Brand partnerships or spokesmodels aren’t a new concept in marketing, but thanks to the rise of social media, what defines famous is much more subjective in the digital age. A gig economy has been born out of internet fame, full of online celebrities with devoted followings. And they’re turning their lifestyles into a marketing vehicle not only for their personal brands, but for the companies hiring them.
One platform with a hearty representation of these social entrepreneurs is Instagram, where those with followers in the six figures request big bucks for one sponsored post. “It’s a platform now that you can’t really ignore, and I think brands are starting to realize that,” says Rosalin Anderson, chief branding officer for Just Salad. Its team looks for Instagram influencers that mesh with the brand, and works with them to create visuals that feel natural and authentic to share on both feeds. Here's what it's learned.
Make the most
Just Salad focuses on influencers in areas where the chain’s locations already exist. “At the end of the day, it’s all about getting more foot traffic into the store, not just brand exposure,” Anderson says. “We’re not this huge company [with] this large marketing budget; every dollar has to count.”
Do your homework
Just Salad has been cultivating its database of partners for years. It tracks Instagram personalities, including details about what each influencer focuses their coverage on and how many followers they have. “It’s a lot of research and then some of it is trial and error,” Anderson says.
Work with a diverse group of influencers
“I think it’s good to have two levels of social media influencers going,” Anderson says. “You want to have a micro level of influencers constantly posting about your brand, but then you also want a macro level of influencers to have that wider reach.”
Vet your talent
As with any still-evolving industry, rules aren’t always defined. “Social media is like the Wild West,” Anderson says. Since there is no industry standard, Just Salad taps its current contacts within the Instagram influencer world for new partners. “It’s constant networking, constant vetting people.”
Keep it authentic
When it comes to optics on social media, picture-perfect isn’t always just that. Just Salad makes sure to not have a post look “too staged,” and to have a “natural imperfection aspect, because we’re the everyman brand,” Anderson says. “I don’t want a super perfect photo; it doesn’t resonate with our customer base.”