From “collabs” to “sponsorships” to “partnerships” - the social media industry is constantly changing and especially ways in which brands can tap into the powerful form of influencer marketing and create the most effective collaborations.
In a previous blog post, Raquel explained to you why it’s important to collaborate with others on Instagram. If you missed the post you can find it here. Now it’s time to learn about different types of relationships you can leverage, in order to monetize as a creator in this industry. There are so many opportunities and it's vital to know what you are getting yourself into. If you are contacted by a brand (or want to contact a brand yourself) you need to consider these options and find a way to work together. One that benefits you and the brand the best! Let’s help you get prepared...
Gifting (AKA: Barter Collabs)
The first collaboration type is a Barter Collab. This is when a company gifts you something, usually their own product or service. Typically it's a casual “no-strings-attached” kind of relationship that does not require you to post anything if you don’t want to. However, many brands use the term “present” or “gift” but do in fact expect a post or a mention in your story.
If you are trying to establish yourself as an influencer, be aware that most early collaborations are just like this. If you enjoy the products you can obviously give them a shoutout, though make sure you are only doing this because you want to and not because it is a requirement. Never promote anything that you don’t like. If the promotion is not completely authentic, you will come across as shady and dishonest to your followers. (Disclaimer: keep in mind that you might potentially have to pay tax on the goods you receive depending on the tax laws in your country!)
A very common influencer and brand relationship is affiliate marketing. Essentially the brand will send you a trackable link (the affiliate link) to a certain product you are promoting. With this link, you and the brand will be able to track any conversions made. Usually you are not paid upfront, however you will earn a commission for every action, whether it is decided per view/click or even purchase/download.
Affiliate links are very convenient when you are already recommending products to your community and therefore a great opportunity to make money by adding these trackable links. The best way to find affiliate programs that are a good fit for you is to think about all the products you love and would be happy to promote - even if you weren’t being paid a thing! Go on the website of those brands and take a look in their footer menu or search on the website for affiliate programs. You will be surprised how many brands offer these programs (Tip: two of the most common affiliate programs are with Amazon and Booking.com!)
We actually have our own exclusive affiliate program here at CLD where we give our students a direct online income stream with over 30% commission on every sale they make. Our students are able to make income from speaking honestly about how our courses have helped them. It is a great win-win for both our existing students and new students who have the opportunity to become affiliates themselves!
Moving on to your next option - giveaway campaigns! This sort of collaboration is becoming very popular and the concept behind it is pretty simple. The brand provides you with their products or services so you can gift them to your audience. The aim is for you to give back to your followers while the brand gains more exposure. Now, there are different types of giveaways and usually we don’t suggest you participate in them, simply because they can do more harm than good to your brand. However, there are a few exceptions when a giveaway can be beneficial to you, so let’s dive into those!
If the giveaway you are offered is related to your niche (in our case we mainly do hotel giveaways because it’s what our audience is interested in) and you organise it with a brand you love, then you know your audience will enjoy it too! This is completely fine; it’s a great way to increase your engagement, gain new followers and reward your community or to give back to them.
Depending on the “gift” the brand is offering you, a payment is not always offered however this can be negotiated, especially if you already have a high reach. You can leverage your engagement, as the brand will benefit from your reach as it provides them with the same amount of growth in social actions and increases their brand awareness.
Many brands are taking influencer collaborations to the next level by asking their trusted influencers to become brand ambassadors. Essentially, if you have an amazing relationship with a brand and they see great results in their ROI (return on investment), they can take that partnership into a long term deal. As a brand ambassador, you will share posts about your day-to-day experiences of using the brand’s products or you might even represent the brand at local events and share freebies with other attendees.
Being a brand ambassador can be a great deal and we do it too. It is a great way to combine your engagement and reach with the brands logistics and production to create something really special that would be hard to do on your own! Marie and I are brand ambassadors for a German Brand called Kapten & Son (we actually just released our own backpacks - we’re so excited about it!!)
Just make sure to stay loyal to the brand and don’t enter into too many of these partnerships - it won’t be authentic if you promote all sorts of companies. My advice is to have a signed contract for these types of campaigns, as they will include the expectations, outline the terms as well as the payment (depending on the contract you sign with the company, you usually get paid monthly, or every time there is a new campaign that you will be the face for)
Story takeovers have become a common type of collaboration, and it’s an easy and great way to organically reach new followers while building your brand on Instagram. This type of influencer marketing helps increase brand exposure by giving an influencer access to navigate a brand channel on social media. During the takeover, they will commonly show how they use a brand’s products or services, providing valuable “real life” context along the way.
Your values have to strongly be aligned with those of the brand in order to have a successful takeover. The duration for this sort of collaboration is usually only set for a short period of time - we are talking about a couple of hours to a day. It is usually associated with special events such as product launches, as it provides a more interactive way to connect with potential customers. It may also involve featured contests, Q&As, answering polls, etc.
It’s all about authenticity!
At the end of the day Influencer marketing is opening up to more and more types of collaborations. Brands are continuously trying to get more creative as they start to realize that traditional ads aren’t as effective anymore. It’s a great opportunity for us all! However, even though the options are increasing, the growth in influencers also means that some followers are already starting to get annoyed with the “sponsored” type of content - seeing them like ads. Prioritise the protection of your OWN brand image. Don’t compromise your authenticity for some quick monetization, as it will only harm your community in the long-run. Try to find brands you can build sustainable relationships with and who you genuinely can work together with on a creative level. Believe me: your followers will appreciate that honesty!
There are always pros and cons that come with every relationship, so make sure that you do your fair share of research before signing any contract. Our best advice is to always "play the long game", your reputation is not worth any price.
There are so many other types of collaboration and in our Instagram Masterclass you can learn all about them, what to look out for and anything else you will need to have a successful collaboration. We will be launching our highly anticipated TPI course again in the next few days. If you want to become a CLD student and start making the steps to change your life. Make sure you sign up to our waiting list so that you are the first to know when we relaunch.
If you want to learn more about a specific type of partnership let me know in the comments below! I’m happy to answer all of your questions.