When brands are looking for real people to partner with, they, uh, go hard. In my case, I was looking for people with specific brands of RV (depending on the balance we needed that quarter). I was looking for people of different ages, races, ethnicities, genders. I was looking for solo campers, couples, families – nontraditional ones, people with lots of kids or very young kids, etc. I was looking for people who traveled with dogs, or cats, or even a fish. (My favorite.)
Because I worked on a small, majority-female team, we prioritized keeping an even balance of people we showed to our clients. We went out of our way to look for people who were underrepresented in the space – Black campers, Asian campers, Latino campers, but also solo female travelers, young couples living in their RVs full-time, retirees with ATVs.
Because it was our job to show the full breadth of real people who enjoyed not just the product we were repping, but the lifestyle associated with it, too.
So yeah, I was looking far. I was looking wide. I was looking into deep-ass rabbit holes. This is how I found people, roughly in order of effectiveness:
- Instagram hashtags of the brand name or the product name or both
- People who commented on other people’s posts
- Followers of people who hashtag the brand or product or both
- Visually searching more generic hashtags for products that might belong to the brand (skimming 100s, 1000s of photos looking for a logo I recognized)
- Looking for related hashtags, like commonly used RV products or camping tools and visually searching for our brand among the photos
- Trying to track down related accounts – like the personal Instagram accounts of the people who created an account around their RV adventures
It could be grueling. It’s really easy to find a certain type of content creator in any given niche – in my case, I would say white couples or families between 28 – 50 who lived in their RV at least part of the year. These people drive around with their social handles slapped on the back of their campers as a decal.
And that’s awesome.
But there’s only so many people you can feature who look a lot like the last ten people you’ve featured. We always needed more diversity across all demographics.
It was much harder finding people who just used their RVs on the weekends in the summer. Or who were brand new owners. Or Black campers who could speak to a different perspective on camping. Or anyone who wasn’t from out west or down south, frankly. (Not as many national parks and RV campgrounds on the East Coast!)
So if you’re easy to find, you’re going to be at the top of a brand’s list.
Use brand and product hashtags. Put their names in your captions, tag them in your captions. Put a link to your other properties prominently in your IG bio, your YouTube video descriptions, your website, your newsletters. Anytime you show a product in a photo or mention it, use its full name, like “Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts” instead of just “pop tarts.”
Note: Although we did look at follower numbers, low numbers rarely stopped us from working with someone we wanted to work with. I can’t speak for all brands, but know that there are absolutely brands that will work with people with a smaller reach and following. It’s not a dealbreaker at all.
But if you do have decent reach, it’s a good idea to create a page on your website where you list all your numbers in one place. This can help you get more work and more money.