Best Practices
For Brands

Partnering with Creators: Finding and Selecting the Right Fit

Partnering with creators—be they influencers, content creators, or ambassadors—is essential, but how do you amplify your brand presence and drive genuine engagement? The key to success lies not just in the reach of a campaign, but in the real connections that these creators foster with their audiences.

A crowd of people walk on the street in neutral colors, only one person stands out for wearing a chartreuse jacket


Success with creators is all about genuine connections and brand alignment. Pick those who truly resonate with your audience using clear criteria and social listening. Focus on high-quality content and real engagement. Steer clear of inconsistency and fake followers. Strengthen relationships through regular communication, rewards, and collaboration. This leads to deeper connections, higher engagement, and a better ROI.

Wondering how to effectively select and engage with creators who can bring your brand's story to life? How do you ensure that these collaborations resonate with your brand’s values and truly engage your target audience? Let’s dive into the art of connecting with the right creators to make your campaign a success.

Finding Your Storytellers

Discovering the right creators requires a nuanced approach, focused on quality and alignment rather than mere numbers. Here are effective strategies to guide you:

  1. Listen Intently: Use social listening tools not just to hear, but to understand the conversations around your brand, competitors, and industry. Identify creators who engage in these conversations with authenticity and authority. Consider Shaylee Wiliams @theunfilteredcrossfitmom. An avid crossfit athlete and a mom, her audience is over 20K followers on Instagram, but every post gets comments and engagement and she replies to each one. Partnership with Pushup Chalk, which focuses on the Crossfit athlete audience was in perfect alignment with Shaylee’s audience and content. (Side note - her first drop with Trnd resulted in over 13% conversion rate - incredible!)
  2. Adopt both proactive and responsive strategies to find the right creators. Utilize platforms equipped to provide in-depth analysis of demographics, engagement rates, and historical content of potential partners. This ensures the creators you select truly align with your audience's expectations and interests. Actively reach out with your campaigns to suitable creators, and equally, be attentive to incoming inquiries from creators who demonstrate a genuine interest in your brand and products. This dual approach not only broadens your reach but also enhances the likelihood of discovering creators who are already engaged and prepared to convey your message authentically.
  3. Content Quality: Scrutinize the creator's past work for consistency and quality. Their content should not only attract but hold the interest of viewers, providing value that keeps them coming back.
  4. Engagement Authenticity: Beyond numbers, assess the relevance and sincerity of interactions between creators and their followers. Authentic engagement often translates to a deeper trust and a more committed audience.

Drafting Your Criteria List

Your criteria list is your blueprint for selecting creators who not only reach but resonate with your audience. Here’s how to craft this essential document:

  1. Align With Core Values: List attributes that reflect your brand’s core values and aesthetics. This ensures the content created will feel like a natural extension of your brand. 
  2. Target Audience Match: Make sure the creator’s audience aligns with your target market's demographics and psychographics. This alignment increases the likelihood of your message resonating.
  • Nano and Micro Creators (1,000 to 10,000 followers) are pivotal for reaching niche, highly engaged audiences. These creators often boast higher engagement rates and a more personal connection with their followers, making them ideal for targeted, community-focused campaigns. Their content should reflect or complement your brand's ethos and aesthetic, ensuring a natural fit. Set specific goals related to engagement metrics like comments, shares, and direct interactions.
  • Mid-tier Creators (10,000 to 100,000 followers) strike a balance, providing wider reach while maintaining quality engagement. They are excellent for regional campaigns or specific demographic targeting, requiring consistent content that resonates well with both the creator’s and brand’s image. They should have the capability to reach a broader audience without compromising the quality of engagement. Make sure that they have a regular posting schedule with consistent quality that aligns with your brand standards.
  • Macro and Celebrity Creators (100,000 to millions of followers) offer expansive reach and are best suited for broad-spectrum awareness campaigns. Their influence can shift market trends, making them valuable for large-scale promotions and introductions to new markets. High-quality, polished content that stands out and can be leveraged for broader marketing campaigns and provide whitelisting opportunities. 
  1. Set Performance Benchmarks: Define what success looks like in terms of engagement rates and audience growth. Use these metrics as a guide to evaluate potential collaborations.

Key Decision Points

Choosing between a creator who fits perfectly with your brand and one with a vast reach depends largely on your campaign objectives:

  • Depth vs. Breadth: A perfect brand fit can lead to deeper audience engagement, creating loyal advocates. Conversely, a creator with a larger, yet less aligned audience might be better for broad-spectrum awareness.
  • Define Success: Clarify what success looks like for your campaign. Is it more about spreading awareness or driving action? This decision will guide whom you choose to work with.

Spotting Red Flags

Even the most promising collaborations can have pitfalls. Here are some red flags to watch for:

  • Inconsistency: Sporadic posting or engagement suggests a lack of commitment that could spell trouble for campaign consistency.
  • Engagement Quality: Look closely at interactions. Superficial engagement often indicates a lack of true influence.
  • Values Misalignment: Content that clashes with your brand’s values can do more harm than good. Ensure that all content upholds the integrity of your brand.
  • Fake Followers: Are they a US creator that has more than 40% of their audience from India or do they have very low engagement compared to the amount of followers they have?

Maintaining and Deepening Relationships

Once you've found the right creators, the real work begins: cultivating those relationships. It’s about more than just teamwork; it’s about building a community of collaboration and mutual respect. Here’s how you can make these connections stronger and more fruitful:

  1. Stay Connected - Keep the lines of communication fluid. Regular updates and check-ins make creators feel involved and appreciated. Whether it’s through monthly newsletters, weekly calls, or regular emails, let them know what's happening with your brand and what's on the horizon.
  2. Reward Excellence - Set up incentive programs that reward creativity and hard work. From bonuses for reaching certain goals to giving sneak peeks at new products or offering higher commissions for stellar results, show your creators that their efforts are recognized and valued.
  3. Create Together - Bring creators into the content creation process. This collaboration melds their unique voice with your brand message, producing authentic and impactful content. It's about creating with them, not just directing them.
  4. Grow Together - Offer pathways for their professional growth. Whether it’s tickets to exclusive industry events, courses to sharpen their skills, or opportunities to network with peers, supporting their development strengthens your relationship.
  5. Open Dialogue - Constructive feedback is crucial. Regularly review their work with them, providing positive encouragement and practical advice. This open dialogue helps them align closely with your brand’s vision and refine their content strategies.
  6. Plan for the Future - Think beyond short-term projects. Establishing long-term plans for ongoing collaboration not only provides stability but also deepens the creator’s alignment with your brand, enhancing trust and improving the quality of your joint efforts over time.

Closing thoughts

At the heart of successful collaborations is a simple truth: it’s about connecting with creators who don’t just share your message, but who truly get your brand and bring it to life alongside their own stories. Successful campaigns aren’t just about the size of someone’s audience, but about building real, meaningful connections that make people care and engage. As you step forward in forming these partnerships, focus on nurturing relationships that go beyond mere transactions. Think of each collaboration as a chance to grow together, creating a community that's as invested in your success as you are in theirs. This approach doesn't just spread your message—it makes it resonate more deeply and authentically.

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