Getting sponsors and being an influencer on Instagram is easier than you think.
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, if you’re selling yourself as a professional on Instagram (or any other social media network) you should be networking with businesses in your field. People often ask me how I managed to sign off on deals with Scivation, 6 Pack Fitness, as well as have companies send me products to try and post about. I’m going to tell you EXACTLY how I got sponsors on Instagram, what I would do differently knowing what I know now and how you can get started.
1. Build all of your social media sites.
Going back I would have done this all at once. Now I’m playing catch up on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. I started only on Instagram with 30-40 followers and it took me over a month to put up my first post. I was probably doing 1-2 posts/week after that at first. Now I’m at over 20k followers (which is more than average but still not a lot) and post 1-2 times/day across all platforms. This is what you should do:
a) Start all of your social media channels at once and link them together.
b) Post 1-2 times/day on Instagram, spacing the posts out by several hours so you’re not dominating anyone’s newsfeed.
c) Post high quality, useful content. Learn how to use the filters to improve the quality of your picture instead of completely making them over.
d) Use relevant hashtags, and search relevant hashtags for people in your industry. ‘Like’ their content, follow them, leave genuine comments, etc.
e) Learn how to use all of the other social media sites as well. A simple YouTube search can show you how others have been successful building large followings on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. That’s how I originally learned how to get my following up on IG.
2. Build a genuine following.
As in keep your following as organic as possible. Don’t buy followers. I’ve done it and I definitely don’t recommend it. I bought about 5k followers on Instagram a couple of years ago and here’s why I condemn it now:
a) They’re either bots or inactive users. They won’t engage in any of your content.
b) Building your following organically is more fun, more challenging and more rewarding. It takes more time but you’ll have a legitimate community…do you really want to post content for robots?
c) It’s only fair that if a company is sending you free products to post about, that you do right by them and share it with REAL PEOPLE who might want to try their product as well.
d) Instagram and Twitter both remove inauthentic users from their sites so within a few months you’ll lose every fake follower that you bought. You’re essentially inflating a balloon that has a small hole in it already.
It felt like the right decision at the time as I had just finished reading about how big companies and celebrities do it. Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, Twitter Ads, and Pinterest Ads weren’t an option at the time. I would recommend using those if you’re going to pay to play. $10 might get you 15 followers as opposed to 2000 followers but at least they’ll be real and engage in your content. The value in that is unlimited.
3. Network with the companies that you want to work with.
Now that you have a decent following (1000+), reach out to some of the companies that you’re dying to work with. When I wanted a supplement sponsor I reached out to dozens of companies I was interested in working with via email and DM. Here’s my advice on getting a company to work with you:
a) Offer them something by bringing something to the table.
b) Only work with companies that you believe in, trust, and have a good reputation.
c) Don’t jump at the first opportunity. Jump at the best opportunity.
e) Sometimes they’ll come to you. I signed a contract with 6 Pack Bags only after I had already been using their product for months, posting pictures of it and recipes with it. Kodiak Cakes sent me a case (6 boxes) of their Power Cakes mix after I sent them a DM saying “saw you guys on Shark Tank, congrats on getting a deal. Your product sounds amazing”. Nine Line Apparel agreed to work with me after I sent them a DM saying “I want to do a campaign to give back to veterans on Memorial Day”.
4. Don’t lose your authenticity.
People make this mistake way too often. The more ads you post and the less authentic the posts are, the less people will want to follow you. Even worse, they’ll just associate you as the guy who works for ___ instead of you having your own brand. Colin Wayne said that’s why he left Shredz. Posting 3-4 times a day about someone else’s product will make you lose your voice. Kevin Hart said he’ll never let Nike or his other sponsors tell him what to post, when to post or how to post because it’ll ruin his authenticity and his connection with his fans.
I hope this post helps. If you have any questions please post them in my comments. I’d love to answer some questions about this in another post.