So you want to collaborate with brands…

I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of posts that begin with ‘The Top Ways To…’. It feels like everyone and their mother has come up with a topic that they can write 3 things about. For that reason, I immediately scratched out the original title of this blog. Instead, I just want to share some tips we’ve learned from numerous conversations with advocates that work with brands.

So if you’re new to world of advocate marketing and are looking to collaborate with brands using your social media account or blog, here are a few things to consider:

1. Put your location and email everywhere

Yes, we all get a lot of emails, but if you are looking to actually collaborate with others online, you need to put both where you are located (city and state) and your email everywhere you can. If you’re not doing this, you’re making it that much harder for people to get a hold of you. Especially for brands that are looking for location-specific advocates. Most brands will not take the time to research where you’re from if it’s not clearly identified in your bio.

2. Follow the brands you like on social media

This may seem obvious, but a lot of people are concerned that following too many people looks desperate, so they are picky about who they follow. While this is a solid strategy to remain credible, it shouldn’t apply to brands you want to work with. By all means, don’t follow your second-cousin who posts pics of his latest deer hunt, but you should definitely follow brands you are actually an advocate for. One of the easiest ways a brand can find you is by looking within their own following. If you’re a brand wondering how to do a deep analysis of your following, shoot us an email. We’ve got you covered.

3. Don’t accept free stuff without knowing ALL the details

A lot of brands are getting really tricky about how they get you involved in a campaign. They might say “Hey Pat, we LOVE your posts. Can we send you some free shoes?!” And of course, I would respond, “Hell yeah, send them over! My address is 21 Should’ve Asked More Questions Drive.” Once those new shoes come in the mail, you can bet your ass a follow-up request is coming asking me to ‘post a picture of those shoes within 2 weeks while doing a 360-dunk in a dimly-lit park’. Two problems here…1. I can’t dunk — and 2. I’m on vacation the next two weeks and have zero time to take this picture and post it the way I would want.

The details of how you are going to work with a particular brand should be spelled out from the VERY beginning. You’re only putting yourself in a tough position by not asking the right questions up front. Some of you will say, “well if they didn’t tell me I was going to have to post something before they sent me the product then that’s their fault.” That’s one route to take, but we’d suggest trying to over communicate from the beginning and not burn any bridges.

Here are some basic questions we’d recommend asking the brand before you commit to anything:

  • What rights to my content are they asking for?
  • What does the compensation look like? Free product? Cross-promotion? cash?
  • Do I have complete, creative freedom in how I promote their product/service or is there a style guide I should follow?
  • How long do I have to turn around a promotion?
  • Are there certain parameters around what time of day I have to promote if it’s on social media?

Over-communicating is not just something you as an advocate should be doing…this goes for brands as well. But the point here is that sometimes they will try to get by with as much as they can without divulging much information.

If you’re going to work with a brand, make sure you find brands that truly want to work with YOU, rather than hit their own impression goal.

After all, the point of working with these brands is to establish a relationship and continue working with them.This goes to our core philosophy of advocate marketing, not influencer marketing. The days of ‘one-and-done’ campaigns with a brand are over.