In my last post I offered guidance to small brands on how to approach Influencers, with a view to working with them on a gifted, or paid, basis. You can read this post here .
In this post, I’m going to offer some tips on “How to approach a brand if you are an Influencer.”
In its simplest terms, for the purpose of this post, an Influencer is someone who works with brands on a gifted, or paid, basis to bring that brand’s products to their (ie the Influencer’s) following or audience. The Influencer benefits either because they are receiving gifted product, or because they are being paid for the collaboration. The brand benefits as, provided that it chooses its Influencer wisely, it has direct access to its target market and ideal customer.
The way in which brands advertise to their customers has changed hugely over the last few years. Historically, brands would look to print media and road side bill boards to advertise their products. However print media has declined in recent years and the advent of social media means that, as described above, brands now have direct access to their ideal market. Most brands will have set aside a budget or product allowance, to enable them to work with Influencers in this way.
So if you told me that you were minded to set yourself up on Instagram as an Influencer, what would I say to this?
In a word, don’t!
By all means get yourself an Instagram account and by all means go out there and invest in the brands that you LOVE. Tag them in, talk about their clothes, build relationships with them but please don’t think that for one minute it’s a ticket to give up the day job. Most Influencers work really hard for several years before they even get a whiff of a paid collaboration. And just like there’s no quick and easy way to becoming a professional blogger, there’s no quick and easy way to landing paid brand collaborations.
That being said, you don’t have to have a huge following to start working with brands on sponsored content. Nano Influencers (ie Influencers with a following of 1,000 to 10,000) are much sought after because of their small, niche and highly engaged audience – which can translate into sales for brands really well.
Where to start?
So, how to approach a brand if you are an Influencer? A good place to start is in your local area. Is there a small boutique that you could support by borrowing some pieces to shoot and return? Could you run a giveaway with them? Or what about holding an event and inviting some customers along for the night? You could then feature the event on stories. All of those ideas are low cost in terms of time and investment on both sides, so it’s a win win.
OK, so what’s next?
You may find that small brands start to approach you fairly quickly. I’m hugely conscious that small brands have limited stock and I will often offer to shoot and return pieces, so that they can pass them on to someone else to feature. It’s a nice gesture and one that is always appreciated.
If the brand is fairly new, they may not be entirely sure what they are hoping to get out of the collaboration so it’s good to have a conversation about it. Generally it’s about brand awareness and if a product is gifted (as opposed to paid for) they can’t insist that you feature it – but I think that it’s fair to assume that you will. If a product is really not to your liking, if you don’t think that you can do it justice, or if you want to trial it for a period of time first, don’t be afraid to have a conversation around that too.
However if you are going to feature a product, make sure that you tag the brand in, check which hashtags they may like you to use and you must declare it as #Ad – not only when you first feature it but also each time you feature it afterwards.
I won’t get into all of the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) guidelines now but as long as you are transparent and as long as it’s clear if an item is gifted, or if you’ve been paid to feature it, you won’t fall foul of the guidelines. If in doubt, turn to google or cite #Ad at the start of the post.
Working with larger brands – an approach by you
Having invested in a brand, having tagged them in your posts, having talked about their products and how much you love them, you may want to pitch a brand to see whether they are looking for Influencers to work with on a more formal basis.
Instagram can provide a direct route to a brand’s social media team and you can easily drop them a message, asking for the email address of the PR team. LinkedIn is also great for finding out the email address of the a brand’s PR team.
A developing relationship with a larger brand may look as follows:
- You may ask them if you could borrow some product to shoot and return to them (I did this for many years with Baukjen and Hush. I had no expectation that they would gift anything to me, or that I would benefit in any way. I just did it because I loved their clothes);
- they may then be prepared to gift some clothing to you (which is what subsequently happened with Baukjen and Hush);
- Finally they may invite you to work with them on a paid basis (ditto!)
In approaching a brand, the biggest tip that I can give you is to put yourself on the same side of the table as them. So it’s not a case of “I want to work with you, what will you give to me?” It’s more a case of “I would love for us to work together, how could I best support you?”
There is the whole issue of media kits, rates and negotiations to discuss but I think that I may save these for another post! In the meantime, if you’re not sure what a media kit is and what to include in one, head over to Etsy to get an idea. Brands sometimes ask for these from you.
Working with larger brands – an approach by the them
It’s also possible for brands to make an approach to you. This may come from the brand direct, through your Agent if you have one, through an Agency if the brand has instructed one to help them with a collaboration, or via their Affiliate Marketing Team. Does all this sound a bit complicated?! Anyway in a nutshell, a brand can either come to you, or you can go to them!
Considerations when working with larger brands
From my perspective it’s really important to be super professional when working with a brand, whether the work is paid or not and however the approach is made.
I have had some PRs say that they like to work with me because when I’m invited to select clothes, I keep it simple and to a minimum, rather than asking for whatever I can get by way of shoes, clothing and accessories. Now arguably perhaps the brand needs to make it clearer what their expectations are when they are selecting Influencers to work with but yes, simple and professional is best.
Deliverables should be agreed well in advance and the following are considerations that you might wish to bear in mind before agreeing on a fee: Are contracts required? How many posts are required and in what time frame? Who is to be tagged in? Which hashtags are to be used? Is there any wording to be agreed? Does the post need to be approved and if so when should it be submitted? How many rounds of approval are the brand going to want to go through? Is there an exclusivity clause and if so how long does it run for? You kind of get the idea.
There’s room for everyone at the table! If you want to enter this arena, my advice is to be open with others and to share, share, share. The more that you give out, the more you will get back. Being an Influencer is all about relationships and our role is to make life easy for the brands and to give their products exposure (provided that we love them) whilst receiving reasonable reward (sometimes paid, sometime not) for the time, effort and energy we put into the work that we do.
I really hope that this post on how to approach a brand if you are an Influencer is helpful and if you have any questions, you know where to find me!
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