Working with Insta Influencers: A Checklist
Influencers. That one little word that seems to divide the marketing world… Do they work? Are they for real? Will I see any uplift from engaging influencers? In my experience? Yes, yes, and yes, but it depends on who you work with and how you go about it.
My little shop is still just shy of 4 months young, but I have a pretty good track record of building relationships, so I’m confident this cheat sheet to working with influencers will be helpful.
FYI, I’ve done zero paid advertising and zero paid collabs, but the below is everything that has worked for me. So here goes!
- Personalize every single message/email you send out. Drop in kids’ names, ages, that spray tan brand you both use… anything you might have in common. If you don’t know these details, then you haven’t done your research properly. The best way to get results from a collab is to ensure it’s the right fit in the first place; and for that, you’ll need to do your homework.
- Play small (if you can). If you’re a tiny start-up, let influencers know! Most are super-keen to support local small businesses, and if you’re lucky they won’t charge for the promo.
- Once you have gotten in touch with an influencer, engage with their stories and posts in a natural way. Maybe even follow them for a bit before you go in with the hard sell. The more you can form a genuine Insta-relationship, the more likely they’ll want to work with you on an ongoing basis.
- Whenever I message/email a new influencer, I always mention the word collaborate. So right from the start, there is a clear understanding that this is a two-way street (product in exchange for stories/posts) and not just a gift!
- I always offer an exclusive discount code for their followers. I’ve found 20% generally works for me as the discount, but you could do more or less depending on your margins. This doesn’t always convert to sales, but it’s definitely worth a shot. Oh, and I usually don’t offer the discount code right away. Sometimes I use this as a way to follow up if an influencer has shown interested but not yet followed through.
- I’m completely on the ball with people who like my posts and follow me. If I have a hunch that someone who engages with my feed might have a decent following, I check out their profile, then get in touch and thank them for the follow/like/comment, compliment them on their dreamy feed (always genuinely!) and offer to collaborate.
- Don’t be put off if you end up with a flop. It happens. I have had collabs that get me zero followers/interactions/sales. But I always thank them and continue the relationship, because you never know whether they might post again in the future and generate some buzz. Insta is a fickle mistress, so it pays to have good relationships in place.
- On the flip side, I have had a couple of collaborations that have sent over 300 followers in two days, with great sales and engagement. It’s all about trial and error.
- The magic number for me has been 16-60K followers. Around this mark, influencers are generally happy to collab without charging. That being said, I aim high! Even when I had less than 100 followers, I still approached others with 150K, because you have nothing to lose but a few minutes of your time. And if you have the cash flow? It’s definitely worth looking into some paid influencer promotion. Especially if you think they’ll be a great fit. Look for those who have excellent engagement (comments are key!) on posts, and that can seamlessly work product into their feed without it looking like an ad.
- When it comes to initial contact, I usually work on a combination of DMs and email. DM first, then follow up with an email. DMs tend to get lost in the noise of social, but you have some influencers who prefer DMs, so I just do both. I always change the content so they’re similar, but not a copy/paste job, otherwise, it comes across as thoughtless.
- I have a spreadsheet with a list of influencers (I use Monday.com), the status of the collab, last date of contact, etc. in place. That way I can stay on top of what’s happening and continue to nurture the relationships in a seamless way. I tend to only have a few going at any one time so that I can really monitor uplift.
- I have learned the hard way that some people can’t work within your timelines. I have limited edition printables, and there have been a couple of influencers who have missed the boat, but still want to post down the track. I have a couple of these on the go now, and because I believe these influencers have awesome engagement and will benefit my brand/generate sales, I’m considering re-releasing some of those products once they set the collabs live. Go with your gut on this!
- With just a few months under my belt, I already feel like I have a decent handle on the types of influencers that will be happy to collaborate and will be great for my brand. How? More research! If you can, spend some time really getting to know your audience as well as a potential influencer’s audience to see if it’s a good fit. Less chance of a misfire that way!
And most importantly? You can plan all day, every day, but make sure you start somewhere. Building relationships takes time, so the sooner you can start to reach out, the better. Be real, be honest, be genuine, and be attentive. The rest will fall into place.
Thanks, Maria for writing this fascinating blog post. Check out Little Printables on Instagram.
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