How to Collaborate With Influencers in 2018

One of the most critical tasks for businesses today is building brand awareness. This is particularly true for small businesses that may not have the budget for big ad campaigns announcing the release of each new product.
Collaborate with influencers, whether through writing a guest post on their blog or asking them to review or promote your product is a surefire way to reach potential customers without blowing up your budget. 


How to Collaborate With Influencers in 2018?


Make Sure You Pick the Right Influencer

Though some small business owners might dream of having a big movie star promote their brand, this isn’t realistic for most budgets. No matter what a company produces or does, however, there is likely a blogger writing about that exact niche, and that blogger likely has a loyal audience who follows their every word. Pinpointing influencers who have the ears and the trust of your potential paying customers is critical. Just be sure the influencer’s audience is truly a good fit for your product. A mismatch between what you’re offering and who the blogger writes for can be a waste of time for all involved, as one blogger has noted.
You’ll start by identifying 10 to 20 influencers you’d like to work with and pinpointing where these influencers have the most influence. For example, if you have products or services you would like to be featured on YouTube, you’ll want to collaborate with influencers who are video bloggers. If you’re wanting to partner with influencers who give in-person speeches on their favorite findings, it’s best to look for ones that speak at conferences. 
Fortunately, there are a variety of tools you can use to expedite the process of identifying influencers who can help your brand the most. Five of these tools are:


Contact the Influencer

Some influencers may have contact information readily available on their blogs, but you’ll likely have to cultivate a relationship with others. You can follow their social media feeds and comment on or share their posts. After you’ve followed them long enough to ensure they’re reaching the right audience for your brand, try contacting them with an introduction and a couple of ideas for the type of partnership you’d like to forge. Just like with old-fashioned cold-calling, you won’t succeed with every influencer, but taking the time to learn about their individual style and audience is worthwhile for both of you.

Define a Budget

As for any business venture, you need to figure out how much you can or want to spend on influencer marketing. Keep in mind, especially for small businesses or those just starting out that payment doesn’t have to be in cash. Perhaps free samples of your product or discounts for future purchases would be appreciated. Whether your payment to the influencer is monetary or not, though, remember that they must disclose that they were compensated to write about your product per Federal Trade Commission rules.
Gifting influencers you want to cultivate a relationship with is one of the easiest ways to perk their attention. Everyone loves a free gift, and influencers especially like trying new products and services and then reviewing and sharing their experience with their audiences. It’s important to know, however, that just because you gift an influencer with a free product or service doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to grant your brand exposure. In fact, some influencers mandate a monetary compensation in addition to a free sample of the product or service.

Plan the Content

Though influencers know their audiences best and can likely determine the most appropriate way to promote your product without being heavy-handed, it’s a good idea to sketch out a rough idea of how you would like your product to be featured. Whether you pay a blogger to write a sponsored post or the blogger reviews your product (hopefully in a positive light), that influencer’s readers now have an awareness of your brand. Another method is to write a guest post on an influencer’s blog or website, with links back to your own social media.
Once you have a commitment from an influencer to feature your product or service, you can expect to spend 20+ hours co-creating content. You’ll go back and forth writing content, editing content, and then you or the influencer will put a polishing touch on it. Ideally, it will be reviewed and edited by a professional proofreader. The influencer likely has his or her own editor who can look over the entire piece. There’s also good chance the influencer will have a personal writer; this applies if the influencer him or herself isn’t a writer.

Sharing the Content

Just because an influencer has a massive audience doesn’t mean you get to sit back and reap the benefits without putting forth an effort. It doesn’t work like that. Before the influencer publishes or releases the promotion of your product or service, you need to carefully plan the ways you are going to share the content. Your audience isn’t as large as the influencer’s, but there are people in your audience that aren’t likely to be within the reach of the influencer. It’s your responsibility to share the content shared by the influencer to maximize its reach. 
Sharing across all of your social media profiles and on your own website and blog is an excellent way to maximize the reach of the influencer’s content. You can create entirely new blog postings and social media updates around the topic of the influencer’s content promoting your product or service. 


Thanking the Influencer

If you want to collaborate with influencers you have to know that these persons are very busy, and when they take time out of their chaotic schedules to publish a piece of content focusing on your product or service, this deserves a huge thank you.
Sending a thank you note along with a discount coupon or another free product or service is an effective way to show your appreciation. More importantly, it’s an excellent way to entice the influencers to do another piece on a different product or service. 
Once you’ve found the right match, collaborating with an influencer can boost your business by helping potential customers relate to your product.
See also: 4 Reasons You Should Use Twitter to Reach Out to Influencers