Most influencers have a goal to work with brands on brand collaborations at some point in their career. However, even more important than just working with brands is working with the right brands.
Working with a brand just for the paycheck (or worse, just for the freebie) can set your account back years. It can cost you the trust you have built with your audience and hurt your chances of getting the brand collaborations you actually want.
So how do you know if a brand is a good fit? What should you look for when pitching a brand? And finally, how do you pitch those brands after a pandemic when the economy and many brands are hurting? Let’s dive in.
BRAND FIT: WHAT IS IT & WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Brand fit is underrated because a lot of people will just take the money when it is there for a brand collaboration. Instead of taking it because it is offered, ask yourself a few questions:
- Is this something I would walk into a store and buy?
- Is this something I would see online and buy?
- Is this something that I would be interested in or want to buy/try if a friend showed it to me?
- Am I likely to continue using it after the campaign?
- Does this brand/product align with my values?
- Does this brand/product align with my personal brand/niche?
- Does this brand/product make sense on my feed?
- Can I work this product into my content organically so that it does not stand out as an ad?
Basically, if your reaction to the brand reaching out is, “Well, they are going to pay me $1000, and I’ve never been paid $1000 for posting on Instagram before, but what even is it?” – don’t do it! If you can’t think of a way to build it into your content naturally or think to yourself, “I wouldn’t use that, but I could use the money,” it’s not a good fit.
The more inauthentic you are, the shorter you are making your lifespan in the influencer industry. As an influencer, you want to always be growing your audience and improving your content. Inauthentic posts and brand collaborations set your account back instead of helping it grow.
The more inauthentic posts you have, the lower your engagement becomes. People stop taking you as seriously or trusting your opinion and recommendations. Less people follow you and more people unfollow you. You look back and realize you undid a year’s worth of hard work (or more) to grow your account and built trust just for a couple of paychecks.
In the moment, it might seem great because there is money and an opportunity in front of you. Unless you can find a way to organically and authentically include it in your content though, you should say no.
To be honest, that is one of the best parts about being a lifestyle influencer. You fit into every category, food, fitness, beauty, clothing, travel, etc., because it represents who you are every day. You can work with brands across niches organically.
If you are a travel influencer or an influencer in a specific niche, you have to think about brand fit more than a lifestyle influencer. Some products just won’t make sense on your feed. If you typically shoot landscape photos where you are off in the distance and suddenly you have to be close to the camera featuring a product, it stands out as being an ad and may not look as authentic.
Brand fit is also how you get more jobs in the future. By aligning your feed and brand collaborations with who you truly are and by being authentic on your account, brands you see as a good fit are more likely to see you as a good fit as well.
The more you post inauthentically and all over the board with brands that don’t fit your personal brand, the more likely it is that a brand you want to work with looks at your feed and says, “No thanks. This isn’t a great fit for us.” You don’t want to risk the dream brand collaborations by doing inauthentic collaborations.
HOW DO I GET BRANDS THAT ARE A GOOD FIT TO NOTICE ME?
Besides being authentic on your feed with your own content, there is something else you can do to get on a brand’s radar other than pitching them. Tag them organically.
Shout them out. Tag them in posts. Use their hashtags. But do it organically. Don’t force it.
When you are wearing a brand you love, tag them in stories. When you buy a new product and find that you love it, talk about it organically and tag the brand. Doing these organic shout outs helps build relationships and put you on their radar, especially if it is a small or medium size brand.
As the brand sees these organic tags, they may reach out to you about a collaboration. You can also use results from those tags like click throughs or swipe ups or engagement on the post when you pitch the brand down the line.
If a brand knows you are organically and authentically posting about them, it shows that when they pay you to post about it, they know what to expect and that it will resonate with your followers who have already heard about the brand/product from you. This is also why you should always aim for long term collaborations.
WHAT IF I HAVEN’T USED THE PRODUCT/BRAND BEFORE?
No matter if you have used the product or brand before or not, unless it is a rush campaign, ask for a month to try out the product. This gives you a chance to really make sure it is a good fit and makes the post more authentic when you do post it.
Once you get the product, you can do some unboxing stories. Tell your followers that you will be testing out the product and will let them know what you think. Your post will be that review.
Testing out the product lets you see if it is a good brand fit. If you love it and will continue to use it, share that in your post. Even if you never would have tried it otherwise, you can share that you will now continue to use it.
If it ends up not being a great fit because you have serious concerns about the product, reach out to the brand and let them know. Chances are, they won’t want you to post if you didn’t like the product.
HOW DO I PITCH BRANDS AFTER THE PANDEMIC?
Many brands are hurting right now. Many influencers are also hurting right now (see what to work on when stuck at home here). Don’t take the collaboration just because you haven’t been paid in a few months. Don’t risk your followers and the trust they have in you for a quick paycheck.
As brand collaborations start to pick back up again, consider discounting your rates as much as 20% – 40% depending on the brand and their budget. Brands may tell you that they are a small business that is hurting and they don’t have a budget. They don’t always realize that you are also a small business and hurting right now.
If they are offering unpaid work or gifting, decide if it is worth it to you for the product/brand and for possible future work, but lower the deliverables and/or shoot for only stories instead of posts. Your audience and your content has value. Discounts are fine, but don’t discount your work to nothing.
You can also start working on some longer term deals to give them a discount. For example, offer three posts over a three month period. One will be paid and the other two will be free or discounted heavily. Let your audience get to know the product/brand and show what you can do in those three posts (this is a good idea for smaller influencers in general).
If you are struggling with negotiating and getting paid by brands in general though, we’ve got you covered.
Because many brands want to pay as little as possible and get as much as possible (or even just get what you will do for free), it makes it harder to make a sustainable living, especially with everything going on in the world the last few months.
If this describes you and you are doing some brand deals or getting offers for freebies and exchanges, Boost Society is now offering a one-of-a-kind small group coaching program on the influencer business.
This is not teaching you how to be an influencer or how to grow on social media but how to negotiate from gifting to paid partnerships, how to read and understand contracts, how to pitch brands, and more. You can check it out here!
If you aren’t quite ready for that, you can still get our free tips for pitching brands below!
Subscribe to get your FREE “12 things to include in a pitch email” PDF & to get more tips and tricks from Boost Society!
What do you look for in brand fit? Have you ever organically posted about a brand only to end up collaborating with them later? Have you ever done a brand collab that you looked back at and realized it wasn’t a good fit? Share about your experiences in the comments below!
For more Influencer tips, check out these posts:
- How to Work with Brands and PR Agencies
- Money Talk: When to Charge, How, and How Much
- The Top Mistakes Influencers Make Without Even Realizing It
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