As the founder of a social media agency in Toronto and someone who is involved in influencer marketing, I get a lot of questions about how influencers can partner with brands on Instagram.
The long and short of it is to make sure your feed is professional, curated and aesthetically pleasing. You also should be seeking partnerships with brands that share values similar to yours. Once you have the basics down, here are five things I recommend doing when seeking brand partnerships.
1. Write Authentically
If your personal brand voice is super casual, funny and sexy, and it becomes too clean or professional the moment you get a sponsored post, your engagement will likely plummet. This also will make you look poorly to the brand because their sponsored content likely won’t work out, whereas the rest of your content works fine.
Always craft your tone to include elements of the larger brand voice (which are typically provided in the form of a campaign deck from the brand), but don’t forget who you’re creating content for — your fans. If the content doesn’t resonate with them, there’s no point to it. Walk a fine line here, and try to ensure that your brand voice is always authentically you, even if you’re trying to sell or support something.
2. Include A Healthy Mix Of Sponsored And Non-Sponsored Content
There is something extremely off-putting about seeing too many sponsored posts. While it may appear to others that you’re doing well and have a lot of interest from brands that want to collaborate, it can be extremely alienating and boring for your regular fans.
Space out your sponsored content — especially if you’re doing an unboxing series. It can get really dry to see too many “Thanks for sending this product!” stories. Not only will users skip them, but also you’re not really giving any quality feedback to those brands or any useful information to your fans. Instead, space them out in between authentic snippets of your life. Remember: Your role is to influence others, and that means spreading ideas and energy about your entire lifestyle. Show some of the more intimate pieces of yourself. Be a little silly or playful. Be honest.
Try to space your sponsored posts out to every three posts. Any more frequently than that and you could be overdoing it. Remember what your core content pillars are and stick to them, with some carefully selected sponsored posts shared in between.
3. Curate A Real Audience
Comment pods had a moment in 2018. These are groups on Instagram where the same 20 or so users will tell each other when they have a new post, and then every single person in the pod goes and comments and likes that post to boost engagement and attempt to trick the algorithm. I don’t recommend this tactic. It’s incredibly obvious to marketers if an influencer’s comment section is comprised of the same 20 people. It’s time to let this trick go.
Instead, pose a question at the end of your caption to encourage conversation and debate among your audience members. Marketers want to see comments like, “Where did you get this?” and not just emojis. A healthy comment section is a key component of whether an account is considered worthy of a brand collaboration.
The other portion of this goes without saying: Don’t buy followers. Don’t use bots. There are so many tools to check whether you have purchased followers. I have a Google sheet of banned influencers that I won’t work with because they had a mysterious 15,000-follower hike in 2018 and then a slow decline ever since. Don’t do it to yourself. If you are one of these influencers, just get rid of those purchased followers and start over again.
4. Use A Creative Mix Of Content Types
Photos are not the most interesting type of content. Learn how to create stop-motion videos — it can be as simple as using the time-lapse function on your iPhone or downloading an app. Throw in a standard video or two. Figure out how to create cinemagraphs — those images that have a single motion point in them, like steam coming off of coffee or leaves rustling in an otherwise still image. Use the carousel function. Try out something new.
Your feed is your portfolio. If your content styles are all the same, then campaign managers will think that it’s all you are capable of, and you could be overlooked for any campaigns that require a bit of creativity. So give something new a shot.
5. Publish Daily Stories
I think this may be the most important piece of advice: Don’t neglect your Instagram Stories. Treat this feature as its own marketing stream. Try to have at least three stories going at all times. Plan your story content when you can, but let it be authentic and personal as often as possible. It proves that you’re up to date, that you can be spontaneous and creative and that you’re fully plugged into your role as an influencer.
As social media continues to evolve with other platforms like TikTok emerging, it’s becoming clearer that influencer marketing has reached a bit of a saturation point. Make sure your content stands out and that it brings not only value but something new to the table.