Social Media: Invest to be Invested In
Your social media accounts are worth cold hard cash. It's true. Google it. Google knows all.
And why wouldn't people want to follow you? You're awesome. All the followers for you!
So why aren't companies falling at your social media feet and how come you don't have ALL the followers? I'm asked quite often how I go about building my social media following and getting sponsors or subsidized swag.
While that is a MASSIVE question that can't be answered in a single sentence, I wanted to touch on an important piece to the puzzle:
Investing in others to have them invest in you.
This goes for both companies and individuals.
Let's talk about both, focusing on Instagram as the main SM outlet.
The point of social media is to do just that: BE SOCIAL.
Posting a photo on IG without hashtags and walking away, expecting to get a 100 new followers and thousands of likes. If you’re not Kim Kardashian or Ryan Gosling, you may want to come back to reality.
Following a ton of people, then unfollowing them the moment they follow back. This is rude, and not at all acceptable social etiquette. You didn’t win the “most popular” superlative in high school, did ya?
Also, there are apps that show this nonsense. Yes, this is real & from my Instagram account. Why someone would think I don't check this stuff is beyond me. --->
Post your photo and engage through both your newsfeed and your post. If followers take the time to comment or like your content, you can take the time to reciprocate.
Use hashtags. If you aren’t already swimming in followers, you NEED hashtags. Potential followers find your content by browsing through them.
Browse through hashtags and engage on other people’s pages, not just your own. This will be the best way to get new followers.
On days that you don’t post an actual content piece, consider throwing up an IG story or two, just to keep your page active and to show the social media world that you’re a real person.
Moral of The Story:
Treat social media as face-to-face interaction. You wouldn’t just talk at someone and walk away, expecting them to engage with that attitude. That’s not how we make friends in real life; so that's not how we make followers on SM. When you speak, you normally let the other people respond. Then you respond back. It’s a conversation, whether that’s in person or online. Treat it as such.
Whining about needing sponsors in consecutive posts. Brands won’t see this and followers will get annoyed (if you aren’t doing it jokingly). It's a quick way to lose that following you've been working hard to build.
Waiting longingly for your favorite companies to reach out to you. Brands definitely reach out, but it’s not the only way to make a deal happen. Your favorites don’t have ESP. Most of you reading this are athletes and don’t believe in sitting and waiting to get what you want. So why are you with sponsorships?
Making all your posts sound like paid advertisements. Maybe you’ll stir a little interest from companies, but that’ll quickly fade. Brands can pay for ads. They are choosing to go with something more authentic as a REAL person loving their product. You. Stop sounding like an ad. Stop it.
Build your audience. Companies often look at accounts with a certain amount of following. Getting that number up means appealing more as an authentic advertiser for them.
Start to use their product and post it from time to time with their hashtags (easily found on their social pages). Brands are more likely to take you on if you already show that you use their product or wear their gear.
Treat sponsor searching as job searching. Most have a contact sheet or ambassador/sponsor request form on their website.
Have a cover letter style write up ready. Talk about what you bring to the table in tangible terms (# of followers, top 10 finishes, etc.), tell them why you love their product(s) and why you think you would represent them well.
Reach out to THEM. Most of you didn’t get the job you have by sitting and waiting for a recruiter on LinkedIn. Don’t treat potential sponsors that way. Brands appreciate the initiative.
Follow-up quickly. Many companies only sponsor a set number or have a set number of ambassador slots. If you get responded to, get that reply sent ASAP to keep the rapport there before someone jacks your spot.
Again, engage with followers on your page. While this is for you mostly, it shows companies that you interact and hold conversations with strangers. They want that in their representatives because that’s how their brand name gets spread out there.
Add more social media outlets. This post is focused on Instagram, but the more SM outlets you have, the more appealing you look to companies. Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook athlete/sport page, a blog, etc. are all great platforms to add once you feel strong in the IG world. It tells companies that you are engaging people in multiple realms in the internet world and can balance digital marketing engagement from different directions.
Moral of The Story:
Put in the time to be ready for brand representation through building your audience, praising their stuff early, and writing well thought out letters to companies of interest. Brands can tell if you're in it for free crap or actually interested in a mutually beneficial relationship. Oh, and don't be a walking advertisement. They can pay for those. They don't want them if they are looking for real people to rep them.
If you take away nothing else....
Think of your social media presence as anything else in life from which you hope to gain. Jobs, stocks, friends, etc. The return on investment has a lot to do with how much you invest. Or, "you get what you give." If you're spending a couple hours a week on social media, it'll show. If you're taking the time to write posts, take photos, connect with people and brands, it shows.
People and brands will invest in those that seem to invest in others.