Use Your Influence: Ways to Work with Brands


Making the transition from popular blogger/vlogger/social personality to professional influencer comes with many challenges and changes, but by far the most marked of these is beginning to produce content not only for yourself and your audience. As an influencer, you’ll soon find you have another voice to listen to – that of the brand with whom you work.

As mentioned in this previous blog post, paid collaborations are almost never successful when led more by the brand than the influencer, although only successful collaborations take the desired objectives on both sides into consideration. But, and here’s the rub, there are endless ways in which to do it. So which is right for you and your brand?

In this post, we’re going to be taking a look at the many different ways in which brands and influencers are working together, and the benefits of each. Although by no means exhaustive, this list will do wonders for setting you in the right direction, and helping you understand where your strengths lie as a newly emerging influencer!

1. The Content Share

The most straightforward of all brand collabs, this simply involves you sharing a piece of content and/or promotional incentive from a brand to your audience. Content shares can come in the form of social posts, blog entries or pretty much any medium you fancy, but they must, we repeat, MUST, be authentic. This is where choosing the right brand to work with is essential. If you mindlessly share content from any brand willing to pay, your audience will know, and your position as a voice they trust will be compromised. Think carefully about how you can promote the brand’s objectives honestly, and in your own style before you agree to do so.

Why use this method?

If you have influence over a certain audience that a brand feels they want to reach, chances are they will be eager to work with you in this capacity. This is for the simple reason that the content share is very non labour intensive, on both sides. Chances are though, that the brand will not consider how you have to speak to your audience for the content share to not seem fake and inauthentic. It’s up to you to ensure that the brand understands you know best when it comes to sharing their content, and ensure you can do so in the way you feel best.

2. The Sponsored Post

There’s a little more work involved with a sponsored post than a content share, but it can often be a more rewarding (not to mention lucrative) option. Consisting of you creating a post/social campaign/video based around a brand’s given concept and objective and sending an audience their way through considered CTAs, this method has its roots in native advertising.

Why use this method?

Many brands using CI will opt for sponsored post strategies, as they are often a good way to balance the needs of both brand and influencer – the brand gets promoted and the influencer gets to do so on their own terms, in their own unique style. Although it is required by the ASA that you state when a post has been created in collaboration with a brand, provided the brand is one that you and your audience are naturally interested in, the content will still be genuine.

3. The Guest Blog

Despite its name, this method can be employed by influencers on all manner of channels. Simply put, it consists of you creating content in your own style and voice, about a subject agreed with a brand, and publishing it through the brand’s own blog/vlog/social channel.

Why use this method?

This is a great way to bring your own voice and identity as an influencer to a new audience, as well as giving the brand a leg up by associating yourself with it. It also gives you a slightly new audience to speak to, thus increasing your range and OTSs as an influencer.

4. The Joint Content Creation

Similar to the Sponsored Post, this method is different in that it involves both brand and influencer working together to create content, rather than the influencer doing so based on a brand’s objectives. For example, a food brand and culinary influencer could work together to create a certain recipe and cookery tutorial that promotes both equally.

Why use this method?

This can be a really fun way for you to experiment with your own content portfolio, and give your audience something a little bit different into the bargain. It is also perfect for blending both brand field expertise, and influencer talent for talking to a certain audience. It’s creative, experimental, and a real collaboration.

5. The Product Review

Fairly self-explanatory, the product review is great for niche influencers looking to strengthen their reach and reputation. This process works through brands sending bloggers/vloggers/social personalities new products to test out and review in front of their audiences, and (hopefully) give their honest opinions. As a working example, restaurant booking service Bookatable often post assignments through CI, asking foodie influencers to try and review top eateries and share the experience with their audiences.

Why use this method?

Although you should still be paid for product reviews, they are a great way to test out products and services that are new and emerging in your specialised industry. This not only gives you lots of content fodder, it builds your identity as an expert in your field, with your finger firmly on the pulse. Granted, this is a difficult method for influencers who deal more in experiential content (e.g. travel bloggers for instance), but for those with a more practical niche (parenting, cookery, fashion etc) it can work a dream.

6. The Competition/Giveaway

This can work in two different ways, either with an influencer promoting an existing brand competition, or with influencer and brand partnering to devise and conduct a competition, and then promoting it together. The competition prize is largely provided by the brand, with the creative marketing the specialism of the influencer.

Why use this method?

Aside from it being gloriously straightforward and also not overly labour intensive, getting involved in a brand-aided competition can allow you to expand your reach as an influencer. Everyone loves a competition, and a high-profile one might just attract you some new followers, as well as giving the brand’s cause a boost on account of your own influential status.

7. The Event Promotion

Often, brands will seek influential, hot-right-now guests to attend their own events, in order to boost their profile. The expectation here is not only that your presence will add a certain gravitas and excitement to the event itself, but that you will be very vocal about the fact that you’re there, and how darn awesome the event is, thus promoting it to your audience.

Why use this method?

Cards on the table here – being paid to attend swanky events is nice work if you can get it. Just be sure to promote it in an honest and authentic way, that your audience will key into. Attending these events also gives you the opportunity to meet the faces behind the brand in person, thus strengthening your relationship and increasing the possibility of future collaborative projects.

8. The Takeover

Taking the reigns of someone else’s social channels can be a hugely daunting, but also liberating experience. More and more, brands are working with influencers by handing over control of their outputs for an agreed amount of time, and letting influencers put their own stamp on brand content. This is most popular on channels like Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, where quick, constant content rules the roost.

Why use this method?

This can be an excellent opportunity to expand your audience base and strengthen your name as an influencer, by putting your own content in front of followers who are likely to be receptive to it. Aligning yourself with the chosen brand will also improve their standing as a contemporary, risk-taking organisation.

9. The Brand Ambassador

This is the most involved of all the ways to work with a brand, and must only be undertaken if you truly believe in the values, objectives and products/services of the brand you choose. Being a brand ambassador involves a long-standing (usually exclusive) relationship with a brand, and a commitment to regularly promoting it through various channels of communication with your audience.

Why use this method?

If this seems to you to be a huge commitment, you’d be right. It is. This is why mutual respect and value between you and the brand is paramount for this method to work. When it does however, it can provide you with a steady source of income, support and opportunities.

Final thoughts…

This was a rough, whistle-stop tour through the various different ways that brand and influencer can collaborate. Some pairings focus on just one of these methods, some use all of them over a longer period of time, and some pick and choose the ones which work the best. At the end of the day, the most important thing to consider when you decide how to partner with a brand, is your audience, what they will be interested in, and what they will engage with!