These days Instagram is a major hub for businesses to bloom and gain a following of dedicated customers, but they can’t do this alone.
Influencers, content creators, social media specialists- whatever you want to call them- are in high demand to help growing brands stand out in a sea of competition but not every brand will match your niche. Speaking on personal experience, once your follower count starts to grow and brands start reaching out to you it’s easy to get caught up and accept every chance that presents itself to prove your worth but this can wind up overwhelming your workload fast. As someone still fairly new to this world I have picked up on some do’s and don’ts from experience and decided to share them to hopefully give some of you a better idea of what to expect and how to form the best relationships with brands looking to collaborate.
DO: Spend time exploring their catalog
Before agreeing to collab with a brand- take a good look at what they have to offer. If they only have 1 or 2 things that you can actually see yourself wearing it’s not worth it. Think of it this way- this brand expects you to advertise their product but if you only have 1 item you like then are you really going to expect your audience to see that piece over and over without getting bored of it? Without showing variety in what the shop has to offer your brand will quickly realize they likely don’t sell much that fits the aesthetic they love about you in the first place.
Another point- check prices. There are SO many brands and shops out there selling products from the same wholesalers. If you can get the exact same product for cheaper somewhere else, why damage your followers trust by trying to sell them something severely marked up? The easiest way to avoid this is to find brands selling original merch you love.
DON’T: Accept every collab request you receive on a whim
This expands on the last point a bit- but there are times several brands at once will reach out to you hoping to get a spot on your feed. Instead of getting swept up in the moment and agreeing, remember to consider time management. If you have a month to make the post but simultaneously accept 8 brands at once, you will likely have A LOT of sponsored posts in a short period of time which can make your followers feel like they are watching a never ending string of commercials. Pace yourself- make sure you don’t take on too much at once.
DO: Check their customer satisfaction records
Comments, reviews, etc- there are plenty of ways to see how a shop is being received by their customers. If you notice customers complaining about missing or broken items, long waits for shipment, or bad product quality then chances are your followers will experience the same. Try the product first before promoting it and see what your experience is. If you sell a brand to your followers that winds up falling short, your audience won’t trust your word in the future which puts future collab efforts at risk.
DON’T: Attach your name to drama
I can’t stress this enough but pay attention to the level of professionalism the brand displays. If you attach yourself to a brand that puts their personal laundry on blast, publicly shames customers, or continuously posts excuses- you only make yourself look bad. Your followers will pick up on the awkward tension this company puts in the spotlight and connect your personal brand to it. Separate yourself from situations that will cause you or your followers discomfort.
DO: Form a relationship with the brand
Forming a relationship with the brands you work with is one of the more fun behind-the-scenes things you can do. Brands aren’t just massive computers pushing out products- there are entire teams of people passionate about their product and their own personal connections. There are people I met through collabs that I absolutely adore and keep in touch with, and some who I continue to work with through the years as we continue to grow. Chances are if you are picking brands that have products you love- their team shares that love and you have some things in common. It’s a great chance to build a new relationship with someone in a corresponding industry.
DON’T: Beg for freebies
I see brands complain about this ALL the time. They get an influencer who feels entitled to freebies without ever showing interest in the brand and no promise of actually advertising it. This is especially annoying to brands when the influencer has an ego built on a small following or severely limited engagement. If you wan’t to reach out to a brand, put some effort and care into your request. You have a few options that will stand out without coming off like an entitled brat including- 1. Buy the product first and make a post that represents what they can expect from further collabs. They might just reach out to you or you can reach out to them with a proper pitch citing the post as an example. OR 2. Prepare a media kit and proposal. Include information about your following, the demographic, engagement rates, and previous collabs you’ve worked on. Tell the brand what you can do to share their product be it posts, stories, or videos. They will appreciate you explaining your worth instead of assuming they have to give you what you want.