? There are a few different ways to approach Instagram influencer outreach, and your mileage may vary. Larger businesses tend to do their outreach in a specific way, while smaller brands may take more of an improvisational approach. Similarly, macro-influencers with tons of followers and an influx of business inquiries might prefer a different method of communication than a micro-influencer would.

If your goal is to just get someone to endorse your product without worrying about long-term strategy or relationship building, you can experiment with different methods. But if you want to be more careful and strategic with your approach to influencers, it’s best to take things slow.

That means building up to making an offer rather than busting out of the gate with an endorsement deal. Getting on an influencer’s radar, taking the time to get to know them and form an impression of how they work, and sending businesslike communications can all be important for highly professional Instagram influencers. Putting your best foot forward requires a little extra time, but you’ll get a better return on your investment. Plus, having a standard procedure in place allows you to optimize your strategy and take a more polished approach to your influencer marketing activities.

Take some time to explore the different communication options you have available to you both on and off Instagram.

Comments

Interaction is the heart and soul of social media, and you can use Instagram post comments to make your presence known to an influencer. It generally isn’t a good idea to comment asking if an influencer wants to collaborate. This approach is a bit gauche because it feels rushed and unprofessional.

assorted notepads

Though you shouldn’t make a direct pitch in the comments, that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Comments are a great way to get on an influencer’s radar. They may even follow you and start using your products voluntarily before you even pitch, which can make your partnership seem much more organic and authentic to their followers. That authenticity can be key in making for a successful influencer marketing effort.

Commenting also gives you a sense of how engaged the influencer is with their audience. If you comment on a few different posts and never get so much as a like in return, that’s a pretty good sign that the influencer you’re considering doesn’t do a great job of responding to their followers and making them feel included. That sense of inclusivity is another important aspect of successful influencer marketing. The “influence” part of the equation often relies on trust. So if an influencer completely ignores their audience and just posts as if they’re in a vacuum, you might not want to work with that person.

DMs

DMs can be an effective way of making direct contact with an influencer. Sending a DM represents the next step up in your process of wooing creators to become influencers for your brand. It’s much more personal than a comment, and the relative privacy of a DM can also allow you and the influencer to get down to brass tacks without worrying about putting your details out there for everyone to see.

white neon light signage on wall

However, DMs aren’t necessarily the best venue for influencer pitches. Sure, they’re more personal than a comment, but they’re also not super reliable or professional.

One major downside to making a pitch via DM is that your message might get lost in the fray if this influencer gets a lot of spam in the DM box. It’ll also potentially be more difficult for you to keep track of the back-and-forth between you and the influencer, and it’s harder to do things like attach agreement documents in an Instagram DM.

Another thing to keep in mind is that influencers who reach a certain level of success often don’t handle these kinds of requests on their own, and the person who fields business inquiries might not be the same person who manages social media. That means sending a pitch via DM could end up being a waste of time.

To keep things professional, it’s better to avoid making a formal pitch in a DM. It’s fine to use a DM to reach out, show your interest and chat in a high-level way about whether the influencer might like to work with your brand. But don’t be surprised if those messages go unanswered, or you’re directed to send an email to someone else.

In Person

Not every communication needs to be digital, particularly if you run a local business and want to make sure to partner with influencers in your immediate area. Networking events and other informal, in-person group meetings can be a nice way to break the ice with influencers and get to know them a little better in the real world. This is a two-way street, of course. The influencers you invite will get to know you and your brand better, and may feel more comfortable with a partnership even if they operate on a higher-profile scale than your brand currently does.

As for reaching out to invite an influencer to an event, you can try DMs or emails. Don’t be too pushy, as that can get creepy. Make the details of the event public, too, to keep everything clear, inviting and above-board.

Email

Email can seem difficult at first glance, especially if you’ve never met the influencer before and aren’t sure whether you can even find their address. However, this is generally the best way to try to approach an influencer. It’s more formal and businesslike, which will be more appealing to the more polished and professional candidates on Instagram.

black laptop computer with Gmail in Safari browser

There are numerous benefits to reaching out over email: you show that you’ve put effort into the communication, and you can attach documents, search messages and otherwise keep better track of your conversations. The best influencer marketing strategies focus on relationship building, and while you may be able to chat with friends on Instagram exclusively, it’s easier to conduct business discussions from an email account.

You may be noticing a theme here: as with other methods of reaching out, it isn’t necessarily a great thing to open by sending an email pitch as your very first communication. You should try to be at least somewhat recognizable to the influencer before you reach out, especially if you’re contacting nano-influencers who seem to handle their own management and communications. 

Regardless of who’s receiving the email, it should be personal to the influencer. Note what makes the specific person you’re reaching out to a good match for your brand. Talk about what you like about their voice and approach. Compliments can grease the wheels a bit, but you aren’t just going for flattery. The goal is to show that you’re actually familiar with the influencer’s work and that you respect what they do. That’s likely to get you a lot of goodwill right out of the gate, which can set you up nicely for long-term influencer partnership.

Even if you’re just going for a one-off collab, it’s still smart to think through why you want to work with this particular influencer. Once you’re aware of those reasons, it doesn’t hurt to share.

Other Platforms

Remember that many influencers use Instagram as a platform to boost the content they create elsewhere, such as a recipe blog or YouTube channel. Even if your goal is to get sponsored content posted on Instagram, it may be more effective to try to reach out to an unresponsive influencer on a different platform.

Also note that you may be able to find business email and other contact information on these other platforms. YouTubers often have business contact information listed in the About section of their channel pages. Some influencers may list this information in Twitter bios or on their Facebook page. It may be best to explore these avenues first if such information isn’t available on Instagram. Sending business communications to an influencer through their preferred medium is much more likely to net you a positive outcome.