Influencer gifting and paid collaborations seem identical at a glance. Spoilers: they’re not! This post explains the difference and tips for brands...
Influencer Collaboration Dos & Don'ts Every Brand Should Know
Time for a crash course in influencer collaboration! Here are the biggest dos and don'ts brands should be aware of when collaborating with influencers.
Want to reach customers where they hang out the most? Influencer collaborations can help!
Food for thought: the average consumer is glued to social media for 2+ hours per day.
People aren't just scrolling through Instagram and TikTok for entertainment, either. They're discovering and engaging with brands in a big way.
And so social media is the perfect place to show off your products and share your latest promotions.
But as 88% of consumers trust people over brands, you need to consider who's doing the sharing.
That's why influencer collaborations are so powerful. Below we break down best practices and examples of brands collaborating with influencers.
Influencer Collaboration Dos
So many brands want to work with influencers but don't know what to expect.
The good news? We've worked with thousands of influencers and hundreds of brands ourselves! We know firsthand what makes (and breaks!) a successful collab.
To kick things off, let's start with must-dos to ensure that your campaigns run smoothly.
Do: Communicate Clearly and Concisely
First thing's first: communication between brands and influencers has to be crystal clear.
When 100% of your interactions are through email or DMs, details often get lost in translation. Brands need to make every message and sentence count. For starters:
- When in doubt, be brief and direct. This applies to your outreach messages, pitches and answering any questions your contacts might have. For reference, most influencer emails are ~100 words long.
- Be specific about what you want and expect. This includes who you are, what you're product does and why you're interested in an influencer collaboration. All of the above should be spelled out in as few words as possible!
- Anticipate questions and concerns. Your goal should be to make the collaboration process as quick and painless as possible. Anticipate any questions someone might have before they ask them. Compensation and shipping are two big areas of concern that you should have answers for.
Below is an example of an influencer collaboration message that's short, sweet and to the point.
Do: Establish Realistic Expectations and Deadlines
Chances are you aren't the only brand collaborating with any given influencer.
That's why it's so important to be explicit about campaign expectations. This includes:
- A date (or range of dates) that their content must be posted by. This timeframe should align with product releases or any other promotions you're running.
- If you're shipping the product yourself, how long it will take for influencers to receive it. This should be factored into your campaign timeline, too.
- Creative requirements that your influencers should anticipate before they create their content. Do they need to pick up the product? Film or shoot their content in a specific location? If so, let them know.
Ideally, your campaign timeline should give your creators a few weeks of flexibility. Doing so accounts for potential shipping delays. This gives your influencers extra time to brainstorm their posts, too.
Do: Be Selective About Influencers You Collaborate With
Brands collaborating with influencers shouldn't have to settle on subpar content.
Given the wealth of influencer talent out there, you have the right to be picky. Not every creator brings the same content quality (or audience!) to the table. When reviewing and vetting influencers, pay close attention to:
- Social media bios
- Post captions
- Audience size
- Engagement rate
- Audience interactions
For starters, you need to find influencers that reflect your brand's voice and values. Their audience should reflect your audience. When an influencer is legitimately stoked about a product, they're more likely to create awesome content. In turn, their audience is more likely to check you out. It's a win-win.
Our advice? Look for relevant influencers with a few thousand followers. These creators' audiences are "small" enough that they can still engage with followers one-on-one. Likewise, these creators are often more authentic than bigger, celebrity-sized influencers.
Do: Maintain a Positive Relationship with Influencers
Finding influencers that are a good fit for your brand can be challenging and time-consuming.
And once you find someone that clicks with you and your brand, you'll want to hang onto them!
Doing so makes it easier for them to create stellar content on your behalf in the future. The more influencers you have that know and love you, the easier it is to scale your creator campaigns. Maintaining those positive relationships means:
- Meeting your deadlines when it comes to product delivery and influencer compensation
- Being pleasant and polite during communication
- Empowering your influencers to create awesome content with a great product and instructions
And hey, that last line actually leads us to our next point!
Do: Provide Your Influencers Plenty of Creative Freedom
Remember that influencers are creatives.
So let them be creative! You want your influencer's content to be as authentic as possible, right?
Consider how influencers build their own engaged audiences from scratch. They know what their audience wants to see. In turn, they know what your audience wants to see. Empower them to deliver it!
Translation? You need to trust your influencers and give them creative freedom. That freedom results in unique posts, settings and applications of your product that you may have never thought of yourself.
Of course, you still need to provide influencers with guidelines and expectations. For example, it's totally fair game to ask for close-ups or specific terms or benefits highlighted in their post captions. Just don't be too restrictive. Here's an example of an influencer brief that finds a good balance:
Like we said, influencer collaborations should be as painless as possible for creators. Brands can make life easier for creators by finding a balance between specific instructions and creative freedom.
Do: Set Specific (and Actionable!) Campaign Goals
Given the legwork involved in an influencer campaign, having defined business goals is a must-do.
Consider the many reasons brands collaborate with influencers, including:
- Building brand awareness
- Generating more influencer and user-generated content
- Driving in-store sales (see below)
- Increasing audience engagement
- Promoting a product launch
These goals might overlap and that's totally cool! One of the biggest benefits of influencer collaboration is that you can target multiple marketing goals at once.
Influencer Collaboration Don’ts
Just like we've seen so many influencer collabs done right, we also know where they can go wrong!
Below are the most common mistakes and pitfalls that brands make (and how to avoid them).
Don't: Spam Influencers During Outreach
Influencers get pitched all the time. Some brands mistake this as a reason to be as loud as possible.
Spamming is a surefire way to kill your collaboration opportunities. Some quick tips based on why influencers don't answer your emails:
- Reach out to influencers where they prefer to be reached. This usually means DMs or an email address dedicated to brand inquiries. You can typically find this info in an influencer's social bio. Whatever you do, don't beg for collabs their comments!
- Personalize all of your outreach messages. If your emails or DMs feel copied and pasted, that's bad news. It doesn't take long to personalize your messages with small details about a creator or their content. That little bit of extra effort can go a long way.
- If an influencer doesn't respond to your initial message or follow-ups, they probably aren't interested. But hey, that's okay! You want to focus on collaborating with influencers that want to work with you.
This all seems like a no-brainer, right? Well, you'd be surprised!
Don't: Expect Free Content from Creators
Creating content is a full-time job. This is true even for influencers without millions of followers.
Think about the time, energy and effort it takes to put together a piece of content:
- Finding creative settings for your products
- Taking photos and videos
- Editing them
- Coming up with creative captions
- Engaging with followers after their post is live
Phew! It's no surprise that influencers will expect some form of compensation (or free product).
Tip: Make sure to factor gifted products or creator compensation into your influencer marketing budget. Providing an incentive to influencers is something that many brands unfortunately overlook.
Don't: Overlook Micro-Influencers and "Small" Creators
Fact: followers are not an accurate reflection of an influencer's value.
In our experience and based on industry data, less is often more when it comes to follower count. Consider that micro-influencers have the highest engagement rates on both Instagram and TikTok. Also, note that personal accounts on both platforms have way more reach than brand accounts.
That's because smaller influencers have engaged audiences that feel connected to them. Plus, the creativity and authenticity of smaller influencers are invaluable to brands. For example, check out the engagement on this post from Alpyn Beauty from a creator with <2,000 followers.
Don't: Limit Your Influencer Campaigns to a Single Channel
Although Instagram is still the go-to app for influencer marketing, it's not the only show in town!
For example, the power of TikTok creators is well-documented for both organic content and ads. There's a reason why brands leverage both platforms.
Also, consider repurposing and promoting your influencer content throughout your marketing funnel. Some examples of this include:
- Whitelisting ads on Instagram and TikTok
- Promoting influencer content on product pages
- Highlighting influencers in your marketing emails
There's so much value to squeeze out of your influencer marketing campaigns. Don't waste it!
Don't: Reshare an Influencer's Content Without Permission
Piggybacking on the point above, it's crucial that you obtain the proper rights to creator content before you promote it elsewhere.
This is something you'll need to outline in your influencer contracts. When in doubt, ask permission!
We recommend familiarizing yourself with the legal requirements of influencer content ownership. Asking for permission after the fact could incur additional costs and rights fees.
As a side note, this speaks to one of the benefits of working with Statusphere. We actually obtain the rights for your influencer campaign content for you. No chasing for permission required!
How to Scale Your Influencer Collaboration Efforts
With more and more brands collaborating with influencers, you're probably eager to do the same.
Good! We understand that navigating the dos and don'ts of influencer marketing is a lot to take in.
And the idea of juggling all the above yourself is probably pretty daunting, right?
That's where Statusphere can help.
Having worked with countless brands and influencers ourselves, we know the legwork required to manage influencer collaborations at scale. Our full-service platform handles everything from influencer matchmaking and shipping to tracking the results of your campaigns.
Want to understand how the process works? Get in touch with one of our consumer-to-consumer marketing specialists today to see how we can get creators posting about your brand ASAP.
This article was first published in August 2021. It was last updated May 10, 2022.