What makes influencer marketing so compelling? For one thing, it simply could not exist before. Influencer marketing combines age-old concepts, but gives them a modern twist on social media and then distributes them across platforms that change almost daily. And the results are astounding.
Influencer marketing is unprecedented and truly stands out from old marketing practices. In fact, it challenges most of them. This new medium is breaking traditional boundaries – and that’s a good thing! Consumers (the people you target with your marketing) are smarter than ever. It’s your job to keep up with them.
In this article, you get an overview of how to collaborate with influencers and the best influencer collaboration ideas.
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Best Influencer Marketing Platforms
By using influencer marketplaces and platforms, you can reduce the amount of time spent on identifying and connecting with new influencers – time that could be better used optimizing your campaign.
And because we’re all about saving you time, we’ve reviewed 14 top influencer marketplaces and platforms for 2022 just for you:
- Fourstarzz Media
Essentially, an influencer marketplace is an online platform that connects marketers with influencers in the same industry or social media channel. For instance, you can search for Instagram fashion influencers, YouTube food influencers, or a single marketplace that searches for both.
Many of these platforms are self-serve, which means you can handle influencer campaigns yourself instead of hiring an agency.
How To Collaborate With Influencers
You may have the most creative, most stupendous ideas for an influencer program. Hooray! But your fabulous ideas won’t make a lick of difference if you don’t know which influencers to engage or how to engage them. Follow the steps below to collaborate with influencers.
1. Starting with women
Women impact up to 90% of purchase decisions in American households. So it practically doesn’t matter what you’re offering if you’re appealing to women.
This is not to say that you should overlook male influencers in favor of dealing with females. Simply put, it makes sense to begin by finding female influencers. The good news is that women utilize every social media site as much as (if not more than) men, share more product information online than men, and make more purchases as a result of social sharing than males.
2. Finding people who create great content
Look for influencers who provide amazing content that is (at least partially) linked to your company and who show engagement with their audiences through comments, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter followers, and social shares per post.
Relevancy is more important than engagement. It appears entirely normal and logical for a marketer to seek out the “largest” influencers they can discover, yet big does not always imply relevant. Assume you have a customer who is releasing a new gluten-free protein bar aimed towards folks who are fit and sporty.
At first glance, collaborating with a popular gluten-free food blogger on this program may appear to be a brilliant idea. But what if the blogger never writes about fitness and never endorses packaged goods? She may have 300,000 monthly blog visits, but none of them are going to be interested in prefabricated fitness snacks, even if they are gluten-free.
Compare that to a blogger who has 25,000 monthly visitors but focuses on her new gluten-free lifestyle as she prepares for a marathon. You’d be better off dealing with the smaller blog in this scenario. Even if the figures in some reports aren’t as impressive, the program may find traction with the smaller blog’s audience.
If you’re tempted to find the biggest influencers, keep this in mind:
- The relevancy of a blog or influencer content is more important than size.
- Prominent influencers often command much higher compensation.
- Popular influencers are routinely inundated with brand offers. Your offer needs to be compelling. Even then, you must be willing to be treated as though you’re doing the influencer a favor. (This isn’t always true, but it happens often!)
- The audience of prominent influencers who do a lot of sponsored work gets fatigued by sponsored messages and starts tuning them out.
If you’re a marketer that needs to present impressive numbers in your program report, remember that there are many methods to make a dollar. If your program’s goal is to generate a million social impressions, you can get there by partnering with a notable influencer whose blog has a million monthly visitors.
However, you may get there with four bloggers, each of whom receives 250,000 visitors every month — or, even better, with 100 bloggers, each of whom receives 25,000 visitors per month. The 1 million figure would appear the same at the conclusion of the program, but you’d have 100 separate pieces of content from 100 different views and 100 different viewers.
Influencers are real people. Working with influencers should be approached professionally, but not so professionally that you come across as a robot (or worse, a spambot). It is not as simple as sending a mass PR email to reach out to influencers and encourage them to collaborate with you.
Personal, deliberate outreach should convey to the influencer what’s in it for them. It takes time to create tailored outreach, but it always produces better results than a spray-and-pray approach.
3. Signing a contract
This may sound like a small, tactical concern, but it’s not. Bringing a contract into your influencer relationship makes sense for myriad reasons:
- You’re emphasizing that this is a professional relationship between the influencer and your brand.
- You want the influencer to create authentic content that will resonate with her audience, but you don’t have to lose complete control of the entire creative process. Use a contract to provide some rules for the influencer about what she can and can’t say, do, or post with respect to your brand.
- You’re not leaving deliverables up to chance. The “old” influencer model — where, say, a company would send a product to influencers with no note at all, in the hopes that the influencer would write, well, anything about the product — is dead. As a brand you have every right to spell out exactly what coverage you expect (a blog post, a Facebook post, three Instagram images, and so on) and by a set deadline.
- A contract ensures there is no ambiguity about compensation. Include what the compensation is, how it will be delivered, and by what date.
- One of the most important functions of a contract is to spell out how a relationship is terminated if one of the parties doesn’t live up to the deal.
4. Paying influencers for their time and effort
When influencer marketing was still a new phenomenon in the social media sphere, brands that compensated influencers for their work were considered shady. By the old public relations standards, that’s not how things were supposed to work. Brands would simply send publications information or products in the hopes that the publications would feature them. PR folks applied the same approach to bloggers.
The industry has moved past this. Influencers expect to receive compensation in return for their work. Plus, compensation should reflect that the influencers are doing work on behalf of brands regardless of how the content “performs.”
If an influencer goes to the store, buys a new salad dressing, creates a beautiful dinner featuring that salad and salad dressing, blogs her salad recipe, and features gorgeous photos of the salad, all her work deserves compensation regardless of how many comments her blog post receives.
When it comes to compensation, cash is almost always preferred by influencers. It may be acceptable for a brand to offer products or services instead of cash, as long as those products or services have a monetary value equal to or greater than the cash equivalent; even then, some influencers may take offense at being offered “payment” that won’t actually pay the bills. “Paying” influencers in “blog traffic” by featuring them on a brand site is not acceptable.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that anyone who is being paid for their opinion must disclose this fact to readers. Make sure you abide by this requirement.
5. Measuring the program’s efficacy
Measuring the right stuff doesn’t just help your influencer marketing programs; it helps you recruit the right kind of influencers.
Never, ever begin an influencer program before you can answer the question, “What will success look like?” If you don’t know how you’ll measure success, how will you know if you got there? And if you don’t know what your goals are, how will you know what to measure?
Here are some guidelines to consider:
- You can only truly measure return on investment (ROI) if you take the cost of your entire marketing program and its effect on sales into consideration. What percentage of the budget was allocated for influencer marketing? How does that budget compare to sales results?
- “Success” can be measured in sales results, but linking purchases back to a series of blog posts is incredibly difficult. How can you track someone who saw a tweet about a new mascara, went to the blog post about it, took down the name of the mascara on her phone, and then purchased it the next time she was in her corner drugstore weeks later? The ability to use technology to track these purchase paths is improving, but it’s not there yet. (This is why you have to estimate ROI as a percentage of sales compared to percentage of budget.)
- “Success” can be measured in ways other than sales results, including the amount of content created, increases in a brand’s social followings (Facebook, Instagram, and so on), site traffic, coupon downloads, engagement (comments, shares, and so on), the overall share of voice before and after a program, overall social mentions, and brand sentiment.
An effective approach to measuring a program’s efficacy matters to influencers because it guides what they need to do. If you’re clear on what you’re trying to achieve, you can be clear about which influencers you need, and what you ask them to produce. (Influencers don’t want to create useless content any more than you want it created!)
Being upfront with influencers about what you’re trying to achieve makes your offer more compelling, and helps the influencers feel that they’re in a true partnership with you.
Effective Influencer Collaboration Ideas
Take a closer look at some ideas you can use to leverage influencer collaboration.
1. Sponsored Social Media Content
The most common type of influencer marketing collaboration is partnering with influencers in exchange for sponsored social media posts.
Influencers create and share content on social media to promote your brand.
Let them know what you expect from them with your content guidelines and influencer marketing objectives. Consequently, they will produce content based on your brief in exchange for a fee.
Alternatively, you can gift a sample of your product to an influencer as part of a sponsored partnership.
Your brand can benefit from their use of your products and the content they generate around them.
In addition to books, clothing, makeup brands, and many others, giving is an effective influencer marketing strategy.
There is, however, a catch:
Influencers do not have to promote you if you gift them your product (instead of paying them).
Unless, of course, you have a legally binding agreement that only allows you to receive free products as compensation.
You may see the opposite result as well if you don’t have an agreement and are only gifting products to influencers in hopes they will promote them.
Influencers may share negative reviews if the product is unrelated to them or isn’t good enough. Be sure to establish a connection with them first.
You may also need to offer monetary compensation to influencers who promote your gifts.
3. Sponsored Blog Posts
Besides popular social media platforms, blogs are also the most trusted source of information online.
Influencer bloggers are thus being leveraged by brands to gain trust from their target audiences.
Posts in this category fall into two categories:
The first one revolves around your products or services. You can also include a discount code or a giveaway that is exclusive to your brand.
Your brand can also be mentioned in a roundup post of products or services written by the blogger. A number of businesses, including yours, will be featured in this blog post.
Away, a luggage brand that offers quality luggage for the modern traveler has partnered with the fashion blog Man Repeller to give away a luggage set.
Alternatively, you can ask the blogger to include your brand in a roundup post of products or services. There will be a number of businesses included in this blog post, including yours.
Your sponsored blog posts can be compensated with a fixed amount. There are also ways to sweeten the deal.
Consider offering them a 3-month free membership if you wish to promote your gym.
4. Guest Blogging
Partnering with influencers for guest blogging is a unique way of promoting your brand.
For this strategy, you need to identify influencers who have high Domain Authority blogs or websites. Ensure they have a relevant audience.
Reach out to them to see if they accept guest posts on their blogs. Also, suggest guest post topics that they might be interested in.
Create some well-written, informative blog posts that they can publish on their blogs if they agree.
Don’t use spammy or overtly promotional links back to your website. Besides driving traffic to your site, this allows your brand to be exposed to the influencer’s audience.
A takeover is another popular method of collaborating with Instagram influencers.
What are the benefits of this for your campaigns?
You can collaborate with an influencer to do a takeover instead of constantly creating engaging social media content.
Influencer takeovers are collaborations in which an influencer takes over your brand’s account and posts content on your behalf.
Influencer takeovers are both interesting and beneficial to the brand because they deliver more effective content than your brand-created content.
Influencers can either be invited to do a full account takeover, where they gain access to your company’s account. You can also request that the influencer send you their captions so you can post on their behalf.
You should choose an influencer that you have worked with before and who you trust for takeovers.
6. Brand Ambassadors
Brands are asking their trusted influencers to become brand ambassadors as part of their influencer collaborations.
What are brand ambassadors responsible for?
Ambassadors continue to use the brand’s products and promote them online on a regular basis.
Influencers share posts about their daily experiences using the brand’s products as a brand ambassador.
In addition, they could share freebies at local events and represent the brand.
The following points should be considered when establishing a brand ambassador relationship with an influencer:
- Only after you have successfully collaborated with an influencer should you suggest a brand ambassador relationship.
- Make sure the influencer’s beliefs align with your brand’s values and aesthetics and that they are willing to work with you on a regular basis. You can use Fourstarzz Media to do a detailed background check. Every influencer on their platform receives a detailed influencer report.
- Establish clear guidelines and expectations to avoid confusion and arguments later.
- Plan both online and offline promotions carefully, and communicate regularly with one another.
- Send them the brand merchandise regularly, along with free samples to share at local events and through social media.
- A great way to promote a brand is to send influencers to popular events.
- You can provide them with a custom discount code that they can use on their social media platforms and channels.
- Guidelines for collaboration can help build a smoother, healthier, and more beneficial relationship between brands and their ambassadors.
Some Dos and Don’ts for Influencer Collaborations
1). Create a list of influencers who can help you grow your brand. Don’t just focus on big followers. Contact influencers relevant to your niche. Platforms such as Fourstarzz Media can simplify the influencer discovery process, as mentioned earlier.
2). Sending a pitch via email is not enough. Focus on building a connection with the influencer. Creating long-term relationships with influencers will benefit your brand.
3). Don’t forget to add a personal touch when writing an email pitch. Address them by their first name. Show them how much you appreciate their work. Be concise, short, and straightforward. Such emails are most effective.
4). Many brands fail to compensate influencers adequately. You must pay your employees fairly – this shows your appreciation for their work. The compensation will vary according to the number of followers your influencer has, their overall reach, their engagement, the number of posts, the turnaround time, the complexity of the campaign, and the sales they drive.
5). Specific brand guidelines should be communicated to the influencer. Creative freedom is important to influencers. Influencers are more likely to partner with brands that grant them creative freedom, according to studies by TapInfluence and Crowdtap. Working with influencers shouldn’t be restricted by strict editorial guidelines. They will be able to relate to your brand’s posts if they are given the freedom of creativity. Therefore, engagement will be higher.
6). Don’t hurry. Allow influencers ample time to create marketing campaign content. But set deadlines and communicate them clearly.
7). Establish a collaboration agreement with influencers. Answers should be given regarding who owns the content rights, what expectations there are for the collaboration, etc.
8). You can’t expect an influencer collaboration to boost your sales overnight. It takes time for influencer collaborations to boost engagement and sales.