As consumers, we trust our peers. In fact, 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations – over just 33% that trust advertisements (source: Nielsen). So, the case can be made to utilize peers to spread brand awareness and influence others to buy. These connections could also include partnerships between organizations and companies that your customers/potential customers trust and already have connections with.
The million dollar question then becomes: how do we do that?
Establishing brand partnerships
Partnering can be a great way to showcase a collaborative nature and extend your reach into areas you may not otherwise have been able to. However, be careful of the give and take (as in, don’t just get in it for the “take”). It is important to help your partner succeed even when it doesn’t directly benefit you (Forbes).
Partnerships can be short-term or long-term and, as long as both brands have active, engaging online channels, can work well for extended conversations and awareness about your brands.
For instance, let’s say one of your brand’s values is around giving back to the community. Reach out to a local organization that you support and see if they would be interested in a joint campaign whereby you encourage others to give to said organization and said organization supports your messaging/products/services as well. This set-up can work in for-profit settings as well. Maybe there is a product/service you use on a regular basis that would benefit from a joint white paper or ebook. Reach out to the brand to see if they would be on board with putting a co-branded piece together and then setting up parameters around how each brand would communicate the collaboration on social media.
Partnerships don’t have to cost a ton (though there are options to go that route); but they do need to have tie-ins that make sense to audiences on each side of the partnership.
A great (and cheap) way to find social media influencers is to look at those who are already talking about content similar to yours and/or that have great engagement, conversation and reach. You can do this by using social media research tools such as Sprout Social, Hootsuite or even setting up Google Alerts (all have free or nominally priced options). Heck, even using the search bar on LinkedIn can help you find experts and influencers in key areas.
Looking for a subscription-based tool? BuzzSumo is one that has an influencers outreach feature to help you find bloggers, writers and top publications in your industry by using keywords.
Your best influencers are the ones that have similarities to your brand. For instance, if you’re a snow removal company, then you may want to look for those that already have insight and good conversations around winter safety, tools for removal, even things to do in the snow.
Being in the same circle helps; you don’t want it to be a stretch when you reach out to influencers to talk about you. It should be natural, human and conversational.
Tips for contacting potential partners and influencers
- Have a legitimate opportunity that adds value to their organization. Is your angle/idea/brand relevant to them?
- Know what you want to ask of them. Do you want a guest blog post? Event collaboration? Product reviews? Make it easy for them to participate.
- Customize every outreach email. Do your research and know what it is they usually write, tweet or blog about; make reference to that content in your email.
If you’re just getting started with partnerships and influencers, payment may not be something that is needed to be considered in the beginning. However, as your influencer strategy grows, it is helpful to note that influencer marketing can come with a cost. For more information on the cost of influencers, check out this Buffer post.
Have you been successful in using partnerships or social media influencers to expand your brand and reach customers on another level? I’d love to hear about your experiences, below.