Author: Julianna Vorhaus (page 3 of 3)

The Ultimate Guide to Pitching Brands

It is a myth that influencers no longer need to pitch brands for partnerships and sponsored opportunities. Despite the increasing numbers of influencer marketing platforms and blogger networks, only a small percentage of influencers are actually receiving inbound work on a regular basis. In truth, the best influencers are still reaching out to marketers and suggesting collaborations.

Pitching brands and agencies is a great way to connect directly with marketers and develop long term relationships. It also puts you in the driver’s seat as you look for the right brands to collaborate with. Here are 10 steps to the perfect brand pitch:

Step 1: Get to know the brand. Maybe this goes without saying, but if you think you are a good fit to work with a brand you should be connected to them on social. Following a brand on social not only gives you a first-hand look at what content they’re creating (which might give you ideas for pitches) but also who they are collaborating with and how they talk about their brand online.

Step 2: Create content. I am a firm believer that influencers should be paid for their work. However, if you want to demonstrate to a brand how much of a fit you are (or how authentic your love of their products is), you should have examples to showcase. Use the intel you’ve gathered from following them online to start to engage noticeably with them. Using a hashtag they own or are promoting is a great way to grab their attention.

Step 3: Do your research. Take the time to look on LinkedIn and social media to see exactly who you should be reaching out to. An email sent to [email protected] is probably going to be ignored. If you do the legwork you are likely to find someone with influencer marketing, community manager, or social media in their title. Once you have an actual person to reach out to you can write a personalized email which will get a much higher response.

Step 4: Introduce yourself. A well-written bio is a powerful tool to have in your arsenal. It comes in handy when creating new social profiles,  building a media kit, networking at conferences and introducing yourself via email. A couple of quick sentences that convey who you are, what categories you create content in and where you share that content will ensure they read the rest of the email.

Step 5: Have a media kit ready. Whether it’s a 2-3 page PDF or a link to your digital influence.co profile, brands will instantly see your professionalism and take you more seriously. Media kits are a clear way to demonstrate what you are capable of creating and provide concrete examples of ways you collaborate with brands. Don’t know how to create a media kit? Here’s a step by step guide.

Step 6: Tell them why you want to work with them.  If you reach out to a brand, know how you want to collaborate with them. Perhaps that’s to join an existing campaign you can see on their Instagram page, register your interest for their next one, or request a discount code to promote their products in your feed. You should also explain how your content style and audience can benefit them. Be concise and don’t delve into unnecessary details. You want to provide a sense of what you are thinking, but ultimately leave them wanting to know more!

Step 7: Have a call to action. Want to know the simplest way to getting someone to respond to a cold email? Ask them for something specific. Something as simple as “I’d love to chat and talk about a partnership in more depth. When can we jump on a call?” lets them know exactly what you are looking for.

Step 8: Proofread and re-read your email. Nothing will make a marketer delete your email faster than a typo or major grammatical error. You are a content creator after all. Writing is a big part of what you do and this is your first introduction to someone you want to work with. Along those lines, make sure your email is professional. Don’t use slang, acronyms, or anything else that is overly informal. You are making a first impression and want it to be a good one.

Step 9: Have a killer email signature. The introduction is the first impression, the email signature is the last. Make sure it’s a good one. At a minimum, listing and linking to social channels is a must. I prefer to see icons for each platform and will click on the ones that are most relevant to me. You want to make it as easy as possible for someone to learn more about you directly from your first email.

Email Signature

Step 10: Follow up but don’t stalk. Emails get lost, people go on vacation, and emergencies occur. It happens to all of us. If after 3-5 days you haven’t heard back it’s appropriate to send a polite follow-up. Reply to your first email asking if they’ve seen it and are interested in working together. Refrain from reaching out more than twice and alway stay professional. Brand strategies and campaigns are constantly changing and what types of influencers a brand is looking for is continually changing too. While you may not be a fit for an activation in the spring it doesn’t mean you won’t be a fit for something later in the year.
Pitching brands is not something that most influencers are familiar or comfortable with. Probably the biggest hurdle is your own fear of getting started. If all else fails, just send a few emails and see what kind of response you get. The more you do it the easier it becomes and this highly valuable skill will pay off as you begin to make meaningful connections with more brands.

Is It All About Reach?

For many years, influencers were judged simply by the size of their audience. This was a holdover from traditional media metrics that were focused on audience size. Without a better understanding of influencer marketing, brands relied on how many people could potentially see their banner ad or sponsored post. This all seems overly similar to placing an ad in print or buying a spot on TV or radio.

Luckily, influencer marketing has evolved greatly over the last 5 years. Today, many industry leaders say it’s not all about reach anymore. Many agree that micro-influencers are a major trend to watch in 2017. We couldn’t agree more.

Many influencers in our network are considered micro-influencers. We believe reach is just one of many factors brands should take into account when looking for influencers to collaborate with. Brand, industry relevance and a proven ability to engage with their audience can be just as (if not more) important than reach. Similarly, we know it doesn’t take a certain number of followers to make you a professional influencer. Sticking to deadlines, communicating proactively and creating great content indicate professionalism in a way that audience size never could.

Our blog provides techniques, resources and structured learning materials for influencers of all levels to develop and advance their skills and professional career. Whether you are just getting started or are looking to sustain your level of expertise, we have the content you want and need. Regardless of your reach.
Is there a specific subject you’d like to see covered? Send us an email [email protected] and we’ll add it to our editorial calendar!

5 Tips to be Successful at Events

Events and live activations are major trends to take advantage of in 2017. There are many benefits to attending an event with a brand sponsor beyond just the opportunity itself.  They are a great way to network with other influencers and brands and are an excellent source for learning new skills and techniques. However, they can be slightly overwhelming. Especially as a first-time attendant, a little planning can go a long way. Here are 5 tips to help make the most out of your event activation experience:

 

  • Plan ahead. Pay close attention to the event schedule, including brand-sponsored events that usually happen outside the normal event hours in the evenings. Know your goals and deliverables for attending and use that to create your itinerary.  
  • Take a buddy. If you’re lucky enough to have made some friends within the influencer community, traveling with someone to an event is a great idea. You can cut down on costs by sharing a room (if that isn’t included in your sponsorship). You can also cover more ground with two people than you can with one. Plus it’s just more fun to attend a cocktail party or dinner when you know at least one person.
  • Get to know other influencers and cross-promote. Networking is a huge benefit of attending events. Take the time to get to know fellow influencers and start your collaboration relationship by posting and tagging them in pictures. Chances are they will do the same and you’ll gain access to an extended and like minded audience.
  • Charge your phone. You’ll be surprised how much time you can spend on your phone during an event day. Whether you’re Snaping, ‘Graming or Tweeting it’s all happening on your phone. Make sure your phone starts at 100% in the morning and carry a portable power stick charger, or get a Mophie (or similar) charging case.
  • Show up to work. Events are a ton of fun. They are high energy and packed full of parties and opportunities to network. But don’t forget your main reason for being there: work. While networking is great, don’t overextend yourself on dinners and parties. Make sure you get enough sleep and are delivering your best work to the brands and sponsors you’re working with.

Most of all, have fun. We look forward to seeing you at Coachella, Model Volleyball and other events this spring!

The 2017 Influencer Guide

2017 is proving to be a breakout year for influencer marketing.  While most publications are sharing strategies and tactics for brands we wanted to take a minute and dive into what this growth means for you as an influencer. We’ve sorted through dozens of predictions and trends about what to expect this coming year and distilled them down to the top 5 that we think you can capitalize on. 

The rise of micro influencers: As influencer marketing establishes its long term position in the marketing channel mix, engagement metrics and ROI will become increasingly important metrics. The shift away from impressions and reach means brands are becoming less concerned with the size of the audience and more with its quality and relevance. Micro influencers – those with 10K or less in reach – have that ability to provide a targeted and niche audience. Our data shows what is intuitively true, smaller audiences tend to be more engaged and open to an influencer’s message – sponsored or not. How to capitalize on it: As marketers look to work with more micro influencers, those that bring the same level of professionalism as large influencers will stand above their peers. Know your rates, have a professional media kit and stay true to your authentic voice by working with brands who align with your audience. Influencers like @thepdxbelle prove micro influencers can be just as professional as those with larger reach.

Understanding of rules and regulations: Every day we hear from influencers and marketers who are worried about the changing guidelines from the FTC. There’s no need to fear these – many of us in the industry view this increase in regulation as a good thing. Guidelines create legitimacy. How to capitalize on it: While the guidelines themselves can be slightly vague the number one thing to keep in mind is to clearly and conspicuously disclose any post that is sponsored. This means including #ad or #sponsored on any sponsored post. Research has shown that 48% of the time, marketers don’t directly ask influencers to include disclosures on their posts. That does not mean it is ok to skip it. Regulators have indicated both the brand and the influencer are responsible for knowing the guidelines and they will not shy away from reprimanding influencers who are not using proper disclosures. If you are receiving anything (not just straight cash compensation) in exchange for a brand post, regulators will consider that arrangement sponsored and you are required to disclose.When in doubt, #ad won’t hurt and will keep you covered.

Authenticity. The unprecedented growth of influencer marketing means audiences are more aware than ever that content they are consuming is sponsored. Many readers and followers are ok with this. As long as the content is educational, entertaining and provides value in the same way your unsponsored content does, your audience likely doesn’t mind. What they will mind however, is if your content becomes inauthentic, if you lose your voice, start posting only sponsored content or otherwise “sell out” to make a buck. How to capitalize on it: Great influencers know how to balance the amount of sponsored to unsponsored content and to maintain their voice throughout. Look for brands whose products you already use and try to establish long term relationships with brands. Know your editorial calendar inside and out – you don’t want to post for competitors within a short period of time. If you use a thoughtful approach to plan your editorial calendar for each week and month you’ll set yourself up for the most success. Last but not least, if you have a negative experience with the product, don’t lie. Talk to your contact and figure out a solution that treats their brand and your audience with respect. In short, be the you your audience loves, influencer marketing works because of authentic voices and storytelling, use that as your guiding light.

Standardization of prices. In a lot of ways, influencer marketing has been the wild west, especially in terms of influencer rates and payments. As influencer marketing becomes mainstream, prices will standardize and the good news is that the influencer hold the reigns. How to Capitalize on it: If you haven’t already established a standard rate card, now is the time to do it. While there will always be circumstances where your rates need to be flexible, you should go into every conversation with a brand knowing your minimum rate for creating or distributing content on every social channel. If you need help determining what your rates should be – check out this great resource created by a longtime blogger.  You can even use influence.co to search for influencers similar to yourself  and you’ll start to get some idea about what other influencers in your field might be charging.

Diversification of content, using rich media and real world activations. The days of brands asking for a standard blog post and some social media amplification are long past us. Brands are increasingly looking for new ways to push the envelope, make an impact and reach their audience in an authentic way. This is the prediction we are most excited for. It will lead to brands handing over more creative freedom to the influencers, just as it should be. As brands look to make the most out of their investment in influencers, video will continue to rise in popularity – both long form stories on Youtube and short snackable clips on Snapchat and Instagram will increase. We’ll also start to see more offline activities that tie into online promotions in terms of events, social takeovers and live video. How to capitalize on it: If video is a new concept to you, get started now. Even just establishing a presence on SnapChat or testing out Instagram stories is a step in the right direction. Invest time learning what performs best with your followers. The more prepared you are to take creative control, the easier it will be to collaborate with brands in the coming year. Don’t forget you can add video content to your influence.co profile and really show brands what you are capable of creating!

It’s shaping up to be an exciting year!  Make sure you are ready to take advantage of the growth by claiming your profile with influence.co. Already a member? Login today and ensure your profile is up to date.  

Favorite Foodies

Instagram is packed with pictures of food. It’s enough to make your mouth water even if you just finished posting a delectable picture of your own.  If you’re like me, you are consistently on the lookout for food accounts to follow. Whether an at-home chef looking for an easy recipe to whip up or a foodie who wants new recommendations from across the globe, Instagram is an endless source of food inspiration. The below is a list of my favorite foodies on Instagram. Smells are not included, but if you are interested in contacting them, all can be found on influence.co.

  1. Everything about @beautifulplate has me all FOMO.  Gorgeous food and recipes all created and photographed by her. With iconic pics of Chicago mixed in, it’s the perfect balance of food and lifestyle in my favorite midwestern city.
  2. I want to be friends with any girl who knows how to eat her way through a city and @cheatdayeats is most certainly that girl! Whether she is at home exploring the culinary scene in NYC or off on her travels (inspired by where she wants to eat next) every post looks like “yum, I want to eat that now”.
  3. From the minute I stumbled upon @coupleinthekitchen I was hooked. What’s not to love about this Austin based pair who loves to travel, cook and eat together.
  4. I am a meat lover, I’m not afraid to admit it. But there is something about @naturallymeghan’s feed.  Anyone who can make a vegan diet look this delicious must be doing something right!
  5. Remember what I just said about meat? Well, lucky for all us meat eaters, there is @allthingsmeaty. You can’t go wrong with a guy who has declared he is made of 90% steak. His adventures around the globe look rather delicious too.
  6. As much as I love following jetsetters on their travels, sometimes what I really need is a gal who simply shares her homemade creations. Thanks to @thedaleyplate I have that inspiration and a variety of southern recipes I can at least attempt to copy.
  7. If you are more of a baker than an aspiring chef, @mykitchendrawer is for you. You wouldn’t guess it from the photos, but Alix is self taught in both baking and photography. Impressive!
  8. @livingthegormet is a relatively new find for me and one I am deliciously happy about. If she’s not sharing recipes that look divine, she’s reviewing wine (my other favorite hobby when I’m not eating.)
  9. Following along with @thehungrychronicles has me wanting to move to Austin. She’s constantly trying out the newest hot spots and her posts usually include tips on exactly what to order.
  10. If I wasn’t following @noleftovers for the excellent photos of food, I’d be following along for the punny captions (see what I did there). The New York based food blogger is currently eating her way through South East Asia and has me cracking up and drooling in equal parts along the way.  

Check out these foodies and more by searching for food influencers on influence.co!

How to Create the Perfect Media Kit

Media Kits come in all shapes and sizes.  For many years they were the only way for an influencer to showcase their work and pitch brands for sponsored opportunities. As the industry has grown, platforms and websites (like influence.co) have emerged with an intent to make it easier for brands to find influencers to work with and vice versa. However, the media kit continues to be an incredibly important tool for influencers to have in their arsenal, regardless of other platforms they may have profiles on.  

Having a media kit gives brands a quick way to see who you are as an influencer. It’s also still very common for influencers to pitch to brands and having a media kit will make that much easier.  A professional media kit will show brands you’re serious and may give you a leg up on the competition. You can also include one right in your influence.co profile if you prefer to lead with your digital version first.

Ready to create a media kit? Here’s how in 6 easy steps:

Step 1: Remember the person viewing your profile is busy. They are likely working on multiple projects and juggling countless tasks. Make your media kit worth their time. Keep it short, no more than three pages, and make it aesthetically pleasing. A media kit is reflection of you and your brand, the style and formatting should convey that. If design isn’t your area of specialty, consider hiring someone to do the work for you. The better your media kit looks, the more attention you’ll get for it!

Step 2: Start with an about me and contact page. Brands want to know who you are and if there is a fit in working with you. What types of content do you create? Which industries or categories are you known for. Approach this with the same intent as your social bios and about me on your blog. Contact information and links to your social accounts should be readily available so they can easily see which channels you’re on and look at your presence on each.

Step 3: Show brands what you are capable of creating by showcasing past work and clients. A few examples of your best work and your most brag worthy brand logos will go a long way. It gives brands a solid sense for what you are like as an influencer and highlights what your sponsored content looks like in action.

Step 4: Be up front with your services and pricing. Let brands know which ways they can collaborate with you and how much it will cost. You’ll save a lot of time and unnecessary frustration on both sides by including your standard rates. Everything is negotiable so don’t worry about locking yourself in. We live in a day and age where influencers get to set their own rates and chose the types of collaborations they do, make this known in your media kit.

Step 5: Tout your awards, accolades and media write-ups. All are great ways to show a point of differentiation between you and other influencers in your category. Especially if you’ve got smaller reach, they can provide quick credibility to brands.

Step 6: Know Your audience. Brands are talking to you, but really they are interested in your audience more. If you can get demographics from Instagram or Google Analytics, include them in your media kit. You can keep it simple and start with age, location, gender and household income breakdown of your audience. The more a brand can match your audience to their target customers, the more likely they are to work with you.

So there you have it, in six steps and no more than 3 pages, you’ve created a professional looking media kit to send to brands and agencies. Your media kit can also be uploaded to your influence.co profile. Claim your profile today if you haven’t already and get started with an online media kit and professional presence. A profile with influence.co can be shared via your public link or even embedded on your site.

Understanding the FTC Guidelines for Influencer Sponsored Posts in Under 5 Minutes

If you’ve done any reading on the state of influencer marketing and where the next year will take us, you know that understanding how to comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines is paramount. It’s not hard to understand why. Influencer marketing has grown by leaps and bounds over the last couple of years and 2017 is poised to be the year this once fledgeling industry becomes mainstream. The more popular a medium becomes, the greater need for regulatory agencies to step in and ensure that the end consumer is protected. Enter the ever evolving guidelines from the FTC.

Many influencers and marketers are made nervous by some of the most recent updates to these guidelines, but you don’t have to be. The guidelines are actually quite simple; influencers are required to disclose their financial arrangement with brands* in a clear and conspicuous way**. The disclosure must be in the same medium as the advertisement*** and must be understandable by ordinary consumers as well as any “reasonable members” of a specific target audience (e.g. children or the elderly, or non-native English speakers)****.

* Financial arrangements no longer include cash compensation only. Receiving free product, a trip,experience or having some kind of ownership in the company all count as sponsorship within the eyes of the FTC. These must all be disclosed. A good rule of thumb is to assume something is sponsored and disclose that to your audience.

** Use #ad or #sponsored and do not hide the disclosure (especially on posts to Instagram and Twitter) amid other hashtags you may be using to promote the post.

*** If your tweet or share to Facebook is promoting a sponsored blog post that share is considered sponsored. If your Instagram post is sponsored, you must disclose it on the post. Disclose on the channel you are posting to, linking back to a disclosed blog post is no longer enough.

**** If the majority of your audience is not english speaking or are children, that needs to be taken into account when writing disclosures. Your audience must be able to understand that the post they are looking at it sponsored.

Here are a couple of my favorite resources so you can understand all the In’s and Out’s of the Guidelines yourself:

The FTC Guidelines should be nothing to worry about as long as you are educated and disclose posts for which you have been paid or received product. We’ve seen that approximately 50% of brands aren’t explicitly telling influencers to disclose their posts. As an influencer, choosing not to disclose a sponsored post may land you in a bit of hot water. When in doubt, hashtag it out.

Product Announcement: Multi Channel Profiles

influence.co introduces Multi-channel Profiles, giving influencers more opportunity to showcase past work and create a professional presence online.

As we gear up for what will be an exciting year in the influencer marketing space, we knew the time was right to introduce a more robust profile for influence.co members. Especially as trend reports show that brands will look to hire more influencers with a multi-channel presence in 2017.  We recognize that influencers have a presence on more than one social platform and that to best promote themselves to brands and agencies they needed to be able to showcase their work across multiple channels. With the recent update, influencers can now highlight work on all social platforms – Instagram, SnapChat, Pinterest,YouTube, Blogs and more – in one central place, their influence.co profile.

It’s simply a better way for influencers to present themselves to the brands and agencies they want to work with.

Claim your profile or login now to create or update your professional influencer presence.

 

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