Advice from Leading Brands: “What We Look For”
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Hoping to secure more brand collaborations this year? To quote Lady Gaga, the surest way to catch a brand’s attention is to be “relentlessly you.”
We asked leading brands on Shopping Links what factors matter most when they select influencers for collaboration opportunities, and you might be surprised to learn that for many brands, personality matters. Just as in real-life relationships, brands aren’t just searching for bloggers who look good on paper. Because they’re entrusting you to represent their brand in your own words, they want to know you’ll communicate their values and aesthetic authentically.
“Being a brand that doesn’t follow a mainstream aesthetic, our most important factor is brand suitability,” Katie Cipa, Online Digital Manager for Review Australia, told us. “In particular, [we look at] how well can a blogger market our product authentically without taking away what makes us niche. We also like to look out for a great use of colour, a quirky style and a tasteful sense of humour!”
Showing your true style is certainly important, but many brands also want to know who your followers are.
“At New York & Company we prefer to work with bloggers that have connected their Google Analytics to their Shopping Links account,” said Christine Wiedbusch, Digital Marketing Coordinator at New York & Co. “This helps us monitor the total impact of post performance. We also look at your engagement rate, which can be more important to us than number of followers.”
This shift in interests from audience size to engagement level has been common among brands. Whether you have 2k followers or 200k, brands say they care more about impact than reach. This view is validated by Sarah Kamshoshy, Digital Marketing Manager at Biossance:
“Contrary to what some may think, the following size doesn’t matter that much to me,” she told us. “I’m typically looking for a healthy engagement rate.” She recommends getting your engagement to at least 1.5%, but closer to 2% is ideal.
Surprisingly, this makes mid-range bloggers -- those with between 10-15k followers on Instagram -- the best candidates, although brand interest still matters most. “I’m also looking for people whose personal brands match ours and have at least some interest in our retail space, which would be beauty and skincare,” Kamshoshy said.
That said, reach still plays an important factor, particularly for the social media agencies that often represent brands.
“The larger the number of followers an influencer has, the more likely we will work with them,” explained Grace Lee, Social Media Manager of Kate Somerville Skin Care Experts. “After all, our goal is to increase awareness for our brand and products, and the most effective way to do that is to partner with people who have meaningful reach.”
However, engagement and brand fit still factor heavily in their decision. “We realize that a lot of Instagram accounts may have faux followers, so we definitely check to see how engaged and excited their fans really are,” Lee said. “We [also] want to work with brand advocates who are a reflection of our core customer, and whose aesthetics and style align with ours.”
The Bottom Line
- - To stand apart from the crowd, identify what sets you apart and stay true to your personality. Securing brand collaborations isn’t about “winning” or “losing” to other influencers -- it’s about connecting with brands that best match your own style.
- - Building your reach is certainly important, but 20k engaged followers will often be more appealing to brands than 200k “ghost” followers.
- - Connecting your Google Analytics can boost your chances of securing more collaborations. Remember, brands see influencers who have connected their Google Analytics first.
- - Keep a brand’s ‘look’ in mind when you create content for a collaboration. Brands often repurpose images for their own social channels and direct mail campaigns, they’ll be more likely to reach out again if they feel you understand their aesthetic.
What helps you stand out from the crowd? Let us know in the comments or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.