Collaborating With Other Brands on Instagram
Do you want to supercharge your growth on Instagram? You should try brand collaboration! Two heads are better than one, as the popular saying goes. Collaborating with another business or an influencer offers many advantages to both parties, not the least of which is mutual growth.
Here’s everything you need to know about brand collaboration, from finding the right partner to creating a mutually beneficial campaign.
Why should you try brand collaboration?
Brand and influencer collaborations deliver real and great value — when done correctly. It’s not a big surprise that these partnerships have a great potential to be mutually profitable. After all, such collaborations on Instagram are just a low-key version of celebrity endorsement/advertising.
Collaboration with an influencer, or influencer marketing, is particularly effective as an Instagram and sales growth strategy, and it’s definitely one option that you should seriously consider. For influencers, the collaboration will not just deliver perks in the form of free or discounted products, but also potential income and, of course, follower growth.
Here are some of the benefits of brand collaboration:
- It’s a cost-effective marketing strategy.
- It’s an effective way to reach more people who will most likely be interested in what you have to offer.
- It can lay a solid foundation for a loyal, highly engaged, and lasting community.
- It can create considerable publicity.
- It can boost your revenues.
Most of the promotional opportunities available on Instagram can be part of a brand collaboration. This means you’ll have a greater opportunity to maximize the potential of your giveaways, hashtag challenges, contests, Instagram stories, and live feeds, among others. Of course, you should still deliver the best quality content, and your collaboration strategy should be just as creative, purposeful, valuable, and engaging.
A step-by-step guide to your first collaboration
Ideally, you should already know the basic growth strategies for Instagram before you explore collaboration opportunities — this knowledge is one of the key requirements for a successful collaboration. Success will also hinge on careful planning and preparation, clever execution, timely follow-through, and a thorough evaluation of post-campaign results.
Every collaboration is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Your particular niche/industry, target audience, goals, brand identity, and budget, among others, will determine your overall collaborative process. But there are basic guidelines that can help you get started on the right track.
Create a list of potential collaborators
First, create a list of qualifications for your ideal campaign partner. Identify the following key factors:
- What particular niche/s or industry should they belong to?
- What type of content are you looking for?
- How large is your target follower base? Specify a range for the number of followers your potential candidates should have.
- What type/s of audience are you targeting in terms of age, gender, interests, location, etc?
As you search Instagram for potential candidates that meet the above criteria, you should also take a look at these candidates’ level of engagement. Browse through their posts to check if their followers are engaging with their content; more importantly, take the time to check the quality of engagement, i.e., the kinds of comments their followers make to gauge the authenticity and level of interest. You should also make sure that their number of followers is substantiated by an adequate level of engagement.
Shortlist influencers that best meet all of your criteria, but you should make some allowances for a few runners-up — particularly those who may have a smaller follower base but have a more actively engaged community. You might discover during the “elimination” process that those who make a great first impression may not be the best fit for your campaign.
Reach out to your candidates
Once you’ve narrowed down your candidates, try to find out how they prefer to be contacted. Visit their Instagram bio and/or their website to get their contact information; the information they provide is usually their preferred method of contact.
If you’re unsure, the more professional option is always email; the collaboration you’ll be proposing is going to be a business deal, after all. If an email is not available, you may send them a DM via their IG or other social media accounts to request for it. Make your DM short and straightforward, but friendly.
Provide a brief introduction about yourself and your brand, and then state your purpose for contacting them. In a nutshell, tell them what you’re looking for and why you believe a collaboration will be beneficial for both of you. Don’t forget to let them know why you feel they’ll be the best fit for your campaign.
You may also include the details of your offer — a general description of your campaign idea and your proposed rate or mode of compensation — or you may end your communication with the offer to go into more detail if they’re interested to learn more. Alternatively, you can also ask them about their basic terms and conditions for brand collaboration.
When you’ve decided on a final candidate and they have accepted your offer, you may proceed with the final negotiation. Make sure to clearly communicate the following:
- The entire campaign process from start to finish, including all key milestones
- Your content ideas and the kind of messaging you want
- How long the campaign will run and the frequency and schedule of their content promotion
- Your expected outcomes, such as number of gained followers, number of contest participants, number of content likes/shares, etc.
You should have a contract signed by you and your partner, and which should specify the following:
- The product/brand that they will be promoting
- The form of compensation, e.g., monetary or in the form of discounts or free products
- Duration of the campaign and frequency and schedule of promotion
- The type of promotion, e.g., live streaming, stories, scheduled posts, a contest, etc.
- Expected results and how these will be evaluated
- Other important details that you want in writing
Implementing the campaign
You and your partner have to carefully and thoroughly plan each step of the campaign before launching it to ensure a smooth and successful run.
For example, if the campaign offers discounts via a discount code, make sure the code is ready and that you’ll be able to keep track of its use. If the campaign involves sharing each other’s posts, your content and accompanying description should be prepared in advance; the captions and hashtags may have to be finalized and agreed upon by both parties beforehand, as well. A content posting schedule approved by both you and your partner will ensure that the campaign runs without a hitch.
It’s important to communicate with your partner regularly throughout the duration of the campaign; you may schedule a regular “meeting” to stay up-to-date on important campaign milestones, assess analytics as they come in, and make sure that the campaign is on the right track.
Evaluating your campaign’s success
Ideally, you should evaluate your campaign’s success together with your partner. You may do this via a video call or through a scheduled chat.
How do the campaign results measure up against the goals you set and agreed on before its launch? What do your post-campaign KPIs indicate? Did you get a significant boost in follower count and engagement rate? Is the campaign’s conversion rate acceptable? Did the campaign generate your target number of sales, sign-ups, contest participants, or other similar metrics?
Are you satisfied with the overall performance of the campaign and your partner’s role in it? If your collaboration does not deliver as expected, you will at least learn where and how to make improvements for future collaborations.
How to pick the best brand or influencer to collaborate with
The success of your collaboration will depend largely on picking the right partner for your brand. The influencer you choose should not only complement your brand identity, but also strengthen it. Ideally, you should be able to deliver the same advantage to your partner through your collaboration.
Shortlisting candidates who are within the same niche/industry is just the first step. You should dig deeper as you narrow down your selection to find the best fit by looking at whether or not the influencer’s overall content and interests align with yours. Here are some factors to consider when choosing the most suitable partner for your brand.
Do your target audiences match?
One of the main goals of your collaboration is to reach more of your target audience by tapping into the follower base and potential reach of an influencer. You should collaborate with an influencer whose followers fit in with yours — individuals who are already highly interested in and regularly engage with content that’s similar to yours — to maximize your campaign’s potential.
What are your marketing goals?
When both parties can mutually benefit from the collaboration, the more successful it will be. The closer your marketing goals are to an influencer’s own goals, the higher the likelihood that they will come on board.
Number of followers
To be mutually beneficial, your number of followers should approximately match that of your potential partner. This isn’t always the case, however; many brands that seek collaboration with influencers typically have a significantly smaller follower count and are looking to tap into the influencer’s greater follower base. This particular “uneven” arrangement may be acceptable to influencers if they believe that the brand’s identity, values, and content are consistent with theirs. Of course, suitable compensation is also crucial.
Future mutual benefits
It’s difficult to know at the onset of a collaboration whether or not it has potential to become a long-term relationship. But seeking a lasting partnership should be one of your goals and an integral part of your collaborative approach. After all, investing in a partnership that can last for many years is more efficient and offers greater value to both parties. In comparison, establishing new and short-term collaborations for each new campaign takes more time and effort.
Brand collaboration is a great way to expand your reach, especially if you’re still in the early stages of growth and are looking to boost your brand presence on Instagram many times over. The success of your campaign will depend on selecting the right partner for your brand; once you’ve found a suitable influencer to work with, the rest of your plan should neatly fall into place.
Things may not go as smoothly as you want, however. It’s normal for any partnership, particularly new ones, to go through some challenges. Especially in the ever-evolving landscape of social media, there are a lot of variables that are out of your control. So it’s important that both you and your partner are up-to-date on the latest trends and maintain constant and open communication. Always be ready to find solutions to problems that may arise before, during, and even after the campaign run; part of a successful collaboration is having the ability to work together when the going gets tough. As mentioned before, two heads are better than one.