Do’s and don’ts for influencer partnerships with eco brands

Do you share your sustainable lifestyle online in some way? Congratulations! You’re an eco-friendly content creator. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you can only call yourself an influencer or work with brands when you hit X amount of followers. It’s just not true. 

I’m qualified to talk about this subject because working with eco-friendly content creators is a huge part of running my eco-friendly business, CONCENTR8ED. As a small business owner, I’d rather spend my marketing budget on paying or supplying real people with free products than I would spending that money on ads. Influencer marketing has also been shown to have a greater return on investment (ROI) than other marketing channels. 

As a content creator in various niches for a few years now, it’s been eye-opening to see how influencer marketing works from both sides. So here are my top do’s and don’ts when it comes to working with brands as an eco-friendly content creator. Before we dive in, download my FREE guide with 101 eco-friendly content prompts for creators. It’s a PDF with 101 different ideas for creating online, social media, video and audio content that’ll be sent straight to your inbox.

Do put your location in your bio

Businesses are usually running location-specific marketing campaigns to target a certain type of customer. For many, this is a country or region. But it can also be states, counties and cities depending on the product or service they offer. In the early stages of CONCENTR8ED, I wanted to target UK-based eco-friendly shoppers. This was because I wanted to avoid the carbon footprint associated with airmail as well as provide more affordable shipping costs to customers. 

When looking for micro-influencers to offer free product too, I would scroll the hashtags #zerowasteUK and #plasticfreeUK to find creators to partner with. However, people from all over the world use these hashtags. So I’d always check their bio or their last few photos for locations to see if they were in the UK. If there was no mention of their location, I’d look for another influencer to approach. 

You don’t have to put your exact suburb or town if you’re not comfortable doing so. But you should signal to people where you are in the world. This will also help potential audience members connect with you too. Humans like other humans who understand them. If you’re from the same geographical location or at least speak the same language, similar people are more inclined to hit that follow button. 

Do like, follow and engage with brands you want to work with

Eco-friendly content creators should only be trying to work with brands that align with their values and niche. You should also talk about how you follow and respect the brand you’re pitching. This certainly won’t make sense if the brand clicks your profile to find out you aren’t even following them. If you identify a brand you want to work with, spend at least a week following and engaging with their content before you pitch. 

Do approach and pitch yourself to brands as an influencer

Working with a brand needs to be an exchange of value for both parties. While content creators shouldn’t be expected to work for free, brands shouldn’t be expected to give freebies. You need to tell this brand why they should pay you with money or in product. The first thing they should understand is what value you will be providing them. 

The best way to do this is by pointing out the alignment your audience has with this brand’s values. Tell them how you plan to show the brand’s product or service in your content. It’s also helpful to talk about any similar brands you’ve worked with and the results you were able to get. 

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Don’t ask for free things if you’re not following the brand

It’s pretty disheartening as a business owner or social media manager to be asked for free stuff by someone who is clearly just out to get free stuff. I totally respect that content creators deserve payment or products in exchange for granting brands access to their audience. But that’s not a good way to start out a partnership; which is what you should be looking to create. 

Remember, free stuff for you is still costing the brand money. They have to pay for that product and all associated costs, as well as shipping and handling. Be mindful of this – especially when approaching micro and small businesses where money is tight. Reach out first as a supporter and an active audience member. Then pitch yourself as a content creator. 

Don’t expect huge amounts of money from small brands as an influencer

We’ve all heard the stories of influencers being paid 5 and 6 figures for partnership deals. That’s certainly possible when it comes to big businesses. But many truly eco-friendly and sustainable businesses don’t have that amount of cash to flash. 

You need to be realistic about what you’re asking for when pitching a brand. It’s always healthy to go a little higher than what you’d like in the spirit of negotiating. But your local independent zero waste shop or a start-up likely won’t have big bucks to pay.

If you’re serious about forming a long term relationship with a brand, I’d suggest beginning by asking for gifted products or services. When you’re going to post about the gifts, ask the brand if they can supply you with a personalised discount code or a referral link. That way, they’ll be able to see how many sales you generate for them. You should also take note of how many followers they have before and after you post about them. 

All of this information will help you broker future influencer marketing deals with them where you’ll have the numbers to show the value you can bring. 

Don’t post negative reviews without talking to the brand first

I am all for transparent partnerships and honest reviews. Personally, I take a hands-off approach as to what influencers want to post about CONCENTR8ED and trust that the creator knows their audience best. I do, however, always ask for feedback on my products from the creator themselves while pleading with them to ask me any and all questions they may have. 

I would sincerely hope that if a creator who I’m working with had any issues, they would approach me first. For example, I had two creators say while they loved my shampoo eco bar, they’d prefer it had a fragrance. Because they spoke to me first, I was able to tell them I created the bar with sensitive skin in mind. Essential oils are highly sensitising to many people yet there are few fragrance-free options available in the eco-friendly space. Then I was able to tell them that I plan to offer fragrance options as the business grows.

I also had a similar situation with our solid moisturiser eco bar. The influencer had never used one before and thought it didn’t work. Once I explained the need to warm it up first, they had a different experience. Imagine if they’d gone ahead and said this is a bad product that doesn’t work? This isn’t essential. Brands are aware that not all reviews from influencers will be positive. But in the future, other brands will see this negative review and may think twice before approaching you. Maybe that’s something you’re ok with. Your review can make or break a brand’s reputation for your audience; think twice before posting. 

Eco Action Step

Your eco action step for this week is to make a list of 3 sustainable brands you’d like to work with as an eco-friendly influencer and content creator. Follow them on Instagram and interact with them frequently while working on your pitch. If you’re not sure where to start, I’m always looking for influencers to work with for CONCENTR8ED, so don’t be shy! 

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