How to organically grow your Instagram following

How to organically grow your Instagram following

With 1 billion monthly active users on Instagram, growing an engaged audience can be difficult. But just because it’s difficult, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Here’s our advice for attracting people to your account and convincing them to click that follow button.

Decide on a niche

Do you have a specific niche for your content? Would you be able to describe it in just one sentence? Knowing your niche, and sticking to it, will increase the chances of people following your account and engaging with your content. They’ll follow you because they like what they see, and they know they can expect more of it in the future.

If you want to take this a step further, and really focus your content, why not create a persona for your followers. Fully flesh out a personality and demographics for them so when you’re creating content you tailor it to them. This will add extra focus to what you’re creating, and as a result people will more likely connect with you and your content.

Your personality should also play a big role in your niche. Are you the laid-back quiet type? Or the life and soul of the party? Incorporating this into your content will give you a USP in your niche (especially if you’re in a saturated market, like fashion or beauty) and will also make people far more likely to follow you as they relate to your personality traits.

Utilise hashtags

The only way to grow your following is by getting your content in front of new people. One of the easiest ways to do this is by using hashtags effectively. I’m not talking about stuffing your captions full of the most popular ones, though.

Having a hashtag strategy will really help you to gain the attention of the right people, and build your following. The hashtag limit on Instagram is 30, so if you have 30 relevant hashtags to use why not use them all? This will increase your chances of being discovered and it will boost your impressions. The key is to make sure that they really are relevant to what you’re sharing.

So, how do you find relevant hashtags? There are websites and services that offer to help you find the right ones, but I think a manual approach is always best as it allows you to be really specific with your strategy. Decide on 3-5 keywords for your image and then type the hashtag in for them and see what else Instagram recommends. For example, if my keyword was #zara, Instagram may then recommend #zaradaily, #zarawoman and #zaraoutfit as hashtags for me to also use. Use 4-5 hashtags for each keyword and before you know it you’ll have a set of 12-25 for you to use in your caption.

When choosing which hashtag variations to use, make sure you select ones with a variety of popularity. Being seen on a hashtag with only 1,000 posts is far more likely than one with 10 million. That said, the 1,000 post hashtag may not get as much traffic, so a balance of popularity in hashtags will increase your discoverability and likely increase your impressions.

Share the journey

It can be easy to fall into the trap of feeling like your content has to be perfect and polished. But if we are honest, is this the style of content we really relate to or invest in? We all love a journey. We like seeing people build and grow into their success stories. So why not share yours?

Instagram Stories is a great place to be real and honest with your followers. Share with them how you’re feeling, any challenges you face and where you’re aiming to get to. When you share this your followers will invest in your journey and they will be far more likely to engage with you or share your content with their own audience.

Even if you’re feed is curated and aesthetically pleasing, it doesn’t mean you can’t be more real or authentic with your audience there. Why not share your sense of humour or honesty in your captions? You could also use the carousel feature to share some behind-the-scenes content to your main image. Sharing the realities of your life, and the content you create, will always be endearing to an audience and will make new people who find your feed more likely to click follow.

Sharing your journey doesn’t mean you have to share all aspects of your life. Maintain your privacy, and just focus on sharing the realities of your ‘content journey’. If you’re a fashion blogger, why not talk about your editing process, or outfit fails? As a beauty YouTuber, share when products don’t work for you or your journey towards learning how to improve your makeup skills. It may not be polished content, but it’s still valuable to people in a similar situation to you and will increase your chances of being followed.

Talk to your audience

In order to keep growing your account, it’s important to listen to what your followers want and talk directly to them. It can feel a bit awkward and vain to walk around chatting to our phones, but those Stories tend to perform best as people feel far more engaged by them. When you’re creating content, make sure it is directed at your audience and includes CTAs (call to actions). For example, if you’re planning a trip, why not talk to your audience about your dream cities to visit while you try to narrow them down? Put polls and question boxes up so they can help you choose where to go. This will make them feel far more invested in the trip when you do go, and they’ll be excited to see the content from it because they’ve had direct input in the decisions you’ve made.

It can be easy to get stuck on the treadmill of just churning out content, but putting your audience first will make them far more likely to engage with your content and share it. This increased engagement will do wonders for your discoverability on the app, and will in turn help you to build a following.

Talking, and listening, to your audience will also help you to refine your audience persona. You’ll learn more about what they like and therefore be able to create the perfect content for them. This will mean that when the right people stumble across your account they’ll be more likely to follow you and get invested in your content.

Analyse your content

Once you’ve got into the flow of your content, and your account has begun to grow, it would be a good idea to analyse what is performing well. Take a look at your Instagram analytics and take notice of the posts that have the most impressions and engagement from the past couple of months. Is there a lot of overlap there? If there’s some anomalies have a think about why they’ve underperformed on one analytic and how you could have improved it.

Looking at the content that is performing well will help you to identify any common themes or trends. Do people prefer long or short captions from you? Do they like detail shots or full-length ones? Taking all of this into account will help you to niche down, and honing in on your most successful content will make you more likely to increase your analytics and therefore attract more people to your

Once you’ve been sharing content for a while, look at what is performing well. Look at engagements and impressions, how can you match them both up? This will also help you to niche down and give people what they really want. Once you start to really target your brand towards your audience, the people who discover your account will be far more likely to follow and rave about your content to their own followers, friends and family.

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Influencer Weekly Update – #19

Influencer Weekly Update – #19

Welcome to our weekly update on all things influencer marketing, social media and content creation. We like to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to influencer-related things, and instead of keeping all of our findings to ourselves we thought we would share the stories, reports and announcements that we find most fascinating each week. This week Jenna Marbles quits YouTube, Instant Influencer is renewed for a second season and Karat, the credit card for influencers.

Carry on reading to find out more…

Jenna Marbles quits YouTube

She’s been on the platform for a decade, but Jenna Marble’s time on YouTube has come to an end recently. The social media star announced she would be leaving the platform after being criticised for offensive videos she uploaded in 2011 and 2012. She apologised for her previous content in a video titled ‘A Message’ and there is hope she will return to her channel in the future.

Instant Influencer is renewed for a second season

Instant Influencer, the TV programme that aims to turn contestants into successful influencers has been renewed for a second season. James Charles, the host of the show, took to Twitter to confirm the news and shared his excitement about a second series.

A credit card for content creators?

Karat Black Card is the first credit card to look at social media popularity and income, rather than relying on credit scores, as part of their underwriting criteria. A lot of successful content creators are young, and haven’t had the chance to build up a strong credit profile. The Karat Black Card is issued in partnership with Stripe and is accepted anywhere that Visa is accepted.

Why brands need to jump on influencer marketing right now

Marketing budgets have been squeezed recently, but those who have been able to continue spending on influencer marketing are reaping the rewards. Content creators are able to create engaging content from the comfort of their own homes, and this gives brands the opportunity to stay relevant during these challenging times.

The style influencer changing fashion for people with disabilities

Lauren “Lolo” Spencer was diagnosed with ALS when she was just 14. She uses her social media profile to share her latest outfits and inspire others with disabilities to dress however they want to. Her goal is for people with disabilities to be seen as people first, rather than having their achievements always mentioned alongside their disability.

How to make money from affiliate links

How to make money from affiliate links

Whenever you’re linking to products on your blog, there’s an opportunity to make commission. Using affiliate links means that whenever someone buys something by clicking through from your blog, you get a percentage of the sale. Want to get started? Here’s how to add them easily to your website…

What is an affiliate link?

In simple terms, an affiliate link is a trackable link that lets a website know how many sales have come directly from you. By including them in your blog posts you’re making sure that you are rewarded for any sales that come directly from your content. When people click on affiliate links they are taken to the brand’s website (or a shoppable page) where they can then buy the item.

You can create affiliate links through a variety of affiliate programmes. Some of the most popular ones for bloggers and Instagrammers include RewardStyle, 21 Buttons and Skimlinks. Some of them require approval of your profile before you can use them (RewardStyle, for example) but others allow you to sign up and get started right away.

Some platforms only allow you to create affiliate links for approved partners (RewardStyle operates like this) but others will allow you to create affiliate links for whichever brands you like. Some big online retailers, like Amazon, have their own affiliate programmes. So if there’s a website you predominantly shop on lookout for these.

How can I add affiliate links to my blog?

Once you’re set up on the best platform for you, creating affiliate links is quite simple. For platforms like RewardStyle and 21 Buttons all you’ll have to do is upload an image and then tag the items you want to link to. You’ll then be able to select the correct links for each item to transform them into affiliate links.

Some platforms offer tutorials on how to make the most of the platform, so make sure you watch those if you’re feeling a bit lost.

For platforms like Skimlinks, you can just paste the relevant link into their converter for it to be made into an affiliate link. You can then use these links across social media and your blog.

If your blog is on WordPress, they also offer affiliate link plugins that will automatically transform the links on your blog into affiliate links. This can be the easiest way to add affiliate links to your blog as you won’t have to do much more than what you’re already doing.

How can I make money from my affiliate links?

So, how do you actually make money from the affiliate links you’ve shared on your blog and social media? Once you’ve added them there’s not much else for you to do, the affiliate platforms do the rest!

Any sales that come through your links will be tracked by the platforms and you will earn commission. This isn’t just on the item you linked to, it’s on anything that person orders via the link. They could just order what you linked, or order a few things at the same time which will boost your commission.

The commission you earn will depend on the affiliate platform and the brand. It tends to range from 5-15%, but can fluctuate. You’ll be able to see how many times your links have been clicked, and any commission you’ve made, via the affiliate platform you’re using.

Once you reach their pay out limit (this could be anything from £20-100) you’ll be able to request the money and it will land in your account within 3-5 working days.

Depending on how much you make from your affiliate links, you might want to request the money be deposited monthly, or weekly, so you can have a steady stream of income from your links.

How should I disclose my affiliate links?

As you make money from affiliate links, it is important they are disclosed to your audience in a way that makes it clear that you are incentivised to use them. You can clearly mark affiliate links by following the ASA guidelines. They recommend that were affiliate links are used, they are marked with ‘AD’. You could also include a disclaimer on your blog where you explain in detail how affiliate links work and how you earn money from them. This would provide full transparency for your audience, which may be helpful for them.

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Influencer Weekly Update – #18

Influencer Weekly Update – #18

Welcome to our weekly update on all things influencer marketing, social media and content creation. We like to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to influencer-related things, and instead of keeping all of our findings to ourselves we thought we would share the stories, reports and announcements that we find most fascinating each week. This week Lickd partners with Universal on music for YouTubers, influencers set up the Black Travel Alliance and the talent agency that aims to connect TikTok creators and brands.

Carry on reading to find out more…

Lickd partners with Universal

Lickd have announced a deal with Universal for the use of their music in videos created by YouTubers. This pre-cleared music will be available for content creators on the platform to use within their videos without the risk of being de-monetised.

The Black Travel Alliance demand diversity from the travel industry

Black Americans spend roughly $60 billion annually on travel, but there is little to no representation for them when it comes to travel marketing, influencer campaigns and press trips. The Black Travel Alliance is a group of black journalists and creators who are demanding equal opportunities and visibility.

TikTunes to connect creators and brands

Influencer Salvatore DiBenedetto has launched his own talent agency under the name TikTunes. The agency will connect record labels, brands and mobile apps with TikTok creators. The agency will be run by influencers, and there will be no requirement for creators to exclusively work with them.

Social media for small businesses

Most businesses have a social media presence right now, but what can small businesses do to ensure they stand out from the crowd? Three social media stars have shared their advice for building an engaged audience.

Marketers turn to influencers to aid post-pandemic recovery

As influencers have such a direct relationship with consumers, it’s no surprise they’re highly valued by brands. A recent survey by LINQIA has found that while 64% of marketers are now working with a decreased digital budget, 60% of influencer budgets have remained the same, or increased.

How to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog

How to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog

Pinterest is a visual search platform and, if used correctly, can drive traffic to your blog. If you’re not sure how to get the most out of Pinterest, here’s our tips for using the platform as a creator.

Use text overlays

In order to drive traffic to your blog, its important people know exactly what to expect when they click through. The easiest way to make this clear to them is by using text overlays on your images. It’s best to keep these simple so they don’t make your images too ‘busy’. If your blog title is short and sweet, why not stick to that? For example, you text overlay could be ‘five cafes to visit in Budapest’ or ‘Dior Forever foundation review’.

If you want a quick and easy way to create text overlays, we recommend using Canva. They have lots of great Pinterest templates available, so all you will need to do is drop in your images, tweak the font and text and download.

Pin a variety of content

A great way the get the most out of your blog content (and increase the chances of driving traffic to your posts) is to vary your style of Pins. As well as text overlay images, why not share additional images from within the post? The more Pins you create that link back to your blog content, the more likely it is that your traffic will increase.

You could also mix some video Pins in that relate to your blog content. You can link to your posts via them and they may be a more captivating way to encourage people to click through and visit your website. Make sure you also re-pin your content across any of your boards that it relates to, increasing the chances of it being seen by people.

Build your boards

One of the best ways to build up your impressions (and drive traffic) on Pinterest is by building some strong boards. Make sure each of your boards has 40+ Pins and includes a variety of styles of content. Including a mix of infographics, text overlay images, ‘naked’ images and video will improve the performance of the board.

Keep your boards updated regularly and start new ones frequently so you always have new opportunities to promote your content. Make sure each board has a healthy mix of your own, and others’, content. You could even have a board that is exclusively your own content!

Make sure you apply SEO to your titles and descriptions so your boards are easy to find by people searching for related content.

Take part in trends

One of the quickest, and easiest, ways to get your Pins seen by a wider audience is by jumping onto trends. Pinterest regularly share upcoming trends on their blog, and if you submit your content before the deadline you have the opportunity to feature on their ‘Today tab’. This could drive massive traffic to your blog.

Staying on top of trends, and creating content that fits into them, will give your content structure and make your Pins more likely to perform well on Pinterest.

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Influencer Weekly Update – #17

Influencer Weekly Update – #17

Welcome to our weekly update on all things influencer marketing, social media and content creation. We like to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to influencer-related things, and instead of keeping all of our findings to ourselves we thought we would share the stories, reports and announcements that we find most fascinating each week. This week Influencer Pay Gap exposes inconsistencies with pay, why brands need to look for usefulness, not aesthetics, when choosing influencers and Photoshop launch a new creative camera app.

Carry on reading to find out more…

Influencer Pay Gap exposes inconsistencies with pay

An Instagram account that was set up on June 8 to expose the inconsistencies in how much influencers are paid has reached 16,000+ followers. The account features screenshots from their DMs of influencers sharing information about their ethnicity, follower count, engagement rate and highest paid campaigns. It is hoped that this transparency about earnings will encourage underpaid influencers to ask for more.

Brands need to look for usefulness, not aesthetics, when choosing influencers

The influencer industry has been going through a period of change for a while. Gone are the days of brands spending vast amounts of money on influencers who simply look good, an authentic connection with your audience and content that stands the test of time are becoming more valuable to brands.

Photoshop launch new creative camera app

Adobe have applied some of the powerful photo-editing capabilities of Photoshop to a new camera app that lets you apply filters and even remove unwanted parts of a shot while you’re still framing it. The app is free for iOS and Android users, regardless of whether you have an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.

Alibaba begins work with international influencers

Influencers are a great way to drive traffic, and Alibaba are looking to capitalise on the popularity of video. It’s hoped that by working with international influencers on compelling short video clips, they will be able to increase their sales.

Influencer marketing post COVID-19

Social media has been one of the biggest forms of entertainment during lockdown. Many influencers have adapted their content to align with lockdown, and this provides them with opportunity to advertise products that are helping people through this difficult period.

The importance of maintaining your blog

The importance of maintaining your blog

With so many social media platforms at your fingertips it can be easy to neglect your blog in favour of quick and easy to produce pieces of content. You may think that blogs aren’t as popular as they once were, but they are still highly valuable. Here’s three arguments for the importance of maintaining your blog:

You don’t own your social media platforms

Yep, you read that right. Did you know that your profiles on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube technically belong to the platforms? As soon as you create a profile, or post anything, on a social media platform the content belongs to them.

This is also worth bearing in mind when it comes to monetisation and algorithms. Each social media platform can decide how many of your followers are shown your content, if they’re even shown it at all. Platforms, like YouTube, that allow you to monetise your content can also decide whether or not to approve your content and the rate of pay. When you think about it, this gives them a lot of control over the content you work hard to create.

Maintaining your blog, and regularly posting there, means you have a platform where the content is 100% owned by you. Using SEO, social promotion and mailing lists you can also have more control over how many people see your content. If you have enough traffic you can also monetise your blog, or use affiliate links to earn commission when your readers purchase what you recommend.

You can position yourself as an expert

Want to position yourself as an expert within your field? As useful as social media platforms can be to do this, they are quite limited. For example, Tweets are capped at 280 characters and when articles cite experts you rarely see a link to an Instagram post or TikTok video.

Therefore, if you want to position yourself as an expert the best place to share your expertise is a blog. Within your posts you can link to other trusted publishers, or even relevant posts they you’ve written previously. This adds some depth to your content and means your audience is far more likely to trust what you have to say.

You could also film videos and upload them to YouTube, but the limitation there is that you don’t completely own that content. Having a blog alongside a YouTube channel would also strengthen your authority as it provides a landing page for people to visit to get to know you a bit more and how you have become an expert within your field.

You can boost your traffic using SEO

If low traffic is what’s holding you back from investing time into your blog then why not work on improving your SEO? Applying SEO to your blog as a whole and your individual blog posts will really help to drive some traffic for you.

Once your traffic and Domain Authority improve you could begin to build a business from your blog. With an engaged audience you can create a members club, take on paid collaborations with brands and even earn some income from your affiliate links.

This could be a far more stable option than relying on paid social media partnerships. Social posts can often be vulnerable to algorithm changes or updates, some people have even had their accounts hacked and deleted in the past. If your business is built entirely around a social platform you might want to think about how you can diversify your income. Maintaining your blog and the traffic it receives provides an additional platform that you can monetise.

SEO is something that can easily be applied and will make a real difference to your traffic. You have far more control over your blog than any other platform, so looking after it will only do you good in the long run!

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

Influencer Weekly Update – #16

Influencer Weekly Update – #16

Welcome to our weekly update on all things influencer marketing, social media and content creation. We like to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to influencer-related things, and instead of keeping all of our findings to ourselves we thought we would share the stories, reports and announcements that we find most fascinating each week. This week black influencers speak out about what brands can do better, tone-deaf influencer marketing is in the spotlight and how to measure influencer marketing ROI.

Carry on reading to find out more…

Black influencers speak out about what brands can do better

Black Lives Matter has dominated social media this week, and black influencers are on the front lines. Some have offered advice for what brands can do better in the future, and others have even called for brands who lack diversity to be boycotted by consumers.

How to measure influencer marketing ROI

There’s no quick and simple way to measure the impact of Influencer Marketing. Forbes Agency Council have shared 11 ways you can gauge the success of each of your campaigns.

Tone-deaf influencer marketing is in the spotlight

As protests continue across the world, it’s no surprise that the majority of influencer marketing campaigns have been put on pause. Coronavirus has already resulted in some brands re-thinking their marketing strategies, and it’s likely that the current protests will also highlight tone-deaf brands.

Will ‘genuine’ influencers reign post-pandemic?

There’s no denying that influencer marketing has been booming over the past few years. With budgets being cut, it’s likely that brands will be more considered with their campaigns. Will this mean those with a genuine connection with their audience will rise to the top?

Making influencer marketing more effective

Previous projections had the influencer industry estimated to become a $15 billion market by 2022, and that was before the rapid rise of TikTok and content creation under quarantine. Applying the basic rules of advertising could be the way to make it more effective.

Five at home workouts to boost your mood

Five at home workouts to boost your mood

This blog post is sponsored by Elissa & Stef

If you’re used to regular gym sessions, or new to including fitness in your weekly routine, finding workouts that are easy to do from the comfort of your own home can be tricky. Nobody wants to get halfway through a workout before realising they don’t have the equipment, or the space, to fully take part. We’ve scoured the internet and social media for the best at home workouts for you. From balancing yoga sessions to adrenaline-boosting HIIT, here’s our recommendations for workouts that will boost your mood:

What should I wear for my workouts?

Before we get into our class recommendations, let’s talk fitness wear. Ultimately you want to make sure you’re comfortable during your workouts. Depending on how intense the workout is, you may need a sports bra that offers sufficient support. There’s lots of comfortable and pretty fitness wear options available, and Elissa & Stef have some pastel pairs of leggings and sports bras that we’re tempted to treat ourselves to!

Balancing yoga

When the world is feeling overwhelming, or you need a moment to de-stress after an intense day at your desk, yoga can be a great way to re-balance your mind and body. We love following Adriene Mishler’s YouTube videos, they’re all free to use and are suitable for all abilities. She even has a 30 day home series on her channel, so if you’re up for a challenge you can do a video each day.

Want a yoga session that has more of a social element? Make sure you join our virtual yoga class, in partnership with Elissa & Stef, on June 12 at 10.30am We can’t wait to see you all there!

Barre that makes you burn

If you’re looking for a session that will make you work up a sweat then Barre is the way to go. These workouts are intense, and will push your muscles to the limit. They’re great for strengthening and toning, and you’ll definitely be feeling the burn during a session. Want to take part? We recommend checking out Psycle’s IGTV videos for sessions you can take part in whenever you feel up to the challenge.

HIIT at home

For those of us who like to work in short, intense bursts a HIIT workout could be just what is needed as a mid-week boost or weekend session. There’s lots of HIIT workout videos available on YouTube that are easy to follow and require minimal space, but we’ve been loving using the Gymshark app to get our fix. They’ve currently made all of their at home workouts free, so you have plenty of choice when selecting your workout. We’ve really enjoyed Mr & Mrs Muscle’s 22 minute HIIT workout for a quick session.

The Bikini Body Guide

Probably one of the most famous influencer-run fitness guides and apps, the Bikini Body Guide (BBG) is a collection of workouts that can be done from the comfort of your own home to help tone and sculpt your body. Kayla’s app SWEAT is £7.49 per month for full access and includes the BBG as well as many other workouts. Kayla has also shared some workouts on her YouTube channel, so if you want to try before you buy, give those a go first!

Full body tone and sculpt

If full body workouts are your thing, then a tone a sculpt session is probably going to work best for you. POPSUGAR Fitness share some great workouts on their YouTube channel, and they don’t require any equipment so can easily be done at home. If you’re looking for an easy-to-follow guide, we recommend checking out Krissy Cela’s 12 week Ultimate Summer Body Guide. It’s a bit pricey at £55, but as it is a 12 week programme it does work out cheaper than a gym membership.

Elissa & Stef started from humble beginnings Manchester. They began as a lingerie company, specialising in boy shorts and sports bras. They wanted to create products that their customers can move in; focusing on comfort and cutting-edge design. It seemed like a natural progression to also take the brand into the activewear market. Their heavily patterned and seamless designs have been a  roaring success and they pride themselves on listening to what their customers want. This is why they have also developed more fashion-forward designs that feature the hard-wearing flexible fabrics needed to perform at the gym, as well as the eye-catching patterns and prints that their customers can wear day-to-day, in the evening, and at festivals.

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Eight strategies for pitching to brands

Eight strategies for pitching to brands

by Gordon Glenister, global head of influencer marketing at the BCMA

Why it’s important to pitch to brands

Build it and they will come. It’s a well known expression, but nowadays it’s not enough to have the best product – you’ve got to have the best pitch. Suki Thompson, CEO of Let’sReset, says Agencies and creators need to be very clear about their proposition when they pitch to brands. They need to clearly demonstrate what they can offer and how they can deliver it safely and effectively during these unprecedented times. We are all in the same storm but individuals and brands have different sized boats, so agencies and creators need to know how to work collaboratively to navigate their way through the storm.

Understand your potential client’s needs

This isn’t rocket science, but some of the best presentations and pitches fail to convert because they are not specifically matching a problem. The reality is customers really don’t care about you they care about themselves. Ideally, if there is a way you can find out more from a brand, follow their Instagram, Twitter and YouTube profiles. Take notice of what they are doing and sharing. People give a lot of information on social media and their websites. 

Even when you are in early stage conversations, listen to everything and gather as much information as possible. This will enable you to tailor your pitch to help the client deliver on their objectives. Compile a number of ‘open’ questions ahead of a pitch. What are you trying to achieve with a brand collaboration or campaign? Make sure you understand the brand’s purpose and mission.

Reach out on social media

One of the things you want to do is to have a high quality and relevant network of targeted clients. I often look at the speakers at a conference I’m also speaking at and reach out to them on social media, normally LinkedIn, to set up a meeting.  I have met numerous people this way. If you’re going to be a successful influencer you need to be your biggest cheerleader. Creating amazing content isn’t enough on its own, you also need to be confident in selling and pitching yourself to brands. 

If you are looking to reach out to a brand, don’t email an info inbox hoping for a response. Rosalind Weinberg, founder of the Influencers Diary, says that before approaching brands you should figure out whether your content and audience align with the brand’s target market. If your content is mainly minimal fashion and luxury high street pieces, and your audience is mainly female, a brand like Reiss would be the perfect fit but Primark probably wouldn’t.

Make your email personal and include a print screen of your audience analytics to prove that what you’re saying about your followers is true. Brands only really care about three things – where your followers are based, their age range and the gender split. If you have an Instagram business account, this is all provided for you. Also make sure you don’t overuse Influencer language that some brands don’t know about like ‘Shout outs’.

An example direct email/message pitch could look like this

Hey Xxx (make sure you know the right person to contact)  

Ive used Xxx for some time now and it has worked really well for my skin. I particularly like your acne fighting gel aloe and your acne fighting foundation.  I know your audience is 100% female entrepreneurs who love your products.

My blog achieves over 43,000 average views per month with a 30% engagement rate and my Instagram @Xxx has about 6% engagement, generating thousands of views per month.

With summer ending soon, I would love to share your products with my readers on repairing sun damage. In fact, I already shared one of your posts on my Instagram recently and got some very positive feedback.

I would love to partner with you perhaps if you have a new product launch or a potential promotion we could work together on. I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a look at my social media handles so you can see an example of some of the way I support my community and brands.

     Personal sign off

Establish rapport and trust

Cold calling is harder and harder, so finding mutual friends who can connect you with the right person is helpful. Sometimes my best work has come from people who initially turned me down but, after I built a rapport with them, wanted to do something with me. Remember that on average it takes six touch points to convert a prospect into a paying customer . You need to make sure you mirror the style of your target, so if you are super casually dressed and invited to a meeting in a bank you may need to reconsider how you look and dress. If this is online then make sure you have an appropriate background for the camera, it’s amazing what your background can say about you. 

Be mindful that you need to give people time to consider proposals, so don’t hound them two days after you’ve made the pitch. Also be aware of any changes to the business that might impact the success of your pitch. I once made the error of beginning a pitch to an agency without realising that the CEO had let go of a lot of staff that week. Whilst he was interested in what I had to say his mindset was not there.

Make sure that when you have an online or face-to-face meeting you take notes so that you can paraphrase exactly what you’ve heard, the follow up steps and your deadline to deliver.

Acknowledge their pain points

Remind the brand of their current challenges – from what they’ve told you and from what you believe is a pain point they don’t know they have. For example, where competitors are performing better than them.

It’s common for agencies to have pitch decks and influencers to have media kits. Have a real hard look at yours and make sure you include case studies, your key skills (target markets, brands worked with, accreditations, imagery showing likes/comments) and a little about your personal story.  Show your average likes, reach, subscribers and engagement rate. If you are worried your numbers are low, look at different ways to show your impact. It might be worth offering some pro-bono work with a leading brand to get a superb case study you can use. If you can personalise the deck to each pitch, even better. Remember, above all, what your USP- unique selling proposition – is.

You are going to tell a brand story in your unique way, so don’t forget that. No one can tell it like you can. During your pitch, it’s very important that you also come up with ideas of how a campaign may work. This shows you are listening to them and already excited for the collaboration. You could prepare an example post for them with a watermark (SAMPLE) over it so they can’t use it without your permission.

Have a supportive team

In Justin Cohens book, Pitch to Win, he refers to the fact that rarely is a pitch won by one person alone. The chances are that if you’ve had kick back from a pitch, others maybe able to give you some valuable feedback or help you refine the pitch deck. The most successful pitchers have heard no more times than anyone else. A series of failed pitches can be very disheartening, so having people around you that support you is very important. I’ve increasingly been asked to mentor people which I have to say is very rewarding. Sometimes all we need is someone who will tell us where we are going wrong.

Respond to pitch requests

I heard a stat recently suggesting that 65% of inbound pitches to content creators are ignored. I was alarmed at that. I know that some content creators are super busy, but it takes nothing to send a response back to someone to say thank you and politely decline.

 Just as you may be pitching to brands, take notice of how they pitch to you, what is it you like and what is it you don’t like.  Refine your pitches to reflect this. Also bare in mind the person you ignored may be well connected to other people who you would like to work with.

Be sure of your value

This is a big one. Some creators over-sell themselves but the vast majority UNDER-sell themselves.  I’ve been impressed by many creators I have met who are multi-talented. They offer so many skills and operate more like a boutique design agency, yet don’t charge like one. On average the cost of a TV commercial for a major brand can be from £25,000-£250,000 and sometimes more. Brands want sales, so what you can do is show them the impact a call to action on your Instagram or blog can have. This will give them an idea of the sales value you provide, alongside the content value.  Here’s is an example of a range of services a typical blogger might do in their day job that a brand not using you would typically outsource:

  • Average cost of a photographer is £50-100 per hour, plus travel costs

Average cost of videographer is £350-650 per day, plus travel costs

Average cost of a copywriter is £342 per day

Average cost of a community manager is £17.30 per hour

Average cost of a producer (of content) is £17 per hour

Average cost to build a small ecommerce website is from £1000-2500

Average cost to buy data for company name and address, contact person and their function – from 10p and +15p for email address

If your customer wasn’t using a blogger they would have to consider many of these costs, so remember your value, speed and professionalism.  

Try and get the brand to give you a budget. You could approach this by breaking down each task and providing a cost estimate for each. Remember to always have a ‘gold bar’ option up your sleeve, something you know the brand really wants.  For example, you could explain that for the price they suggest you can do two posts and one story on Instagram but for a slightly higher price you can do that plus a one minute YouTube video and blog post. You could even offer to survey your followers and give a whole range of feedback on their products or services.

ABC – Always be closing

One of the biggest challenges that many have is closing the deal and creating urgency. The call to action is the most important part of this process. An objection to your proposal is often disguised as a request for more information. It’s not that they don’t want to work with you but there is something that has created uncertainty in your pitch, which is why you should always offer a way to continue the conversation. For example:

  • How do you see us moving forwards
  • Have I answered all your questions? What might still need to clarified for us to move forwards?
  • I have a availability to do this but I am also waiting on another campaign, when will you be able to let me know?
  • If you want it for that price, then I will need to reduce to 1 Instagram post or you will need to increase the affiliate commission to 15%

Lastly, enter Pitch Influence, our global competition that gives you the opportunity to record a one minute video pitch on why a brand should work with you. For more information vsit the BCMA website.

Gordon Glennister, BCMA founder
Gordon Glenister is the founder and global head of influencer marketing at BCMA Influence – part of the Branded Content Marketing Association – whose aims are to promote the value of influencer marketing through its global network and to create a hub of best practice for the industry at large.

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