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Running brand collaborations with influencers is a great way to promote your company. Influencer campaigns can yield awareness, increased sales, new followers, and much more.
But like all marketing campaigns, these influencer and brand collaborations require careful planning, dedicated follow-ups, and careful analysis after the fact. Let’s break down the 5 steps in brand collaborations.
Step 1: Define your strategy
You need a clear goal for your brand collaboration. What is it that you want social media influencers to help you achieve? Decide on a goal, whether that’s branding, followers, engagement, sales, or one of the other influencer marketing benefits.
Next up, you need to know who your target audience is. Think about your buyer personae and the demographics that define them: their age, gender, location, language, and interests. Do some research to see where these people spend their time online, so you know what network best suits your campaign.
Finally, reflect on your resources and prepare the logistics of your campaign. This includes things like the budget, deadlines, content type, etc. Break your budget down into costs you’ll spend on digital marketing tools and services, and what you can spend on influencer incentives. This number will help define what type of influencer you end up working with.
Step 2: Find the Right Influencers for Your Collaboration
When you do a brand collaboration, it’s important to find influencers who are right for your specific brand. Each brand is unique, with its own mission, style, and values.
Therefore, any influencer who works with you should uphold the same ideals. If you’re an eco-conscious slow fashion brand, for example, find an influencer in the same niche.
Additionally, take into account that different influencers will charge different fees. These fees are influenced by a few factors, namely follower count, engagement rates, and content type. Generally speaking, we can break influencers down into the following tiers:
- Nano influencers, 1-5K
- Micro-influencers, 5-50K
- Medium influencers, 50-100K
- Macro influencers, 100K-1M
- Mega influencers, 1M+
For many brands, especially small businesses, nano and micro-influencers provide the most ROI. To set up a brand collaboration, you can usually give them free products, sometimes with a fee of a few hundred dollars. And despite their smaller followings, they have the highest engagement rates in the industry.
Finally, remember to analyze the influencer’s profile performance, too. Here’s a brief checklist of the metrics you should review:
Follower growth over time Is it organic or are there sudden jumps that could indicate fake followers?
Engagement rate compared to peers – If too low or suspiciously high, investigate why.
Average views – For video content.
Followers to the following ratio – To see if they’re using the follow/unfollow strategy.
Audience demographics – Make sure their audience matches your target.
Audience authenticity – Run a fake followers audit to make sure their audience is real.
Step 3: Negotiate with Influencers and Close the Deal
Reach out to influencers who fit the requirements for your campaign, and negotiate the brand collaboration. You’ll want to iron out big stuff like payments and deadlines, and also decide if you need a contract. A contract is usually only necessary when some type of monetary fee is involved.
Also, run through any publication guidelines you want the influencer to follow. For example:
- Brand mentions or branded hashtags you want them to use
- Aspects of your product or brand you want to emphasize
- General aesthetic guidelines like certain colors or settings you want influencers to use
That said, give influencers creative freedom. They best know how to communicate to their followers, so let them do that. Micromanaging influencers risk the collaboration coming across as inauthentic, which means the content will feel less organic and more like a pure ad.
Step 4: Monitor the Ongoing Campaign
When influencers are ready to start publishing, make sure you’re also ready to start capturing media and results. You don’t want to miss anything, because the more results you have to analyze, the better insights you’ll have into your success and missteps.
To collect media, define a strategy that works for the number of influencers in your campaign. If you’re working with just a few, it’s viable to follow up on their profiles regularly and download the content that belongs to your campaign.
If you’re working with a lot of influencers, that might become cumbersome. If you asked them to use brand mentions or hashtags, you should be able to track the content where those are correctly applied. But you may need to follow up with influencers who forgot to add your tags.
As for results, gather data from anywhere you can: analytics programs, eCommerce industry, eCommerce platforms, and influencers themselves. Influencers will have private data about their content, like impressions, that you can request from them.
Step 5: Analyze Your Results
When the campaign wraps up, it’s time to measure your success. Whether you’ve been successful or not depends a bit on what your goal was and how much you invested in it.
For example, if you invested $100 in an influencer, but they helped you gain $200 in sales, you’ve clearly profited. Or, if you invested $100 expecting 20,000 impressions but really got 40,000, you’ve also been successful, as you’ve lowered the cost per impression.
Keep an open mind during this phase. Maybe you didn’t achieve exactly what you set out to do. But consider all the benefits you got out of the campaign. Think about things like the content generated by the campaign, any press coverage or social shares you got, and the benefit of finding potential brand ambassadors or long-term partners.
Finally, always check into avenues you hadn’t thought of before. Maybe you performed better in one niche than another, and you should invest more resources into marketing to that audience. Basically, look for ways to optimize your campaigns for next time.
Setting up a brand collaboration takes a bit of planning and effort in finding the right influencers. But when done correctly, the strategy is one that offers you an authentic and organic way to connect with your target audience.