How I Partnered With An Instagram Influencer To Get An Emoji App To #1 And Make Thousands of Dollars

Hi!  My names Mark and I’ve worked on over 2,500 apps the last 5 years (including the #1 app on the paid App Store).
mark-nagelmannIn that time, I’ve developed a lot of killer apps, but my biggest obstacle has been successfully marketing my apps to get the downloads and revenue they deserve.
In the beginning, I relied on ASO for app exposure.
Next, I focused on content creation, building a social media presence, PR, and advertising.
At a more advanced level, I worked on backend marketing and cross promotion campaigns.
All the strategies above are effective – but not guaranteed.  A lot of hard work, time, and costs are involved (not to mention the sleepless nights and hair pulling).  And even then, there’s a good chance I won’t see the return I’m hoping for.
So I thought I’d try a strategy other indie developers avoid like the plague -> the Influencer Model.
I found that there are thousands of influencers out there on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, etc…eager and ready to partner with you.
After working with a few of these influencers, the results were mind-blowing!!
In just 1 month, one of my apps:

  • hit the #1 spot in it’s category
  • profited nearly $10k
  • created an ongoing partnership
  • brought on new clients

There were NO shady “blackhat hacks” or “secret marketing strategies” to the success of my app.
The project cost $0 to develop, market, and publish (I’ll explain more below).
My app hit the top charts due to my ability to find, contact, and form a partnership with an influencer.   With just 1 social media post from my partner, my app profited $1,041 and shot to the #1 spot in the Entertainment category in less that 24 hours.
The bottom line is, the Influencer Model WORKS!
Keep reading to learn the 5 steps I used to find an elite influencer for my app SausageMoji (iOS / Android).

What & Who Is An Influencer (and why do I care…)?

Wondering what actually makes up an influencer and how they impact your app?
An Influencer is defined as:

A person or topic that carries an influence over others by driving a message to the larger market. 

Influencers WILL dramatically impact your project by driving traffic to your emoji app.
In short, quick_cheap_downloads!
But that’s not all…Influencers also allow for:

  1. Direct access to target audiences (fishing-holes)
  2. Greater app exposure
  3. Ability to send messages to impact behaviors (“download my app”)
  4. Quick and cost effective results
  5. Shared workload contribution

For my project, I partnered with Sausage Dog Central, a company founded and ran out of Australia groomed towards dachshund dog enthusiasts 🐶.  Sausage Dog Central has over 1.5M followers on Facebook, 400k on Instagram, and a growing email list.
The results from the partnership (for iOS alone in just the first month):
sausagemoji-emoji-analytics (1)
The only marketing strategy we used were 12 social media posts published by our influencer which cost us ZERO dollars.
If you want the exact steps I use to contact, close deals + the launch plan I use to work with influencers (including app templates, email scripts, contracts, and resources), click here.

The Step EVERYONE Forgets

My WHOLE process for finding an influencer takes less than 10 seconds.
Before you even start LOOKING for influencers, you need to research the market.  That means you know WHO your customer is, WHERE they are, and HOW you’re going convert them into a user.
Second, you need concrete data that PROVES THERE IS A DEMAND for your app.
One strategy we used to prove our app’s demand was sending a survey to our Influencer’s email list that documented what type of app they wanted and what to include in the app.  Our influencer’s community literally laid the app out for us.
Market Research is the forgotten step almost every new developer skips over.  Don’t make the same mistake that leaves most newb developer saying, “DOH!”
Here’s a link to the emoji app templates and marketing strategies I used to hit #1 (Click Here).  There’s a whole module on Market Research & Creating A Customer Avatar.
Once you’ve verified both your app topic and customer avatar – you’re ready to start finding influencers!

The 5 Step System I Use to Find Influencers Using Instagram


Step 1: Search your topic

Open Instagram and search your topic in the search field.

For my Sausagemoji app,“dog” was the topic I initially searched.

Step 2: Browse hashtags

Under the searchbar, select the “Tags” tab and browse through related hashtags.

For example, when you search the topic “dog”, #dog will be the first visible tag.

PRO TIP: Just like with a Google search, predictive text will automatically populate in Instagram’s Tags section.  This prompts endless sequences to browse through.

Step 3: Browse related hashtags (more niches)

Once you’ve selected a tag, several Related hashtags will populate offering more niche areas to search.

If you’re topic is broad, Related hashtags will help you find niche influencers eager for a partnership.

Step 4: Click on Top Posts

After you’ve selected a tag (or related tag), Instagram automatically puts 9 of the most popular posts in the Top Posts section.

An image qualifies as a Top Post by:

‌• # of likes

‌• engagement rate (comments & likes/followers)

These are the cream of the crop posts I use to find qualified influencers.

Step 5: Match all qualifying criteria

Next, browse each of the 9 Top Posts to find 1 (or more) that matches the following criteria:

Criteria 1: 5k likes or more

Criteria 2: High engagement (the # of likes & comments compared to the # of followers)

Criteria 3: Authentic posts (branded purposeful content)

Criteria 4: High engagement on at least 1 other platform

Typically the influencers I reach out to have 1M+ followers on their primary social media platform (Instagram), and 350k+ on their secondary platform (Facebook/Twitter/YouTube).

PRO TIP: If you click the downward arrow next to the qualifying influencer you’ve found, Instagram will suggest additional influencers with similar criteria.


Here’s a video rundown:


Next Steps…

Once you’ve found an influencer that matches all your criteria, it’s time to make contact.
Start by following their social media accounts and strategically engaging with their posts.
Next, shoot them an email, FB message, Instagram message, etc…with the end goal of getting them on the phone.
Once you’ve contacted an influencer, make sure they’re a good fit.  The top 3 traits I look for in a partner are:

  1. Responsiveness
  2. Marketing experience with a physical or digital product
  3. Excited to work on a project with me

How to Maximize your Success

The Influencer Model is a supplemental marketing strategy to get results quicker, more effectively, and cheaper than anything else out there.
This strategy DOES work.
But finding influencers is only one small step of the model.  If you’re looking for a detailed step-by-step guide to find, contact, and close deals with influencers – you need our Ultimate Emoji Package.
Included are the exact strategies we use to get a profitable emoji app in the Apple and Android stores even if you have no coding skills and a very limited budget.
Don’t miss out, to rapidly move your app up the charts -> Click Here.
Let’s do this!
PS: Are you interested in working with influencers?  Drop a comment below, I’d love to hear about it!


  1. Sharon Jones
  2. Quinn J
  3. Seán
  4. Mark Nagelmann
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  11. Allan
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  13. Patrik

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