What Brands Look For When Choosing an Influencer

Have you ever what brands look for when choosing an influencer to work with? What makes an influencer a dream partner for brands? On the flip side, what turns brands off from working with an influencer? 

In this post, we’ll explore six key traits that brands look for in influencers. That way, you can apply this knowledge to your pitches and increase your chances of working with your dream brands. Let’s jump right in. 


The advice to ‘be authentic’ gets dished out a lot. That’s because authenticity is essential to building an engaged audience. People connect with those who are real and honest. It doesn’t mean you have to divulge your innermost secrets. It just means you have allowed your audience to get to know you as a person – your values, beliefs, 

Authenticity means being real and honest with your audience. It’s not being afraid to show your personality and let your followers know who you are. If you’re sarcastic, write sarcastic captions. If you’re quirky, show that in your photos. Have an unconventional perspective or opinion? Share it. There’s no need to create a false persona in an attempt to become more popular. With so many fakes already on social media, why be another one? It’s so cliche, but be yourself. 

To maintain authenticity as an influencer, it may be helpful to create a style guide for your social media and/or blog. This is a document that outlines your brand’s personality – including tone and voice – and your brand aesthetic. That way, you have a reference that you or any member of your team can use to create content that’s on-brand. 

A genuine interest in the brand

When you pitch a brand, you want to demonstrate a genuine interest in their products and what they stand for. Remember that some brands get hundreds of pitches every day. It’s not enough to say ‘Hey, I’d like to work with you! I have 10,000 followers.’ That’s a generic pitch that anyone can send. You want to craft a personalized pitch that shows your enthusiasm for the brand and a desire to serve.

A big mistake that many influencers making is approaching a brand with an attitude of ‘Pay Me!’  Of course, we all want to get paid, but payment shouldn’t be at the forefront of your pitch. Your first objective is to demonstrate that you can provide value for the brand. You need to come from a place of service. Ask questions like:

  • Would this be helpful to your company?
  • How can I help you meet your goals this quarter?
  • What are your current marketing objectives?

A brand is more likely to work with you if you’re focused on how you can help them. Once you agree upon a collaboration idea, then you can negotiate payment. 

Another mistake influencers make is reaching out to a brand without a concrete collaboration idea. This, too, shows a lack of interest. You’re the content creator. You need to have specific ideas for a collaboration. When pitching a brand, you can propose your idea and ask whether they’d find it beneficial. Brands appreciate creativity and new ideas. That’s why you should never approach a brand with a pitch like ‘I want to work with you! What do you want me to post?’ You probably won’t hear back. 

Quality content

Quality content is the backbone of any social media account or blog. There are millions of images posted on Instagram every day and 130 trillion blog posts indexed on Google. These posts are competing for the attention of users who have a short attention span. It takes a few seconds for users to scan their feeds or look through the search results on Google. It’s your job as a content creator to make sure your posts pique users’ interest.

What makes content high-quality? Whether it’s social media post or a blog post, quality content focuses on one topic. It inspires, educates, evokes emotion, or stirs up a conversation. High-quality content is also consistent with your brand values and what your audience wants. It’s no accident that the brands that get the most followers or readers take the time to create great content. 

Brands are humans so they are drawn to an aesthetically pleasing feed. That’s why it’s so important to focus on upgrading your skills so that you can create content that stands out. Invest in a professional camera or learn how to take epic photos with your smartphone. Use a photo editing tool like Photoshop or Lightroom.

An engaged audience 

Nowadays, brands focus more on engagement than followers. There are now millions of accounts that have 10k+ followers. According to a report by Mention.com, about 8% of all Instagram accounts have between 10k-50k followers. Another 1.2% of accounts have between 50,001-100,000 followers. This translates to about 9 million Instagram accounts with between 10k-100k followers. If brands were just looking for influencers with a large following, they have millions of options to choose from.

This is why engagement matters. Engagement refers to the number of people who like and comment on your posts. Brands want to see that your followers are genuinely interested in what you’re posting. If you have 20,000 followers and only an average of 50 likes and 3 comments per post, that’s problematic. It means that your content doesn’t resonate with your followers. As a result, brands won’t have confidence that they’ll generate clicks and sales by working with you. How can you sell to an audience that doesn’t care what you have to say?

A history of successful brand collaborations

In your media kit, you want to include the previous brands you’ve worked with. Brands are looking to see other brands you’ve worked with. They want to know two things: 

  1. There’s an alignment between their product and the other products you’ve promoted. 
  2. You’ve delivered results for the brands you’ve previously worked with.

For instance, if you’re a beauty influencer who has mainly worked with high-end makeup brands like Estee Lauder and YSL, then a drugstore makeup brand might not see you as a fit. On the other hand, if you’ve worked with other drugstore brands like Revlon and L’Oreal, then you’d be a better match. Your audience has to make sense of the brand. If not, it doesn’t matter whether you have 5,000 followers or 50,000.

Furthermore, brands want to have confidence that investing in you, as an influencer will yield a good ROI. That’s why you get bonus points if you can show evidence that you’ve achieved measurable results with your previous brand collaborations.

An alignment of values

Brands want to work with influencers whose values align with theirs. When you both stand for the same things, a collaboration makes perfect sense. For instance, my travel blog focuses on budget travel tips for women who travel solo. I believe that you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to travel. Accordingly, I partner with travel brands that share the same values. That’s why I partner with boutique hotels instead of luxury hotels. Those brands want to work with me because my audience is their target market and we have the same philosophy about travel. 

Want to learn more about how to pitch brands and land lucrative brand deals as an influencer? Join the free masterclass with Julie Solomon, a publicist, and expert on brand deals. With just 12,000 followers, Julie negotiated $250,000 worth of brand deals. Join the free masterclass to learn more about how to land big brand deals, even with a small following. 

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