Influencer marketing is perhaps one of the most popular Instagram marketing tools in at least the last decade. If you’re not yet including it as part of your marketing strategy, you may be missing out on a valuable audience.
But how do ask an influencer to promote your product? If this is your first time reaching out to an influencer for a possible collaboration, it may feel a little bit intimidating. Thankfully, it’s not as difficult as you think.
Below, we’ll answer common questions you may have before asking an influencer to promote your product, including where to reach out, what to say, and so much more.
Why you should consider partnering with an influencer
Image source: https://www.instagram.com/madmax_fluffyroad/
Love them or hate them, influencers are called influencers for a reason. They are able to inspire action and start conversation. So, if you want to grow your audience or break through a brand-new market then an influencer is your answer.
But first, find the right influencer for your brand
Finding the right influencer isn’t just about choosing someone with the largest following. Before you start looking, you must know precisely who and what you’re looking for.
If you don’t have the luxury of a huge budget — which could buy you the celebrity power and million-plus followers — you have to weigh your options more carefully.
Below are some aspects to consider before deciding on an influencer:
Find someone that specializes in your niche
Don’t settle with someone who promotes something new and random every day. That person is likely to have a confused audience.
You want to partner with a content creator who is seen as an authority or expert in your niche. This ensures that they have an audience that is already interested in your general category.
For example, if you are offering services related to 3D design, you can look for an influencer who knows how to use a 3D modeling software and has a good number of followers on social media who follow him because of the 3D designs he posts.
When doing your research, don’t just look at the content on an influencer’s feed. It’s a good idea to read the comments section and look at how they reply to their followers. This way, you’ll have a better feel of their knowledge and expertise in topics related to your brand.
Image source: https://www.instagram.com/hannahreyesmorales/
Take Hannah Reyes Morales, for example. Her years as a photojournalist and National Geographic photographer make her an excellent choice for camera brands or brands from related industries such as travel or outdoor wear.
Partnering with an influencer who is already knowledgeable about your product or industry also increases your credibility as a brand.
You need to choose someone believable, there shouldn’t be a mismatch between your product and the influencer’s natural behavior or background. Otherwise, their audience will just see the content as just like any other paid ad.
Prioritize engagement rate over their number of followers
Seeing hundreds of thousands (and more) followers can seem quite impressive, but followers aren’t everything. Because of the lavish and Instagram-worthy lifestyle that influencers are known for, many choose to buy their followers for better optics.
Bought followers mean useless bots and numbers that won’t result in conversions. If your goal for partnering with an influencer is to increase brand awareness, engagement is a way more critical metric than follower count; here’s why:
- More engagement = more visibility – if the influencer you choose has a big following but barely any engagement, you won’t even have an audience for your brand.
- High engagement rates mean that their content is relatable and resonates well with their audience.
- Influencers with good engagement rates show that they are able to build genuine relationships with their followers.
Image source: https://www.instagram.com/outdoorvoices/
Athletic apparel brand Outdoor Voices (@outdoorvoices) is known to partner with nano influencers such as Rose (@rosesselstyn) who have less than 2,000 followers on their pages but great engagement rate.
When looking into an influencer’s engagement rate, it’s helpful to look at different forms of engagement, such as likes, shares, and comments. For instance, frequent replies and comments are a stronger indication of quality interaction with customers over simple likes.
The best thing about partnering with smaller influencers with high engagement rates is that they have deep and genuine connections with their audience. If they recommend a product or a brand, their followers are likely to believe them.
Do they align with your branding?
“Branding” doesn’t just refer to physical attributes and Instagram aesthetics. While hiring someone who complements your brand’s look and feel would be a plus, what matters most when partnering with an influencer is their personality and values.
You may find someone with the right audience and a big enough following. But if they, for example, support a politician that goes against your ideals, this could negatively affect your brand and reputation.
Think of your partnership with an influencer as a real relationship — you must look out for red flags. Review their history and determine if they’ve been involved in controversial issues.
It’s essential to research what the general sentiment is about your chosen influencer. Do they disclose sponsored content? Are they easy to work with?
If you know someone who has worked with them before, it will be helpful to ask for feedback.
Hiring an influencer can already be costly; attach some negative press, and you’ll be getting a risk instead of an asset. Always look beyond social media to find out more information.
Look into your existing customers
Your customers are your best influencers. If you already have an existing customer base, you may not have to look too far to find your next influencer.
Look at your tagged photos on your social accounts, check out your email subscriber list, and use social listening tools to find your best and most influential fans. These people will be easy to approach because they already know and love your products.
Ask an influencer to promote your product
Below are some foolproof ways to begin (in no particular order):
Know your influencer’s preferred communication channel
Most professional influencers will indicate their preferred communication channel on their social media bios. Those with hundreds of thousands of followers will typically have an agent who’s assigned to sort through brand collaboration invites, while less high-profile influencers will have time to answer messages themselves.
Image source: https://www.instagram.com/llibbygardner/
Fashion and lifestyle influencer Elizabeth Gardner prefers to be emailed regarding collaborations, as mentioned in her bio. If brands decide to drop her a direct message (DM) instead, it might take longer to get a response, or they might not get a response at all.
If the influencer does not indicate their preferred communication channel, your easiest and best bet is a DM.
Keep your message short and sweet
Like any work email, sending a message to an influencer should be informative yet straight to the point. You have to start with a friendly greeting, make sure to include their name to make it more personal, and introduce yourself.
The content of your message should:
- Include an introduction of yourself (your role in the company) and a brief overview of your brand.
- Affirm: Let them know why you think they would be the perfect influencer for your brand
- Provide information:
- Are you giving out free products for them to test out?
- What are your goals for this partnership?
- Answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”.
You don’t need to lay out all the details of your influencer marketing campaign on the first message. If possible, keep your message within the 100-plus-word range or you may run the risk of getting “seen zoned”!
Pro-tip: Don’t hard-sell. While some influencers may overlook your sales talk, more popular ones can be more discerning with the brands that they partner with.
Make it personal
Aside from adding the influencer’s name to your message, use best email personalization practices to set you apart from the typical templated outreach email.
“I really liked your work with (brand) and would love to work with you on our upcoming campaign!”
Referencing their previous partnerships and work will show the influencer that you genuinely appreciate what they do.
You may be tempted to search for “influencer outreach messages” on the internet, and that’s okay, but never copy them! The more personable and genuine you are with your initial message, the higher the chances of getting a positive response.
Send a no-strings-attached gift
In-demand influencers probably get dozens of brand messages and collaboration invites in a day. If your brand is still relatively unknown, your message may get drowned out by more famous names.
Sometimes a quick message like:
We think you’re awesome and would love to send you some of our products. Let us know if you’d be interested!”
If they provide their address, send a gift with a personalized note. Some nano influencers are willing to post for free on their platforms. Those who typically charge per post may even enjoy your products enough to post them on social media without expecting payment.
After sending an influencer a sample of your products, you can ask them for some feedback. If the feedback is positive, this can be the time to offer them a more formal partnership.
Image source: https://www.instagram.com/jinlovestoeat/
Go-to food influencer Jin Perez-Go (@jinlovestoeat) is no stranger to free food. Big chains and small businesses send her more free food than she can possibly consume in a day, which means not everyone can make it to her main feed.
When dealing with a popular influencer like @jinlovestoeat, it’s essential to stand out beyond your products. Add a thoughtful note to your package or do your research and find out her favorites.
Small but meaningful gestures could help you not just get a shoutout on their feed but also form a friendly relationship with the influencer.
Pro-tip: Don’t expect anything in return when sending an influencer free product. If nothing was agreed upon in writing, you can’t demand a post.
Speak their language
Speaking their language could be understood literally, as in if you’re reaching out to someone from Germany, you need to write up a message in German. It also means skipping the corporate jargon and using more approachable language.
In most cases, you’re probably reaching out to a young influencer. Using more relatable language can help them connect with you better. Otherwise, using technical words that only you and your marketing team understand might turn them off.
As always, before pressing send, make sure everything is grammatically sound!
Make sure you’re following them on social
Before reaching out and as part of your research stage, it’s important to follow your prospective influencers on their primary social media accounts. This way, you’re building a connection and showing signs of your interest before reaching out.
Following an influencer before sending them a message will also make your approach seem more genuine. They’ll know that you have really taken a look at their content and believe in their ability to inspire their audience.
You can also send in some feelers by sharing their content on your platform, liking their most recent posts, and leaving a comment or two. Soon, they’ll be waiting expectantly for your message.
Be open to discussion
What do you want your influencer campaign to look like? Some brands provide specific talk points and non-negotiables to be integrated in the content, while some give influencers the creative freedom to decide.
Image source: https://www.instagram.com/_jazreyes/
Jaz Reyes (@_jazreyes), a content creator from the Philippines, is a popular choice for brands because of her unique take on sponsored content.
If you decide to partner with someone like Jaz, provide a project brief of your partnership but give them the opportunity to get creative.
As much as possible, content creators will want to have control of what they post on their feed, don’t try to take that away from them! After all, they know their audience much better than anyone.
Before a partnership is formed, both brand and influencer must lay out their expectations. For example, the brand can’t expect video content if that wasn’t talked about prior to the agreement. Specifics such as number of posts, frequency, and type of shareable content should be clear from the beginning.
Following up with an influencer
Contrary to the general perception, professional influencers are quite busy. If you haven’t gotten a response after your initial message, don’t be afraid to follow up! In fact, sending a follow up message is a great way to show that you’re truly interested in the partnership.
Use the follow up message as an opportunity to show your personality. If you’re using e-mail to send a message, you may want to change up your subject line. If you sent a DM through Instagram, you can leave a comment on the influencer’s latest post to remind them.
Measuring an influencer’s impact
You must set Key Perfomance Indicators (KPIs) such as likes, shares, or increase in followers to easily assess the effectiveness of your influencer marketing campaign. In order to set KPIs, you first have to set your campaign goal.
For example, if your goal is brand awareness, important KPIs to measure are: impressions, link click-through rates (CTRs), and website traffic.
If your campaign involves a sale, you can assign a unique promo code per influencer so you can track how each of them are performing.
While likes and comments on the influencer’s post is a positive sign, you have to remember that the ultimate goal is to convert their followers into your potential customers.
Start building relationships with influencers
Unlike traditional advertising such as TV commercials, print ads or SMS marketing, consumers didn’t have a say on what they get to see. With social mobile app developments like Instagram or TikTok, the audience can be more discerning about who they follow and only a small portion of them are brands.
You need influencers to bridge that gap between your brand and your ideal audience. Once you’ve found an influencer, don’t think of them as mere tools to deliver your message. Treat them right and they’ll keep promoting your brand beyond the set contract period.
Keep in mind that celebrity-status influencers might not have time to consider small brands — don’t let that bother you. Many micro and nano influencers who have excellent engagement rates are always open for collaborations. Keep searching!
If your initial campaign works, consider having a regular roster of influencers as part of your future engagements. Once you’ve established a good relationship with an influencer, you won’t have to worry about the process of reaching out to someone new all over again.