In this episode, I’m going to be talking about:
If you’re new to me or this is the first time you’re finding me, my name is Gwen Lane and I help digital influencers get sponsored by brands. I’ve been an influencer for 5 years now and I’ve also worked in digital marketing for over 10 years before I started my lifestyle and travel brand, The LA Girl. I’ve worked with brands like Disney, Facebook, Google, Nike, Target, Nordstrom, American Airlines and more and I love sharing my insights and strategies with my community so that you too can build your brand, grow your following and monetize your influence.
And the reason I’m so passionate about that is that I think influence equals impact and the more people you can help, the more of a difference you can make!
Let’s dive in and talk first why brands are using influencer marketing. As you know, marketing has been around forever! It’s a way for people to know that a product is available and out there, and that it’s for sale. In the old days, before advertising and the internet, it was about word of mouth. Someone would just ask someone - what are you wearing? What tailor made your clothes and shoes? And that’s how people would find out about a designer or brand.
With print and TV, the idea of celebrity endorsements came up as an opportunity for brands to get in front of people through their favorite celebrities. For example: Serena Williams has a brand endorsement with Nike and she wears their clothes exclusively so every time she’s playing a match on TV, she’s wearing their clothes.
With the internet and social media, people started building their own audiences and influencer marketing became a thing essentially in the same way as celebrity endorsements.
But instead, these people had audiences that were really engaged and connected with them and they had their trust. It’s kind of like your friend saying they tried out this product and it gave them really good results. You would probably try the product and trust their recommendation.
Now, more and more brands are using influencer marketing because they’ve seen that it’s more effective than them using ads or commercials. Instead of them putting out an ad saying “buy this, it’s awesome” they can get someone who already has an audience create authentic content around their product and be the one to introduce the product to their audience.
That’s why influencer marketing is so effective! Because it’s not just a regular ad from a brand. It’s coming from someone who you have a personal connection with, someone you know, like and trust.
Now let’s talk about how brands look for influencers. Being on the marketing and brand side of this, I know how it works. The marketing team usually plans out the campaigns for the year depending on what’s coming out and launching. As part of the marketing plan, influencer marketing usually gets a budget and sometimes is part of the PR plan. It really depends on the brand on how educated they are on working with influencers, what they’ve done before, etc.
When the brand knows what they wanna do, they then look for influencers to work with. This can be done in-house by someone on the team or some companies hire an agency to do the outreach. Some of them use influencer marketing tools or platforms where they get matched and some just search on Google, YouTube or Instagram.
Usually these campaigns are market-based so it’s really important to get found by your location and you can do this by adding it in your profile or if it’s part of your username or name in your profile, by using the geotags in your post, or by using location hashtags. Brands are looking on IG all the time for influencers to work with, but they can also type in Google, let’s say “lifestyle blogger or food blogger Los Angeles” and so you can get found here through your keywords that you’re using on your blog, and same for your YouTube channel.
Brands are looking to work with influencers when they have a campaign in mind so you just have to be ready and be found.
Now what are they actually looking for when they’re looking to work with influencers? I actually asked this question to teams from Buzzfeed, Tastemade and CAA and here’s what they shared with me.
Brand are looking for the 3A’s and that’s: Audience, Authenticity and Aesthetic.
Let's break those down:
They usually have a target audience in mind so it has to be really clear that your AUDIENCE is aligned with whom they are trying to target. Remember you only have a few seconds to get their attention and to get them scrolling down your feed.
They want to get a feel for WHO YOU ARE just a few seconds of landing on your Instagram profile and your they want to get a feel for your AUTHENTICITY. Like, are you being a real person...does your unique personality show? Are you connecting deeply with your audience? They are looking at ENGAGEMENT and how you connect with your audience. They’re reading the comments so make sure they are meaningful and refer to what you’re talking about in your post, not just generic comments.
They’re looking at AESTHETIC, the look and feel of your brand. Does your brand make them feel a certain way? It also gives them a glimpse of how it would look to work together and they’ll look at the branded content you have on your feed.
So let’s say, they’ve found you and they like your AESTHETIC, can see the AUTHENTICITY and they know it’s the right AUDIENCE - what actually happens when they want to work with you?
They will reach out to you if you’re a good fit usually via email. So make sure that you’re checking your email and one BIG tip that these companies shared with me is that you should have your email address in your profile (even if it’s in the contact details where there’s an EMAIL BUTTON) it should be there so it’s easy to reach out to you. They shared with me that they have moved on to someone else because it was so hard to find an email address.
Once they do find you, they may ask you for your media kit or your rates. Inside my program, I help my students create an influencer portfolio with the 3 essential elements to really get a brand’s attention and make you stand out from everyone else.
If they like what they see, they’ll tell you more about the campaign and most of them will send you a contract along with what they’ll want you to do.
Now some brands will offer you a discount code to promote their product and this is common if you’re just starting out and still building your following. My advice is that if you were going to buy the product anyways, you can accept it and build the relationship with the brand. It’s really up to you if you wanna do it. Some influencers won’t accept discount codes and will require the free product for a collab. For paid brand deals, they will provide the product in addition to the payment for the content creation and the promotion.
Some brands will also offer an affiliate marketing partnership where you make a certain amount of commission on sales. This is also a personal preference as well. It could be something you do if you’re just starting out and you wanna build a relationship with a brand. Some influencers work with some brands in this capacity, and some don’t accept any affiliate marketing partnerships because they believe that they are doing the work and creating the content for free. So it’s really a decision that you have to make for yourself and do what feels right for you. There’s no right or wrong thing to do.
I know some influencers who do some discount codes, some who don’t. Some who do collabs and when they get to a certain point - they don’t do collabs anymore. And there are some who prefer affiliate marketing because they sell a lot of a certain product and would make more that way as opposed as a flat fee. So it’s a decision you have to make in the moment and trust yourself and your intuition. It’s all gonna work out!
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