OK. I am going to start this post with a rant. Here I go; One of my all time pet peeves (well, since the time Instagram has been in our lives) is people asking you to post their stuff, on your Instagram.
I can't even count the number of emails or Facebook messages I have received from brands (and even friends) outright asking me to 'post an image / product of theirs so they can grow their Instagram followers'. Now before I continue, let me say that I understand what they are wanting to do and trying to achieve, and I applaud their initiative. But this post is to give my advice on best practice in this space. Trying to so flippantly cash in on a database that someone else has spent years building is NOT the way to go about it.
I am going to break down the types of approaches I have received. So if you are sending anything like this to people and influencers, please stop! And later in this post we will work together on refining your approach!
THE 'YOU'RE THE CHOSEN ONE': 'Dear Samantha, You have been lucky enough to have been chosen as an ambassador for XXXXXX self tanning product / miracle fat loss solution / clip in hair extensions. As an ambassador, you will receive a pack of self tan / fat loss solution / fake hair, and in return, we require you to do 3 posts on your Instagram account, tagging us. We look forward to working with you on this project! Regards, Cart Before The Horse.'
THE 'GIFT WITH EXPECTATIONS': 'Dear Samantha, We love your style & would love to send you some pieces from our new collection for you to post on Instagram! Please let us know your favourite 3 pieces & we will get them out to you asap & cannot wait to see you on Instagram wearing them! Cheers, Optimistic Olive.'
THE 'HIGH EXPECTATIONS': 'Hi Samantha, We sent you some products this week. I know we didn't tell you we were sending them, or didn't reach out to you prior to sending them your way. But we sent them anyway. So, I am just following up to see when you will be Instagramming them, as we haven't seen anything come through on your feed yet? Let us know. Thanks, Delusional Delivery.'
Rant over. Let me offer some constructive solutions on how to get people Instagramming your product / brand. But first, here are some Insta-rules I abide by:
- Don't expect any free publicity on Instagram. You WILL get some, but the point is to change your mind set, and as such, your long-term approach.
- If you want someone to Instagram your product, it can probably be assumed that that person has some sort of following. They most likely run their Instagram feed as a big part of their brand / business communication channel. This is their currency, think of it the way, and you are asking them to provide free advertising for you.
- People have spent years building their following. It pays to be respectful of that.
So, how do we go about this....? And if you are just starting out, how do you go about it without spending too much, or anything at all.
DON'T START IN THE MILLIONAIRES CLUB: You want Jess Stein from Tuula to wear & tag your product to her 2million followers? Then that will cost you around $7k-$10K. If you don't have a cool $10K in your Insta-Promo fund just yet, set your sights on influencers that have a following on a similar (or slightly higher) platform as your brand.
INVEST IN RELATIONSHIPS: Keep a list of all your favourite influencers. Before you reach out to them by email or with product, start to interact with them on Instagram. Be cool. Talk and act like you would with a friend you just met. Don't push your product; Just. Be. Cool. 'Love This!' 'Cute shoes!' 'Ugh. I hear you. I need coffee too!' - Any Insta maven worth their weight in analytics will review their comments section, and will start to see your lovely, cool, comments.
REGRAM: You regramming people's images is a compliment. 'Style perfection by @XXXXX'. Always credit and tag them in the photos. This is a great way to notify them because, some influencers may not have their notifications set to see all posts made about them in the comments section alone.
FEATURE: Do you have a blog section on your website? If you do, and it makes sense brand wise, reach out to the influencer explaining why you think she is a woman of influence & that you would love to run a feature of her/ her style on your blog as you think your readers will resonate with it also. This is a compliment to her, and if she agrees (why wouldn't she?!) you can send her a thank you parcel, containing your product. She will (most likely) post about the feature, and probably the product.
GIFTING: The most common way to get product to people! And I think it's great. My advice on this method is to send them the gift (with no expectation) and include a nice note, that simply says 'Hi XXXX, I love your style & would love for you to have this piece from our latest collection. With Love XXXX' - If it is someone who has inspired you in some way, I think it is really nice to tell them that also. Ensure that the stationery you write your note on has your Instagram handle & Hashtag printed on it, but DON'T mention this in the body of your note. If they like it, they will Instagram it.
PAID POSTS: This is not as daunting as it seems. Some Influencers start paid posts off at $50 a post, and often you can discuss creating a custom package that reduces the rate if you want to secure an ongoing arrangement. Do not be afraid to ask influencers for their rate card! This also shows you are ready to do business, and if they really love your product, they will most likely talk/post about it outside of the paid post.
GRATITUDE: As in life, show gratitude. If someone features something of yours, send them a thank you note, or at least leave a lovely comment on their pic.
Digital conversations should be treated like real life conversations. If someone is talking about your brand, treat it as if they are complimenting you in person! Do not ignore friendly gestures and be kind, always. - SWx