Written by Ashlyn Brooks

April 22, 2022

Being an Instagram influencer or creator is a growing market where companies are investing billions in marketing dollars for the right people to get their products in front of viewers. What better way to take advantage of this growing industry than to build brand partnerships with these companies?

But not all partnerships are equal, and to weed through the mediocre and find the exceptional opportunities with a high return and mutual benefit, you need to know a few things. During our Instagram Summit, we got to sit down with an expert on the topic, Mario Moreno, founder of Moonrise Social Club

Let’s look at his best advice for finding and thriving with brand partnerships as a content creator. 

What is the creator industry, and who can join?

The “creator” industry is a skyrocketing market that is growing leaps and bounds, as social media continues to explore new avenues. For example, a person who posts content on Instagram for the sole purpose of influencing their audience’s purchase decisions is a part of the creator industry, as is the company that’s being promoted. 

A creator can generally be anyone. There’s no minimum following required, no set niche, and no rules as to how you choose to engage with your audience. However, building a partnership with a brand may come with some guardrails, like:

  • How many times to post content
  • What avenues to post with (static post, reel, Livestream, etc.)
  • Minimum views per month
  • The verbiage you can and cannot say while promoting a product

It really depends on the brand’s partnership guidelines and their company values. Also, Mario pointed out some great tips regarding brand partnerships:

  1. “The creator industry is a real industry. Influencer marketing is poised to surpass the $3 billion mark by the end of 2021.”  
  2. “You don’t have to be an influencer to secure brand partnerships.”
  3. “There are paid and unpaid brand partnerships.”

Types of brand partnerships

There is more than one type of brand partnership, each with its own nuances and benefits to fit the type of creator you are. Here’s the list. We’ll dive into what each means, below:

  • Traditional brand partnerships
  • Product exchange partnerships
  • Content creation brand partnerships
  • Affiliate brand partnerships
  • Ambassador brand partnerships

Traditional brand partnerships

The traditional or standard brand partnership is the type of partnership most people are familiar with. You have a brand like Nike, for example, that pays an influencer or content creator to post content that promotes the Nike brand to their audience. The deal usually includes a standard price or flat rate in exchange for one or more posts. 

Product exchange partnerships

The product exchange partnership works the same as a traditional partnership, except payment is not monetary. Instead, influencers are compensated by receiving a product. Going back to the Nike example, an influencer is sent a pair of Nike shoes to showcase on their Instagram. Once the post(s) have been delivered, Nike will let the creator keep the pair of shoes as compensation. 

Content creation brand partnerships

A content creator is someone who produces content for a brand to use on its channels, not necessarily the channels of the content creator. For example, a content creator who creates graphic design may be contracted under a set wage to produce a number of images for a brand. This just means the brand gets to use the images while the creator doesn’t have to share those images or promote the brand in any way.  

Affiliate–brand partnerships

Affiliate–brand partnerships pay affiliates based on the performance of the content they produce. As a creator, your compensation for affiliate partnerships is dependent on how many sales, traffic, or sign-ups you produce. The brand will set compensation based on desired results and deliver once the creator has reached the threshold. 

Ambassador–brand partnerships

Ambassador programs mirror that of traditional brand partnerships in that there’s a post-for-payment setup. However, generally, ambassadors are contracted out for a longer period of time for a higher volume of output than traditional influencers. 

Best practices for securing a partnership

Securing a brand partnership involves following a set of guidelines that poise you as a great influencer or content creator for brands to partner with: 

  • Learn how to pitch yourself
  • Network and leverage your connections
  • Use your resources
  • Create high-quality content
  • Keep organized and respond in a timely manner
  • Be flexible with your partners
  • Stay professional at all times

Plus, having the right tools in place can alleviate most of this burden for you. Some tools to manage your business include:

  • ManyChat: for data capture, personalized DMs, and responding with personalized messages to your future partners and audience 
  • Mailchimp: for capturing and building your email lists 
  • Google calendar: for staying organized and on top of your daily tasks

Getting started with brand partnerships

Initially, it may seem overwhelming to get in touch with these brands and secure brand partnerships. On the plus side, brands are looking for influencers just as much as influencers are looking for them. Many brands, in fact, have web pages geared solely to giving influencers all the information they need to get in touch with them. It’s really just a matter of finding the right place on the internet to get the info from. 

Here are Mario’s best tips for getting your foot in the door:

  1. Make a list of your favorite brands and look up their influencer/ social media manager on LinkedIn. 
  2. DM the brand on Instagram and ask for their influencer/brand partnership contact.
  3. Post about the brand on Instagram and tag them using their branded hashtag.
  4. Send an email to their influencer team expressing your interest in a brand partnership.

What do you need for pitching to brands

Let’s talk about media kits and portfolios. Just as you would turn in a résumé for a traditional job, you want to provide some proof that you have the following, engagement, and skills to perform as a content creator for a brand partnership. 

Here’s what a basic media kit and portfolio consist of:

  •  Media kit:
    • Follower counts and engagement rate
    • Featured platforms
    • Gender audience breakdown
    • Demographics
    • Content categories
  • Portfolio
    • Sponsored work
    • Organic work
    • Rates

Here’s what a traditional media kit might look like:

Contract review

Once you’ve landed a partnership (yay!) there are a few things to consider before crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s. 

  • Check your output (deliverables). Make sure they aren’t sticking you with an insurmountable amount of work with mediocre pay.
  • Check your time frame. Make sure they are allowing for enough time between deliverables.
  • Check your pay rate. Make sure you agree with the rate that was discussed. 
  • Check for exclusivity. Are you still allowed to work with other brands?
  • Check the guidelines. Know exactly what is and isn’t allowed in your posts prior to signing the contract. 

As a content creator, you want to make sure before you sign that you understand all the agreements of the deal and how the brand will be utilizing your content. 

Packaging and preparing content for delivery

The final stage is geared toward preparing to deliver the content you’ve created. Once you have all your pictures and videos prepared and ready, you need to essentially close the loop and send it over for review and publishing/posting.  Here are the best practices for delivering content:

  1. Give them options: different looks, taglines, versatility to choose what they like best
  2. Package your content: have it prepared in the exact way you would post it, including captions, and send it all in one concise email for review
  3. Don’t forget your handle: they likely have several influencers they work with, so don’t make them hunt for your IG handle—provide it with the content
  4. Deliver, then follow up: give them the link once the post goes live, then provide analytics and metrics for the post in seven days
  5. Invoice: send your invoice in a separate email after you’ve followed up, and. thank them (and don’t forget to attach the actual invoice!)

Boasting brand partnership success

Some people call it luck, but there is a formula to follow for finding partnerships, securing partnerships, and scaling as a content creator on any social platform. Using what we’ve learned today as the structure, you can also build out success as a creator or influencer. 

For more tools on engaging and growing your audience, as well as drawing attention to your DMs, sign up for the ManyChat chat automation platform today.  

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The contents of this blog were independently prepared and are for informational purposes only. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ManyChat or any other party. Individual results may vary.