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Inside story: why would an influencer work with you?

The creator’s voice is rarely, if ever, heard beyond brand messaging when it comes to influencer marketing. But their perspective in terms of who they choose to work with, and why, is instrumental in building a robust relationship that drives success

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The relationship between influencers and the brands they represent is critical when it comes to the success of an influencer marketing campaign. 

When choosing a creator or influencer to partner with, savvy marketers must consider the individual’s experiences, needs and aspirations. 

Experience Klear first-hand

Due diligence at the outset ensures that both parties are aligned and share the values and perspectives that, when meshed in a marketing campaign, will elicit the best possible outcome. And, further down the line, such a positive pairing is likely to avert any misunderstandings that could potentially damage a brand.

We ask three influencers why they work with particular brands, the red flags that make them turn away, and what they believe makes a productive partnership.

How to Become a Successful Content Creator and Influencer in 2023

Samira Kazan 

A former professor at University College London, Kazan has built up a 1.2million follower base on Instagram over the last eight years. She is also author of the Alphafoodie, a mostly plant-based food blog.

“I am very selective with the brand deals and collaborations I say yes to. They need to be a product which I use, or I believe in. The brand has to be the right fit for me, my values and the nature of my blog and social media feeds.

For every 10 brands that approach me, I might only accept one proposal. The main red flag for me is brands being too prescriptive about the content. I don’t want them to force me to say something that I don’t want to. It’s almost like the brand manager or marketing officer thinks they know better than the influencer. 

If they come to me for a collaboration, then they must like my writing and filming style already. So why not keep that rather than dictating to me what they want? I am flexible. I understand that the brand wants to get their message across so there is always some back and forth between myself and the brand, or more often, the agency working for them.

At the moment, I am doing some work for a kimchi brand, as it is a product that I eat, and I like its healthy properties. I am known for introducing the tortilla hack over the internet, which is essentially coming up with a whole different bunch of ingredients you can have in a tortilla. My followers love it, so I decided to introduce ideas such as how to have kimchi with tortillas, as well as kimchi chocolate and ice cream. 

I thought this would fire up some debate and provide my followers with a reason for them to save the content. Just me eating kimchi with rice would be too boring. The brand chose three ideas. Because nobody can guarantee that any campaign will succeed, the brand paid me half my fee upfront with the rest to follow on completion.

I tend to favour longer term partnerships from brands, which can last from between six months to up to a year. I think this is good for me and for the brands, as having more regular content, rather than a one-off, strengthens your followers’ confidence in your posts. They see that you are doing it because you like the brand and you regularly use it. You are not just standing there smiling inanely at a bottle for the money. Having a series of posts as a package is also more efficient and cheaper for brands than a one-time deal. They get more for their spend. 

A no-no for me are brands that send you a contract the day before you start work, who want to own all copyright and too heavily edit your work. That can be very stressful.

Some brands have sent me personal messages thanking me for the campaigns. If they treat me nicely and professionally then I have no problem promoting and mentioning them in my posts every now and again, even if there is no deal in place.” 

Download the free influencer contract template here

Laura Jane

Relationship blogger Laura Jane runs the Style of Laura Jane website and has 10,500 Instagram followers. She has worked with brands including the BBC and Superdrug.

“As well as being financially lucrative, working with brands can boost my visibility and generate new website visitors. It’s also great to try new products associated with my industry so I can stay current and up to date with trends.

The brand must align with my values and be relevant to my audience. As such, I prefer to work with ethical and sustainable companies.

There are usually two different types of brand campaigns – one is a specific plan where a brand has a set list of products that I can review. With this type of campaign, there is often a contract detailing how many stories and reels they want by a certain date and with a content approval request. These tend to come from smaller rather than larger companies.

Some brands ask me for feedback on whether this is do-able and, if so, how we should both work together. Bloggers and influencers can negotiate terms. I accept content approval if it ensures product accuracy rather than asking me to say certain phrases or sentences. 

The other type of campaign is more relaxed. Occasionally, brands will email to propose collaborating to gain exposure. I can then suggest ideas that I think will work well with my readership and negotiate a contract. This type of collaboration rarely involves content approval.

I have noticed that as I’ve developed my blog, brands trust me to decide how to produce and publish content. I think companies are realising that asking influencers to repeat a particular script doesn’t come across as genuine. A successful influencer collaboration must feel authentic, which is why influencers should be encouraged to address the positive and negative aspects of a product.

A big red flag is when a brand is not open and upfront about the collaboration. They may avoid discussing the fee or encourage me to sign a contract before finalising specific details. It’s also a red flag if a brand wants to collaborate but fails to explain why they are a good match. It can feel that they have just messaged me without even reading my blog. 

I want to have a phone call with them and be able to go back and forth with ideas. I don’t want to say the same things that other influencers and bloggers are also repeating.

Another ‘don’t’ is that I’m against signing contracts that request full usage rights with a set fee. In addition, if I’m working with a brand that I have not used before, it must have positive reviews and strong customer feedback. 

When it comes to communication with brands, it’s great when they want to discuss ideas and talk about their product with you before finalising a collaboration. Rather than sending a generic email with an opportunity that they have probably sent to many other Instagram users, an ideal collaboration involves a detailed conversation before the agreement, a check-in midway through and then a conversation after.” 

Hayley Knight

Micro travel influencer on Instagram with 2,200 followers.

“My husband and I have been travelling permanently for two years, working remotely and documenting our experiences. We have an Instagram community full of people who we meet up with around the world as we go.

We have only just started working with brands including the Travelgram itinerary app, who we know work with influencers – and who we follow ourselves. We got in touch with them and others directly and said that although we were small, we have great growth ambitions. You have to be proactive if you are our size.

We are very selective in the brands we choose. We are both vegan, so we don’t want to work with a non-vegan travel brand or one that promotes non-vegan ethics. We have to believe in them for our followers to believe in the content. The message has to be weaved in naturally in a paid post.

I want to be able to talk to brands, have good conversations with them and build a relationship. I like them to be responsive to our requests as well. Getting your fees upfront is another plus because there are so many time wasters out there who want you to put this and that post together but then tell you that they don’t have a budget.” 

Learn how to be successful at influencer marketing:

Illustration: Sara Gelfgren / Graphics: Harry Lewis-Irlam / Audience analyst: Tony Bennison