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5 Great Examples of Instagram Influencer Marketing

You can learn a lot from the influencers who built their personal brands on Instagram from the ground up, without the support of digital teams and budget. These are the people who understand their core audience needs and content proclivities better than anyone else, because it’s their ability to meet those needs and proclivities that made them. 

25 Ways to Come Up with More Creative Campaigns

You can also learn a ton from the brands who partner with influencers and personalities in unique, innovative, and successful ways. I’ve thrown a couple of those in here for good measure. You’ll definitely walk away from this blog post with ideas for your brand’s own creative campaigns and/or inspiration for upcoming influencer campaigns and partnerships.

Let’s start with one of my favorite Instagram content creators, Candice Kumai. 

1. Candice Kumai: The Multi-Dimensional Hustler

Candice Kumai is the author of a very personal wellness book, Kintsugi Wellness: The Japanese Art of Nourishing Mind, Body, and Spirit, which is based on her Japanese heritage and nutritional expertise. She is also a columnist for Girl Boss and Elle, but much of her engagement, exposure, and fame comes from her highly active Instagram profile. 

we all have a story to tell. where we come from is who we are. Kintsugi Wellness took me a lifetime to write. I took ten trips to Japan to develop, to photograph on my own & honour my story, my family, the Japanese. This is not a basic wellness book, there is no honour in playing safe, anymore. The pain, devout time, the struggles, that was what this book was made of. If you want to know more about my book, please click the link in my bio. Kintsugi Wellness will also be translated for the world: Brazil 🇧🇷 , Portugal 🇵🇹, Netherlands 🇳🇱, Saudi Arabia🇸🇦, Turkey 🇹🇷, Greece! 🇬🇷 … when I found out these countries picked up the rights and translations to Kintsugi Wellness, my heart filled with love & my tears with joy. The tough times are worth it. This is a first for me, my other work wasn’t globally shared.. I honour and thank you! Japan, Spain, Germany, France, Mexico!, you’re all next. The world deserves KINTSUGI. For the full book trailer, stay tuned for more here + Preorder now!!!! xx ck 4.17.2018 #neverbasic

A post shared by Candice Kumai (@candicekumai) on

But Kumai doesn’t just Instagram about plant-based recipes. She posts about female entrepreneurship, travel, and her family. The central lesson here? Don’t turn your Instagram profile into a one-trick pony. Include all the parts of your brand that make it appealing to your target audience, from background story around your products and brand, to inspirational content, to works-in-progress. Show your audience how multi-dimensional you are, while keeping images and voice streamlined.

What You Can Learn: There are several concrete lessons your brand can learn from Candice’s Instagram strategy. I recommend scrolling through her Instagram profile for a master class in content creation, but here are a few takeaways.

  • Leverage off-social content on Instagram. Notice that on Candice’s Instagram profile (below), she tags @girlboss @iamwellandgood, both online publications that she writes for. She also links to her latest offering, her book, and includes the hashtag for her book.

Make sure that you are clear about the top priorities for your business and brand right now, and that you are pointing to those top priorities in your Instagram profile, as well as showing off any partnerships you have going on.

  • Invest in PRODUCED video. While Candice also relies heavily on Instagram Stories, she and her team have invested in produced video to tell her story in a more polished manner, as you can see in the clip above. Make sure you are complimenting more “raw” video formats like Instagram Stories with produced video around major launches.
  • Don’t ask influencer partners to oversell. While Candice definitely promotes her partnerships, she also doesn’t flood her feed with obviously salesy content. In the second post above, Candice pairs content that is typical for her and attractive to her audience—matcha tea—with a watch promotion with a partner. Make sure your influencer partners are creating content that matches what their audience expects, to avoid negative or lackluster reactions to branded content.

2. Angi Greene: The Storyteller

Angi Greene, a self-described “✩MOM σf вσуѕ ✩13 x Cover Model/Athlete/Trainer ✩Health & Wellness advocate” according to her Instagram profile, tells great stories. In fact, almost every one of her Instagram posts–even ones advertising product–includes a long caption that tells an involved story.

|| here's a short story • I was shopping online for a friend of mine who lives on the east coast and I wanted to buy her something to make her smile for her birthday • I was literally looking for a "box of happiness" to be delivered to her door • then I stumbled upon @naturallife • they had EXACTLY what I was looking for! So as I was ordering the gift I reached out to them via social media and asked if they would be interested in doing a giveaway box for my followers • they said yes ☺️And so here we are….I am absolutely obsessed with this adorable company and the happiness they spread with these thoughtful little gifts 😻🙌🏻 so here's the deal • Make sure you follow @naturallife and tag someone below who could use a little pick me up box of happiness 🤗 I know I talk a lot about depression and wanted to share a simple gift of love with you guys! I will choose a winner on Friday 💕🎉

A post shared by A N G I ❤️ F L E T C H E R (@angigreene) on

This is one of my favorites:

|| I have felt like a victim almost my whole life • I don't know the psychology behind it • maybe it started when my dad died as I was going trough puberty? All I know is I became very familiar with the role and took it on for way too many years into adulthood • I am now in my 40th year of life and so much has changed in a few short years • This was the last picture I took of my mom and I before she died • actually the last picture of her standing • this picture is an insanely strong image for me as I look at my moms eyes looking at herself in the mirror for the last time • as women we look at ourselves numerous times a day and how many of those times are we kind to ourselves? Or are we looking for faults, wrinkles, folds, grey hair • my mom was skin and bones when she died but this photo shows her grace and compassion and faith all in one • her words and poems during her entire battle with cancer was not "why me"…it was "why not me" • she didn't concern herself with why this was happening to her • she was concerned with much greater questions like "how can I help others go through what I'm growing through • how can I give back • how can I show the world my faith in a God who has a purpose for everything and gives peace that surpasses all understanding • we are not called to understand • we are called to love • we are called to help others • we are called to care • and so I have learned and trained my brain and heart out of my victim mentality and have adopted a new role for what I'm praying is the better half of my life • I don't have time to be a victim • I don't have time to ask "why" • I am now asking "how" • everyone experiences pain • ALL OF US will experience death • YOU ARE NOT ALONE • how can I help • how can I love more • how can I be kinder • how can I love deeper • there is no greater freedom than taking responsibility for your thoughts and actions and emotions ||

A post shared by A N G I ❤️ F L E T C H E R (@angigreene) on

What You Can Learn: There are several lessons your brand can learn from Angi’s Instagram strategy. Here are a few takeaways.

  • Create your own syntax. Did you notice how both of these posts include dots between various sentences? This syntax runs through all content that Angi posts on Instagram, and is an identifying factor of her text. It makes her content stand out in feeds and has come to be expected by followers. Which syntactical or emoji-based identifying factors can you include in captions for your brand?
  • Get raw. Some of Angi’s most successful Instagram posts are incredibly vulnerable. Incorporate some of this rawness in your own brand strategy.
  • Mix words and pictures. This one relates back to my suggestion re: Kumai’s strategy. Don’t be a one-trick pony. Check out Angi’s Instagram profile:

As you can see, Angi posts a lot of inspirational quotes and text-heavy images, in addition to images from her personal life and items she loves. Make sure you’re inspiring your audience with words and telling them a story with pictures.

3. REI: Everyone Is an Influencer

Let’s turn to a brand for our next Instagram influencer marketing lesson. REI wins on social on so many levels, but we’ll focus specifically on their Instagram influencer and UGC work here. REI constantly features content from the outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen who are its biggest fans.

The post above was originally posted by this Instagram user, and then shortened for REI’s post.

This is where I’m happiest.🏔💚🏔💚 . There’s an enormous sense of pride carrying my toddler and unborn child up mountains; knowing that I am strong enough to do so and that we are all benefiting from it. With each mountain conquered I come out a better version of me, a better mother. Motherhood has helped me discover this bold strength that was buried deep within. My tenacity to continue adventures is reassured when I see the undeniable bond and connections made with my children while in nature. It is where we ALL come alive. 📸 @piabop ——————————————————— . #familytrails #trailmothers #kidslovemothernature #52hikechallenge2018 #outfamcommunity #adventuremamas #runwildmychild #childrenofmountains #hikeitbaby #raiseawildchild #goadventuretogether #womenwhohike #borntobewild #tinybigadventure #asdt #outdoorfamilies #visitutah #familyadventures #forceofnature #teachemyoung #utahisrad #livelifeoutside #snowshoeing #outdoorwomen #toddlermom #strongasamother #fitpregnancy #honestmotherhood #mountaingirls

A post shared by Rochelle O'Connell (@mamarochi) on

What You Can Learn: There are several lessons your brand can learn from REI’s Instagram strategy. Here are a few takeaways.

  • Repurpose content from your target audience. This content doesn’t have to mention your brand, but it should represent the ethos and persona your brand is focused on. Always ask permission, of course. When considering which UGC to post, ask yourself these questions: “How will my audience benefit from this post? How does this post’s message relate to my larger brand mission and voice?”
  • Be helpful. Some of REI’s most successful Instagram posts include “how-to’s” for its key personas, like backpackers.

How can you deliver how-to content that is relevant to your audience and the products you sell?

  • Start a rallying cry. REI posts about “Weekend Projects,” giving its Instagram audience challenges, like the one below:

This gives followers an extra incentive to use REI’s #OptOutside hashtag, and it reinforces REI’s community and closeness with their audience on Instagram.

4. Johnie Gall: Share Your Activism

Johnie Gall, otherwise known as @dirtbagdarling on Instagram, is at the forefront of Instagram activism. And she’s gotten many mission-driven brands to join her and partner with her, from Numi tea…

…to Patagonia.

As @briannamadia used her fingers to write this message in the red earth that covered her truck, I thought about what "for all" really means. Not just for the indigenous people who hold these places sacred, the rock climbers who spend days studying every crevice, the runners we'd assembled here to run 250 miles from Bears Ears to Escalante. Ourselves, our children, our children's children…we have a legal right to a world that isn't degrading and dangerous. When you offer the land for lease, you determine for a long time how these places will be managed, the way fossil fuels will be extracted, and how fast we develop and use these resources. This isn't a Bears Ears issue. This is a global issue. So I hope you'll join my co-producers @gregbalkin and @andrewfitts on Thursday at @patagoniaseattle for a screening of our film "Messengers" (link in bio). We'd love to hear what you thought and your ideas for expanding on our project: how can we use human power and recreation to help protect the environment and engage more people in these global issues? How do you create conversations and relevancy? We have some things brewing…more on that soon. #MessengersRun #MonumentsForAll #MakePublicLandsGreatAgain

A post shared by Johnie Gall (@dirtbagdarling) on

What You Can Learn: There are several lessons your brand can learn from Johnie’s Instagram strategy. Here are a few takeaways.

  • Don’t preach all the time. While the posts above certainly make it seem like it, mix up your more serious, activism-minded posts with simple posts that appeal to your audience’s sense of beauty and wonder.

  • But don’t be afraid to take a stand. That said, Johnie’s posts with longer captions, which talk about global ecological issues, are her most successful. If you can find a cause that fits with your brand’s mission and product, make sure to show it off loud and proud, and partner with influencers who can help.
  • Complement with Instagram Stories. This will help you drive engagement from your audience and increase awareness.


5. The Riveter: Choose a Conversation to Lead

The Riveter, a “female-forward work and community platform for women and advocates // curated professional, social and wellness experiences,” as their Instagram profile puts it, has chosen a conversation to lead on Instagram (and beyond). This conversation centers around women in business and leadership, and The Riveter has become a true influencer in this space.

Hear what inspired @jennifer.palmieri, Director of Communications for @hillaryclinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, to write “Dear Madam President” on April 5th. It's an open letter to the eventual, inevitable first woman president of the United States, and future #womenleaders everywhere. Ticket purchase includes a book! . . Prior to working for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Palmieri served as White House Communications Director for President @barackobama. She has also been the National Press Secretary for the 2004 John Edwards presidential campaign and for the Democratic Party. She is currently President of the Center for American Progress Action Fund and she frequently appears on television and radio outlets. . . . #theriveter #thefutureisfemale #imstillwithher #hillaryclinton #Seattle

A post shared by The Riveter (@theriveterco) on

The Riveter is very clear about its mission, and it uses Instagram to publicize its events and call for progress.

What You Can Learn: There are several lessons your brand can learn from The Riveter’s Instagram strategy. Here are a few takeaways.

  • Instagram + Events = <3. You can become the leader of the conversation in your own arena, and connect with many of the personalities it revolves around, by using Instagram to publicize your events. Tag your event participants. Ask event participants to post content on their own profiles to publicize events and give them the imagery and messaging they need to do so within your brand guidelines.
  • Focus on your founder. Amy Riveter, the founder of The Riveter, is a hub of thought leadership, and is featured heavily in many The Riveter communications, on Instagram and beyond. Instagram is a great place to humanize your founder, and thus your brand.

  • Consistency is key. If you have a conversation that you want to lead, don’t dilute it. Double down on that campaign and/or strategy, and make sure your visual content and messaging is consistent.

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Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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