What Brands Honestly Look For In Influencers
What brands honestly look for in influencers can be summarized in three things: information, quality content, and engagement. This is where micro-influencers thrive, as they tend to have higher engagement rates and form an overall authentic relationship with their audience.
By working with brands on a daily basis, we learned what the criteria are for choosing influencers for collaborations. In the article below, we tell you what brands honestly look for in influencers when it comes to hiring them for campaigns. Read on!
What Brands Honestly Look For In Influencers
1. Account Information
1.1 Account bio
Instagram bio line is one of the first things brands notice when they come onto your Instagram account.
Some case studies show that users' attention span on social media is about three seconds. That’s just three seconds to grab someone’s attention! This goes to show that user behavior is very limited, and usually, the first impression is a deciding factor. When someone comes onto your account (a brand in this case), you don’t have a lot of opportunities to fix that first impression.
If a brand doesn’t immediately understand from your bio line what it is that you do, then they will most likely not be interested in working with you. It’s simple - they don’t understand what it is that you can provide for them.
This being said, your Instagram bio line MUST communicate your niche. If you want to land a collaboration with your dream brand, then you must make a statement in your bio line showcasing your niche. Because if a brand doesn’t get that from your photos, they are going to go for your bio line for further explanation. So if you don’t have it clearly stated there, then brands aren’t going to bother another second trying to figure you out.
On the other hand, make sure you optimize your bio line by adding all relevant social media channels you are also active on. The follower number accumulated across all platforms can make you way more desirable to brands.
All in all, make sure you put some time into crafting a clear & concise bio line that reflects what your niche is and what your audience and brands expect to find on your profile. Beware though, writing “coffee lover” won’t get you any brand deals. Unless maybe with Starbucks.
1.2 Your Instagram handle
All the stuff mentioned about your Instagram bio line… well, they go for your Instagram handle too.
Think about this. If your Instagram handle is too long, it might be hard to read it. If it has all sorts of numbers in it, then it might resemble those spammy bots we all try to avoid.
Here’s another scenario. Imagine your name being something funny like @thisisbananas (all due respect if anyone might hold this name). Imagine you’re an influential luxury travel blogger who stays at the world’s top 5-star hotels and resorts. Now imagine someone spotted you and wanted to offer you a collaboration. Can you imagine a marketing rep going over to their bosses and saying they want to offer @thisisbananas a 5-digit campaign to promote their business suite? That can come out a bit silly, right?
Just like your Instagram bio line, your handle should reflect your niche too! Besides, Instagram name and handle are currently the only two searchable things on Instagram! Why would you want to miss out on the opportunity to pop up in someone’s search feed when they are looking for amazing travel destinations & bloggers to follow?
1.3 Stories & highlights
Food for thought - the best Instagram accounts are those that are easy to navigate. What does that mean? That means that all the information about the account is easy to find.
One of the ways to make it easier for your audience and brands to find what they need is by having Instagram stories sorted into categories via highlights.
Most collaborations entail not just a feed post, but Instagram stories too. To make sure how well crafted your stories are, brands look at your story highlights. We all know stories life span is 24 hours, which makes story highlights a perfect solution to store the most vital information about your profile.
On another note, your story highlights need to be structured. Don’t upload stuff there that won’t be of any means to the brand or people who are deciding to follow you. Focus on storing content that provides value, that showcases different ways you connect with your audience, and that represents your brand.
1.4 Follower demographics
You may have a dream brand on your mind that you’d die to create content for. However, if you both don’t share similar audience demographics, then chances are you won’t be able to land that collaboration just yet.
Here’s a snippet from one of our blog posts about why is matching demographics important:
“For example, you might be a giant fan of CrockPot kitchen suppliances, but you create content for beginner developers who are just learning to code. This means that, no matter how much you love their slow cookers and use them all the time, your audience is not an obvious choice for a mutual campaign.”
As you can see, you need to already be making content that reaches the same audience as your dream brand in order for them to consider you for a collaboration. Otherwise, it would make no sense. It would be like asking a childless influencer to promote products for newborns.
2. Account Engagement & Interactions
2.1 Engagement rate
For those of you who don't know your engagement rate is a formula that brands use to calculate what is the percentage of your followers that see your content and engage with it.
Even though the larger the follower number, the larger the possible engagement, that’s not always the case. One might have 10.000 followers, but an engagement rate of 0.5 which means that out of 10.000 people, only 50 of those followers engage with the content in some way. That’s super low!
On the other hand, there might be a person who has 1000 followers but a 10% engagement rate, making it 100 people, who, on average, interact with their posts.
By comparing these two examples, we conclude that although the follower number in the first scenario is higher, it is the smaller account that is getting significantly more people to engage with their content.
Influencers figured out this is one of the criteria for landing brand deals. Unfortunately, that’s why some of them have opted to buy followers and engagement to boost their numbers in hopes of getting collaborations.
That’s not a good thing to do if you want to succeed in the social media world.
First and foremost, you may get that collaboration once. But once the brand sees that you cannot produce sales for them (aka return on investment, in short ROI), then they will never contact you again. And that’s not what you want, is it?
Secondly, influencers got savvy, but so did the brands too. Not only do they look out for fake followers & engagement, but they also have higher budgets to afford the best tools to do so.
And lastly, your engagement rate is proof of your influence. If you cannot get people to honestly engage with your content, then why would brands be interested in paying you to promote them?
Creating an organic engagement is harder to achieve, but it is way more worth it.
We wrote a blog post on growing engagement and following as an influencer. Take a read by clicking here.
2.2 Who is commenting
With the rise of algorithm hacks (ugh, you can’t hack it, btw), Instagram engagement pods came to life. If you don’t know what those are, they are a group of content creators that comment on each other’s posts in hopes to trick the algorithm into thinking your post is getting natural early engagement.
That’s why brands look at who is commenting on your page. Is it always the same 15 people or is it a variety of different people? Brands go through and look at all the comments for the last 10, 20 posts to research who is in your audience. They will look at what are they responding to - are the comments supportive, controversial, opposing, or completely unrelated to the subject.
Whenever you say in your media kit (here’s a blog post about it) that you get 150 comments per post, brands will most definitely look if you can support that claim by checking whose comments those are. They are going to look through those comments and analyze if they are verified or not - aka not of bot or pod origins, or generic and superficial, and completely unrelated to your topic.
2.3 Follower list
As mentioned in the engagement section, brands are going to look at your followers too. And we don’t mean just the number of them.
Brands are going to see what type of followers you have, meaning they will browse to check their authenticity.
Due to influencers buying followers, brands have become very observant and they're keen to make sure that whomever they work with hasn't done this. Brands will have a look at your followers and browse for bots, other influencers, or ghost accounts.
Hey, we all accumulate some sort of ghost accounts or bot followers. Sometimes, it’s out of our control. However, when you have too many of those accounts, that can be detrimental for you.
That’s why brands will quite literally go through your followers and check whether your followers look legit. And that’s not that quite hard to spot. When they see there are enough accounts that look like they could be interested in your niche, they will most definitely be open to considering you for a collaboration.
To verify their expectations, they might check to see if you have followers in common or do you follow the same people. All in all, they will go into the followers to make sure it's not like a bunch of ghost accounts or like random accounts.
3. Good Quality Content
3.1 Enough posts on your page
Your profile is your online resume. The more experience you have in relevant jobs for the positions you’re applying for, the higher your chances are.
Translated to the dictionary of social media - having only 10 posts up and expecting that to be enough for brands to hire you is not achievable. That’s the case for multiple reasons.
Firstly, it’s just not enough posts for you to showcase your content diversity and talent for creating. Secondly, it might make you seem untrustworthy and inexperienced.
From a brand's point of view, a page without enough uploaded content looks untrustworthy because it shows you either don't have a lot of content or that you're deleting it because you can’t repeatedly produce high-quality content.
To put this in perspective - would you rather buy a product on Amazon that has thousands of amazing reviews and photos to prove it, or would you risk it by buying something that only has five reviews? We both know the answer to that.
3.2 Your photography skills & commercial side of your posts
When a brand lands on your page, they immediately need to be able to envision how their product would look on your feed.
What we advise here is to make sure that a good chunk of your posts looks like you’re already and regularly working with brand partners. This will help brands see how your content can look commercial, and therefore, they’d know what to expect from your content delivery.
However, this shouldn’t be overdone. Although it is desirable to showcase your posts as if they are campaigns, it is important to know that campaigns are not the reason your real audience follows you. They look at your sincere advice, so you’ll lose credibility if you’re promoting everything under the sun and if it shows you’re only in the influencer biz for the money. Therefore, a healthy balance between the commercial and regular high-quality posts is required.
This brings us to another point which is the actual quality of your content.
When we talk about the quality of your content, we are referring to the following:
The clarity of photos you take;
The subject of your content;
The diversity of portrayed content.
The clarity of the photos means the imagery should be crisp and clear. The subject of your content can differ. You can take detailed closeups of your fashion choices, or it can be you in the photo too. The diversity would reflect how the content is displayed on your feed.
For example, let’s say you’re a fashion influencer for petite millennial women. Your fashion content would revolve around clothing, shoes & accessories that fit a petite woman between the ages of 25 to 40.
So a petite fashion influencer might take photos of herself wearing outfits, or she could photograph accessories from up close, or the material of certain clothing, etc. Here’s an example of how @jadetunchy curates her fashion feed.
Your goal is to present your niche in the most desirable way. If your photos don’t entice followers to engage and ask more about it, then it won’t entice brands to offer you a collaboration to promote them.
3.3 Your Post Layout
The way you curate feed tells a lot about your content strategy. Your post layout tells a story, and brands want to see what kind of a story are you sharing.
Is your content all over the place, or are you leading both your audience and brands down a structured path of connected stories that ignite interest?
Your post layout is very much connected to your overall branding and aesthetics. For example, you could be a vegan food blogger that shares snaps of their food from the finest restaurants in LA. Would you structure your content to showcase only dinners for some time, then deserts, or are you taking a randomized approach? Would you only shoot content with you having a meal outside, or chasing sunsets? What is the story you’re telling?
We wrote a blog post about finding your perfect Instagram theme. Take a look here.
3.4 Your content editing skills
As mentioned, the clarity of your photos is one of the deciding factors for landing a brand collaboration. However, this also means that your content editing shouldn’t just stop at making your imagery crisp and clear.
As an influencer, you too are a brand yourself, and you should never stop at developing and maintaining your brand name. That means you need to develop your tone of voice. In this case, one of the ways it can be done via creating aesthetics that match your personality and brand.
Your edits need to match one another. If they are all over the place and feel off-brand, then that can be off-putting for the brand. You need to look at your account as a puzzle, where every piece needs to match to fit.
If one post is moody and dark, and another is way too bright and saturated, then no one will be able to tell what your tone of voice is. There are multiple sides of our personality, that’s for sure, but people like to know what they can expect from you. They follow you for a reason, and believe it or not, aesthetic is one of them.
When it comes to brands, they need to know that they can fully trust your content creation and your ability to ever deliver high-quality content. Ultimately, the way you treat your profile is the way you’d treat theirs. And that’s the catch.
To learn more about editing your content, check out a blog post about 21 amazing photo editing apps every influencer should try. Or if you’re already using Lightroom, these are the benefits of applying presets to your content - read here.
What brands honestly look for in influencers is information you provide, quality content you produce, and engagement you deliver. Believe it or not, this entire process of scanning and vetting influencers by these criteria doesn’t take longer than 10 minutes. And even if you lack in certain aspects, it isn’t that hard to fix!
To make sure you’re doing everything right, make sure you read our blog post about 8 Instagram mistakes to avoid making. If you want to learn why aren’t you getting collaborations, make sure to check out our blog post on that specific subject.
In the Vimma app, we help over 30.000 creators find collaborations on a daily basis. By working with our specialists for collaborations and growth, we ensure our creators get on the right track to becoming successful influencers.
Join for a free trial here!