Brand collaboration is one way a content creator can monetize their efforts, but it’s a competitive space. Advertisers routinely sift through throngs of influencers and just a fraction are usually chosen for campaigns. Every week, we work to match advertisers with creators in the SHE Media Partner Network, and depending on the brand’s needs, this process can take several rounds to finalize.
First, the brand will shares details on their budget, marketing campaign, and type of influencers they want to work with. Next, we’ll filter the network for social following requirements, blog traffic, and the quality of both. Finally, we submit our choices back to the brand. They’ll either approve or nix our recommendations, and if it’s the latter, we go another round.
Since we often receive the same feedback, here are the most common mistakes you’ll want to avoid if you’re banking on paid brand campaigns.
1. Poor Quality Content
Quality will continue to be the most important factor for brands while recruiting. A poor quality blog or Instagram account won’t reflect positively on the advertiser and with an abundance of beautiful accounts to choose from, there is little chance they would take the risk. Our internal teams have a keen eye for high-quality content–here’s what catches our eye.
When we look at a partner’s website, we want to see a consistent stream of published content. If there is a ton around the holidays and then crickets for months following, that’s an indicator that the blog is not maintained regularly. It’s also important that your articles are long-form and cover topics thoroughly. Google doesn’t reward thin content or content that doesn’t help the reader. Make sure your posts are accurate and fact-based.
Brand safety is a factor for most large advertisers. They spend major dollars to prevent their brand from appearing next to certain terms and topics. In order to attract the more lucrative, mainstream brands, avoid things like using expletives, promoting violence, hate speech, and other content that violates internet guidelines.
Social accounts like Instagram and Facebook should feel authentic and personal. When we look at an account covered in memes, news headlines, and inspirational quotes, we often move on to others. Brands are looking to sell products and gain new customers. As it pertains to influencer marketing, this works best when their accounts have a more humanized feel and followers can relate to their lives.
On that note, it’s important to prominently display information about yourself on your blog. Users are savvier than ever and want to know where their information is coming from. Spend time creating an interesting About Page. Talk about your mission and your story.
Your social media links should be listed and hyperlinked from the homepage. We’re shocked to still see so many homepages without links (or with broken links!) to social accounts. For brands, it’s the combined reach of your blog and socials that they’re most interested in. You can bet they’ll be looking for those handles. We recommend having links to your social accounts listed at the top of your homepage versus in the footer or sidebar.
2. Too Much Sponsored Content
You didn’t know that was even a thing, did you? Brands aren’t interested in paying for their products to be posted next to ten other sponsored posts. When we check a blog’s homepage or an Instagram feed and struggle to find organic posts, we hesitate to refer those influencers to a brand because it’s almost sure to be rejected. Even when the content itself is excellent, sometimes we altogether pass.
Having just come out of Q4, you may have published even more branded content than normal. But now that it’s passed, you should resume more organic (non-sponsored) posts. And I mean, much more. The same goes for your Instagram and other social posts.
Depending on how big an issue this is for your business, there are several options. Natural blog and Instagram posts appear in the ballpark of an 8:1 ratio and the very most. This means for every eight organic posts, one can go up that’s sponsored. With this in mind, the easiest thing to do is increase the number of times you post non-sponsored content to balance it out. There is a certain authenticity brands look for so don’t be afraid to let that show through your content, especially if it means providing you with additional content inspo.
On the blog, it’s the homepage appearance that’s most significant. If you’re on WordPress, you can have a developer build custom functionality that allows you to curate your homepage. Otherwise, by default, as you publish new content, it automatically pins to the homepage.
3. A Neglected Website
Now more than ever, advertisers are finding value in a more holistic package approach. It’s rare that a campaign comes in requesting only Instagram posts or TikTok. The modern-day influencer campaign includes a combination of blog posts, static social posts, story-style video posts, and more. Build your brand to have a footprint in all of these areas.
The largest missed opportunities we see come from neglected blogs. There was an era when the number one goal of every influencer was to grow Instagram because that’s where the money was. But now, with oft-equal interest in sponsored blog posts, it’s time for the focus to shift or at least balance. Your blog should be viewed as your most important real estate. You own your blog in a way you do not own your social accounts.
4. Mismatched Pitching
When you’re applying for influencer campaigns, read the application carefully and be honest with yourself as to whether you’re a good fit. Brands are paying more attention to the details within your content. They want to work with influencers who have a similar audience or mission because when people see sponsored content from someone they trust, they’ll be more aware of a product and more likely to buy it. Focus on building a niche audience and many times, this smaller, niche-specific audience is more valuable to advertisers than larger ones. And although we absolutely recognize the value to brands of the micro-influencer, many brands (especially when the campaign is on Instagram) still require social media followings of 20k+.
5. Poor Reputation
Details like dates, post copy, and image specifications matter. If an influencer doesn’t fulfill the requirements of the campaign, they aren’t likely to continue to work with you on other campaigns. It’s in your best interest to commit to only what you can handle. Sometimes what starts off as a one-off campaign flight can be the beginning of a longer, deeper relationship with the brand.
6. Not an Engaged Community
At the end of the day, your audience is the MVP when it comes to landing influencer work. Take care of them and they will take care of you. If you have millions of followers or page views a month, but can’t drive a sale, brands won’t want to work with you. Engage with your audience, communicate with them and ultimately, only shell out for products/brands you believe will resonate with them. Value the user above all else.
The SHE Media Partner Network helps content creators and entrepreneurs build sustainable businesses with dedicated support for managing ads, brand partnerships, and more. Apply now to join our mission-driven platform.