7 steps to creating amazing branded Instagram campaigns as an Influencer

Today I want to focus on how to work with other companies to create amazing branded Instagram campaigns that generate results.

This has a lot of key components to it, and I’ll do my best to cover them all, from pitching brands to executing engaging content.

When brands reach out to collaborate, as influencers we play a part in branding for these companies.

They’ve chosen us for who we are, our photography/style/personality, but most of all for our audience and what we mean to them.

It’s up to us to deliver on creating content that meets (and hopefully surpasses) brand expectations.

Here are seven steps to take when creating branded Instagram content that you should always think through for collaborations.

These steps and tips have been curated from personal experience and notes from a Chloe Digital workshop that I went to- so hopefully this advice is the cream of the crop!

Step 1

Define your personal goals

  • When brainstorming before creating a campaign, outline the goals that you want to personally meet so you have direction and a strategy.
  • It’s easy to say that you want to get brand visibility or get more followers, but you need specifics.

Ask yourself…

What do I want my personal message to be to the world?

Five years from now, what do I see myself doing on social media?

What is my voice on social media?

  • In order to create a campaign that is going to have a strong strategy, it is important to have goals that can be measured.
  • You can think of your goals as motivations for posting… or why you do what you do. Jot down your top 3 goals.

Step 2

Know your audience

  • Now that you’ve got your goals, it’s crucial to understand who exactly your audience is, where they are, because this will determine if your brand partner is a good fit.
  • It’ll also influence how you pitch the brand.
  • As an influencer, you know your audience best.
  • Sometimes brands make assumptions about your audience or don’t consider who you reach, and this can lead to a disconnected message that does not work.
    • I’ve definitely turned away collaborations because my audience would not respond to what the brand was offering. That is only fair to the brand and to my followers.
  • Use Instagram insights and polls/questions in your IG stories to learn about your audience

Step 3

Find the brand

  • Build a relationship with brands you love already
    • If you frequently go on hikes, reach out to your favorite shoe company or workout gear company.
    • Let them know that you’re already a consumer of their product.
  • Find someone in the PR/marketing department of a company. A simple Google search will likely help you find this person.
    • Refer to them by name when you email them!
    • If you’re unable to find a contact, sometimes sending a DM on Instagram to the brand can help. 
      • “Hi! I wanted to see if you would be interested in a collaboration during my upcoming trip to Iceland! I’d love to showcase your hotel to my followers- could you provide me with an email where I can send over my media kit?”
  • Focus on establishing relationships that generate consistent revenue rather than one-off sponsored posts
    • If you have brand loyalty, make it long term!
  • Allow brands that you work with to see that there is an opportunity to meet a demand that has not been met with your audience yet.

Step 4

Pitch the brand

It’s time for the pitch. Once you have a pitch that works for you, try to tailor it to the company and show the value in them investing in your brand

  • Since you know your audience, explain why you think your audience would love their brand!
  • Sometimes it’s best to keep a pitch short and sweet, but I prefer giving details to show I’ve thought things through.
  • Give an example of a post or story you want to share with your audience. Show that you’ve thought through how you could best display their product/experience to others.
  • I also love to take a snapshot of my Instagram instead of sending over a media kit right away since it literally shows your content in one photo without them having to click any links.
    • You’ve put a lot of work into beautifying your feed- use that to your advantage!
  • Wait for a response before discussing pricing. Let them get to know you first before you make any assumptions about money.

An example of a pitch:

Hi Sam!

My name is Jasmine (@jasminealley), and I am a travel blogger and Instagram influencer. I love to showcase travel brands to my followers and would love to feature your hotel when I visit Iceland next month.

I currently have 41k followers on Instagram; below is a snapshot of my Instagram right now. I hope you can see that I love to take beautiful photos and I’d love to show off your beautiful hotel to my audience!

The majority are in the age range of 25-34 and are interested in travel, and I think they would choose your hotel in a heartbeat when visiting the area!

For a collaboration of this nature, I would love to exchange an Instagram post and story for a complimentary stay on August 24th.

Is that something you’d be interested in? If you need more details, I’m happy to email you my media kit as well.
 
I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing back!

All the best,
Jasmine

Step 5

Create engaging content

You can see that I tell the brand’s story of using recycled water bottles while creating conversation around the question.

Ask yourself questions and think through the messaging.

  • What is the purpose of the campaign?
    • What message do you want to get across?
    • Is there a story that the brand is trying to tell?
    • Can you relate the brand’s story to whatever you’re already discussing?
  • Be organic- don’t sound like a salesperson! Tips on how to do that include:
    • Explain why you use the product (i.e. show that it’s something you genuinely use!)
    • Blend it into travel or something you’re passionate about (i.e. loving these shoes from Rothy’s because they are eco-friendly!)
    • Tailor your message to your audience in a way that speaks to them
    • Integrate partnerships into your everyday life through storytelling (ex. partnering with a moving company when moving)
  • Get creative with engaging content that generates results and achieves your personal goals as well as the brand goals
    • In stories: Instagram wants you to use their polls, questions, sliders, etc. So use them! It helps you with the IG algorithm and you can gain insight through their answers for either yourself or the brand.
    • In posts: always try to ask a question! Remember that your content should always be a conversation starter!
    • Does your message have a clear call to action?
    • Is your message or concept interactive and outside of the box?
    • How does your concept/campaign stay ahead of the curve against competitors?
  • And of course, make sure you use the hashtags and tags that are requested, as well as #ad or “in partnership with” to be FTC compliant.

Execute the campaign

Step 6

Now that you know your goals, your audience, and your campaign content, it’s time to combine those elements and execute it!

Once it’s out into the world, there are a few things you can do to finesse your campaign:

  • Remember that engagement is KEY!
  • Responding to comments is so important for your engagement and for the brand.
    • Show that you care about their product enough to respond to your followers when they reference it!
    • Once you build conversation in the comments, IG will boost your content
    • Be thoughtful and genuine in your comments back to others

Step 7

Assess your performance

Once the campaign is done ASSESS YOUR PERFORMANCE

  • You’ll have a better trajectory for the future
  • Create a case study to help improve campaigns in the future
  • Create a KPI sheet (Key Performance Indicator) monthly/quarterly/annually and set goals for yourself that you can track.
  • Don’t forget to send over any story insights that the brands ask for!

It’s also important to THINK LONG TERM. Your partnership might not be over!

  • What is your campaign’s strategy to stay connected with your audience and encourage them to keep engaging in the future?
    • Is there an overall theme that you’re sticking to in your posts that your followers can notice and remember?
  • By building in the brands you use on a day-to-day basis (from Step 3), you can easily mention products again in the future to emphasize the authenticity
    • I continue tagging brands I’ve worked with when I happen to be using or wearing their product, like shoes or luggage, in subsequent posts.
    • Even though these aren’t paid advertisements, they show brand loyalty and can lead to future partnerships with the brand
      • For example, I started off working with eBags luggage on a gift/post basis. But I kept tagging them in posts when I happened to be traveling with their luggage. They noticed that I was authentically using their gear, and this turned into a paid partnership a few months later!

Extra Stuff Worth Mentioning

Don’t forget these things!

  • Be realistic when sending brands information about your following and engagement.
  • Definitely underpromise and overdeliver. You don’t want to let brands down- ESPECIALLY if they are paying you! Your integrity is at stake!
  • Make sure you have a contract if you’re doing a paid campaign.
  • Tap into your power of influence to not only grow your brand but create content that helps brands that you work with grow as well
    • This could include using other platforms like a blog if you have one 
      • Create content that holds value such as tutorials, instructionals, downloadables, etc.
      • Lookbooks and shopping guides
  • Continue with your brand loyalty (Colgate one week and the next week Crest? No way!)
  • If your post doesn’t do well:
    • Don’t get hung up on numbers! Get hung up on the service- you’re serving your community if you have a thoughtful campaign!
    • You can always tag the brand organically if you use their products again (which hopefully you will!)
    • Remember that a lot of things are out of your control, like the Instagram algorithm or how many of your followers are actually seeing your post. 
    • If you’ve done your best work, relax and know that you did the best you can!
    • Not many people swiped up on your stories link? That might mean you didn’t convert a lot of sales but remember- that’s not your job. You’re the influencer and you are branding for the company. Your followers might not have bought the product, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking about it!

Above all, stay true to yourself, who you are, and your voice. Cheesy, but so true!

Xo,

Jasmine


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