Brand awareness and loyalty

How to DM Brands on Instagram for Collaborations

  • 15 Minutes
A journey of 1000 collabs begins with a single message

Whether you’re an aspiring influencer or you represent a brand, collaborating with brands on Instagram is always a good idea. Brands collaborations on Instagram are one of the most effective ways to boost your Instagram profile, reach new audiences, increase your engagement, and build your brand profile, all of which can lead directly to increased leads and sales.

Brands are always looking for new ways to connect with users on Instagram. Which makes sense; after all, 130 million Instagram users click on shopping posts every month, and over 72% of Instagram users say Instagram influences their buying decisions.

And we also know that influencer content works better than brand-produced content, according to 60% of marketers. But, when it comes to influencer marketing, many brands will choose to collaborate with influencers that are already well known. Why? Well, most marketers are time-poor, and if they have worked with an influencer before on a successful campaign, chances are they’ll do it again!

Likewise, a brand reaching out to another brand on Instagram can also be useful. Brand collaborations can help businesses to tap into new audiences that share similar interests. If you’re working with a brand that has a similar audience size as your own, you also won’t need to spend much on the collaboration, as the campaign will be mutually beneficial.

Therefore, reaching out to brands for collabs on Instagram can be a smart move – when it’s done the right way, that is! With so many fake accounts and spammy message requests on the platform, you need to think carefully about your approach and craft your outreach messages and responses with consideration to ensure your efforts don’t land you straight in the spam folder!

Keep reading to discover how you can refine your outreach approach and come up with an awesome brand collaboration with the brands of your choosing!

What is An Instagram Collaboration?

First up; what is an Instagram brand collaboration, and how does one work? Well, a brand collab on Instagram is essentially a partnership between a brand and an influencer, blogger, or another brand.

An Instagram collaboration between two (or more) brands will be mutually beneficial, so there is generally no significant payment required to pass between the brands. When it comes to a collab between an Instagram influencer and a brand, however, the influencer is typically paid, as the brand is usually leveraging the audience, authority, and content creation skills of the influencer.

An Instagram brand collaboration might include a collaborative giveaway, Instagram videos, Instagram posts, Instagram Stories, Reels, or any other content posted on or promoted by the platform. The collaboration might be part of a larger brand campaign, influencer marketing campaign, or product launch, or it might be a stand-alone campaign. Regardless, it should always have a specific goal in mind, for example, to boost brand awareness, increase engagement, generate leads, or increase sales.

How to Pitch a Collab to a Brand on Instagram

So, you’re sold on the idea of a brand collaboration on Instagram. But how do you find the right brands to collaborate with to ensure a killer brand collaboration? Well, brands need to tick a number of boxes in order to fit within your specific criteria. Then, once you’ve found your ideal brand, there are several things you need to do in order to prep for a successful brand collab.

Keep reading to find out which factors can determine the brands that will make the best collaboration for you, and how to get your brand collab off the ground once you’ve found a partner (or partners!) to join forces with.

1.  Select Relevant Brands

First things first; for a successful brand collaboration, you must choose the right brands for you. Whether you’re a brand or an influencer, it’s critical that you understand who your audience is, including what kinds of content they like to see.

If you haven’t already, head to your Instagram page and complete the following steps:

For deeper insights, you can also head to Facebook Business Manager and click on your Audience Insights page. Type in your brand name (or a similar brand) as well as your target audience and scroll down to check what other brands those users are interested in.

For example, we put in Australia and added an Australian swimwear brand called Seafolly. Through Facebook Business Manager, we can see that the users who liked Seafolly also like travel brands, activewear brands, and fashion brands.

Start building a list of the kinds of brands you might want to work with. You don’t need to choose brands that are specifically related to what you do. For instance, Seafolly might choose to collaborate with an activewear brand, a travel brand, an ice cream brand, or even a brand that sells floating pool toys. Try to think outside the box and consider brands that resonate with your customers.

But choose carefully; just because a brand has the perfect Instagram aesthetic to match your brand doesn’t mean they have adequate resources to collaborate effectively with you. Sometimes their campaign timeframes simply don’t work with yours, or their audience isn’t located in the right target area. Just because a brand originated in a certain country doesn’t mean that their audience on Instagram are all located in that area.

2.  Write Your Pitch

Next, write your pitch. Your brand collaboration pitch should never sound generic. It should be tailored to every single brand that you approach and include specific details on why you would be such a great fit to collaborate with the brand.

If you’re an influencer and you’re interested in collaborating with a brand, introduce yourself and talk about why you feel you have a connection with the brand. Add any quick stats demonstrating how successful you are as an influencer, such as the number of followers you have, your engagement rate, or stats about past successful posts. If you have any basic audience stats you can also include these at this stage, mentioning why you feel that your audience will resonate with the brand.

Perhaps you have a personal connection with the brand or use it yourself. If so, now is a great time to mention that. You could also add details on any other successful brand collaborations you’ve been involved in and send links to relevant content.

Always include details on how the brands can contact you, and mention that you’ll be able to send a media kit or rates if requested.

If you’re representing a brand, your approach should be much the same and should incorporate the same information as above. You might be considering a brand collaboration for an upcoming campaign. If so, briefly mention the campaign period dates and a general theme or idea for the collab. Even if the brand isn’t interested in collaborating with you this time, they might be interested in a collaboration in their next key sales period.

Your pitch should be concise and professional, and include all the key details without being too long. You can always send more details later on.

In summary, your pitch should include:

For influencers, don’t reveal your rates too early – you want to leave room to negotiate.

For brands, don’t reveal your full campaign idea too early. You don’t want other brands to “borrow” your ideas! In these early stages, you just want to gauge each brand’s interest.

Above all, try a personalized approach. Check the brand’s website, social media channels, and other marketing platforms, and tell them specifically how you can help them to connect better with their audience or reach new users.

3.  Find The Brand’s Best Contact Details

There are several ways you can contact brands. The most obvious choice is through the brand’s Instagram account. The downside with this approach is that it can tend to look spammy, as there are so many fake accounts now sending spam messages through the platform. Your message may also get lost in the “requests” section of a brand’s Instagram inbox. If you’re an influencer you might be checking this section frequently, but not every social media manager will do the same.

A more direct and professional approach might be to email the brand directly. First of all, find the best email contact through the brand’s website or through LinkedIn. Next, email one or two contacts at each company. Ideally, you want to choose the brand’s Social Media Manager or Marketing Manager. If you can’t find the correct contact, you could always send a Facebook message or call the brand directly. That way, you can be sure you’re not hassling someone in the wrong department!

If you’re working on a time-sensitive request, you could also call the relevant contact directly. Call the brand’s number and asked to be connected to the marketing department or whoever manages influencer marketing and collaborations.

If you’re just starting out, try and contact at least 10 brands to begin with, or more if you’re working to a short lead time. Ideally, you should give brands at least two months’ advance notice in order to plan an effective campaign. Most brands will organize their social media calendar at least one month in advance, and you’ll need extra time to coordinate campaign details and create content.

4.  Follow Up

If you have sent a written request and haven’t heard back from the brand, it’s time to follow up. If it’s a busy period, you might not hear back at all. Ideally, you should leave it at least two weeks before following up. Marketing teams are generally always busy and if your request isn’t time sensitive, they may be leaving it for a period when they have more time on their hands.

Pitching brands can take time but it’s often worth your while reaching out to 10 or 20 brands even if you only get one collaboration from it. Send a polite follow-up email and ask whether the contact requires more information or if there’s any other way you could help them. If you still don’t hear back, you could always try calling, but it might be best to move on and contact another brand instead.

If you’ve sent an Instagram message and the brand hasn’t “seen” your message within a week, it’s probably best to send an email or call instead.

Remember, if you send a pitch that’s too long, too confusing, or is sent at a busy time of year, you might get ignored. Try to take all these things into consideration before pitching.

5.  Finalize Your Contracts

No influencer or brand should start a brand collaboration without a contract, no matter how small the campaign is.

The contract doesn’t need to be complicated; it just needs to specify a few key details. These include:

If you don’t have a contract template, there are plenty of downloadable options to choose from. You can also contact a lawyer and create a customized contract. It might be an expensive cost upfront, but you can create a contract that can be edited and repurposed for different campaigns in the future.

6.  Execute the Campaign

Finally, it’s time to execute your campaign. If you’re a micro influencer working with brands for the first time, the brand will probably dictate all of the campaign tactics. Sometimes if you’re a larger influencer or you are known for your creative direction, a brand might lean more on your skills as an experienced content creator.

Either way, you still want to ensure you have all adequate instructions to ensure that the campaign is a success. Don’t wait until the last minute to ask all the important questions.

Have your content prepared and approved well in advance and ask the brand about the messaging they’d like to use. Check if there’s a specific call to action to include and confirm the campaign hashtags as well as the posting date and time.

If you’re a brand working with another brand, you need to ensure that you’re both working together collaboratively to create a perfectly executed campaign. With any brand partnership, you’ll need to decide on all the campaign details including the objectives, dates, tactics, and content to be used.

This is even more crucial when you’re working on a simultaneous giveaway; the posting times have to be synchronized perfectly in order to ensure the success of your campaign. Some small businesses may not have the same processes as you, but the campaign’s success relies on both of you working together, so you need to have a well-organized campaign.

7.  Measure the Results

Lastly, it’s crucial that you check the results of your campaign to understand whether it’s worth the investment to try it again. Depending on your initial objectives, you might have a range of metrics to use. Here are some of the top metrics to include within your reporting:

There’s no need to measure all of these metrics if they’re not related to your campaign goals, however, it is important to understand the return on your investment, including the time spent organizing the campaign. Learn more about how to calculate your return on investment here. Your ROI will determine whether you run a similar collaboration again, or if you make changes to it depending on what worked and what didn’t.

What NOT To Do When Pitching For Instagram Collabs

Now that you understand how to pitch brands, let’s talk about what not to do when pitching to brands. When you’re pitching, don’t include your prices. You might have a media kit already, or simply have a strong idea of what your prices should be, but you don’t want to reveal anything upfront.

Why? Well, first of all, you might be revealing your pricing to brands that may not even be interested in working with you. They may even use your pricing as leverage to score better deals with other influencers.

Secondly, the brands you’re choosing to work with might have an enormous budget. Let’s say they have a budget of $1,000 per post. If you send them your rates at only $500 per post, they might agree to those rates, or they might try and score two posts from you when they were formerly only going to ask for one. Don’t send your pricing until asked for it.

You also shouldn’t agree to work with any brand that asks you not to disclose that you’re doing a sponsored post. If you do this, you might get banned from Instagram and you could even get into legal trouble.

Not only that, but you also want to remain authentic to your Instagram followers. By jeopardizing your authenticity, you could be damaging your reputation. This may affect your potential to score future brand partnerships.

There’s a bit of grey area with gifting. When you’re an influencer who has received free products from a brand or a PR agency, you’re under no obligation to post anything about it if you don’t want to. But you may want to show appreciation to the brand or even just do a quick shoutout on Stories about a product you love. In this scenario, if the brand is one you don’t already use, you may want to use hashtags like #gifted to maintain an honest relationship with your Instagram followers.

For example, below we see two examples of #gifted posts. The skincare post goes into detail about the product while the other lets the image do the talking. These are completely different approaches and they may or may not have also involved payment.

If you’re an influencer who has agreed to do an influencer collaboration with a brand, be sure to check any contracts that you’re signing carefully. If necessary, get a lawyer to review it – or, at the very least, a knowledgeable friend or family member.

Ideally, you probably don’t want to sign a non-compete clause (unless the price is right!), particularly if you’re, say, a fashion influencer who only works with luxury fashion brands. You also need to check the payment terms carefully and check if you’ll be liable for anything resulting from the campaign.

Boost Your Brand Collaborations With Sked Social

Influencer marketing and brand collaborations can be quite time-consuming. However, if you want to be involved with viral brand collaborations like the best of them, it’s critical that you invest in collaborative marketing tools to boost efficiency and support your social media management team.

Sked Social is an all-in-one social media management tool with powerful scheduling capabilities and advanced reporting functionality. It can provide you with unique insights, allowing you to create brand collabs using clever tactics. Overall, it makes social media management much easier and helps you to focus on bigger and better ideas.

Having intuitive social media management tools like Sked Social paired with well-structured processes will also make you far more attractive as a brand partner. Influencers and brands will be far more likely to collaborate with you again if you’re well-organized. Well-timed scheduled posts are also critical if you’re launching a synchronized brand collab or giveaway.

Sked Social’s social media scheduler allows you to automatically schedule posts for every major social media platform, saving you hours each week! Store images, schedule posts, and add hashtags, locations, product tags, or influencer tags all in one go. You’ll never have to post on a weekend again! Don’t believe us? Try it yourself by signing up with a free plan. Try Sked’s 7-day trial today.

Get a Sked start with a free trial

Try our amped up all-in-one platform free for 7 days. Get full access and see how absolutely easy it is to rock your visual marketing plans from here on out!