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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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5 Essentials You Need for your Social Media Business

Bold & Pop : 5 Essentials You Need for your Social Media Business

One of the things we get asked a lot about is the actual structure of the social media side of our business. How we kick off campaigns, how we create our strategies and are contracts really necessary (spoiler, yes, yes they are).

So today we're giving you a breakdown of the 5 things we think are absolute MUST-HAVE's for your social media business. We're talking start to finish, a step-by-step of the exact systems we use in our business -- which we've finessed over the last 10 years in the industry. Things that will apply to your business no matter if you're working with local businesses or global brands (because we've used with both). We also wrote this post so that it will be relevant to you whether you're just starting out and getting your systems in order or have been in the industry for awhile and are just curious how others organize things or if there's a better way to do things than how you are now. So let’s get down to biz on the essentials.

Contracts

First things first, make sure you have a legally sound contract for your services. Your contact should outline exactly what you will be doing and your fees for such, what you are responsible (or not) for, your payment schedule, your cancellation or refund policy, etc. This is absolute imperative for your business and it’s so important that you have this drafted up and signed by both parties before you start any work. For reals, we’ve heard of way too many people getting burned and while this isn’t a glamorous step it’s so important. Trust us, don’t skip this step whether you’re working with your best friend’s mom or someone you met at an awesome conference you went to. Make sure you have your booty covered legally. You can find several lawyers who specialize in working with small businesses online and if money is in a pinch there are also some services that create fill in the blank type contracts that you can adjust for your business. #GetItDone.

Social Media Questionnaire

Once you’ve taken care of the logistics part of your campaign, it’s time to dive in! We kick off our projects by having our clients fill out a simple questionnaire. This helps our clients solidify their goals in writing as well as provide account logins, go over the styles they like, etc. Which BTW, you can download the exact questionnaire we use for our campaigns at the bottom of this blog if you want a little guidance. When you’re creating your questionnaire the key is to keep it simple enough that your clients aren’t spending hours on it, but detailed enough that you have what you need. We use the answers in the questionnaire + our introduction call to craft our detailed strategy. Here are a few questions we include in ours:

  • If you have social media accounts created, who is managing the accounts currently? Please explain your past techniques, content, etc.? What has been effective and what hasn’t?

  • Are there any blogs, websites, or other social media accounts that are relevant to your brand that you monitor regularly and could be used as content resources? Please explain and include links.

  • In terms of visuals, is there a specific aesthetic you’d like us to stick to for photos or graphics? Please provide branding guidelines if available.

Another key element of our questionnaire is asking clients ahead of time about answers to some common questions they get (or if they’re new, questions they foresee coming up). This allows us to hit the ground running and have prepared answers for those questions so that we don’t have to check in with our client for every little thing right at the beginning. This frees them up to do other things in their business (hiii why they hired you right?!) and you to be empowered to handle community management efforts from the get-go.

Audit Checklist

If you are working with an established business having an audit checklist prepared can help you streamline your process when it comes to developing your strategy. We do a simple version of this when we create proposals for clients, but we save the detailed audit for once clients sign with us. Working in the social media industry you always have to find that balance of giving your clients enough information and suggestions during the proposal portion to let them know you have some direction and know your ish without giving everythingggg away.

Once our clients have filled out their questionnaire, the next step for us is to go through our audit checklist internally. This step is all about evaluating all of their social media accounts and analytics to really digging in to what has been working for them, what isn’t, how we should plan our posting and engagement schedule, etc. We’re all about having systems that make it easy to go from step to step so having the things you want to check written down in advanced can speed up the process. We also include a few blank sections at the bottom so that we can fill in anything else really specific to their accounts that might not be in the standard audit. Things you may want to include in your audit are:

  • What is their current growth rate over time and how does that relate to their goals (If you’re managing Facebook or have access to historical data)?

  • What types of posts have received the most engagement or impressions? Is there a pattern between those?

  • What are the demographics of their current audience and does that correlate with their target audience?

  • What types of hashtags have they used on their Instagram posts in the past and does that correlate to top posts?

  • Based on their explanation of their past social media strategy, what parts will you preserve or change?

  • Do they have assets available to use or user-generated content that has not been used yet?

Your audit is all about guiding you through the questions and the types of data you want to evaluate so that you don’t miss anything along the way!

Strategy

This is the meaty part of kicking off projects. We view this step kind of similar to the proposal in some ways. Obviously you really want to highlight some of the results from your audit and the exact strategy you’re going to execute to help them accomplish their goals. You also need to make sure it’s not super overwhelming too. No one really wants to read a 20 page strategy and you’re going to waste time creating a doc that massive too. We like to sign our clients and get right down to work so our process goes as follows: sign our client agreement and take care of their first month retainer (usually have their start date the following Wednesday), after that they fill out their questionnaire and get us any admin privileges prior to their start date, then they receive their full strategy within 2 business days of their campaign starting and their first content calendar the day after that. So as you can see, having processes to streamline this process is essential to getting things moving and moving fast! That New York City pace of life and work never really wore off on us 😜

So now that I’ve spilled on the process a little, what the heck should you be including in your strategies? Here are some of the things we include in ours:

  • Campaign logistics — covering how often clients will be receiving content calendars/analytic reports and any other details as well as edit protocol

  • Campaign objectives — what is it you are actually trying to accomplish?

  • Strategies & tactics — what type of tactics are you going to implement to accomplish the campaign goals?

  • Content categories/visual style — what type of content will you be sharing and how does it relate to the brand?

  • Social networking and follower strategy — what is your plan for engaging with other accounts?

  • Ad campaigns (if implementing in strategy) — what type of ads will you be using and how will you handle budget?

  • Analytic reports — how will you be measuring success?

The key here is to outline the main components of the work you’re going to be doing so that they feel comfortable with everything and can sign off on the content categories and schedule.

Analytic Report Templates

The last component you should definitely have ready to roll are your analytics report templates. Because tracking success is kind of a big deal! So it’s important to decide ahead of time how you will be measuring the success of your campaign. Plus creating a template ahead of time allows you to easily plug in the metrics when you need to according to your schedule. Everyone does these a little different, but we provide monthly reports for our clients that correspond with their start date (so if they start on the 18th they get a report that day each month). No matter what your schedule, the important part is to identify the types of metrics you will be tracking throughout your campaign. Don’t forget to take starting metrics too! Here are some of the things you may want to include in your reports:

  • Community growth

  • Website referral traffic and rates

  • Engagement rates — likes, comments and post saves

  • Top posts and content categories

So there you have it, our 5 top suggestions! Our process has definitely been finessed over the course of our careers in the industry but these are systems and advice that have really benefitted our business and we hope hearing our process will help yours as well! Let us know if you have any further questions and don’t forget to download our questionnaire template below fo’ free!

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

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How to Stop Wasting Time on Fake Influencers and Maximize the Results of your Influencer Marketing Campaign

Bold & Pop : How to Stop Wasting time on Fake Influencers and Maximize the Results of your Influencer Marketing Campaign

Influencer marketing is BIG business these days and a top strategy when it comes to public relations and social media agencies (like us!). For good reason too! Partnering with influencers is a great way to increase your brand awareness, capitalize on user-generated content, get backlinks to your website and get some really great reviews. Plus, another big one, influencers can have a real impact when it comes to the buying decisions of their followers. That being said, sales should not be your only driving force for a campaign, because it’s much more of an awareness strategy, but the opportunity is definitely there.

Here’s the thing though. When you create a market for people to try products for free or get paid to try them suddenly everyone wants a piece of the pie, which can bring up some issues. While I’d love to tell you everyone has good intentions, the truth is there are a lot of people out there taking the phrase “fake it ‘til you make it” a little too far. How so? Well, do a quick Google search for buying Instagram followers and you’ll find with $50 you can buy several thousands and essentially make it look like you’re an influencer overnight. Not only that, but you can also buy services to inflate your engagement so it looks like you have followers + people care about your content. It’s yucky, but it happens SO often because doing the hard work of building an audience, well it’s hard work and it doesn’t happen overnight with a credit card swipe.

As an agency that regularly works with influencers (and have worked with brands ourselves on our personal accounts) we just hate seeing people get taken advantage of and lucky for you we do know what to look for. Because the truth is, this isn’t our first rodeo. Influencers aren’t the first people to take advantage of these crappy practices… there have been businesses buying and faking their followers for years to try and improve their reputations… even a ton of social media agencies that do so to move the needle for their clients. Yep, really. So we’ve become pros at what to look for and it’s a lot more than just the numbers. So today we’re walking you through a checklist of things you should go through before you agree to working with an influencer to make sure they’re legit and have ethical practices.

1.) Check the Number of Posts They Have vs the Number of Followers

One of the first things you want to take a look at is how many posts they have vs the number of followers. While people can archive past posts to clean up their feeds, for the most part if someone has thousands of followers but less that 50 posts, something fishy is going on. Unless they are a celebrity, reality star, or have some sort of influence prior to creating an account, it’s going to take some time to build up a following.

2.) Check their Engagement

Do they have 40k or 50k followers but only 100 likes on each post? Red flag! While there is no exact formula for what is a standard engagement rate based on a number of followers, if the numbers are really low based on their follower number then something is off. And that thing is probably that they have a lot of fake or bot accounts following them. Based on my social media background and working with influencers here are some ballpark numbers I’d keep in mind.

  • 5k-15k followers: 100-400 likes per post

  • 15k-30k followers: 500-1k likes per post

  • 50k+ followers: 750-1.5k likes per post

  • 100k+ followers: 1.5k+ likes per post

Like I said, there isn’t a standard and some micro influencers (less than 30k followers) will have engagement rates that will surpass larger accounts but just for some ballpark numbers this is where I’d start.

Another really important thing to look at is the number of comments they have on each post and the quality of each. The number of likes will certainly outnumber the number of comments but if they’re getting 500+ likes per post and only one or two comments then that shows their audience isn’t actually very engaged with their content. Another tell-tale sign is if the comments are mostly one or two words, don’t make sense for the post or are just emojis. In addition to buying followers, there are also services to inflate engagement so this is an important thing to look at. That being said, even when someone is super ethical and doing everything by the books, you will see some spammy comments or bot accounts liking their posts. That’s normal, and if you have a bigger account you will attract more, but the issue is when it’s the majority. That’s when you know something is up.

Last but not least on the engagement front, go through their posts and look for the number of likes/comments per post. Things you want to look for is that the level of their likes and comments vary on posts and aren’t all virtually the same. They may be around the same range, but over a period of a month you should be able to see some variance. If they are all nearly the same, there is a chance that they’re using an engagement inflation service to make sure each post reaches x amount of likes. Another tell-tale sign that someone is doing this, is if you look through their posts and their engagement goes from getting 100-150 likes/post to 1k-1.5k likes/post in a matter of a few days. Sure, an account could go viral or maybe they had something happen that grew their account quickly, but that would be the exception to the rule. For the most part, it means they decided to try and take a shortcut.

3.) Take Some Time to Review Their Content

Is every post sponsored or related to a brand? Are their posts full of giveaways? Or are they doing a ton of loop giveaways? All can be red flags and we’ll explain why. It’s important that the influencers you choose to work with have a good combination of content on their feeds. Giveaways and lots of sponsored content doesn’t have to be a deal breaker but see how things are presented. Is there some context to how things relate to their lifestyles or do they just come across as ads? For the most part, people want to follow people with some substance and if every post reads as an ad it’s easy for people to recognize they’re really just a walking billboard. You also want to make sure you’re working with someone who really aligns with your brand and your products. If they posted a few weeks back about something that opposes what your brand stands for then it’s probably not a good fit.

On the giveaway side of things, make sure that the number of giveaways isn’t taking over their feeds. Giveaways are great but in moderation. Another tactic to look out for is a lot of loop giveaways. Loop giveways are when influencers partner up in a small group and go in on a prize together. Then during the giveaway, users have to follow everyone participating in the giveaway, usually they tag one person and then that person tells them the next person they need to follow on their post. The process continues until they end up back on the post of the originally user — essentially completing the loop. Now loop giveaways aren’t a bad strategy as a whole, sometimes it’s smart to partner up especially when the audiences are similar between users, but when someone is doing them very regularly it can be an issue. The tactic can be used to grow audiences quickly because each loop giveaway can increase a user’s followers by several hundreds or even thousands. So essentially it can be looked at another way of “buying followers”, plus and it doesn’t always attract quality followers. There are a lot of people who create accounts specifically for giveaways and are on the hunt for things like this. So I always just caution people to be leery of lots of loop giveaways. It’s definitely a step up from buying bot followers but it’s still not great.

At the end of the day, influencer marketing campaigns are largely an awareness strategy so it’s important to familiarize yourself with someone’s content and see if their style of content and imagery matches with the outcome you’re looking to achieve. Receiving quality content that you can repurpose is gold so it’s worth taking some time to take a look at their content.

4.) Look Through their Followers

One of the easiest ways to spot a faker is to look through the accounts who are following them or the ones who are engaging on their posts. Are they real people?! Here are some things to help you identify bot accounts. They’re often from foreign countries speaking languages the influencer does not speak. Another thing you’ll see a lot is a tonnnnnn of accounts that on the surface might look believable but they’re all private accounts. Yes, there are a lot of private accounts on Instagram but if you look through 25 of their followers in a row and they’re all private then… yeah that’s a red flag. Now, as I mentioned above, real influencers can still be targets of bot followers or bot engagement but the issue becomes when they are the majority. Once you’ve poked around on a few accounts you’ll be able to better spot the fakers from the makers much easier.

5.) Look through their other social media channels or blog

There are certainly many users who are strictly Instagram influencers, but a lot of them will have some form of influence on another channel. Maybe that will be a Facebook account or Facebook group. Maybe that’s a Youtube channel, Pinterest account or maybe they have a blog. If they have a website and you can check out other platforms they have that is another great way to get a peek into their influence. This is especially valuable if they reference links in their bios or if they’re using the “swipe up” option in Instagram Stories to direct their users elsewhere. Where do they send their followers and what kind of engagement and influence do they have on those channels? If an influencer consistently links to Youtube videos but they have very low view numbers then they may not have as much influence as you’d hope. Same goes if they are directing users to blog posts and encouraging them to engage in the comments and no one is commenting. Of course this doesn’t give you the full picture, many analytics are still private for users, which is why so many people can get away with this kind of stuff, but it’s still good to cross-reference when possible.

As you can see, it’s not an exact science, but once you’re able to start identifying some of these trends it will become a lot easier to spot influencers that could be a good fit for your campaign vs ones you’ll want to pass on. In closing, we certainly don’t want this to come across like we’re poo pooing on influencers because like we said we work with them on the regular and there are so many out there who are AMAZING and have worked hard to earn each and every follower and page view they get. Unfortunately there are so many out there who are trying to cut corners in the name of getting free stuff and we’ve never been a fan of cheaters.. Plus, the fakers devalue the industry as a whole and it’s actually a really great strategy so we don’t want people to shy away from it because of that. With a little education on what to look for though and a little time spent on research though you will be on your way!

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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