Last updated on September 16th, 2022 at 10:33 pm
I’ve been working in the influencer space since 2012. Since before it was even known as influencer marketing.
In fact, I was fortunate enough to take my first influencer company from $0 to 8-figures to acquisition.
After working with, literally, hundreds of brands and thousands of influencers, I’ve learned a thing or two about what brands want and, more importantly, why they want it.
While it’s true that brands crave the relationship that exists between creators and their audiences, this isn’t the only thing they want. In fact, for the brands that are dominating the social game, having content created about them on the regular to build out dozens to thousands of ‘tagged’ posts across platforms is the ultimate goal.
Simple. We trust other people more than we trust brands. When something is too polished, we tend to look at it askew. We’re human. We have rough edges. We feel validated when we see content that represents us.
This is why the most successful brands on the planet are, not only looking for UGC, but willing to pay for it.
User Generated Content (UGC) is the most powerful marketing medium since word-of-mouth recommendations. That’s because it’s the equivalent of WOM on steroids.
Every single video or image created by a REAL person signals to other real people that this is a brand that you want to be in the know about. It builds trust that brands can’t get on their own anymore. The days of Don Draper ruminating over a bottle of scotch and a sexist joke before telling you what dish soap to use are over.
Okay, you know why, but the question is how. How can you get a brand to notice you and want to pay you?
Here’s 3 methods I’ve seen used by multiple creators with less than 10K followers to drive between $15K-$60K annually:
- If you’ve never worked with a brand before, then I’d start by creating branded content first, then offering it to the brands. It may seem a little counterintuitive. Why would you do the work if they haven’t indicated they want it? This is nothing new. This is the social content version of writing on spec. However, there’s a method to this.
First, you’re going to look at the brands you already use and love. Then search their feed for the photos and videos that have already been sponsored on their behalf. This is content they’ve already been willing to pay for. This is your roadmap. This is what you want to replicate.
Create 5–10 pieces of content and send it to them in their DMs with the message “I’ve been using your product for years (check my feed). I created some content for you on spec that I thought your audience would love (mine typically does 😊). If you’re interested in licensing it, let me know, I’ve been dying to work with you.”… or something to this effect. Then price it out on a per piece of content basis with paid media usage rights.
- If you’re not familiar with marketplaces, then this is your sign to get familiar. This is a great way to make your social profile and content more easily noticed, as well as the opportunity pitch brands on their job listings. Check out sites like Billo, Fohr, Impact, and Tribe. Start posting branded content on your platforms and give thoughtful pitches when submitting to brands. You may think the best way is to just spray and pray. Don’t do this. I repeat. Do not do this. Having a template is fine, but please make sure to give each pitch something specific to that brand.
- The last, and most effective, way is good old fashioned email. Do a LinkedIn search for “influencer marketing” or “social media” at your favorite brands.
- Send them an email. Make it professional, but personal. You want to show you can be counted on to do the work, but also that you’re a human that’s relatable and that their audience is going to relate to. Personalize your message. Show them samples of your work. And, most importantly, follow up. They likely won’t respond the first email. Don’t spam them, but follow up. Space them out, but don’t ignore the follow up. You get the message. More often than not, their delayed response isn’t based upon the fact they don’t want to work with you. You’re making their job easier (they have to find talent to work with). They’re just busy and emailed by multiple talent.
Let me know which you try and how it worked for you.