It’s no secret that influencer marketing is an essential part of any brand’s marketing mix today. With over 150 million bloggers, vloggers and social media stars driving engaging content for mega brands and upstarts, the influence of social media on consumer products is massive. And with great exposure, comes great opportunity.
As a marketing executive, I have worked with influencers, firsthand, to develop engaging content and campaigns for product introductions, brand launches and promotions. I have put incredible spend behind the initiatives, seven figures in fact, and have experienced some fantastic and some less than stellar results from said partnerships. On the flipside, as a blogger, I’ve been privileged to partner with brands on features of my very own and have insights on how to establish meaningful relationships that endure. Many years and important lessons later, I’ve compiled a list, a roadmap of sorts, for bloggers working with brands who are looking to do it right. If you want to boost your income, your influence and create long-term relationships with great brands, this is for you:
For Bloggers Working With Brands: Our 12 Behind-the-Scenes Tips for the Very Best Blogger/Influencer/Brand Partnerships
- Identify the brands you have a passion for – If you’re looking to establish new brand relationships, start with those you have a natural affinity for. No matter the category, if a brand or product excites you, makes you want to buy it and gets you talking, include it in your list of partnerships to pursue.
- Make a target list and connect carefully– For the sake of organization, I highly suggest you make a list of brands to reach out to and sort into an A, B, C priority ranking. Reach out to two or three at a time, not ten. Brands across categories talk and marketers share intel with one another all the time. The beauty industry is, in particular, incredibly close knit. If a particular blogger is casting a wide net, they’re likely to be found out. Be sincere, proceed carefully and be patient, it usually takes diligent follow up to get to decision makers.
- Connect with the right person– While each company is different, digital media, brand marketing or public relations departments typically handle influencer partnerships. It may take a few tries to get to the right party, but be patient. Tools like Linked In are great for identifying and connecting with brand marketers and public relations insiders, in addition to emailing the company directly. The right contact will be a great advocate or, even better, be able to green light a lucrative partnership.
- Work on your elevator pitch– When you connect with a brand, make sure you can clearly and quickly identify the vision, mission and core concept of your blog, vlog or social presence. Quickly, as in 30 seconds or less, communicate the value of what you can bring to the brand on a strategic level. Sure, sharing your follower base is important, but before you get into specifics consider elevating the conversation. Can you use your influence to bring the brand a more diverse customer base? Alternative product education? New product ideas? Additional distribution? A creative solution to a problem they’re having?
- Have a one-page brand overview– A perfect way to show off your greatest assets, a one sheet showcases all your strengths in one tidy, easy to read page. Yes, it should only be one page. Save the extensive show and tell for when you’re pitching (see #8 & #9). Focus on your experience, your specific area of expertise and the social media channels you put emphasis on. Any past partnerships that made a notable impact? This is the place to highlight your greatest hits.
- Know your audience – Often brands, large and small, look to influencers to help them grow their customer base in a different direction. By having demographic data on your followers, you can help boost your value for any type of partnership. Consider your followers’ age, education, income level and geographic location.
- Bring value– Be strategic about what you bring to the partnership, always considering what the brand finds the greatest value in. The more value they see in working with you, the more they will be willing to spend. Ask questions up front, some ideas:
- What are the three most important goals you’d like to realize with this project?
- What has gone well with past influencer partnerships? What has not?
- How will you measure the success of our partnership?
- Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need– Score a great brand partnership? Ensure your success by making sure you have what you need. You and the brand, both, have a lot invested in any partnership and making the most of it is in everybody’s best interest. If you need product, imagery, brand/product information or giveaway samples, ask away. I’ve seen bloggers get product names, launch dates and even brand names incorrect, ultimately sealing their fate as a one and done with a sponsor. Do your homework, I promise it pays off.
- Go the extra mile– When working on a brand partnership, always add additional value. Provide the brand with a detailed list of your planned activities and their timing, but always throw in a little extra bonus content. It could be one extra Pinterest pin or another unexpected tweet, something small that would be considered additional value at no additional cost to the brand. Am I suggesting you go beyond what you’re being paid to do? Absolutely. Brands look for long-term partners that bring added value to be in the mix for the long term.
- Make it a point to be easy to work with – You’d be surprised at how challenging influencer partnerships are for brands. I won’t dish, but there are definitely some challenging personalities out there. Stand out and seal the deal for additional activations by being pleasant, on time, thorough and humble.
- Be grateful– Follow up any brand interactions, big or small, with a sincere thank you. The brand’s team members likely put a great deal of time and effort into getting you assets, product samples, mailings, etc. because the partnership with you was important to them. Show that it was equally important to you with a sincere sense of gratitude, and I’m not talking about a “like” on Instagram. Send a thank you note or write a nice email, I guarantee this will make you sparkle as most people miss this point entirely.
- Be unforgettable– Follow up, follow up, follow up. If you have ideas for additional partnerships or activations, don’t be afraid to keep in touch with the brand and show them what you’ve got. Long-term influencer partnerships are a great way for brands to maximize their investment in social. Schedule a 30, 60 and 90 day follow up plan to keep in touch.
While certainly not 100% inclusive, these 12 tips are designed to make bloggers working with brands more effective, more profitable and more attractive to the brands themselves. Have tips of your own? I’d love to hear from you!