What Brands Look For In Social Media Influencers

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I'm Jade Scarfone.
A digital strategist and transformation catalyst, merging a decade of corporate systems mastery with a profound journey of self-discovery. From navigating the high-stakes world of banking to making waves in high-ticket affiliate marketing, I'm now dedicated to empowering entrepreneurs through strategic digital innovations. 

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Wouldn’t you love to be able to be a mind reader so you could know exactly what brands look for in Social Media Influencers? Whilst I’m no diviner, what I can do is draw on my experiences from working with a number of different brands.

And share with you what I’ve learnt to be what brands look for in social media influencers.

Want to know what brands look for in Social Media Influencers? Whilst I'm no diviner, I can share tips from my experiences of working with different brands to give you a better idea.

Before we dig in, if you’re considering becoming a social media influencer and you’re not quite sure where to start. Check out my recent post on How to Become an Instagram Influencer.

Ok, so what do brands look for in social media influencers?

Someone who fits their brand

First and foremost the brand wants to know that there is alignment between your message and theirs. They will look at your accounts so it’s important to provide your handles to them when reaching out.

When they do their checks they’ll be looking for content that aligns with their brand message. They’ll be checking your likes, dislikes and overall aesthetic. And of course, whether your account fits within their niche market.

Someone with genuine engagement

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. Your follower count means nothing if you’re not getting real engagement. And don’t even think about trying to cheat the system.

Over the years, people have found ways to fast track their results. Whether it be buying followers, using follow/unfollow tools that target users based on hashtags and other measures, using bots to like/comment/watch stories, or joining engagement pods.

While these methods give the ‘vanity’ metrics a boost, they do nothing for your engagement. Especially if you’re not spending the time connecting back with your audience. Sadly, this is something I learnt the hard way as I never knew any better, and whilst it’s easy to grow an account with those methods. It’s not so easy to clean it up, so trust me when I say it’s not worth it. Slow and steady always wins the race when it comes to Instagram growth.

When a brand is planning to hire an influencer, the whole point is to reach that person’s network. With the intention that a % of their audience will be interested in buying their products. So engagement (more so comments) is a big factor in a brand’s decision making process.

If you’re concerned about your engagement, some tools you can use to see how you stack up are Hype Auditor (for accounts above 1000 followers) and IG Audit.

Someone with the right audience

You may have great engagement and wonderful branding. But if you don’t have the right audience then it’s also not going to be ideal for the brand. So this is another thing they check.

And this generally comes back to your niche, branding and content. The brand will do an analysis of what content your audience resonates with the most.

So say for instance you’re in the travel niche and your audience loves all your content about hotels, tours, adventure activities, car hire etc. And then suddenly you’re pitching a fashion label or beauty product, it’s probably not going to have the desired impact for the brand because it’s not the content your audience is used to.

A smart brand will see that and choose to work with an influencer that is more suited to their niche and has the right kind of audience.

Other things that are taken into consideration are audience age, location and other key demographics. For instance, if you’re pitching a luxury resort but your audience is full of backpackers and uni students it’s unlikely they’re going to be able to afford that. Whilst it’s still the travel niche, the product isn’t aligned with your audience so it’s unlikely those brands will see you as a valid influencer to collaborate with.

Someone who will meet their objectives

Just like your followers need to know, like and trust you. Brands want to know that they can also trust you.

Brands will usually have a brief of what they expect from a particular campaign. This includes type of content, dates the content needs to be delivered by, how it needs to be delivered etc.

The brand needs to know that you will be able to meet these agreed objectives. This is where it comes in handy to have glowing testimonials from brands you’ve worked with previously because it will give new brands more confidence in your ability to deliver.

What other things impact a brand’s decision making process?

Your location

If a brand or product is only available in a particular country, or their desired audience is in a particular country. And you’re located somewhere entirely different, then it’s unlikely there’s going to be any benefit to working together.

This is why you’ll usually only see me working with Australian brands and labels (unless I’m working on something travel related). I resonate better with Australian labels because that’s where I’m from, it’s where I’m based most of the time and it’s where majority of my audience is based so it makes sense to endorse Australian labels.

It’s also a very Australian thing to support local, which I’m sure is true in other countries as well.

Your genuine interest in the brand

Brands want to know that you actually care about them and will share authentic experiences with your audience. There’s no point reaching out to a brand and telling them how much you love them if you’ve never used any of their products and don’t even follow them on any social media platforms.

If you are going to pitch a brand you’re not so familiar with, make sure you do your research first. Go and follow them, learn about what they stand for, reach out to them. And actually show them you know about them and there is a genuine reason why you want to work with them.

Experience with a range of platforms

Whilst having experience with multiple social platforms can be beneficial, it’s not absolutely necessary. The most important platform for influencers to be familiar with is Instagram as this is where 89% of influencer marketing takes place.

Followed by 70% on YouTube, 45% on Facebook, 44% on Blogs and 33% on Twitter.

With the diverse range of content you can create on Instagram these days you don’t really need to be in too many other places.

So like I’ve said before, I would focus on mastering 1-2 platforms maximum when you’re starting out. As your brand and influence grows then it’s a good idea to start expanding to other platforms.

The more diverse range of content and platforms you can offer, the more brands will pay to work with you. But most of the time, brands are satisfied if you’re working with Instagram alone and if you have a blog aligned with it that’s generally enough.

Brands you’ve collaborated with before

This is another important thing for brands to see. For one, if you’ve worked with their competitors and then you’re asking to work with them it could raise the question about whether you have the brand and your audience’s interests front of mind, or are just in it for your own personal gain.

Likewise, if your account is just sponsored post after sponsored post it raises the same question.

But if you have a healthy mix of your own personal content and only a bit of sponsored content here and there, then it shows the brand that you only work with companies you genuinely do like and want to share with your audience.

And that’s my take on what brands look for in social media influencers.

So what can you do to improve your chances of getting booked by brands?

Brand yourself properly

This comes back to the 8 steps to getting started as an influencer. You want to ensure you really hone in your niche and put effort into showing up genuinely.

If you want to be an influencer then great content is a huge part of it so there also needs to be a focus on showing up consistently, being the real you, and really engaging with your audience.

The stronger your brand, the more brands will want to hire you.

For more tips on how to brand yourself effectively on social media check out this post.

Focus on genuine growth

Just because this one can be so tempting and I get asked it so often, I had to raise it again.

DON’T be misled into thinking bots, pods, automation or anything else that is not a genuine human being doing real life actions on your account, will do you any favours.

Steer clear of all of these, and just focus on showing up daily. Don’t just post and run, spend time watching stories, sending DM’s, commenting on other people’s posts, following new people. Only this authentic engagement from you, will result in a highly enthusiastic, trusting, and loyal community of followers in return.

Create a solid media kit

Brands and their PR teams are busy. They don’t want to spend hours trying to find out information for themselves. This is why sending them a detailed media kit is super important.

Your media kit should outline what social media platforms you’re on, follower count, reach, engagement rates, your audience demographic, any brands you’ve worked with in the past, testimonials etc.

The more effort you put into getting this right, the more likely it is that brands are going to say yes to you.

Always be honest because brands can go and look the information up themselves so it’s no point faking. And keep it up to date so you should review the stats every few months.

Get your pitch right

When you’re starting out, brands won’t be coming to you. And even when you get more experienced as an influencer, if you really want the bigger deals it will still require some effort on your part.

So when you’re sliding into DM’s or emailing a brand, you better be sure you have your pitch right.

Copying and pasting the same generic wording to every brand is not going to cut it here. Yes, you can have a template to work off, but the key to standing out is to really get specific and show the brand you know them.

And whatever you do, don’t make it all about you. I can only imagine how many collaboration requests brands receive every day. Start with a catchy subject line to ensure your email gets opened. If you get that far you better make sure your email is worth their time, so put some effort into personalising it and telling them what’s in it for them.

Brands don’t care about how awesome it would be for you if you got to work with them. They want to know why investing in you would be of any benefit to them so make sure you spell it out.

Now, I know that’s a lot to take in. Especially these last two points as they are absolutely crucial to getting more bookings with brands. So, I have some exciting news for you.

I’ll be hosting a live workshop where I’ll be teaching you these exact things in great detail, live and in action. Plus you’ll get my media kit template plus email pitch examples. Click here to find out all the details and register.

Excited to see you there and can’t wait to show you how to start implementing all my strategies so you can start seeing results as an influencer.

Jade xo

I hope you got lots of value out of this article. As usual, if you like what you’ve read feel free to like, comment, or share. Your time reading my posts is greatly appreciated. 
Want to know what brands look for in Social Media Influencers? Whilst I'm no diviner, I can share tips from my experiences of working with different brands to give you a better idea.

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