Social media platforms offer businesses unlimited ways to maximise their digital marketing strategy and reach their full potential. Collaborating on social media with other companies and influencers is a great opportunity to brainstorm with new teams, gain a fresh perspective on your content creation, and demonstrate that your company holds value. Social media collaboration involves supporting and building a relationship with other businesses by establishing networks, working together, and sharing audiences.
Types of collaborations
- A brand collaboration is where two businesses work together in a mutually beneficial partnership and release a product or create a shared campaign for their audiences.
- Influencer collaborations involve a business working with an influencer whether through paid campaigns or gifting in the hopes of gaining exposure from the influencer’s audience.
Examples of brand collabs
- Social profile takeovers
A social takeover is where a business allows an influencer or company to take control of their social media accounts for a limited amount of time. Most common on Instagram stories because these are easily measurable with Instagram analytics, social takeovers can inspire fresh content and ideas. Choose the right person that will be able to convey a message to your following; maybe a thought leader in the industry, or somebody relatable for your target audience. Social takeovers can make your profile more interesting and diverse for your followers and can drive new followers to your page if your takeover figure has a large audience.
2. Competitions or giveaways
Competitions and giveaways are a great way to increase exposure and reward loyal followers. Cobranded giveaways mean that consumers are entering for a chance to win a collection of products or services from the brands involved; make sure you maximise exposure for your businesses by making post shares a means of entry into the giveaway. This means that the post is shared on your audience’s own social media channels, exposing your post to your followers’ followers.
Shoutouts are where a user makes a post or story that features another user, for example, one business may share a story that showcases the products of another business. This works best when the two businesses appeal to the same target audience, but do not directly compete.
Co-branding can take many different forms depending on your type of business; perhaps you and another business could develop a product together that will interest both of your audiences. If you are in a similar industry, you could host a co-branded webinar or live stream on your social media platforms, offering expert advice or knowledge to your followers. Co-branding is a method of increasing brand awareness and sharing audiences.
Examples of influencer collabs
- Sponsored Posts
A reported 80% of consumers have purchased something because of an influencer recommendation, so it’s no surprise that the most popular kind of influencer collaboration is paid social media posts. Sponsored posts involve paying an influencer to develop and share content on their social media profiles that promotes your company or products in response to a brief that you provide. To help them understand what you want from them, provide them with your content guidelines and marketing objectives; however, it’s important that you let them have some control over what they post as their followers trust them and know their tone of voice.
Influencer gifting is a form of collaboration that is great for businesses with a smaller digital marketing budget. Businesses send their products or offer their services to an influencer, free of charge, in the hopes that the influencer will share that product with their social media following. While this can yield a good ROI, there are a few things to keep in mind before sending out gifts.
In recent years, we are seeing influencers entering discussions about sustainability with their followers; receiving hundreds of unsolicited gifts can be overwhelming for influencers and encourages waste. It’s best to reach out to the influencer that you hope to work with first to double check that they accept gifts, and to ensure that you’re not overwhelming them with products.
It’s crucial that you select which influencers you send gifts to carefully. Gift influencers who have a similar target audience to your business who have high levels of engagement. Brands now work with micro-influencers with under 100,000 followers ten times more than mega influencers with over 1 million followers.
There’s no guarantee or obligation for an influencer to post anything about your products if there is no paid sponsorship. There is always a risk of influencers negatively reviewing your gifts, so tailor which products you send to them based on their personality and branding, e.g., if you are looking to use social media collaborations to market your restaurant, you could gift an experience at your establishment to a local food blogger.
3. Guest Posts
Find influencers with blogs or social media pages who have an established voice and engaged audience within your niche and reach out to them. Ask whether they would consider making a guest post, and if they agree, suggest some post ideas that might suit the content of their brand and your page. Having an influencer with a loyal following feature on your page may encourage their audience to check out your other posts.
How to plan a social media collab
The key to a successful social media collaboration is to ensure that you have a solid plan in place from the brainstorming process all the way through to the evaluation stage.
- What do you want?
When planning a social media collaboration, the first step you should take is to have a think about your desired outcomes. Consider what you hope to benefit from the collaboration; do you want to improve your brand awareness, or generate high-quality leads?
2. Who will you work with?
Once you have a basic idea of what you are hoping to achieve, the next step is to research potential collaborators. Explore the different types of social media collaborations and their individual benefits and decide whether brand or influencer collaboration is more suitable for your goals.
3. Reach out
Look at potential candidates and reach out to them to discuss whether they are open to collaboration. You should choose a brand or influencer that will appeal to your target audience.
If you hear back from those you contacted, and they respond positively to the idea of a collaboration, you’re ready to begin a discussion about the possible routes that you could take. Figure out what kind of campaign you will run; will this be a singular post, a video, or a co-branded product launch? Is this a one-off post, or is this the start of a long-term partnership? Begin to assemble the framework of your collaboration, and decide on which social media platforms will work best for your campaign and when you will schedule your posts.
Now that you have entered an agreement with another brand or influencer, spend time laying out the ground rules for your collaboration. Ensure that you are on the same page about what you both want from the partnership, and that you both fully understand what is required of each other.
Decide on what kind of collab you are embarking on, and have a detailed, clearly designed social media strategy. How are you going to advertise your collaboration? How will your campaign benefit both of your consumers? What are you going to share with them?
6. Setting goals
Before you are ready to take your collaboration to social media, make sure you set SMART goals to ensure that you both maximise on the potential ROI. Setting SMART goals will keep your teams focused and will allow you to measure the success of your project when you are analysing the results.
How do I know this is right for my business?
Entering a social media collaboration can be a daunting experience for a business; it’s not always easy to predict the best moves to make for your digital marketing strategy, but by asking yourself the following questions, you can make an informed decision on whether this is the right decision.
- Will this partnership be received well by my audience?
Check out the person/company you’d like to collaborate with to make sure they’ll bring you the kind of attention you’re looking for. You should avoid working with a brand that have a bad reputation, or that has recently been under scrutiny; this may have a negative impact on your brand identity and consumer’s perspective of your brand. If you’re willing to work with a brand/influencer, you should be comfortable imagining them as an extension of your own company. Ask yourself: am I okay with people linking my brand with theirs? Make sure you choose a partnership based on the benefits of your collaboration for your audiences.
2. Can this partnership bring something to my business?
When beginning a collaboration, it’s important to select the company or person you work with wisely. Choose a brand that’s too similar to your own, and you risk losing business by competing with them. On the other hand, if the brand’s identity, values, or products are vastly different from your own, you may alienate your audiences. Make sure you look for businesses or influencers that will offer something unique to your target audience but will still be relatable for them. Effective collaborations should harmonise and bring a fresh, positive impact to your digital presence.
3. What will we gain from this partnership?
Understanding what both sides of the collaboration stand to gain from a shared social media campaign will help you to make informed decisions.
What are the benefits of social media collaborations?
Why go to all this effort? There are multiple benefits of social media collaborations:
Exposure – When working with a brand, you want to make sure that you will also appeal to their target audience without being in competition with them. Influencers have a trust-based following and having an established figure in your niche promote your products can improve your brand awareness. Social media collaboration is one of the best ways to gain exposure for your business.
Inspiration – Collaborative thinking is great for creative projects; it encourages sharing ideas, critical thinking, and allows your marketing teams to open a dialogue about what kind of content they want to create and be known for. Working with other brands or influencers can encourage you to experiment with different forms of content to find out what works well for your collaboration.
Generate leads – Social media collabs can aid with lead generation. Working with highly regarded influencers can help your business to reach users on social media that otherwise may have missed your brand. Make sure to add incentive for both of your audiences to connect with your collaboration; perhaps you could include a clickable offer on your collaboration posts.
Entering a partnership with another brand or influencer can be done at whatever rate works for your business. Try out a single sponsored post and analyse the results and engagement rates to see whether this is something that works well for you. If your followers engaged positively with this kind of content, consider branching into further collaboration projects. Trial out different social media platforms when showcasing your collaborations to see what your followers respond to.
Social media collaborations should be well-thought out and being prepared is the key to running a successful campaign. Ensure you communicate every step of the way with your chosen brand or influencer, and be honest about your goals, and what is and isn’t working for you. Know up-front what you want to gain, and make sure you measure your progress to know if your hard work has paid off.