About a week ago, I asked a few questions over on my Instagram stories and told you all that I would follow up on them (and why I was asking them) in an upcoming blog post. I’ve been researching this topic of ‘how to best support your girl gang’ and how to best relay this information for over a month now. Well, it’s finally go-time! Grab a cup of coffee & enjoy. 🙂
The questions I asked on my InstaStories went something along the lines of “do you see my photos on your feed?”, “do you engage with my posts?”, “if not, why don’t you?” … and I received some really great feedback from some of you who took the time to message me with answers. (thank you!) Now, I know you all were probably wondering, “Why in the world is she asking this? What does it matter?” I completely understand your point of view! As someone who followed bloggers and influencers for years before I started my own blog, I understand that as a ‘follower’ (for lack of a better word), you may not see why it matters to engage with that person’s photos, use their affiliate links, etc. However, it definitely matters more than one may think (especially with the forever-changing Instagram algorithm), so today, I want to explain WHY. I am going to be completely open and honest with you all and let you in on some of the ‘secrets’ that help us (bloggers) succeed in this industry and allow us to continue producing the best content for you all. Ultimately, this is a passion for me (& for many), but it’s also a business and communication is key. That being said, I’m finally sharing how to best support your favorite blogger babes! Some of you who messaged me have long awaited this post, and I just want you to know that your eagerness to support us bloggers absolutely warms my heart. You’ll never know how much I appreciate you!!
In the ‘real world’ (I’ll call it that just to compare it to the ‘blogger world’), the regular Instagram user would maybe post once or twice a month, on birthdays or on special occasions/holidays. They probably wouldn’t pay attention to the amount of likes or comments they receive on their photos, and they most likely wouldn’t care what time of day they posted. They certainly may think, “Why would anyone even care about the number of followers or ‘likes’ they get?” I know this because I WAS that person only 2 years ago … I can relate. But with all of that said, I want to share why these things actually do matter to some people.
Let’s get right to it …
Did you know that brands and PR companies, who hire influencers for campaigns, carefully look at and analyze the number of followers/viewers a person has, how much engagement they receive on their accounts, the ROI they can offer a brand, etc? In order for influencers to continue working in this industry (and keep our jobs, essentially), we must continue to have steady growth and support from our audiences. Let’s set up a random example to help this make more sense … Nordstrom* isn’t going to want to work with me or have me promote a product for their upcoming sale if my audience just consistently “ignores” what I post about it. Sure, you may have seen my photo promoting Nordstrom on Instagram, and it may have reminded you of the sale so you put it on your calendar. However, maybe you didn’t engage with the photo at all and just kept scrolling through your newsfeed. Or perhaps you saw that shirt I was wearing from Nordstrom, but you didn’t go through my customized link when you purchased it. Now, you may be wondering why this all matters and what difference it would even make … and that’s completely understandable. That’s why I feel it’s so important to be 100% open and honest with you about how this industry works and what goes on behind the scenes. There are two main things that brands pay close attention to when they are working with bloggers — sell-through (tracked by personalized links/codes) & engagement. I’ll explain below …
*Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored by Nordstrom — just using as an example!
Brand Partnerships – Links & Codes:
Almost always, the brand we’re working with (in this example, Nordstrom) gives bloggers a customized link or promo code for their website for you all (our readers) to use (or we’ll use our affiliate link … which I’ll go into at the end of this post) to track the number of sales/new customers we bring to their business. Makes sense, right? For example, when I put a swipe up link on my Instagram stories, I often times may be using a specific link that is tracking analytics for the company I am working with. That is why — if you do purchase that product — it is extremely important to purchase it through that link that I’ve provided for you (same goes for other bloggers that you follow). If you see it during the day on your phone but then just go straight to the website on your tablet later that evening to purchase the product, I don’t get any credit for that sale (in the company’s eyes). Just like every other business in the world, performance (and compensation) is based on numbers. If 20 people actually bought the product I was promoting but only 5 of those people purchased through the link I shared, then Nordstrom would only give me credit for 5 sales. At this point, Nordstrom is still benefiting from this collaboration because I brought them 20 customers to buy that specific product. You (as one of the purchasers) are benefitting because you got your new item (YAY)! However, I (as the influencer) am facing a negative outcome because I’m technically not getting the credit for all of the sales. Even if I’m not making any commission on sales through the customized links I share, brands still pay very close attention to how many transactions are made through that link. This number determines if they will ever work with me again in the future (& let’s be real, everyone loves some job security LOL!). If it’s a successful partnership in their eyes, the brand will most likely want to work together on a long-term partnership going forward, which often times includes better perks for you guys (i.e. discount codes, giveaways, events, etc).
It’s very similar for discount/promo codes. A lot of times, companies will share a coupon code for me to share with you guys, and this is a great way for the company to track my sales. This is always a win-win because you (as the consumer) get a great discount, and additionally, they can easily see how many of my followers have purchased from their website each time my promo code is used.
All this to say, it is MORE helpful than you may realize when you purchase through the links that I (or your favorite blogger) share on my blog or social media and when you use any discount codes that I share. Think of it like the brand being my boss in a sales company, and they track my sales every month. If I don’t make my quota (or in this case, a large enough amount of sales in the brand’s eyes), then I don’t get to continue working with that company … and in turn, there are no more fun perks from that company for me to share with you guys. 🙁 This goes for any bloggers you follow. I think I can speak on behalf of all of us when I say that we truly appreciate your support in this area!
Brand Partnerships – Engagement:
This is a biggie! Of course, the ultimate goal in my job is to provide you with daily inspiration, influence certain shopping habits, and drive sales for the companies that I work with. However, one of the first things that a brand looks at when they’re deciding if they want to partner with me is my overall engagement — numbers, again. Engagement is the number of combined likes, comments, saves, views I get on a photo or video on social media. This could even be the number of comments I would receive on a blog post. Essentially, engagement means ‘how are you interacting with your audience (& vice versa), and how are they responding to your posts’. Brands are now not only looking at the number of followers or readers an influencer has, but more so at their engagement rate. An engagement rate is equal to the total amount of your likes/comments/DMs/saves/views, divided by the number of followers you have. This percentage almost always determines whether or not you catch a brand’s attention and if they will want to work together. Ideally, this percentage should be above 2%. Nowadays, people can easily buy Instagram followers/likes/comments, so this percentage can be dishonest (ugh, don’t get me started!), however, brands are cracking down now more than ever and can usually tell if an influencer’s following is authentic and REAL. (Praise!!)
So, am I boring you yet with all this ‘blogger talk’? LOL, promise it’s about to get better!
The reason I just shared all of that ‘engagement’ talk is because I want to address some of the DMs I received a week ago when I shared those polls with you all on Instagram stories. If you’ll refer back to the beginning of this post, one of the questions I asked in the poll was, “Do you engage (like, comment or save) with my posts when you see them?” … “If you don’t, why not? DM me!” Thank you to all who sent in messages answering those questions for me because they were extremely helpful and gave me a lot of insight to share with you in this blog post.
Some of the answers to these questions included:
— I see your posts on my news feed, but I forget to physically double tap (aka ‘like’) the picture (even though I genuinely do like the way it looks or the outfit you’re wearing).
— Sometimes I’ll screenshot your photo instantly so I can shop it in the LikeToKnow.it app, and then I just forget to like or comment on it.
— I just don’t see your photos on my feed. If I want to see them, I have to search for your name and go to your profile.
— I don’t really engage with any pictures on Instagram. I just scroll through my newsfeed real quick and if I want to buy something you’re wearing, I’ll go to your blog’s shop page.
— I try to ‘like’ all your pictures and comment on some if I have time, but do you have any recommendations for getting your InstaStories to pop up first? I like watching stories the most, but sometimes I have to scroll through a bunch of other people’s stories to get to yours.
Okay, so those are the most common responses I received, and they were so helpful to read. Now, I feel like I can help you all out and explain how to never miss a post, story, etc. One of the best ways that you can support me and other people in this industry is to engage with our posts. We work extremely hard for hours on end to post even one picture on Instagram between negotiating with brands, photo shoots, editing, planning content, creating captivating captions, linking all products, etc … and that is only one very small part of our job description. Although I absolutely LOVE this job and wouldn’t trade it for any other, I will say that a lot goes into it all behind the scenes, so I truly appreciate ALL of the support you guys can offer! Not only do I love interacting with y’all, commenting back to you, answering your DMs (connecting with you is my favorite part!), but having your full support by engaging with my posts is crucial for keeping love ‘n’ labels alive. Why? Because remember, brands pay close attention to that engagement rate percentage. And the brands are the ones who write my paycheck. No, this is not all about the money for me. If I could live off of just free clothes, I’d do all of this for free (because that’s how much I genuinely love blogging!), but unfortunately, I don’t think the clothes are going to pay my light bill.
Thankfully, I’ve always felt a deep connection with you guys since day 1, and I notice so many of you (my super loyal #LNLbabes, xo!) who don’t miss interacting with any of my posts. You’re the real MVP, haha! Now, I do not say all of this because I just want more likes on my pictures or more followers for ‘validation in my life’ (I’ve actually been accused of this LOL *eye roll*). Heck to the no!!! I’m sharing all of this information because it needs to be said for the sake of this industry that is so near to my heart. And it needs to be very straightforward. This whole ‘blogger thing’ is still very new to some, and many people who follow influencers probably don’t realize how much a simple like or comment on their favorite blogger’s photo or blog post really helps them out when it comes to overall engagement/analytics and the future of their business.
Think about it like this … You would clap and cheer on your favorite basketball player as he’s about to shoot a free throw to give him some extra encouragement. The crowd gets quiet for him, and then SCORE! He makes the shot, so that team’s points go up on the scoreboard and his stats increase. Just like cheering on and supporting your favorite player to help him be as successful as possible in his basketball career, you can do that for your favorite bloggers/influencers as well to help us be as successful as possible in our careers and continue providing you with great content and daily inspiration. Without successful engagement from our followers, there are no brand partnerships. Without brand partnerships, there is no paycheck (well, there is — but I’ll get to that next … let’s just say it’s not an ideal paycheck). Without a successful paycheck, most of us are out of work, which means there is no more blogging. (Of course, people can blog as just a hobby, but to be honest when I had a 9-5 day job, it was almost impossible to even blog as a hobby because of how much time goes into it.) In conclusion, your support when it comes to engaging with my posts/watching my IG stories makes such a huge impact in my career (same goes for other bloggers). That being said, I’ll leave a few tips below (because Instagram recently updated their algorithm again) for those of you who have asked how to better keep up with my posts/stories. Keep in mind, the following tips go for anyone on Instagram (all other influencers you follow, your family, friends, etc) if you don’t want to miss out on their posts going forward.
Top engagement tips to support your favorite Instagram accounts:
— If you don’t see my posts (or someone’s you’d like to see) in your news feed on Instagram, the best way to fix that is to LIKE and/or COMMENT/SAVE that person’s posts going forward. The more you engage with a certain person on Instagram, the more that person will show up on your news feed and then you will never miss their posts. (I specifically do this for my favorite bloggers & my family/friends.) Read more about this practice in this recent post. (PS – you can also turn on post notifications for your favorite Instagram accounts and then you’ll always receive a notification as soon as that account makes a post. This is another great way to stay in the loop!)
— Another note on ‘how to never miss a post’ … I personally share on my IG stories as soon as I have a new Instagram post up on my feed or a new blog post up on my site. This is just another way for me to make sure that you don’t miss anything new and an easy way for you to stay up to date on all things LNL. That said, if you follow me on stories, you won’t ever miss a thing!
— If you’re having to scroll through a million Instagram stories to get to the person’s you want to see, just start watching all of that particular person’s stories going forward. The more of that person’s stories that you watch, the more they’ll start popping up as one of the first few accounts on your IG stories highlight reel, and you’ll no longer have to scroll for days to find them.
— More on IG stories … if the person you’re watching has an opportunity for interaction (i.e. polls, etc), participate (if it pertains to you). This will also make that person pop up more frequently at the front of your Instagram stories reel.
— Leave genuine comments. Also, if someone is asking a question in their caption, try to answer it. It’s called social media … let’s be social, y’all! 😉
— If you see something you like, share it with your friends! Tag them in the comments section or send it to them through DMs!
— LIKE/COMMENT/SAVE … it takes 5 seconds! Soooo much time and effort goes into every single post an influencer shares, and it’s being shared for YOU! We love to hear feedback from our audience, and we pay close attention to what you all like/don’t like so that we can make note of that going forward. So, if you like something, be sure to let us know by engaging in some way on that post! 🙂 Actually, this is one of my favorite ways that followers engage with me because I like to chat with you all in the comments. Often times, I’ll even scroll through my ‘likes’ on a photo and visit some of your all’s profiles as well to engage on your photos, simply because I want to get to know you even better! (So, if you ever see me randomly like or comment on your photo, now ya know why LOL! xo)
Lastly, I promised earlier in the post that we would chat about affiliate links. I know this is something that I’ve gotten so many questions on in the past from people wondering how that all works, so keep reading! I’m an open book with you all, so I’ll let you in on exactly how it all works. One of the most popular questions I’ve received throughout my blogging career is “how do you make money blogging?” … Well, I have a totally different blog post in my Blogging 101 series coming up on ‘how to make money as a full time blogger’, so I won’t go into too much detail here — I’ll be saving most of that info for another day. However, I’ll share the quick explanation with you all in this post!
Essentially, there are many ways to monetize a blog, but two of the most popular ways to make money as an influencer is through brand partnerships (which I shared earlier) and affiliate links. *TIME TO GET REAL – quick rant* These are the two main ways that I, personally, monetize love ‘n’ labels. Brand partnerships making up about 80% of my income and affiliate links being about 20%. That being said, I do NOT ever promote or share anything on my social media or on my blog that I haven’t already tried and use it/wear it in my real, everyday life. I only accept partnerships where I genuinely use the product and love it and think that YOU as my follower would love too. I’m very very strict about this, no matter how much ‘money’ a brand may offer me. To be completely honest, I’ve turned down large amounts of money that could help me buy that new designer bag I want 😉 , just because the products that the company wanted me to promote did not align with the love ‘n’ labels brand and was something that I didn’t already love. No, it’s never fun turning away good deals, but I’d rather say no to them instead of promoting a product I don’t truly believe in and risk losing YOUR trust as one of my followers. I always want you all to know that if I promote something or share a #sponsored post with you all, that I stand behind it 110% and wouldn’t be sharing it if I didn’t already try it out and love it myself. *RANT OVER*
So what are affiliate links? The quickest way for me to describe this to you all is to bring up LikeToKnow.it (which I’m sure many of you have heard of by now). This is just one of many affiliate companies that allows bloggers/influencers to create a special link for our clothes/home decor/beauty products/etc. and then share that link with our audiences. These links allow the influencer to make a small commission off of the products that are purchased through that specific link. For example, if I link a $50 shirt from Nordstrom, and one of you buys it … I’d receive about $3-ish from that one sale. Every commission percentage varies among different retailers, but it’s hardly ever a big commission unless it’s 1. a really expensive linked item or 2. hundreds of people buy the item I linked. Affiliate links one of the ways I’m able to run love ‘n’ labels and continue posting content for you all.
So much hard work goes on behind the scenes of running this business, and I spend countless hours on every single Instagram post and blog post to make it something inspirational and enjoyable for you all. I absolutely love this job, and I greatly appreciate when you all take the time to purchase through my links so that I can continue to share all the best finds with you guys! Best part? It’s at no extra cost to you! Once you ‘swipe up’ on Instagram stories or click the link I’ve shared, it takes you straight to the website (through my affiliate link) to shop/purchase as you normally would and then, I’ll receive credit for it. Simple as that!
Other ways to shop my affiliate links:
— If you ever need any of my outfit details or want to shop my outfits through my links, you can go directly to the Shop My Instagram tab here on the blog. Once you click on the photo you want to shop, all outfit details will pop up and you can click on the item(s) you’re wanting to purchase. It will then take you directly to the retailer (through my link) and you’ll checkout like you normally would on any site!
— Download the LikeToKnow.it app on your phone (it’s FREE!), and follow me there to shop all of my outfits/beauty products/home decor/exclusive content. I link everything on the app, and some of the things that I link on there I actually don’t share on Instagram. Therefore, you’ll also receive access to exclusive posts. (Once you download LikeToKnow.it, search @peyton.baxter to follow my account so you can easily access all post details at any time.)
— If you ever can’t find one of my affiliate links for a certain retailer that you want to shop, just shoot me a DM or an email (email@example.com), and I’ll be happy to send them to you at anytime!
Shop my look:
PHEW… long post! Thanks for sticking around to this point if you made it this far!
I hope that you found this post helpful and if anything, that you gained more insight on how this industry operates. Again, I want to make it very clear that I’m only sharing this post as a way to communicate how you can best support your favorite bloggers/influencers (at no extra cost to you) so that we can continue running our businesses and producing the best content to share with you all. I think I can speak on behalf of most bloggers that our readers mean the absolute world to us, and we appreciate your support more than you know!
Throughout my life, I’ve learned that communication is crucial, so I thought what better way to share all of this info (that can help SO many people) than by putting it out into the world for everyone to see. I hope it’s been beneficial to you in some way! It’s always been my goal with love ‘n’ labels to create a tight-knit community of stylish, supportive women. If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know that I’ve always got your back, and I’m so appreciative that you’ve got mine!
Although this post that is very different than what I would typically share, I want to thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to read. Thank you for your understanding, and most importantly, thank you for your continuous love, encouragement, and support! You all are the BEST!!
As always, feel free to leave your comments and questions below!