Have you seen those Instagram profiles that state they are ‘brand reps’ for one, two or numerous companies? Often they have a decent number of followers and they’ll plug those brands regularly in their feeds?
Sounds great for getting your brand ‘out there’ right?
Let’s think about this for a minute.
Doesn’t it seem a little disingenuous that someone needs to be receiving money and/or products on a regular basis to promote that certain brand?
Perhaps a little inauthentic?
And doesn’t it defeat the purpose of having someone promote certain products, if their followers know they are being paid/rewarded to do so?
That's where the brand rep system fails. Brand reps should never be about just sharing a photo of your products.
"We field about 30 new brand rep requests a month, requesting free clothes in exchange for a sweet picture. What some people fail to realise is that being a brand rep is SO MUCH MORE than that (businesses: you should expect more) (aspiring brand reps: you should do more)."
So what’s the alternative?
Whilst there might be exceptions, the key point here is that brand reps are rarely influencers. What's the difference you ask?
According to Webopedia:
"In the blogosphere, an influencer is a person who blogs about a specific subject and is highly recognised online as an expert. An influencer differs from an A-list blogger in that they are often able to sway other's opinions and thoughts on the subject matter."
Instead of accepting brand reps who have a mid-size following and don't seem to really stand for anything, you need to target larger fish in the Instagram sea, and indeed in the 'real world' (!) who are leaders and who genuinely influence their followers to take action. One you identify these influencers, you need to narrow your list down to influencers who you believe will be genuinely excited about your brand. Then, you need to start building authentic brand engagement.
Get to know as much as you can about the influencer you’d like to target. What are their kids’ names, husband’s name, next work/wedding/important anniversary coming up, do they love food or are really into skincare, and if so, which brands and why? Use this information to tailor a gift or offering just for them. If you’re in the retail game, package up a hamper with a personalised and handwritten note to congratulate them on their new baby, business anniversary, engagement or whatever you’ve found out about them. Add in their favourite tea, hand-cream, chocolate. Or if you are in the service industry, think about how your service can make their life easier, and then offer it to them in a way that is extremely easy and enjoyable for them to take up.
Then, the most important thing:
Never ask for a social share when you approach influencers. They will be pleasantly surprised that you are sending them a gift without asking for anything back. Because after all, isn’t that what gift-giving is meant to be about?
You might not have every package/offer you send out result in a 'social share', but what is assured is that every influencer you approach will become not only astutely aware of your brand, but more than likely a loyal supporter too. Over time, they will authentically and organically share your brand with their audience, whether on or offline. And that's worth so much more than a pretty picture.