Even if you are confident in the quality of your product line and are excited to partner with influencers, it may feel intimidating to contact influencers out of the blue with a collaboration opportunity.
What do you say? And what is the best way to reach them?
These questions are common for beginner influencer marketers. And the good news is that it is easier than you think. We’ll share best practices of how to find the right influencers, provide ideas on what to say and how to say it to partner with the best influencers that align with your brand.
The Search to Find the Right Influencers
In most cases, working with the right influencers is the key to your campaign success. Your influencers don’t just need to be authentic content curators, they also need to be a good fit for your brand.
Avoid influencers that are willing to promote anything.
First, it’s important to know that there are an increasing number of aspiring influencers that are quick to promote and less aware of how promoting anything “off the street” can negatively impact their personal brand.
The influencers you want are the ones that put values and quality content first, brand promotions second. When these influencers do promote products, they demonstrate a clear affinity for what they are posting about and use that brand excitement to achieve a better connection with their audience.
Find influencers that align with your brand and would use your product.
There needs to be a significant amount of relevance between the lifestyle that the influencer promotes and your products. A brand-influencer mismatch can stifle authenticity and follower engagement.
It’s essential that your influencers know how to use your products. When influencers take this approach, they will resonate better with their audience. It also makes your job easier since the influencer clearly loves your brand – it’s just a matter of coordinating campaign details.
For example, Lume Cube creates versatile lighting solutions. Its product naturally fits with professional photographers and remote workers that need lighting for video calls. That’s why Lume Cube targeted influencers with these characteristics and has seen remarkable results through their influencer program.
Check the influencer’s engagement rate.
Follower counts can help you gauge the size of an influencer’s audience, but the number of followers can’t tell you how connected that influencer is with members of their audience. To measure the relationship strength between influencers and their followers, you need to check engagement metrics.
Engagements are predominantly likes, comments, and post shares. After partnering with an influencer, you’ll have access to more engagement metrics, such as link clicks and coupon code redemptions.
But when recruiting influencers, you should primarily examine an influencer’s post comments and shares. Likes can be a helpful metric, so long as you understand that liking a post may not indicate much by way of thoughtful interactions between influencers and followers. But when a follower takes time to comment or share, you can view those engagements as quality interactions.
It’s important to gather as many different engagement metrics as possible so that you get a fuller view of that influencer’s audience relationships. For example, if you notice that an influencer is using campaign-specific hashtags, you can perform a search to see how popular that hashtag is. Also, remember that each social platform offers users different options to engage posts and other users.
If you’re using an influencer marketing automation tool like GRIN, the platform will automatically calculate influencer engagement metrics for you. To manually calculate an engagement rate, simply follow the formula below:
Total number of engagements / Total number of followers = Engagement Rate
Perform an influencer analysis.
Sometimes you can distinguish between good and not-so-good influencers by looking at their latest posts and audience responses. But many things that set quality influencers apart are not that obvious.
That’s why many marketers employ influencer analysis tools. You can perform in-depth influencer research by looking at post consistency, aesthetics, and relevance between sponsored posts and the influencer’s personal brand.
Another popular technique is influencer mapping. With this approach, you can compare multiple influencers and rate their effectiveness based on the following metrics:
- Overall influence
- Overall opinion
- Opinion consistency (on values and issues)
- Willingness to engage on those opinions
How to Do Influencer Outreach Correctly
Depending upon the social media platform and the industry, influencer outreach could look a little different. Here are a few tried-and-true approaches to performing influencer outreach well.
Try influencer gifting (product seeding).
Most vibrant influencer programs make frequent use of product gifting, more commonly referred to as product seeding, when recruiting new influencers.
Marketers need to know that the influencers they work with understand how to use their products. Furthermore, influencer campaigns don’t work unless the influencer genuinely loves those products. If the influencer is apathetic about the product, they will not promote your brand with authenticity.
Avoid Instagram comments as your outreach channel.
Some brands search for influencers and then add a public comment on an influencer’s post inviting them to collaborate. But this technique is considered bad taste, particularly because most influencers are very picky about the brands they associate with. The more appropriate manner to reach out to influencers is to send them a direct message or email.
Know which form of communication the influencer uses most.
Experienced influencers have preferred communication channels when interacting with brands. Often, it’s best to direct message an influencer on their main social channel with a brief offer to send them a gift. If the influencer responds, ask them how they prefer to communicate as a courtesy.
Don’t oversell your brand.
When composing your outreach message, make sure to keep your pitch focused on what you love about that influencer. Let them know the reasons why you’re reaching out to them for a partnership, such as their posting style and personality.
It’s important to mention who you are and what you do, but it’s premature to expect that the prospective influencer will fall in love with your brand and product after a single message. Therefore, you should refrain from using the initial contact to pitch your products. Influencers that are interested will do their own due diligence on your brand. It’s far better to make the first message about them and your interest.
Get to know the influencers.
The best brand-influencer relationships last for the long-term. As such, it is a good idea for you to take time to get to know the influencers you’re interested in. Gathering a few personal details can help you make reaching out more authentic and even improve your ability to negotiate.
Make your outreach personal.
In light of the nature of authentic brand-influencer relationships, it is a good idea to let go of certain corporate attitudes in favor of getting to know your influencers. While maintaining appropriate boundaries, don’t be afraid to make your outreach efforts personal and genuine.
Great Examples of Influencer Outreach
At the end of the day, you need to employ a communication style that fits your brand. But taking a look at a few examples of successful influencer outreach can help you get started.
Product Gifting with a Note
In a recent episode of Brands Working Remote Talking Influencers, Tubby Todd Founder Andrea Faulkner Williams addressed a question during the Q & A session regarding how to approach influencers.
“There is an art to approaching influencers,” says Andrea. She continues,
“I have 5,000 followers, and it’s flattering when brands send me product. But I like short messages. I do NOT want a long message. Something like, ‘Hey, we think you’re really cool. We like what you’re sharing. Would you like it if we sent you some of our product?’”
Nine times out of ten, this approach is the best, which is why we offer it first. Here’s how it works.
Hey [first name of influencer], we have this product that I think you’d like. May we send you a sample?
What to Do
In the example above, you want to keep your offer simple and one-sided. You’re sending the influencer free product with no strings attached. If they agree to test your product, collect their shipping info and follow-up with them to make sure that they received your gift.
Be available for questions and feedback from the influencer. Only after the influencer tried and loved your products is it appropriate to offer them a partnership.
What Not to Do
Don’t bait-and-switch your influencers and ambassadors. If you give them the impression that you’re sending them a free gift, don’t surprise them quid-pro-quo demands to promote your product.
Why It Works
A genuine, free gift is endearing to influencers. These social media power users get countless offers to promote brands. By sending free products without asking them to promote your brand, you take the burden off of that influencer owing you any favors.
Once that influencer expresses genuine excitement about their experience, introducing the idea of a marketing partnership is a natural response.
Collaboration Opportunity Email
A collaboration email can sometimes work as a cold open. But these introductions work better if you’ve already made first contact with the influencer, much like in the option above.
My name is [your name] from [company]. I’ve noticed that you and our brand share similar values and audience, and I wanted to say that you’re content is amazing.
I’d like to offer you a chance to try out [new product] before it becomes available to
the public. Would you be interested in checking it out and providing a review on
If you’re interested, send me a reply, and we’ll send you a free copy of [product]!
What to Do
The template above is a bit more direct. Don’t be afraid to get straight to the point when you know that a particular influencer is a good fit.
The email begins with an introduction, followed by a compliment to the influencer. It’s important to make it known that you appreciate their content approach and desire a partnership.
With this email template, it’s still important to have the influencer test your products or services ahead of time. If you are confident that your product will get positive feedback, you can request a fresh product review from the influencer, as illustrated above.
What Not to Do
Using this approach breaks down if you forget to introduce yourself at the outset. It’s creepy to get a partnership offer with a brand that doesn’t tell you who they are and what they do.
Also, don’t make the outreach email all about your brand. Express to the influencer your admiration for them and the fact that you’ve been following them to get to know their content style. This step ensures the influencer that you don’t just partner with anyone on social media.
Why It Works
The collaboration opportunity email is brief and clear. Both are key components of successful influencer outreach. Top-performing influencers are busy, and they are likely to overlook long emails that take forever to get to the point.
Instagram Direct Message
Instagram direct messages also work for cold introductions – the shorter the better. If you’ve already sent a few complimentary messages to an influencer, maybe it’s time to take the conversation to the next level.
My name is [your name] from [company]. I’ve been following your [Relevant Social
Media Channel] account since [month/year].
Your recent post on [relevant social post] really resonated with me. I thought it was
something my audience would appreciate, so I shared it on our social media
I wanted to get in touch with you to discuss [topic] further and a paid [social media
If you’re interested, we can set up a phone call this week to discuss compensation and
more details on the project.
What to Do
In the template above, you’re going to focus on the fact that you are one of their followers. This template is great to use after you’ve expressed public support for the influencer (through post likes and shares) before asking them to join your team.
Similar to the outreach email above, you should introduce yourself. Because Instagram is a bit more personal, it’s a good idea to be specific about what you love about the influencer and what you need from them.
What Not to Do
Don’t be vague. Generic compliments don’t seem authentic. Also, an open invite to collaborate without any campaign specifics leaves the influencer with too many question marks. And while this template is longer than the other two, it is still brief and to the point.
Why It Works
Instagram messages in this format generally feel endearing to influencers. They appreciate thoughtful compliments and collaboration requests to show that your brand took time to consider their strengths. Lastly, because it is a relatively short message and broken up into paragraphs, any extra words are easier for the influencer to digest.
Conclusion: Finding authentic influencers is about authentic outreach.
Audiences connect with brands that publish authentic content. Influencers are especially skilled at providing that authentic content on behalf of the brands they love. However, even the best influencers will struggle to maintain authenticity if the brand-influencer relationship is awkward and manufactured.
The more genuine you can be in your influencer outreach, the better that relationship will perform during influencer campaigns. Understandably, it may take a few outreach attempts before they begin to feel natural, but with practice and attention-to-detail, you’ll feel comfortable building relationships with influencers and establishing a thriving influencer community.