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5 Ways to Increase Brand Partnerships as an Influencer or Blogger

Bold & Pop : 5 Ways to Increase Brand Partnerships as an Influencer or Blogger

The influencer marketing industry is only getting bigger, and if you don’t already know we’re big fans of using the strategy for our clients. From brand awareness to connecting with niche audiences and building a bank of reviews and user-generated content, the strategy can be gold from a brand standpoint when done right.

Normally we’re writing influencer marketing blog posts with brands or other social media professionals as our audience, but today we’re flipping the cards. Today we’re giving influencers some insight on some of the key factors that can help your social media accounts and blog look even more attractive to brands. I like to think I have a lot of insight on this topic too, because not only do I help secure partnerships for our clients, but I’ve also been a lifestyle blogger for nearly a decade and have had the opportunity to work with top brands like HGTV, Covergirl, Martha Stewart, Michaels, Lulu’s, Warby Parker and more! So on that note let me dive into the things I look for and have learned along the way myself too!

Be Authentic & Don’t Cut Corners

Let’s just address the big ‘ol elephant in the room about influencer marketing right from the top. If you really want to make it as an influencer and build relationships with brands then you have to grow your audience from the ground up. Yes it’s a lot of work and I know there are websites everywhere promising you thousands of “real social media followers” for as little as 10 or 20 bucks, but don’t do it! Seriously. It’s SO easy to spot and the second I start looking through an influencer’s followers and see their all bots is the second I move on.

In fact, I even wrote a whole blog post on this topic because the tactic gives influencer marketing a bad name and I’m not down with that. I get it, you think you have to have a lot of followers to secure partnerships but that’s not always the case. In fact, we actually specialize in working with micro-influencers at our firm because we really see the power in smaller niche audiences. It goes beyond just buying followers too, another thing I look out for are constant giveaways or loop promotions that are being used to inflate your audience, as well as engagement pods. Obviously participating in engagement pods is a lesser offense than buying followers, but, as a brand I want to see genuine engagement, not the same 20 influencers commenting on each other’s posts to try and boost their engagement.. I see you guys…. and I’m not the only one. 🧐So don’t “fake it, til you make it” on social media…because it’s not going to get you as far as you want in the long-term. Got it? Good!

Make it Easy to Learn more About You

Okay, onto some of the good stuff. Let’s talk about making it easy to 1.) find you and 2.) learn about you. If you have a blog, this section could go down a rabbit hole of SEO, but we’re going to skim over that for now. When I do influencer and blogger research I do it two ways.. either online or via Instagram. I usually start searching keywords for the specific categories or locations of bloggers or influencers I’m looking for. So my biggest piece of advice for you on this topic is to make sure you use those same keywords both on your social media profiles, the hashtags you use, and throughout your blog descriptions. Here’s a few examples of some of the keywords and hashtags I searched for our latest influencer marketing campaign for a client:

  • Lifestyle blogger

  • NYC blogger

  • Health and wellness blogger

  • Fitness blogger

  • Vegan

  • Healthy blogger

  • NJ bloggers

  • Healthy foodie

  • Food blogger

  • Plant based

For most of these I started with the exact keywords and then I also targeted a couple of the top hashtags for each to narrow down the influencers I’d be reaching out to. So if there are a handful of topics or keywords you really identify with and want to share about I definitely recommend adding them in. I also recommend including your location in your bio. You can either add that to the intro or add it under the contact options. If you use the contact option, just make sure it’s just the city and not your actual address because it will launch in the maps app and you know, creepers...

If you have a blog, registering your account on influencer campaign website/directories is another thing that can help people find you too. Typically those type of networks will work specifically with those networks for their campaigns but they can also be used for research for individual campaigns. I talk a little more about that topic in this post. So rule number one if you want more partnerships is definitely be specific about your interests and what you’d like to cover and make it known and easy to find!

Create Quality Content and Focus on Building your Community

When I select influencers to reach out to I’m really diving in deep for people who create quality content and paying attention to their audience’s reaction. In my opinion, I would much rather work with bloggers or influencers who create really awesome content for their partnerships than influencers with larger audiences who just slap up a mention without much thought. So as I mentioned before, there’s more to selecting influencers than just having x amount of followers.

While influencer marketing definitely has buying power, I’m more interested in the long-term effects. That is, actually building relationships with influencers who genuinely are excited about your brand that you can continue to work with as your business grows, having some really great reviews and having user-generated content that you can share on your website, repost on social media or even use to showcase consumer interest to retailers. So if you’re looking to really appeal to brands, show them what you can do! Focus on creating quality content about topics you actuallllyyyy care about and ideally every other post shouldn’t be sponsored. I understand if you’re reading this blog post you’re interested in increasing your partnerships but at the same time not everythingggg should be sponsored. It waters down your influence and it usually is a turn off for your audience too. So when you’re focusing on your content, think about taking quality photos, writing thoughtful captions and really engaging with your audience in the comments.

Share About the Products you Already Love

Taking the point above to the next level… while I don’t suggest having every other post be promoted, if there are brands and products you are genuinely excited about — share it! Even better if they aren’t actually promoted. This is great for a few reasons. 1.) It actually shows your audience that you just like to share about things you’re genuinely excited about and that fit into your lifestyle. and 2.) it shows brands that these types of posts fit into your content seamlessly and provide a sample of what you could do for their brand. Double win! When you highlight other brands either sponsored or not, you’re also building a portfolio of sample content you have created in the past. The technique is also great if you want to eventually

pitch companies in the future or even pitch one of those companies that you’ve posted about before! What better way to show them that you can create great content related to their brand and how their audience has reacted to those posts in the past?

Make it Easy to Contact You

This is a big one! Once I find an influencer I think would be a good fit, I’m onto finding their contact info and you make this social media manager super happy when it’s right there waiting for me and I don’t have to dig too far. I mean, I’ll dig if I have to… because… secret Internet ninja over here (in a non-creepy way) but when it’s right there in your bio waiting for me, it makes life much easier. So I recommend adding your email to your Instagram bio and having an easy to find contact page if you’re a blogger. Yes, I know Instagram has the awesome contact options now where the email will pop up, but here’s the thing. A lot of times I’m sorting through things on my desktop.. between the web app and spreadsheets and you can only see that feature on your mobile (at least for now). So it is definitely worth adding to your bio if you can make room for it. I can attest this helps too. I’ve had my bio with and without my email at times and outreach from brands has definitely increased when it’s in there.

Hopefully you found these tips helpful! My key takeaways for you are to focus on creating really great content and building a real audience (even if it’s small at first), include keywords in your bios and on your blog to help people find you and make your contact info easy to find. If you’d like to read more blogs on this topic definitely check this out or let me know if you have any additional questions I can answer!

P.S. Exciting news! We launched the free #GoingBold Facebook Group and would love for you to join us! Come on over!

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6 Strategies You Can Implement Today to Crush it on Instagram Stories

Bold & Pop : 6 Strategies You Can Implement Today to Crush it on Instagram Stories

There’s been a lot of conversation lately, and let’s be real straight panic, about changes at Instagram and fears of decreased reach. Hands up if you’ve seen people stressing out and throwing up posts about how organic reach is only 6 or 7% now?! 🙋🏼🙋🏼🙋🏼That’s what I thought. Well, one that’s not entirely true and two, even if it was you shouldn’t be freaking out. #Realtalk, social media is constantly evolving and if you want to have continued success then your strategy needs to too. Trust us, we’ve been working in the industry for the last decade! That’s right 10 whole years and you can bet our strategies for clients today are a heck of a lot different than they were back then.

Now we get it, changes can be scary and it can seem exceptionally scary when you notice a drop in your engagement on posts, but there is a lot more going on than Instagram just hiding your posts from people. So here’s a peek at some of the things that are impacting some people’s reach and engagement.

1.) Instagram has really put the hammer down on people using fake followers and fake engagement services. They haven’t been able to totally eradicate the problem yet but they’ve made some serious progress. This matters because a lot of these services were designed to comment or like posts using specific hashtags. So a lot of your likes on posts were actually being inflated by these services even though you weren’t using them. With more of those services being shut down, it’s likely you’ve seen less likes from those and those dang annoying spam comments!

2.) We’re using the platform differently than we used to a few years ago. Instagram Stories have really taken off and now there are a lot of users who are exclusively opening the app and watching stories instead of scrolling through the feed or spending a lot more time in Stories than they did before. This doesn’t mean the grid doesn’t matter anymore, it just means that Stories are even more important today than ever.

3.) Because of the algorithm, content is actually lasting longer which may adjust the rate of likes you get because people aren’t seeing them immediately. Overall they still may be down a little due to the above points, but go back and look at your posts from a few days or even a week ago. Chances are they ended up doing better than you may have thought because people are seeing them over a longer period of time. Which means you can post a little less in the grid than a few years ago and balance the time you spend on Stories or your engagement strategy.

So yes, there have been changes, but spoiler there’s always going to be changes. That doesn’t mean that you still can’t be wildly successful on the platform either, YOU CAN! Just what you were doing a few years ago or even 6-months ago might not cut it anymore. So today I’m dishing some actionable advice on how you can refresh your strategy specifically focusing on Instagram Stories because as you see from above, there is some serioussss opportunity there!

Focus on Engagement

I know you’ve probably heard this before but your follower numbers are WAY more of a vanity metric than a sign of success. And while the algorithm may have changed things a bit over the last few years, the truth is all of your followers were NEVER seeing all of your content. Here’s a little secret though, and NO algorithm change will ever affect this strategy…. If you want more people to see your posts then you NEED to focus on engaging with others. Seriously, there’s no better way to get people to take a look at your content than posting authentic and genuine comments on other people’s posts or replying to their stories. Social media is about building relationships so if you want people to give a hoot about what you’re posting then you have to put in some time! Quit posting, and running… That’s not going to get you where you want, especially in today’s landscape. Engagement is gold and this also goes for the content you’re creating.

If you want people to talk to you or engage with you then you need to give them the opportunity to do so! A few good ways to do this through Stories is:

  • Use the questions feature and host a Q&A

  • Ask for feedback at the end of your Stories

  • Share your latest grid post on Stories and ask a question and ask your followers to go to your grid and share with you

  • Create polls in your stories relating to your content — they don’t always have to be serious either you can have fun with these!

When you’re providing a balance of quality content and also giving people prompts to talk to you, you’re opening the door of communication. Social media should be social so make sure you’re making an effort to include your audience instead of always just talking at them.

Get Yo’ Face on Camera

If you haven’t already, it’s time to get your face on camera — especially if you’re a small business or brand. It’s a little different if you are (or are managing) a bigger brand’s presence, but for the sake of today’s post we’re going to focus on small biz owners. That being said, if you haven’t jumped on this train, now is the time. Even if it can be a little scary. Remember how we talked earlier about how social media is about building relationships?! Well, there’s no better way to showcase your expertise, highlight things you like and let your personality shine than showing up on Stories. This is even more important in the service industry. People want to hire people they vibe with and Instagram Stories allows you to connect with others without even having to set up a one-on-one and showing your face can really make an impact.

Think Ahead When it Comes to Your Message

Something we really love about Instagram Stories are they are a little more off the cuff than the grid and we think you should keep them that way! When we’re talking about planning on Stories we’re talking about being strategic and thinking ahead about your messaging. Not everything has to have a message — sometimes funny ish will just come up in the day that you want to share — but try and think ahead when it comes to the bigger picture. So what exactly does that mean? Well, one of the things we hear the most from people about why they aren’t using Stories, or aren’t using them regularly is because they don’t know what to post. We get it, it can be daunting and sometimes it feels like just “another thing you have to do”. So instead of always having to come up with something to post, have a brainstorming session — either weekly or monthly. What are 5 things that you are super passionate about? Or how about things you want to share your expertise on? What types of activities do you do regularly at your business? Just as we suggest having content categories for your planned posts, having a list of categories you can talk about will make the process much easier! Unlike content categories for your planned posts, you don’t have to be as rigid about them on Stories — remember we like that off the cuff vibe! But, having a list of things you are super passionate about or could talk about will make doing Stories so much easier when you’re drawing a blank.

Another aspect of planning is on the smaller scale and that’s making sure there’s a clear message or CTA or both in each series you post. Some days you might just have a segment or two but others when you do more elaborate posts, make sure your messaging is clear! Storyboarding your messaging can be a great way to think ahead and include your intro, your key points, and end with a CTA or clear action point you want to share. By thinking ahead and even writing some bullet points down before, you can go into your stories more focused. Especially now that Instagram has the ongoing video option because it’s a heck of a lot easier to ramble on and suddenly have a 15-part video now. 😱#GuiltyAsCharged So think ahead and get concise because the longer your video is and the more segments it has the less likely someone will make it to the end. Which btw, we like to suggest 5 parts or less on average 10 at max for longer series.

Integrate text into your posts

You’d be surprised by how many people scroll through Stories with their sound off. But Anna, you just told me to get my face on camera and start talking to the people! What gives if they aren’t listening?! I hear you. So it’s still super important because seeing your face will always be gold but here is another pro tip. When you add a new series of Instagram Stories, add a text summary or write out the key point on each segment. Not only will this allow people watching without the sound on to still get the point of what you’re talking about, but it will also nail in your key points to those actually listening. You don’t need to write a novel on these but a quick summary sentence or some bullets can be a great way to tie everything together.

Another idea is to integrate text graphics in between or at the end of yours series. For example, if you decide to do a mini series on 3 things you can do to make your homepage more appealing to visitors, you may want to talk about it in the first portion and then end it with a slide that has those 3 bullets summarized. Doing so, also allows people to screenshot your summary or send it to someone else if they want to apply or share your advice.

Take Advantage of Instagram’s Built-In Features

Instagram is constantly rolling out new features and there’s some really great options to make your Stories even more fun and engaging! Here are a few of our favorites and how you might want to use them:

  • Gifs: gifs always make Instagram Stories better IMO! There’s no real functionality or optimization perk here, just good ol’ fun.

  • Questions: If you’re looking for an easy way to ask your audience to engage with you, questions is the way to go! It’s a great way to ask people specifically if there’s something they’d like to ask you about, submit feedback or just answer simple questions right from your stories.

  • Poll: This is another really easy engagement tactic for your audience that can be used to see what people are more interested in or get their opinion on things.

  • Countdown: If you have something exciting coming up this is an awesomeee one. Not only is it a fun feature visually, but people who watch your story can actually turn on reminders about your timeline and share it in their stories. Score!

  • Location or Hashtag: Now you don’t have to go hashtag crazy here but adding a tag or location tag when it makes sense can really increase the reach of your posts. This has especially been helpful for us when Mallory is hosting a local workshop in Raleigh or if our clients are at a trade show or something location specific.

If you use one of these features just make sure they’re also more centrally located on your story. If you have them too far to the right or left, it may cause users to swipe to the next story which kind of defeats the point of what you’re after.

Be Consistent

Down to the last tip of the day, be consistent! You want people to keep seeing your Stories (and hopefully your pretty little face) pop up. Repetition is key and the more times you pop up in others’ feeds, the better the chance you’ll further connect with your followers and they’ll pay attention to your content. Plus, when people watch your Stories on a regular basis, your content will show up closer to the front of the line. There’s a reason you generally see your best friends or favorite brands at the beginning of your Stories line-up. That algorithm thing is in action here too!

The other part about being consistent is for straight practice! If putting your face in front of the camera is scary, do it more! The more you do it, likely the less scary it will get. Chances are you’re going to get a lot more comfortable with it and better at streamlining your messaging and presentation. Plus, the more you do it, the better you’ll get at brainstorming content as well as finding out what kind of content resonates best with your audience. And often it’s not what you think! True story, some of our most engaging Stories have been silly things I thought weren’t that important but decided to share anyways and spoilerrrrr, people ended up loving them. Like most things in social media, consistency is key and once it’s more of a habit it will feel much less like a chore.

I hope this post was helpful and can’t wait to see how you put this advice to good use! As always, drop any questions you have in the comments section or send us a note for how we can help further! Or bonus, connect with us on Instagram so we can see how you put these tips into action!

P.S. Exciting news! We launched the free #GoingBold Facebook Group and would love for you to join us! Come on over!

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