The White Moose Cafe in Dublin recently made an email viral that contained a request from a Youtuber asking for a free stay of five days in their Hotel. In return, the Youtuber promised to publish Youtube videos and Instagram posts and stories about the Hotel to bring in traffic to their favour and encourage people to come up to their hotel.
While this seems like a decent request for a Social Influencer to make, Dublin hotel’s response to this was quite unexpectedly extreme. The email was made viral via their Facebook page with a lengthy caption shaming the Youtuber, also stating that it is downright disrespectful to ask for free accommodation without thinking of who is responsible to pay the bills for the scheduled stay or gather the staff to serve them. They made sure to hide the personal information of the Youtuber in doing so, but Elle Darby, the social media influencer in question, came out in open to defend herself.
While the drama ensued between them, it brought out a very important topic for discussion. As social influencers doing our own thing and trying to earn from what we do, it gets really difficult at times when circumstances are against us. Whether you are a blogger, a Youtuber, or any social media user seeking to use your skills to produce some good content online and making some profit out of it, the whole question of whether to approach for help from established businesses is valid.
In one of my recent Instagram posts I initiated a conversation that brought me to write this article: to pitch or not pitch. As Social Influencers, we have a responsibility to our followers to produce good content to deliver good content for them. But at the same time we also have a responsibility to ourselves to allow our work to help us grow and sustain us.
From a very personal experience, I did not pitch in for the longest time and would do my own work at my own convenience. But knowing that I am a freelancer with a growing Instagram crowd for my work, I thought it was only fair that I start looking for opportunities that will also enormously help me to produce better quality of work.
So around December 2016, I started writing to brands and found out that it actually worked. While I would not go around saying that all of them got back to me as enthusiastically as I would have hoped them to do so, but the ones that did only catapulted my brand name in the social media market.
So to answer the main question, to pitch in or not to pitch in: YES, you must. As a freelancer, you need to create opportunities for yourself and use the best resources that you can gather for your work. Most likely 9 out of 10 brands may not get back, and that’s okay. But the 1 brand that does is a window of opportunity that you must grab. Anyone who is working as a freelancer in social media would tell you that 99% of the time you must go looking for work, rather than wait for the work to come to you.
Cases like the White Moose Cafe are likely to happen but should not be appreciated at any cost. I have had hotels write to me for similar requests and when the investment seems profitable for both parties, I don’t see why such trends should be discouraged. While details of this particular case might be hazy, I am honestly of the opinion that when any proposal (like the one that Elle Darby put forth) could be turned down with a simple and polite ‘NO’ as a reply. It looks downright cringe-y in trying to make a hue and cry out of something normal and shaming others.
This also brings us to another important reminder on how to approach brands to pitch in. From the thread generated at my Insta post, I think we are all very clear with the following important points that I believe every Social Influencer should keep in mind.
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BUSINESS AS BUSINESS:
Like them, you are conducting business too. Your niche might be radically different but that should not stop you from approaching different brands in collaborating with your work. Just like the brands have the right look at opportunities, you too should work as per the needs of your own enterprise.
HOW TO APPROACH PEOPLE
An important matter of concern is also how you approach them. Always be polite and be prepared for rejection. Make your discussions to the point and be very clear about how you want the deal to work. Be very persistent but allow some space for compromise wherever required. Be sure to thank them later, regardless of whether they accept your offer or not. It always help if you leave behind a good impression of your professionalism.
HONEST CONTENT FOR POSTS
Since a lot many times we collaborate offering to review or highlight the brand’s products or spaces, be very sure to leave a honest review and not exaggerate for the sake of the deal. Your followers trust you to give a very open and honest feedback so make sure you are consistent with that. This also means that you need to be very careful with the brands you approach, they should be business firms that you can be comfortable promoting.
BEING OPEN TO NEGOTIATIONS
As much as you should hold your ground and not let bigger brands intimidate you into meaningless proposals, always be open to negotiations. Both you and the brand are looking to seek profit out of the collaboration, so settle for something where you are getting the maximum positives without them being insecure or dissatisfied with your side of the bargain. At the end, less is better than nothing. So make sure to remain very open to all discussion about what you both put on the table.
HIGHLIGHTING AND REVIEWING:
Most collaboration ask for a promotion of either party on social media. It is important that your promotional posts are not laced with exaggerations or untruth. Be very careful whether to Highlight about their products or Review them. Review will imply that you put forth both pros and cons of your experience with their service. Highlighting, on the other hand, will mean that you only emphasise on the benefits or the good points about the product or the service. So be very sure to clarify with your collaborating partner about what they expect from you.
I am pretty sure a lot of you will have several opinions to give regarding this issue as well. Feel free to comment below about it. Let’s keep such healthy discussions flowing for everyone’s benefit.
Until then, happy blogging everyone 🙂