Updated: Sep 5
Instagram has become a power house. What used to be a photo sharing app to get your crushes attention, has now become a mix of your favourite meme accounts, your best friends vacation, and some type of blue bear gummies to magically make your hair longer.
Instagram is everyone's personal magazine - participating in "insta worthy" experiences for the sole reason of showing everyone else that they're experiencing it. What a world we live in, eh? (Don't worry, I'm guilty of it too). Since it has become such a major part of our daily lives, brands have caught on and capitalized on this new way of marketing to their target audiences. By choosing and working with those who have "influence", the term "influencer" was born.
One of the most common questions I get from aspiring content creators is "how do I get brands to work with me?" and eventually "get brands to pay me?" The answer isn't short. And I hate to break it to you, but it's going to take a lot of patience too. I'd recommend you read my blog post about How to Grow Your Instagram in 2020 first, as it provides a lot of useful information I will be referencing in this post.
Let's start simple:
What is an Influencer?
To be honest, I hate that word. It's super cRrinGeyY. In my opinion, there are so many ways to influence others that don't only pertain to those with an online presence. However, by definition, an influencer is someone who has the ability to impact others' purchases by using their knowledge, reputation, and trustworthy relationship with their online audience.
Why do brands want to work with influencers?
A brands ultimate goal is increasing brand awareness and spreading the word about their products. A newly popular strategy to achieving this is "Influencer Marketing" or - brands collaborating with social media personalities and influencers to help broadcast.
Brands want to be authentic in the way they attract their customers. In order to do this seamlessly, they need to be subtle in the way they market to them. Technology has come so far that you can actually target your exact demographic online. Rather than aiming to catch the attention of anyone flying down the road that may happen to see your billboard ad, companies are learning about the target audiences of those with online followings.
Brands want to connect with their customers and be seen as a beneficiary and a necessity in their consumers lives. So they are not only working with influencers because it is a more trackable way to target their specific audience, but it also humanizes their product making it easier to attract their clientele.
Why would a brand give their money/product to YOU?
A brand will work with you or gift you products if you have influence on their target audience. People want to buy products from people they trust. When someone can personally speak to the success of a product before encouraging others to purchase it, an audience is more likely to listen to that referral. And when influencers gain a loyal and trustworthy audience, they are that much closer to influencing their audience's spending habits.
It's all Based. On. Trust.
In order for a brands campaign to achieve positive results, they will be very particular about which influencer they choose to collaborate with. Working with influencers and online personalities is currently one of the most popular techniques in marketing strategies because:
The ability to influence purchasing decisions
Higher engagement and brand awareness
It's effective because social media is growing daily. With that growth comes newer and wider audiences with similar interests that brands can tap into!
How do I get a brands attention?
I am going to answer this question with 2 more questions... (sorry)
What brands do YOU want to work with?
When you look at the influencers a brand likes to work with, it's most likely because their content already aligns with their product. So look at brands that you want to partner with and compare your content with theirs.
For example: Do you want to work with a travel company like Skyscanner? If your photos feature travel destinations, popular spots in your own city, beautiful views etc. then your content already aligns with theirs. Meaning, because your audience is interested in travel content, they would also be interested in Skyscanner's services. Skyscanner is way more likely to invest in working with you.
So consistently cater your photos towards brands you want to work with.
2. What do you want your first impression to be?
Think about the tone of your feed. What is written in your bio? What colours resonate with your feed? What types of photos are you posting?
Personally, I have found success in creating colourful, fun, lifestyle content for a positive first impression. This tone also pairs nicely with a wide variety of brands and what they might be looking for. Equalling in - more brand partnerships.
This goes back to my earlier points about creating consistent, great quality content within your niche. If a brand falls upon your page and see's that your most recent photo was from 4 and a half months ago or isn't fantastic quality, they might be less likely to trust you as a partner.
Why is your engagement so important?
YOUR ENGAGEMENT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN HOW MANY FOLLOWERS YOU HAVE.
Bold statement - I know. But coming from someone who has danced between 19.3K-19.8K followers for the last 6 months while increasing my brand partnerships, I really believe this to be true. Your engagement pertains to the likes, comments, saves, website clicks, impressions, etc. on your post. (see photo example below!)
KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE IS VERY IMPORTANT TO A BRAND. Brands want to work with people with a high level of engagement, an audience that trusts them and engages with them. When you're posting, keep track of which photos your audience is engaging with most and find consistency's between them. Having a strong presence within your audience will prompt a brands interest for you to advocate for them.
I recommend being on an Instagram business account so you can see your analytics. This will help you discover which of your photos perform well and also, continue to narrow down your niche if you haven't already.
How do I work with brands if I don't have a ton of followers?
Just starting out and don't have a lot of followers yet? THATS OK! A lot of boutique companies that are just starting out look to smaller profiles that fit their target market. So don't lose hope! Here's a few things to do to keep you motivated:
Create a noteworthy online presence and great relationships with your followers. Follow accounts similar to yours, comment on their photos, respond to their stories, and hey - even meet up with them to collaborate if possible!
Be unique and find your own voice. Brands like new and exciting.
Create positive and genuine content. It's refreshing to see someone being authentically themselves in an online world.
Be educational. What can someone learn from you? How can you inspire someone through what you share online?
By keeping these things in mind, regardless of your follower count, companies will see value in working with you. We all have to start somewhere. And plus, the more brands that you work with, the more brands will reach out knowing clients have trusted you before them.
Can I reach out to work with the brands I like?
Absolutely! You never know if you don't ask. But that being said, make sure you're prepared and your feed is in good shape before you do. If you're trying to decide which brands you want to work with, use your own judgement and ask yourself these questions:
Does it make sense for me to promote with my already existing content?
Would I use it myself?
Would I recommend it to a friend?
It's important that you are choosing brands that you actually enjoy before partnering with them. Reach out to those that match your personality and values best.
For example: Want to work with clothing companies? Post your individual style. Mirror shots, walking shots, quick change videos (thank you TikTok for making that way more simple) shopping videos etc. - GET CREATIVE! Once you have a full feed with shots that all compliment what your desired brand is looking for, they are more likely to agree when viewing your page.
You can also add yourself to influencer marketplace websites to help brands find you. Here's some below that you might find success in:
*PROTIP: In the process of building content for sponsored posts, careful not to lose the interest or trust of your existing audience. Sometimes it can be a bit of a balancing act between sponsored and non sponsored posts, so plan ahead to have a mix of both. When turning your social media into a business, your online community is so important. It's great to be working with companies that align with your content, but don't forget to share the things that made your current audience follow you to begin with!
There is so much more to cover when it comes to working with brands, but I hope that is a good starting point. If you want more information on how to reach out to brands, examples, or contacts, send me a DM on insta at @joellefarrow or comment below :)