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You’ve probably heard a lot about Instagram influencers in the last few years. If you haven’t, influencers are people on Instagram “who carry high social clout and credibility(opens in a new tab)“.

They’re a really powerful marketing tool that companies and brands use to reach audiences in a more authentic-seeming way than regular advertising.

You are certainly aware of at least some Instagram influencers. Ever heard of Kim Kardashian? Kim charges upwards of $500,000(opens in a new tab) per Instagram post, a hefty price tag meaning only already very successful companies can afford to have her advertise for them on her social media. With 112 million Instagram followers, the brands know that the big price tag will pay off, given the extraordinarily high number of people who are going to see the post. Brands also know that the people who will see it love and trust Kim Kardashian, and they’ll be eager to use the products that she recommends.

Need more convincing? Using influencers to sell your product is extremely cost-effective. Brands that used influencers in marketing campaigns earned an average of $6.85 in media value for every $1 they spent on paid media(opens in a new tab). It also has a high success rate. According to the same group, 81% of marketers claimed their influencer marketing campaigns were successful.

But you don’t need to pay a Kardashian in order to take advantage of the new marketing trend of Instagram influencers. Instead, as small tour operators, you want to use “micro-influencers” to sell your tours.

A micro influencers is someone on Instagram like Chelsea Martin (@passporttofriday(opens in a new tab)).

passporttofriday Instagram profile

Chelsea Martin is a micro influencer because she has significantly less followers than celebrities like the Kardashians, but she still has thousands of people who follow her. She’s also in the travel niche, so all her followers are interested in tourism, and are probably living vicariously through Chelsea’s 250+ days per year travel schedule. They almost certainly trust her travel choices and would find inspiration for their own vacations from her Instagram account.

Chelsea’s account is general travel, so while using her to advertise your tour company would reach a lot of travelers, it would be hard to tell how many people you’re reaching have an interest in your location, are planning a trip to your location, or have a desire to travel there in the near future. You might be advertising your Chile company to people who might not make it to South America for years, and who are instead normally more focused on traveling somewhere in the United States or Europe.

A great way to find micro-influencers who have followers that would be smart for you to target is to find out who the young expat travel bloggers are in your area.

Take Lauren for example. She’s a 20-something year old American living in Chile, so a lot of her followers have an interest in Chile or Latin America. This would be a perfect opportunity for tour operators in Latin America to pay Lauren (@laurenonlocation(opens in a new tab)) for a plug on her Instagram. It’ll go out to 27,800 of her followers.

laurenonlocation Instagram profile

Or perhaps you run a bike tour of a city in Europe. Take a look online to see what young people have popular Instagrams of their travels and new life in Paris. Perhaps you choose to use Caroline Szpira (@carolineszpira(opens in a new tab)), a young woman from the US who moved to Paris. She now shows off her life in Europe to her 44,600 Instagram followers.

carolineszpira Instagram profile

If you run a hiking trip in North America, try marketing with someone like Kelsey Johnson (@heykelseyj(opens in a new tab)), a hiker and adventurer in the United States with 27,600 Instagram followers.

heykelseyj Instagram profile

Or if you run a fantastic food tour in Tasmania, try using an Australian micro-influencer like Carolin (@breathingtravel(opens in a new tab)), a self-described foodie who has 25,100 followers.

breathingtravel Instagram profile

Wherever you live, it shouldn’t be too hard to find influencers in your area. If you’re not finding anything through a search on Instagram, try joining your region’s expat groups on Facebook. Bloggers are often posting links to their blog posts on their expat groups, and from there you can check out their blog and Instagram to see if they’re the type of influencer you are interested in using for marketing. You can also look on in a new tab) for influencers and their stats. You can search with keywords like “outdoors” or “travel” to find the right type of influencer in your region.

Depending on the amount of money you’re willing to spend, you can look for an Instagram influencer with the amount of followers that fits your budget. As a guide, here are some average prices depending on the number of followers, according to

Chart of Instagram influencers cost per post

The price can also depend on the type of influencer, and fortunately for us in the tourism industry, travel Instagrams are among the cheapest.

Chart of the average price per post of each influencer's niche

So you’ve found the perfect influencer for your brand, and you’re interested in opening up a dialogue to talk business, now what?

Don’t just dive right in and ask them to represent your brand on their Instagram. Instead, follow them, and keep up with what they’re up to online. Like their posts, comment your thoughts, ask them questions. Get to know them by interacting with them online. Ideally, you’ll want your influencer to engage with people online, so if they’re the right person, you’ll be able to get to know them through their comment section. If the influencer posts something that is relevant to your brand, try sharing it with your followers through an app like Repost for Instagram(opens in a new tab).

Once a relationship of some sort has been built, send them a thoughtful message. Tell them you admire their blog, and would love to discuss a partnership opportunity. If you’re on a budget, be direct. You can tell them that you would love to offer them a free tour, and that though you are on a budget, you would be happy to discuss compensation options.

Tour operators are lucky to be offering something easy and fun, a product that a lot of influencers would be excited to try out themselves.

Good luck with your search for an influencer that’s right for you and your company!

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