I’ve totally mentioned this before, but I toss out free advice over on Reddit.com/Entrepreneur like it’s my freaking job. If you are a small biz (or not-so-small biz) looking to work with influencers, I highly recommend you stalk this subreddit because LOTS of good nuggets of advice pop up every now and then!
Take, for example, the below question asked by my good friend (JK, I have no idea who that guy is but whatevs.) Super basic question that pops up ALL THE TIME, so I figured I might as well address it here that way when I see yet another Reddit thread inquiring about Instagram influencers I can just link them here 🙂
First things first.
I ALWAYS recommend that brands try an earned influencer strategy first, in which you focus on building a relationship with the influencer via DM/ Email and offer to have them test out the product for free. Hopefully, they see your DM / Email and are thrilled you reached out. This goes without saying but MAKE YOUR MESSAGE TO THEM PERSONAL.
They are people.
I don’t know why I need to reiterate that, but after scrolling through Reddit for long enough it’s beyond apparent that this key detail is totally lost on most biz owners these days *eyeroll*.
So anyway, build that relationship via social media. If they don’t answer your DM, continue to engage with them by liking and commenting on their posts. Invest a few weeks in this, relationships don’t pop up overnight unless you work with/for a highly desirable brand.
If they get back to you with their mailing address and encourage you to send them your goods…Send them a sample and THAT’S IT.
Don’t harass them to post.
Don’t ask them to tag you.
If your product is good, it will happen naturally. If your product isn’t good (and you can admit that detail to yourself) seek to find a way to personalize your shipment to the influencer.
Simple example, let’s say you sell coffee mugs, and you admit that they’re pretty shitty quality to the point where you aren’t sure the influencer will actually use them. Send them one mug that is currently available for purchase in your store, and one that has their Instagram handle on it or a selfie taken from their page. That will up the odds of them sharing your company info literally tenfold.
People (including my dude who originally posted this question) might ask…
Why waste time with an earned approach first?
Simple. What’s the worst that can happen? The influencer hates your product and you’re out a sample of your product and the shipping fees, versus cash monies. Also, you have to learn to approach influencer marketing in general with a holistic view of not just YOUR social channel but theirs as well.
Influencers are brands themselves.
They run a huge risk by taking a sponsored post (read: accepting money for mentioning your product) because their audience is going to smell the $$ from a mile away. If the influencer doesn’t GENUINELY like the product and are only talking about it because they got paid to mention it, best believe that their followers are going to revolt. Big time. They’re gonna get slammed for “selling out” and trust when I say that’s the last thing they wanna deal with just for a paycheck.
If you’re insistent that you’d rather just pay and get it over with (I’m telling you not a smart move in the long term, but to each their own… you’re not paying ME to run your influencer marketing campaigns) then you have a few options for identification.
If you have budget, you can hire a service to comb the Internet for you (I would recommend Tribe Dynamics.) They have an algorithm that pulls public profile information like Instagram handle, name, email, etc. and deliver you a handy list that you can then mail-merge an email to in order to ask the influencer to collaborate.
And guys, if that sounds too good to be true it’s because the service is PRICEY.
If you don’t have budget, manually search through popular hashtags that are relevant to your product on Instagram and build yourself a media list of influencers you’d love to work with. Reach out via email and say that you want to collaborate and are willing to pay.
Regardless of if you pay or if you don’t pay…Always be sure to vet your identified influencers you want to use through FameAudit.com first. That’ll tell you if their following is legitimate or not.
Hopefully that clears up a few of the basics, of course I’ll dive more into contracts and partnerships in a different blog post but the final thought I want to leave you with is to focus on building a relationship. That relationship will pay itself off time and time again, creating social ambassadors that truly love your brand. Consider even getting them involved in a marketing campaign or something at a larger scale, ya know?
Hit me with your questions, happy to answer!