How To Connect With Influencers to Promote Your Product
I love chatting with other product shop owners about marketing strategies and how to grow an online shop. In the beginning of my business, I was able to tap into some strong marketing strategies that helped grow my Instagram audience and online presence. Which in turn, grew the success of my shop.
One of the best strategies I implemented was connecting with influencers. If you're unaware of what influencers are, here's a short description: someone with a similar target audience as you who has a larger, more engaged audience than you currently have.
This person (if they are willing to be an influencer for your product/brand) would then promote your product on their social channels.
Now, there are different levels of influencers. There are celebrities who are Influencers for big brands like Dove and Nike. And there are influencers for courses or curriculum. Often times, these people are more of an affiliate. Which means, if you use their link to purchase a product, they get a small kickback.
For the sake of this blog post, we are talking about influencers on a smaller scale. Just normal people who have an engaged audience who are willing to promote other entrepreneurs who align with their mission and brand.
You want to find people who have the same TARGET AUDIENCE and similar INTERESTS. If you find someone who doesn't have the same target audience, what's the point? You want to reach MORE people who will love your product.
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Here are real-life tips from an influencer! This perspective is GOLD.
As a small business owner myself, I love working with other small businesses and brands to support their growth. I think influences and sharing on social media are some of the most compelling and meaningful ways to show how your product gives life to a person, family or home, beyond the basic intention of the product. When I promote products I want my followers to know why that item brings me joy or benefits my life. I love this world of brands and real humans working together to promote small business goods.
When brands reach out to there are a few things I think through. First I ask myself, is this something I need, or would fit into my lifestyle authentically? I think it's important for brands to select influences strategically, ones who would be saying "I need this product". Second I ask, is the product or partnership something I believe in and would feel good about sharing with my followers? I think most influencers would say they have worked hard to get where they are and have worked hard to build trust with the people who follow them. Which is why I would never feel good about promoting a product I don't actually like or goes against my values (for example- a product that hurts the environment in some way or includes harsh chemicals that I don't prefer to have in my home). Brands should similarly take a second to understand the influencer and their values. In most cases you could figure this out in 2 minutes by watching someone's Instagram stories or by looking into a few of their photos and captions. Then as a brand, you can compel the influencer to understand why you are a good fit. When I worked with Blabla Kids, they gave me a few snippets of how their operations are run and the positive impact those have globally. I was sold in an instant, they completely aligned with my values and beliefs (and of course the have the cutest knit dolls so win win!). Third, I ask myself, does the product and brand align with my brand? This kind of jumps off the second point because my values are part of my brand, but also thinking aesthetically or content wise. For example, I have turned down offers to work with baby utensil products (bottles, cups, etc.) because the aesthetics weren't actually my style and weren't something I would purchase. Which leads to my forth thought process of asking myself, if I had the money, would I purchase this? The fifth question, if I am on board with the first four is, what are the terms? I appreciate when brands tell me exactly what they are wanting from me if they have an expectation in mind or if they don't, when they ask me what I would exchange for their products or compensation. Clear terms and expectations are helpful for both the influencer and the brand, so however those are determined, ensure they are crystal clear. I appreciate when brands give me creative flexibility as to how to style and post and when to. When a brand is more rigid it doesn't exactly fit my style, so ensure the influencer and brand are on the same page with expectations. I think as a brand, you would want someone who asks these questions and therefore find someone who all of these questions would be a YES to with your products. When you make the initial pitch to the influences, share these points, it doesn't have to be lengthy, bullet points have done the trick for me!
Here is an example- if you have a print shop of your beautiful handprinted goods your dream influencer might be someone who appreciates handmade goods and artists and has a curated home that your pieces would look good in and would bring that influencer a sense of joy. Not only does that land you an influencer who is on board with promoting your work, but it also lands you authentic and compelling content that is being displayed to that influencers following. And even if that influencer has a smaller following, if the content is compelling it can be a lot more effective than an influencer who maybe has a large following but isn't a totally good fit for your products.
When looking for influencers I would say start with aligned hashtags. If you think your products would be great in the hands of a stay at home mom, search the #stayathomemom hashtag. Another way is to host a "Brand Rep Casting Call" of sorts, have influencers who already follow you tell you why they would be a great representation of your brand. They could post it to their Instagram as well to help you reach more potential influencers (& some potential customers even!). And finally look no further than your existing customers!! I have been a long-time customer of Candelles, and have shared many images on my social media of their candles warming up my home over the years. When the owner contacted me last summer I was ecstatic to work with them because obviously I already adored them, so it was a perfect fit.
On the subject of payment, it really varies by the terms. If the product is something of low value monetarily (like a bar of soap) I may ask for additional compensation beyond the product or a larger collection of the products (like a few body washes, a lotion, a perfume, etc. if I need it). I put a lot of time into my photos and into my captions and posts. I want to make sure it is worth my time, away from my business, away from my baby, to invest in the promotion and work with the brand.
For me personally, connecting with brands is more than just getting free products. When I worked with Blabla I was excited to photograph their dolls, that was a fun and meaningful processes for me to get creative with. I also made great connections with their social media manager and I have become an even bigger supporter of theirs. They are one of my go-tos when I am shopping for gifts now. I think if brands look at influencers as VIP customers they will establish actual long-term VIP customers in the end. I am way more invested in shopping with business I have connected with and who have been invested in me and my work. Just a little tip, the small details like thank you notes, warm emails, and comments on the images they post mean a lot.