How Brands Select Influencers
Take the guesswork out of how brands actually select influencers.
In my 5 Tips For Working With Brands post, I spilled the beans on my 9-5 job. I also shared some simple tips on working with brands that will make you an A+ blogger, but how exactly are you as a blogger going to be evaluated for collaborations? How are you going to stand out to the brand you're pitching?
In my research, I haven't seen very much in terms of what exactly it is that brands look for from a brand's perspective. And contrary to popular opinion, it's not always about numbers. Unless you're using an influencer network, there isn't a must-have follower count. So how exactly are influencers manually being vetted? I'll explain.
Brands look to real engagement to see your audience strength and how much influence you actually have.
Brands Choose (Real) Engagement over followers
Unless a brand is specifically looking for mega influencers like Kim Kardashian, it's not about the numbers. I repeat: It's not about the numbers. As a blogger myself, I know I sometimes get hung up on how many followers and pageviews I have, but you need to stop thinking like this. If you're pitching a brand that has extensive experience with influencers, their selection criteria is much savvier and manual. Brands look to real engagement to see your audience strength and how much influence you actually have.
What do I mean by "real engagement?"
Real engagement is engagement from your organic audience. This means brands have caught on to things like comment pods and can 100% tell when you're using them. Brands get that the algorithm sucks and that things like comment pods increase your overall engagement, but that's not your true engagement so don't treat it as such. A brand won't be 100% convinced to work with you if you use your comment pod engagement as your actual engagement. And yes, I've personally used comments pods as well as follow/unfollow and have had mixed results.
It's also important to engage back with your audience. You can get 100 genuine comments, but if you don't reply back, it looks like you're not fostering your community. A brand wants to see that you're actively creating a loyal following on your channels. This makes them want to work with an influencer.
Engagement examples below
You can get 100 genuine comments, but if you don't reply back, it looks like you're not fostering your community.
Brands want to see Unique and Quality Content
Brands aren't looking for cookie cutter content. They can find that anywhere. Brands want to see how creative you can be on your own channels because it'll show how creative you can be as a partner. This is key. Trust me, brands don't have endless amounts of time, and if you can save them brainstorming time, you're on your way to being an A+ blogger. Also, it shows brands that you can be versatile. Campaigns and social strategies are constantly changing and that means creative direction also changes. To continue working with a brand, you'll have to show your versatility and your willingness to adapt.
A few quick ways to be unique:
- Play around with Instagram Stories — I personally screenshot ones that I love and share with my colleagues.
- Write from a point of view (POV) that is different from everything else you've seen so far.
- Take different angles than what you see on Instagram.
A few quick ways to create quality content:
- Invest in a camera other than your phone.
- Invest in Lightroom and learn how to use it.
- Research your blog post topic thoroughly and create your own POV.
Unique and quality content examples
...a partnership with an influencer can be described as an extension of the brand's image.
Brands love a beautiful website
If you're a blogger, then you know the importance of having a beautiful website. It shows your credibility, and like most things in life, looks matter. Opt for clean layouts with minimal advertising. Advertising can be distracting and can also block your content if you're not careful with the placements.
You also want to make sure that your blog is easy to navigate. When a brand looks at your website for the first time, they need to quickly look through your content. Create categories and an archive page if you haven't already done so. A search bar also helps. For instance, I'll search a bloggers website to see if they've worked with the brand before.
Brands are also thinking about the content that would live on your blog. Think of it this way: a partnership with an influencer can be described as an extension of the brand's image. Brands want to maintain a particular image, so make sure your own brand fits their image. For example, Away partners with influencers who have their design aesthetic and also with influencers who value quality goods, but at an affordable price.
Brands want to see a Strong presence across social platforms
There's some truth to what social media tips say about needing to be on all the social platforms. Of course it's difficult to be amazing at every single one of them, but brands aren't looking for that. Brands are looking to see if you have a strong grasp on how each of the platforms work for your audience. They want to see you adapt your content for each platform, not just throw the same content up for every single post.
It's a huge plus when a blogger can say, "Hey, I actually don't have incredible engagement on Snapchat, but my audience on Instagram is much more engaging." This is so important to a brand. Brands obviously don't have access to an influencer's analytics, so for them to directly come out and say this and suggest a different platform means they also have the best interest of the brand in mind.
Brands will Avoid Influencers with sponsor saturation
In the blogging community, it's applauded when you work with as many brands as possible. But this mentality isn't shared from a brand's perspective. Sponsor saturation is actually a huge turn off to brands. And it also looks questionable to your audience if you're working with two competing brands. For example, Daniel Wellington sponsored posts are all over Instagram. Even though I'm sure Daniel Wellington doesn't have exclusivity contracts with all of their numerous bloggers, it'd look bad if you were promoting MVMT watches the next day. This is why it's so important to work with brands that you actually believe in and align with your own brand as well.
Have you worked with brands before? What has your experience been like?
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