4 Types of Social Media Collaborations + Who’s Doing Them Well

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Phil Grossman

23 Apr, 2020

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When it comes to achieving these goals, social media simply can’t be ignored. According to eMarketer, 90.4% of Millenials, 77.5% of Gen X, and 48.5% of Baby Boomers use social media — that’s over 64 million people just in terms of Millenials. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

Because social media has become so integral to our modern, digital lives, it’s quickly become one of the best ways to increase brand awareness and connect with your audience. When using social media to its fullest extent, you can build your business’s brand recognition, awareness, and potentially link up with other businesses to form long-lasting and fruitful partnerships

At its heart, social media is still social. And that means that although you can definitely try to take on the Instagram game entirely on your own, it’s often a good idea to work with other brands on social media collaborations. When you do so, you get double the exposure: not only do your own followers check out what you’re up to, but your partner’s followers do the same. 

In this post, we’ll show you what that looks like, who’s doing it well, and how your brand can get started. 

4 types of social media collaboration

Let’s kick things off by examining what the end product of a social media collaboration looks like. 

Profile takeovers

A social media takeover is kind of like being mayor for a day: one brand gives another access to their social media account and lets them take the wheel for a set period of time. Profile takeovers can offer your audience an interesting break from the norm while providing them with relevant content and a new perspective. Profile takeovers are a great way to build brand awareness because each brand’s followers will be exposed to the partner brand’s content and style. 

Influencers are particularly well-suited for profile takeovers. For example, imagine a takeover collaboration between an influencer and a fashion brand. The influencer might take over the fashion brand’s account for a day and make posts of their favorite outfits from the brand. This would expand both the fashion brand’s and the influencer’s reach: the influencer’s fans would learn more about the clothing brand, and the clothing band would learn more about the influencer. 


Cross-promotion is your typical tit-for-tat agreement — one hand washes the other, so to speak. Put simply, a cross-promotion is when two separate companies promote each other on social media. 

This can take a few different forms. For example, one brand could start posting about the other brand’s products on their social media. Alternatively, both brands could collaborate on a single post that promotes each of their products at once.

Like profile takeovers, cross-promotions are great ways to spread awareness about your brand and are pretty low cost as you’re essentially trading time. 

Shoutouts and endorsements

Shoutouts and endorsements are exactly what they sound like: a mention or shoutout to another brand on your business’s social media pages. If you make a post and tag another brand, you’re doing a shoutout. 

One of the best things about shoutouts and endorsements is that you don’t need to be in a formal partnership with another brand before trying one on for size. This makes it a great way to get your feet wet and test the waters before going any further. All you need to do is mention the brand in your post and bingo, you’ve just given them a shoutout. 


Giveaways tend to be successful because pretty much everyone likes winning free stuff.  When you host a collaborative giveaway, each participating brand will offer one of its products or services as a prize and the winner will get a pretty sweet prize pack.

Collaborative giveaways are some of the best collaborative efforts if you’re looking to drive engagement, hype, and virality.

Examples of awesome social media collaboration

Now that you’ve got an understanding of the theory under your belt, let’s look at a few concrete examples.

Nursery Live and Gayathri takeover

Nursery Live, a gardening brand that sells plants, seeds, and gifts, recently let Gayathri, a gardening influencer, take over their account. In doing so, Nursery Live reached more of Gayathri’s audience, and vice versa, expanding awareness and reach for both brands. 

Macy’s and Special Books By Special Kids cross-promotion

Here’s a great example of how powerful cross-promotion can be. Macy’s is a huge brand that is ingrained in American culture. Special Books By Special Kids is pretty small by comparison. So, when Macy’s posted about this important non-profit, they got a huge boost, and all they had to do in return was post about Macy’s. 

Canon’s shoutouts to photographers

By featuring their customers’ art, Canon both showed off the quality of its cameras and gave the photographers a huge exposure (no pun intended) boost. No one’s going to be complaining about getting a shoutout from one of the world’s premier camera makers.

Derek Simnett and Lebert Fitness

Here’s an example of a collaboration between Derek Simnett and Lebert Fitness. Derek Simnett is a fitness influencer, and Lebert Fitness is a company that makes exercise equipment. By giving Lebert Fitness a shoutout, Derek alerted his audience to a product that’s relevant to them, and Lebert’s vegan audience got the opportunity to find a new influencer. 

Livekindly and Vegan Treats

Livekindly is one of the largest vegan news sites on the web. In this example, not only did they give Vegan Treats, a vegan bakery based in Bethlehem, PA, a shoutout, but Livekindly even posted one of the bakery’s creations. There’s no doubt that getting promotion from a major outlet gave their exposure a huge boost. 

Planning your first social media collaboration

If you’re considering starting a social media collaboration, here are a few things to help increase the likelihood of success:

Test the waters first

Before going all-in on collaborative marketing, it’s a good idea to test the waters a bit and make sure that partnership marketing is a good fit for you. One of the best ways to do this is to simply start tagging other brands in your posts, aka doing shoutouts, and then evaluating for yourself whether your posts have brought you any closer to your goals. 

To evaluate, you’ll need to figure out what metrics you want to see improve, and then see whether there’s been any improvement. For example, if you’re trying to up your follower count, you’ll want to monitor that after tagging another brand.

Evaluate potential partners

Not all partners are a good match, so you’ll need to think carefully about what types of brands might make good collaborators. Generally, you’ll want to find brands that have some audience overlap without being direct competitors. For example, if you’re a sportswear brand, you might want to collaborate with a sports drink brand, but not with a brand that also makes sportswear. 

Doing some test runs like the ones described above can also help with that. If you shoutout another brand and see your KPIs increase, you’re likely on the right track. 

Define roles

In any operation, there needs to be clear cut roles as to who is going to do what. This goes for social media collaborations as well. Whenever you’re discussing working with a brand, make sure that each partner has a clear idea of what their role will be. For example, if you’re discussing a profile takeover with another brand, make sure that both of you know who is going to be doing the taking over!

Write up a contract

In many cases, having a formal contract isn’t necessary. But the higher the stakes and the more money that’s changing hands, the more beneficial a contract becomes. If you’re a large company, you may want to consult a lawyer to see if having an agreement between you and the partner brand is warranted. In some cases, this can help you avoid legal trouble down the line, but in other cases, it may be entirely unnecessary. 

Trying to conquer social media is a challenge, but it can be made a bit easier by enlisting the help of some similar brands. If you follow the steps and examples provided here, you’ll be on your way to enlisting other brands to help you grow! 

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