Credit: BurgerIM Santa Clara/Yelp

How We Exploded BurgerIM’s Instagram by 1905% in 2 Weeks with Influencer Marketing

Here’s a 5-part ultimate guide on how you can do it too!

Nicole Markets
Jun 24, 2019 · 15 min read

“I’m never doing that again! I paid her $500 and didn’t generate ONE sale. I made a big mistake,” she said.

These are the words of a client who sold themed leggings. She paid an IG influencer with over 50K followers to promote her brand.

The influencer took her money, enjoyed her FREE stylish leggings, and tagged my client’s business page in a photo.

When the campaign was done, the client was pissed AF. She felt scammed. She didn’t attract enough customers to replace the $500 she dished out.

As a small business owner, $500 is a lot of money. That’s why the client vowed never to practice influencer marketing again.

The type of influencer promotion my client wanted. Credit: @asos_lotte

No Sympathy Here

I’ll admit, I did feel bad for her. BUT ONLY FOR A MINUTE!

If you read my last article, you already know that I’ve also lost a lot of money.

But, I still gave her my infamous Nicole Nags. She broke one of the most critical rules of influencer marketing:

Influencers are NOT professional marketers. It’s YOUR job to develop a strategy for them to execute. You can give instructions on how they should promote your brand. Or, you can hire a marketing specialist to collaborate with the influencer.

Too many aspiring entrepreneurs give money and freebies to people with huge followings, hoping that customers will come running the minute they share their content.

They want the influencer to do all the work. Like write captions, create amazing offers, and orchestrate pictures.


You’re supposed to teach the influencer on how to better promote your business. This doesn’t mean taking total control and not giving them creative freedom.

It means creating a plan for how you want your campaign to work.

How to Create an Influencer Campaign that Doesn’t Suck and Drives Results

The breakdown of my influencer campaign that I posted on Facebook

Recently, I was hired to execute a marketing campaign for a local burger franchise called BurgerIM Galleria that opened on April 15.

After a month of planning, we increased their Instagram following by 1905% and sales by 200% after 8 days of going live.

I’m telling you this because, for decades, corporate marketing has been a secret. Companies that could afford to spend thousands of dollars on influencers don’t usually share their keys to success with lesser-known businesses.

Luckily for you, I’m not like that. Since I’m in charge of working with influencers, I’ve created a 5-part blueprint that you can try yourself.

Photos of BurgerIM Galleria. Credit: Google

It doesn’t matter if you have an online store, local service business, or you’re a freelancer. You can still benefit from the gems I’m giving.

There are even tips on how to market on a budget! Ok, so enough of me talking.

Let’s get started.

1. Identify and Measure Your Goals

The first step to an awesome influencer program is creating a goal. If you don’t have one, you’re giving away money and wasting your time.

Here are a few potential goals:

  • Increase brand awareness — If you want more customers, you need to be in front of more people. Being exposed to a greater audience increases your potential customer base.
  • Increase sales & conversions — People trust influencers as if they’re actual friends. Having them endorse your brand increases the likelihood of sales because the trust has already been established.
  • Improve reputation — Do you want people to perceive you in a positive light? Partnering with influencers will better conceive customers that you can satisfy their needs.
  • Establish authority — Maybe you want to become an influencer yourself. Piggybacking off of more popular people will increase your industry authority.
  • Retain more customers — What’s great about influencers is that your customers are always getting updates from them. The more they see them promote your brand, the more likely they’ll buy from you repeatedly over the competition.

Track Your Goals with KPIs

When you pick your goal, you have to track it with a value. Like, how else are you supposed to know if your marketing campaign worked or not?

Your value is your KPI or key performance indicator. Each goal has a KPI. Some are used more than once:

  • Brand awareness — brand mentions, views, likes, shares, traffic, comments
  • Conversions — sales, leads, email subscribers, downloads, demo signups
  • Reputation management — free positive endorsements, product reviews, brand mentions
  • Authority building — follower count, views, shares, likes, comments, network/audience reach
  • Customer retention — repeated sales, cart abandonment rates, # of returned visitors

We Collaborate with Local Influencers on IG

At BurgerIM, our primary goal was to increase brand awareness, then sales.

I quickly learned that operating a popular franchise wasn’t enough to attract customers.

There are so many burger joints here in Houston, and we’re competing to be the best one. But to get more people through our doors, they had to know us first.

So, we partnered with local food bloggers on platforms that our customers used the most, Instagram and Facebook.

In less than two weeks, BurgerIM’s IG following grew from 58 to 1,163, resulting in thousands of dollars in sales.

Our IG growth. Credit: @burgerim_galleria

This follower count might seem small to you, but it MAJOR was to us. This is because our new followers were most likely people who lived in our area and loved food, increasing the likelihood they’ll come to our restaurant.

A local food blogger showcasing our burgers. Credit: @setxhotspots

2. Pick the Best Influencer for YOU

Influencers are sexy. They’re popular, entertaining, and usually attractive. But, just because they have an audience, doesn’t mean you should work with them.

Examples of popular influencers. Steve Blank, Tim Ferris, and Bernice Burgos

You should seek influencers who will give you the most results. This means developing a list of relevant, qualified, and engaging people who share your target audience.

Sometimes, the more famous people in your industry won’t make that list.

When it comes to marketing, many people make the mistake of contacting bigger-name people when they should’ve partnered with lesser-known creators called macro or micro-influencers.

These are people with less reach, but higher engagement, trust, and relevance. They’re also more affordable to work with.

Credit: Curalate

How to Create a List of Standards

The best influencers are those who align with your brand and customers. If they don’t, you’ll lose time, money, and energy. Your reputation might suffer too.

This is why research is so important. Spend time learning more about your target customers and influencers.

Questions for your customers:

  • What do they like (interests, topics, hobbies, etc.)?
  • Where do I want them to buy (local or online)?
  • What market-segment do they belong to (Ex: There are many different types of beauty bloggers. Are you looking for bloggers helping women over 50 or are focused on women of color)?
  • What type of people or brands do they follow?
  • What content or sites do they like to consume (Youtube videos, blog posts, IG posts, etc.)?

Questions for your influencers:

  • Are they relevant in their niche or industry?
  • How many followers or subscribers do they have?
  • Do my target customers like them?
  • Do they have high engagement (likes, shares, replies, views)? What is their engagement ratio?
  • What type of content do they publish?

Hopefully, these questions will give you a better idea of who you want to partner with.

Houston Foodies for the WIN!

Because we wanted to attract more local customers, our influencer had to fulfill the following criteria:

  • Houston-based
  • Engaged following
  • Loves food
  • Takes gorgeous photos

One of the bloggers we patterned with was Houston Hotspots. They post incredible food images, and many people trust them with their restaurant recommendations.

Credit: @houstonhotspots

We also tried to turn our customers into influencers. We gave them opportunities to be featured on our page in exchange for discounts.

This was a good tactic because they could introduce us to their friends and families. Also, their pictures can be re-posted on our page, giving us free content.

Our Father’s Day Promotion. Credit: @burgerim_galleria

Remember, word-of-mouth is one of the MOST effective marketing strategies ever.

3. Take Control of Your Narrative

Too many business owners and marketers struggle with managing their marketing campaigns. They don’t give influencers enough material to execute their promotions well.

This is problematic because they’re not an expert on your brand.

You should always allow creative freedom. However, you should also have a good idea of how you want your brand to be represented on their platform.

Think about it. How do you want to be perceived? What do you want your followers to do? If you don’t have a clear content strategy and CTA (call-to-action), your campaign will fail.

What’s the Best Strategy for You?

So, you picked your goal and found your influencers. What’s next? You develop a strategy that best fits your goals.

Here are some strategies you can try:

  • Brand awareness — guest posts, sponsored posts, product reviews, content collaboration, contests/giveaways, social media takeovers
  • Conversions — affiliate discount codes, product reviews, lead magnets, virtual challenges, case studies & client testimonials
  • Reputation management — product reviews, events, brand ambassadors, gifting
  • Authority building — product endorsements, case studies & client testimonials, interviews
  • Customer retention — brand ambassadors, collective product & brand mentions

No matter what strategy you choose, there must be a clear CTA. This is easy, but a lot of people forget this.

You have to tell people what to do. You can say things like:

  • “Subscribe to our email list.”
  • “Book your free consultation now!”
  • “Shop all dresses with this 10% off coupon.”
  • “Like our Facebook page.”
  • “Download this ebook to get more tips.”
  • “Check out our new website.”
Credit: Louise Myers

How We Grew Our Social Media Followers

We wanted to show Houston Hotspots’ followers that we’re a friendly restaurant that sells great food.

So, we created a contest/giveaway. The post was a short video of a person opening a BurgerIM box full of delicious burgers, onion rings, chicken wings, and potato fries.

Our contest/giveaway post. Credit: @houstonhotspots

In the caption, our purpose and giveaway were clear. Houston Hotspot was transparent in our partnership and told their audience to follow our page for a chance to win 40 burgers!

Our CTA on the IG post. Credit @houstonhotspots

We used referral marketing and a bonus CTA to increase reach and engagement. We asked contestants to tag a friend, introducing our post to a bigger audience. The more people they tagged, the more entries they got — a cheat-code to going viral.

Comments from followers. Credit: @houstonhotspots

Lastly, we asked them to talk about how their Monday went. This is an IG algorithm hack. The more people comment on your post, the more likely it’ll show up in people’s feed.

4. Give People a Reason to Care

When creating a partnership, it’s crucial that it’s mutually beneficial. Too many business owners and marketers reach out to influencers seeking one-sided relationships.

They want to benefit from their audience while giving nothing in return. It’s not fair!

I have no sympathy for those who cry upset that others don’t promote them. Would you endorse a company you never heard from just because a stranger told you so? No, you wouldn’t.

Influencers are no different. They want to receive VALUE.

Usually, they want to be compensated with money. But if you have a smaller budget, you can get their attention by being thoughtful and creative.

Creative Ways to Give on a Budget

If you don’t have the money to afford influencers, try investing in their emotional bank account. Grab their attention by giving them something else they want. This could be feedback, free promotion, or freebies & affordable gifts.

Your goal is to build enough rapport that they’ll become more likely to accept whatever you’re asking. As Gary Vee says, “You give, give, give, then ask.”

Here a few ways you can build relationships with influencers and industry experts:

  1. Give meaningful gifts at a lesser cost

Ever gotten a gift that was picked just for you? If so, How did you feel? Did you feel good? If yes, you can create the same effect by offering an influencer customized for them.

It doesn’t have to be expensive or physical. It just has to be personal. For example, creating an infographic for a business is a great ice breaker.

According to Alyce, people prefer gifts tailored to their interests, 2x more than gift boxes and sway bags.

Credit: Alyce

2. Stroke their ego

Get on industry expert’s radar by developing content that features or promotes them. In the blogging niche, this is called, “ego bait.”

For example, my friend wrote an article recapping Ben Horowitz’s keynote speech at Startup Grind. She told him about it on Twitter, and he shared it on his profile.

Check to see if your influencer has a new book, podcast, blog, or business venture coming out. Create content about it and send it to them (Ex: a re-post on IG, a book review, a twitter thread explaining how great they are.)

You can also ask to interview them or include them in an expert roundup or list.

An expert round-up post. Credit: Jenny Eden Coaching

3. Solve their Problem

Everybody is dealing with a problem. You have to know what that is and how to fix it.

Does your influencer have a shitty website? Email them with advice on how to improve it.

But what if you don’t know their problem? You ask them. But before you ask, make sure that you have the skills, connections, and resources to help.

Say things like, “Are you struggling to get clients? I would love to help you out. No charge.” Or, “I see that you’re visiting Houston, Texas next month. Want to check out the hottest places in the city?”

An example of offering helpful advice on how to solve a problem. Credit:

This tactic is super powerful, but it takes a lot of researching and effort. But before you start giving value, remember this:

This is a long-term process. The more intense the task, the more nurturing you have to do. They might not respond the first time, but you have to keep trying until they do.

How We Partner with Influencers

Before I work with a client, I always ask, “What’s your budget?” I do this because if you want fast results with marketing, you have to spend money.

Our starter marketing budget was less than $1,000.

We contacted Houston Hotspots for information about their services. They sent us a press kit, and we discussed the possibility of working together.

An example of a good press kit. Credit: My LIFE AND KIDS

Because they had a strong following, I knew that they weren’t going to be cheap. But that was fine because their rates fit our budget.

We also worked with another blogger, Anthony. He created some amazing videos of us on his IG live.

IG promotional stories. Credit: @theeatingant

Many businesses don’t understand the importance of respecting other people’s rates or demands in partnerships. It makes the relationship much smoother.

I genuinely believe that this is one of the reasons why we had such a successful collaboration.

5. The Conversion is in the Follow-Up

Your marketing campaign doesn’t end when an influencer is done promoting you. It’s SUPER important that you create a follow-up system or sequence.

90% of people aren’t going to convert when they’re introduced to your brand. They need to be reminded many times before they like, follow, or buy from you.

Also, you need to give them enough content to keep their attention after they fulfill your CTA. You don’t want to drive traffic to an empty store.

Even if you haven’t launched yet, you can still offer your new audience great stuff.

How to Re-Engage Your New Audience

There are a lot of tools available to help you follow-up. Email marketing software like MailChimp and Convertkit allows you to send new email subscribers a welcome series.

Tools like Buffer and Hootsuite can be used to schedule social media posts days and weeks in advance.

DM automation tools like ManyChat (my favorite pick), Chatbot and BigBangram can help you build relationships on Facebook and Instagram.

Octopus CRM is a messaging tool for LinkedIn; however, using it can get you in trouble if you’re not careful. LinkedIn has a “no automation” rule. Use it at your own risk.

When following up with your new audience, thank them for following you, explain what they’ll be expecting from you in the future, and offer valuable stuff like a 10% off coupon or a resource like an ebook.

A great welcome email. Credit: Digital Marketer

It Goes Down in the DMs

Every time BurgerIM’s IG account gets a new follower, they’re sent a DM. We thank them for following us, offer a coupon, and ask that they check out our restaurant.

You have to be careful with how you use automation. You don’t want to look like a robot. Try to look excited and use personal language.

An example of the DM we sent. Not the actual DM.

This tactic shows that we’re a friendly place and we care about our customers. When your followers replies, RESPOND! Answer any questions they have.

Too many brands act like ghosts in DMs.

I also try to keep a consistent publishing schedule. It’s crucial that we share enough content to keep our new followers interested.

Credit @burgerim_galleria


These are the secrets to crafting an awesome influencer campaign.

After 2 months from their grand opening, BurgerIM Galleria gained over 1,500 IG followers and hit tens of thousands of dollars in sales.

With a starter marketing budget of less than $1,000 and 1–2 months of planning, they increased their Instagram following by 1905% and sales by 200% in less than 2 weeks.

I can’t wait for you to try this out yourself. Don’t forget to tell me when you do!

Key Takeaways

  • Most influencers aren’t experts in marketing. You must give them instructions on how to better promote your brand.
  • Identify your goals. If you don’t, your campaign will lack clarity. You’ll lose time and money.
  • Track your KPIs. When you measure your metrics, you’ll know if your marketing was a success or not.
  • Find influencers that best align your brand and customers. You can do thing by creating a list of standards you want your ideal influencer to be.
  • Don’t ignore macro or micro-influencers.
  • Pick a marketing strategy that fits your goals.
  • When developing content with influencers, don’t forget to add your CTA or call-to-action.
  • Provide influencers and their audience value. If you can’t pay to work with them, be very creative and invest in their emotional bank account over time.
  • Engage with your new followers! Develop a follow-up system that offers valuable content and shows your brand’s more personal side.
A customer sharing photos of our food. Credit: @lets_eat_htx

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Nicole Markets

Written by

✨✨ The Marketing Chick ✨✨ 🍵Drink and food snob 😈Rebel Consultant 🤓Marketing Maniac ❤️Lover of luxe

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +789K followers.

Nicole Markets

Written by

✨✨ The Marketing Chick ✨✨ 🍵Drink and food snob 😈Rebel Consultant 🤓Marketing Maniac ❤️Lover of luxe

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +789K followers.

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