I recently caught up with co-owner and marketing mastermind behind Boston co-retail space For Now, Kaity Cimo. She runs the space with friend and business partner Katharine ReQua. They opened a year ago and have played home to over 80 brands in that time.
How to Land Your First Instagram Collaboration (with 5 Examples)
In our guide to collaborative marketing, we talked about how collaborating with other brands on social media can be a super powerful marketing strategy. In this post, we’re going to be taking that one step further and showing you how to actually land your first Instagram collaboration.
Also, in order to help you grease the wheels of inspiration, we’ll be sharing some of our favorite Instagram collaboration ideas.
Let’s get started!
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How to collaborate on Instagram in 5 steps
For your first collaboration on Instagram to be a success, preparation is key. You need to make sure you nail every step of the process.
We’re going to breakdown everything step by step from planning right through to execution.
Step 1: Find someone you want to work with
A successful collaborative Instagram campaign starts with finding the right partner – that’s why step one is to start searching for influencers and brands that might be a good fit.
Start by drawing up a hit list of about 20 possible partners. The goal here is to choose collaboration partners that complement your brand. You’ll narrow the list down later when you vet them, but for now, you want to get as many ideas down on paper as you can.
Here are some things to look out for when you’re putting together your list of candidates:
Similar target audience/market
Collaborations on Instagram allow you to tap into your partner’s audience to expand your reach. As such, you’ll want to make sure that your target audiences are similar.
Shared marketing goals
An effective influencer collaboration has to be beneficial to both parties. Look for brand partners that might have similar marketing goals to your own. That way, they’ll be more likely to get on board.
Complementary products or services
You don’t want your partner to be in direct competition with you, so look for a brand that offers complementary products or services to your own. For example, if you’re a sunglasses retailer, a swimwear brand might be a good option as it’s easy to see how these two products go together.
Related: A Guide to Working with Fashion Influencers to Grow Your Brand
Similar follower count
Ideally, your partner will have an Instagram following that’s a similar size to your own. This ensures that both brands benefit equally when it comes to audience reach. If they have 10,000 followers more than you, they probably won’t want to collaborate.
Vetting your partners
Once you have your list, you need to vet them for fit. Try to choose a partner that ticks all of the following boxes:
- Does this brand/influencer have a similar Instagram feed style/aesthetic to mine?
- Do they have a similar follower count to me?
- Do their posts generate good engagement figures?
- Is their brand image one that I’d like to be associated with?
- Is their target market similar to mine?
- Are they NOT in direct competition with me?
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Step 2: Reach out to them
Now that you know who you want to collaborate with, it’s time to reach out to them. Every brand is different and has a preferred means of communication. Your first port of call is to check their Instagram bio and website contact page. If they might have already specified their preferred contact method, take your lead from that.
If not, it’s usually best to reach out initially over email as opposed to Instagram DM. At the end of the day, you’re still negotiating a business deal, so you need to communicate professionally – email is the best way to do that. You should be able to find an email address on their website or social media pages – if not, you can always employ one of these tactics.
Your first email to them is ‘testing the waters’ to see if they’d be interested in collaborating. I’d recommend asking something like “Do you ever collaborate with brands to promote [insert product/service]?”.
You should also introduce who you are and explain a little about your brand and why you wanted to reach out to them specifically. Throwing in a compliment here never hurts either.
If they say they do, follow up and ask them if they’d be interested in collaborating.
Hopefully, you’ll have a few vetted candidates on your hitlist and can email all of them. Some of them might not respond – that’s okay.
Step 3: Structure your Instagram collaboration deal
Once you’ve found your Instagram collaboration partner, it’s time to structure the deal. It’s important to set out clear expectations about how the campaign is going to go down and draw up a formal agreement.
Make sure you’re both clear on things like:
- The products that need to be promoted
- What kind of promotional efforts your partner will be doing and how frequently?
- What the compensation will be (i.e. money, a shoutout, a free product, etc.)?
- Expected results
- How long the campaign will last
Plus any other details you think are relevant.
Step 4: Execute the campaign
Now comes the exciting part – executing the campaign. Make sure you’ve made all the necessary preparations before you launch.
For example, if your partner is going to be helping you to drive sales through exclusive discounts, you’ll need to have set up unique trackable discount codes.
If you’re going to be posting photos of each other’s products to your feeds, you’ll need to have the photos edited beforehand.
It’s important to keep communicating throughout the campaign to make sure both parties are happy with the way things are progressing.
Step 5: Measure results and ROI
Finally, it’s time to measure your results. You should have set goals before launching your campaign and have an idea of what success looks like.
Look at your key performance indicators and work out whether you’ve met your targets. Has your follower count increased? Has your engagement gone up? How many clicks or conversions did your campaign generate?
If your results weren’t as good as you expected, try to figure out what went wrong and use this to inform your next campaign.
5 Instagram collaboration ideas and examples
Alright, now that you know how to land your first Instagram collaboration, let’s look at some different ways you might want to collaborate. Here are 5 awesome Instagram collaboration ideas that other brands have already used successfully.
An Instagram takeover is when a different brand or influencer ‘takes over’ your Instagram feed for the day, much like a guest host on a radio station.
In exchange, you could take over theirs at the same time. That way, both of your brands get exposure to the other’s following and while doubling up your reach.
Popular Instagram channel @dogsofinstagram utilizes this powerful collaborative strategy to great effect. They frequently host ‘Story Takeovers’ in which a cute pup with a big following will take over their Instagram Stories feed for the day.
It must be working because they’ve already reached 4.5m followers.
Giveaways can be an awesome way to drive a ton of shares and boost engagement on your posts. To make them even more effective, collaborate with a popular influencer or brand and get them to share it; your entries will go through the roof.
Here’s a great example from HudaBeauty, who teamed up with popular beauty YouTuber and Instagram star @prettypastelplease to promote their nude palette giveaway.
Another simple way to team up with influencers on Instagram is by setting up an affiliate program (check out our guide to Instagram affiliate marketing here). Your partners can promote your products and earn a commission for each referral. You can set this up so that you pay per conversion. That way, you’re only paying for results, which ensures a good ROI.
A simple and easy way to collaborate on Instagram is through product shoutouts. Your collaboration partner can shoutout your products through an Instagram post in exchange for either payment or a shoutout in return. It’s simple, it’s easy to set up, and it’s effective.
This post could be sponsored, but in a way, it’s beneficial to both parties even without payment. Evian gets a shoutout to Ian’s 4.9m followers, and Ian gets to develop his own ‘brand’ identity by aligning himself with a good cause.
Joint product releases
If you want to take things a little further, you could even consider working together to develop a joint product representative of both your brand identities and then promote that product on Instagram. This is a co-branding strategy that can really boost brand awareness if you choose the right partner.
Big brands like HP and Elle have already seen a lot of success with joint product releases. Here’s an example from HP’s Instagram feed featuring a printer designed with Elle’s branding.
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