Partnering with an influencer doesn’t have to be a struggle. Try these simple tips for establishing a connection with an influencer and building a mutually-beneficial relationship.

Smart devices have completely changed our lives over the past couple decades, and we are often reminded of the fact that there is less human interaction happening as a result. But, it’s not all bad. There are ways to use technology to bring us together, and social media is one of the best. When done right, social media collaborations can expand your reach and open you up to a whole new community of potential customers.

When brands collaborate through social media, it offers their audiences social proof. People prefer recommendations that come from real people instead of self-serving ads, and that’s what social media collaborations are all about.

The Right Way to Start a Social Media Collaboration

There are no limits to the different types of collaborations you can create with people you meet on social media, but the key to any successful partnership is to focus on building relationships first.

It’s difficult to promote someone’s business when you hardly know them. That “What’s in it for me” approach leads to minimal results.

Image via Viktoria Kurpas.

Instead, find a handful of people who have similar audiences as you. Take the time to get to know them by doing the following:

  • Check out their content on social media, on their website, and in other areas
  • Buy one of their products or try their service to really see what they offer
  • Comment on their content so that you become more recognizable

All of these things demonstrate that you are interested in what they do and offer. When you eventually reach out to them with a joint venture proposal, it will be genuine and they will see it as an authentic extension of the relationship that has been developing.

When you approach social media collaborations in this way, magical things happen. That’s because it’s a true win-win situation where each party has a vested interest in helping the other succeed. It’s the catalyst for a successful campaign, and it sets up the opportunity for many more successful ventures together.

Having said that, here are three specific ways you can collaborate and partner with others on social media.

1. Sponsored Influencer Posts

This type of collaboration happens when you pay an influencer to promote your brand to their social media network(s). Most commonly this happens on Instagram, but it can be done on any platform. In fact, almost 40% of Twitter users say they have made a purchase as a direct result of an influencer Tweet.

Image via GoodStudio.

For this to work, you can’t just pay anyone to promote your stuff. It has to make total sense for the influencer to be promoting it to their audience. It only works when the influencer creates a unique post that aligns with their voice and that they know their followers will enjoy.

Tips for Great Influencer Partnerships:

  • Be clear and flexible – Make sure you give the influencer what they need to understand your campaign and its goals. Give them your guidelines and objectives, but also remember not to put too many restrictions on the post. According to several authorities on topic, including TapInfluence and Crowdtap, influencers prefer to work with brands that offer them creative freedom. That way, they can create a post that’s authentic and makes a deeper connection with their audience.
  • Use multiple influencers – Find multiple Instagrammers who can promote your content around the same time to increase your exposure. It gives viewers that “Wow, that brand is everywhere” impression.
  • Use discovery and management tools – With platforms like TRIBE or HYPR, you can find influencers, share your brief with all of them at once, and only pay for the ones you decide to work with.

2. Gifting Influencers

While not a guarantee, if you have a great product and you believe an influencer will like it, why not send them one as a gift? If they like it, they might promote it to their followers as a thank you.

Vetting your influencers is important if you use this tactic. If you send them something they don’t like, they either might actually post something negative. Having a connection with the influencer before sending them a free product is the best way to avoid this.

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Tips for Gifting Products:

  • Get to know them first – Find and follow influencers with the same audience as you. Learn about them over time, contribute to their posts, and make a connection with them before bringing anything up about a collaboration.
  • Make the proposal – After you’ve made a strong connection, present your proposal. Explain the item you would like to send them for free. Then, ask if they think it’s something their audience would enjoy seeing a post about.
  • Offer a discount for their followers – Influencers like to give their followers a way to save money on something they are promoting, and their followers love them for it. So, a discount will increase the success of the campaign.

3. Influencer Contests and Giveaways on Instagram

By offering up something that the influencer can give away to one or two lucky followers, you can enhance the effectiveness and reach of your collaboration tenfold. It’s easy to overlook a post in your feed, but it’s hard to miss all the buzz around a contest or giveaway.

In this Tailwind for Instagram study, over 60,000 Instagram posts were analyzed and they found that accounts running Instagram contests grow followers 70% faster over three months than accounts that don’t. Did your ears perk up?
Image via Animashka.

Here are some effective ideas for contests and giveaways:

  • Have participants post photos with a branded hashtag showing how they use your product. Start it off by asking the influencer to post a photo.
  • Require some type of engagement, like following, commenting, or liking your/the influencer’s post in order to win.
  • Run a multi-day contest with different prizes each day and a grand prize on the last day.

Tips for Better Giveaways and Contests:

  • Make it worth it – Make the prize something that people are willing to put in the effort for.
  • Spotlight the influencer – Consider offering a prize that somehow features the influencer. This will increase the number of participants who enter the contest since followers have such a strong adoration of the influencers they follow.
  • Make it easier with Tools – Use apps like Shortstack, Rafflecopter, and io to make running the contest much easier.

Let’s Summarize…

Social media is the best technology available to us for reaching a large, targeted audience in a way that gives us the trust and effectiveness of a recommendation. Numerous tools are available for making social media collaborations easier, and influencer marketing is now believed to be the most cost-effective online customer acquisition method. Maybe our devices aren’t so bad for us after all!
Image via GoodStudio.

Don’t forget that when you focus on building relationships, your efforts will be rewarded with partnerships that last years instead of minutes. A little effort up front goes a long way to making your collaborations fulfilling and rewarding.

Cover image via Evellean.

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