In this guide, we’ll be discussing Instagram collaborations. Both on collaborating with users and collaborating with brands.
Collaboration can be beneficial for both parties when done correctly. With that being said, let’s dive in!
A “collab” is short for collaboration. It is the action of working with a user, a business, or a brand to produce or create something.
Think of a collaboration as a cooperation between two “parties.”
Collaborations can lead to new innovations, ways to think creatively, new processes, growth, and new relationships.
What is an Instagram Collaboration?
When someone collabs with a user, company, or a brand on Instagram, it means that they are working together in a mutually beneficial business relationship.
It is important to note that in collaborations, the “mutually beneficial” part is very important.
There needs to be benefits for both parties in the collaboration or else it isn’t really a collaboration and more of an activity of “taking.”
An example of an Instagram collaboration could be between a social media model and a clothing company.
The social media model could collaborate with the clothing company in order to promote their new line of products.
The collaboration would be the social media model posting photos of herself wearing the new clothing products.
The benefit for the social media model would either be financial or compensatory in the sense of free clothing.
The benefit for the clothing company would be using the social media models following to reach a larger audience and to help them gain brand awareness for their clothing products.
It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
What is an Instagram Collab Post?
An Instagram collaboration post is a singular content piece that is visible in the Feeds or Reels of two separate accounts. It showcases two users as co-authors of the post.
These collaboration posts also provide insights into their performance, including comments, likes, and share counts.
The process involves one user initiating the post creation and extending an invitation to the other user to participate as a collaborator. Upon acceptance, the post becomes accessible as a feed post or Reel on both users’ respective accounts.
Prerequisites to Collaborating
You might be thinking, that sounds awesome, I could get free clothes and then just post them on Instagram? Easy gig!
Well, there are some prerequisites in order to collaborate with users, brand, and companies.
Often, you will need a rather large social media following that is also engaged with your content.
Before going out and buying followers (which you should never do), you need to read that last half — the users need to be engaged with your content.
Where you can find people, brands, and companies to collaborate with. Within these platforms, they have metrics on your account so you can see how many followers you have and how engaged they are.
So my point — long gone are the days of just having a large social following, they need to be engaged now, especially now that the competition is higher.
How to Use Instagram Collab Posts Successfully?
Now that we’ve covered what collabing is and what collaborating on Instagram is, let’s dive into how to collaborate on Instagram with some tips.
1. Develop a Brand
The first tip when it comes to collaborating on Instagram, is to first ensure you have a brand.
A brand is one component within the marketing matrix along with price, promotion, distribution, product.
A brand is made up of two components:
– Company Image
Company image is the perception of your business or you as an individual in the minds of your target audience.
Your positioning involves the identifying of a target audience with an unfilled need and positioning your product or service to fulfill their need.
With all that being said, you need to work out what you want your personal brand to be.
Questions to ask yourself include:
- What perception do I want my target audience to have either about me or my business? Do I want to come off with the perception that I am a fitness expert? A dropshipping expert? A sustainability practitioner? A model? Etc.
- What product or service do I want to provide my target audience? Is there currently an unfilled need in the marketplace? Will my product or service fill that need?
After asking yourself these questions and hashing out some ideas, it’s time to further develop your ideal target audience.
2. Figure Out Target Audience
The second tip to begin collaborating on Instagram is to develop your target audience.
After figuring out a rough idea of what you want your brand to be (it can change that’s why I mentioned ‘rough idea’) it’s time to hone in on your target audience.
For example, if you are starting a photography Instagram page, then your target audience will most likely be other photographers, models, and perhaps makeup artists.
If you are starting a woman’s fitness Instagram page, then your target audience will most likely be women who are looking to get in shape. BUT, you can even get further than that.
For example, with that fitness Instagram page, do you want to target Gen Z? Is this a fitness page tailored to at home workouts? Gym workouts? Powerlifting routines? Yoga workouts? Etc.
Keep digging deeper until you find a niche and target audience that resonates with you.
Finding out your target audience is an important tip because if you don’t know who your target audience is, then it will be hard to collaborate with others, whether it is another user or a brand.
For example, if you have a woman’s fitness Instagram page, and you don’t know that your biggest target audience is women ages 18 – 34, and you collaborate with a men’s sportswear brand, you may not be so successful.
3. Figure Out Mission or Goal
The third tip for collaborating on Instagram is to figure out your mission or goal.
What is your end game for Instagram and collaborations?
Why do you want to collaborate in the first place?
Is it for money? Status? Fame? Brand awareness?
Well, I think we’d all be lying if some part of it wasn’t for money, so let’s just say to what degree?
Do you want to be filthy ‘rich’ in the financial sense? Do you just want to make a little side cash? Do you want Instagram to be your full-time job?
You need to ask yourself what your end goal is this way you know what direction to go in terms of who you want to collaborate with.
It’s hard to know what path to go down if you don’t even know where you want to end up.
4. Research Brands, Users, or Companies
After brainstorming what you want your brand to be, who your ideal target audience is, and what your mission or goal to be, it’s time to research.
The fourth tip is to research brands, users, or companies.
The first three tips led us up to this moment.
Now it’s like a puzzle, and the brands, users, or companies will be like puzzle pieces fitting into our overall puzzle.
As mentioned, nowadays, there are many platforms such as Entribe, CreatorIQ, Upfluence, etc. that you can use to find brands/companies and for brands/companies to find influencers.
If there are specific brands or users you want to work with, you can also reach out to them individually or see if they are an individual influencer program.
If it’s a specific user you want to work with, if you land on their profile, they may have an email for you to contact them at.
If it’s a specific brand/company, then check out their website as they may have an influencer program where you can just apply. If not, you can email their marketing team. Look for the digital marketing manager if possible either through LinkedIn or their about page.
5. Choose the Right Partner
Collaborate with users whose content resonates with your audience and complements your style. Look for users with a similar or slightly larger following to maximize exposure.
6. Set Clear Objectives
Define your goals for the collaboration. Whether it’s increasing likes, comments, shares, or follower count, having clear objectives will guide your strategy.
7. Create Compelling Content
Develop collaborative content that appeals to both audiences. This could be visually striking, informative, or entertaining, highlighting the strengths of both collaborators.
8. Craft Engaging Captions
Write captivating captions that tell a story, provoke thoughts, or encourage interactions. Incorporate relevant hashtags and CTAs to boost engagement.
9. Tag and Mention
Tag your collaborator in the post and encourage them to do the same. Mention each other in the caption to make the collaboration evident to your followers.
10. Encourage Interaction
Invite your audience to engage by asking questions, prompting discussions, or inviting them to share their opinions in the comments.
11. Respond to Comments
Respond promptly and authentically to comments on both accounts. Engaging with your audience fosters a sense of community and encourages more interactions.
12. Utilize Stories
Tease your collaboration through Instagram Stories. Share behind-the-scenes snippets, countdowns, or sneak peeks to generate anticipation.
13. Diversify Content Formats
Experiment with various content formats, such as IGTV videos, Reels, or even live collaborations. Different formats can engage different segments of your audience.
14. Leverage Analytics
Monitor your collaboration post’s performance using Instagram insights. Analyze metrics like reach, engagement, and audience demographics to understand what resonates.
15. Express Gratitude
Thank your followers for their engagement and show appreciation to your collaborator for their partnership. Genuine gratitude fosters positive relationships.
16. Collaborate Regularly
Don’t limit collaborations to just one post. Consider ongoing partnerships that benefit both parties and create a consistent source of engaging content.
17. Cross-Promote Beyond Instagram
Extend your collaboration to other platforms like YouTube or blogs. This can lead to cross-platform engagement and a wider audience.
18. Stay Authentic
Maintain authenticity in your collaboration. Align the content with both collaborators’ styles to ensure the audience finds the content genuine and relatable.
19. Be Consistent
Consistency in engagement is key. Regularly respond to comments, keep the conversation going, and maintain the momentum gained from the collaboration.
20. Measure Results and ROI
The 20th and final tip for collaborating on Instagram is to measure the results and ROI (return on investment) of your collaboration campaign.
If you aren’t measuring the results then how do you know if it was “successful” or not.
When measuring results, it’s important that you track key metrics such as how many people were reached, how many sales the collaboration brought if it was a brand, etc.
The more things you try to track the better, this way it can even serve as a sort of resume when you want to collaborate with more people.
Before starting the collaboration, in the reaching out phase discussed in tip #5, you’ll even want to track how many collaboration messages you send out and how many people respond.
Why do this?
Well if you realize that you are reaching out to a lot of people and brands and no one is responding, you may want to change up your outreach message.
It’s about continuous testing. There is a saying in the marketing realms to “always be testing.” Test everything.
You can only test, however, if you know the results of a certain outcome, this way you know if your test is actually improving results or not.
Instagram Collaboration Ideas and Examples
Now that we’ve covered the tips regarding instagram collaborations, let’s dive into some of the most common Instagram collaboration ideas and examples.
The first Instagram collaboration idea and example is the giveaway.
Oftentimes, in order to participate in the giveaway, you need to share the post with friends, comment on the post, and share the post on your story.
With all that being said, giveaways are great at driving a lot of social shares and engagement on the giveaway posts.
An example of a giveaway can be seen with Hydro Flask.
After reaching 200K followers, they did a follow & tag two friends giveaway.
In this giveaway, Hydro Flask wanted to celebrate this milestone. They asked fans to follow them and tag two friends in the post comments.
The post resulted in 12,500 likes and a lot of engagement with the brand. Plus, two lucky people got a Hydro Flask for free!
2. Referrals/Affiliate Marketing
The second Instagram collaboration idea and example is referral/affiliate marketing.
Referrals/affiliate marketing is when you promote a certain product often at a discounted price with a special code.
If users were to purchase the product using your code, you would receive a commission.
Here’s an example of an affiliate post by Mariano Di Vaio:
As you can see, it’s different from a regular #ad post because he has a discount code which would result in him getting a commission from people purchasing from Hair Bello using his code.
3. Product/Service Shoutouts
The third Instagram collaboration idea and example is a product/service shoutout.
A simple way to collaborate is through a product or service shoutout.
You can give a “shoutout” to your collaboration partner’s service or product and in return they can give you a shout out as well.
Here’s an example from Ian Harding giving a shout out to Evian Water:
And going back to the idea of branding as discussed earlier, this is a great shout out for Ian Harding because it will align his own brand image with a good cause.
The fourth collaboration idea and example is an Instagram takeover.
This is when a different brand or influencer “takes over”’ your Instagram account for a day, similar to when a guest host “takes over” on a radio station.
In exchange you can “take over” their Instagram feed at the same time.
The benefit with takeovers is that it exposes both brands to a new audience.
An example of this is often seen with the Instagram account “Dogs of Instagram” in which they frequently allow for Instagram Story Takeovers where another dog account will take over their Instagram stories for a day:
5. Joint Product Releases
The 5th Instagram collaboration idea and example is a joint product release.
This collaboration idea is a little more complex and is most suitable for a business with another business in which they have a product.
An example of this can be seen when HP and Elle collaborated on a joint product release.
The image is HP promoting Elle’s branded printer:
How to Collab with Other Users
Collaborating with other users is a little different than collaborating with a company or brand.
You may want to collaborate with another user if that user aligns similarly to your brand and you both can gain something from the collaboration.
The mutually beneficial component of a collaboration should be even more emphasized when collaborating with other users.
An example of a collaboration with another user is a well known photographer collaborating with a social media model in which the photographer takes pictures with the model then they post the behind the scenes and the images from the photoshoot on each of their Instagrams.
Often, the objective when collaborating with another user is not for financial gain, but a brand awareness play. To expose each other to each other’s social media followers and hopefully gain new followers.
How to Collab with Brands
Collaborating with brands and companies are the most common collabs and is often what people refer to when they mention getting collabs on Instagram.
In order to collaborate with brands successfully, it’s important to follow the tips listed above of:
- Develop a Brand
- Figure Out Target Audience
- Figure Out Mission or Goal
- Research Brands, Users, or Companies
- Reach Out to Them
- Measure Results and ROI
Above all else it’s important that you remain professional and know your value and worth.
By remaining professional, you will make the experience enjoyable. If brands enjoy working with you, then they may want to work with you again in the future.
If you’re more of a visual learner, be sure to check out the video we made on this topic:
We hoped you enjoyed this guide on Instagram collaborations and learned something new!
Now go out and start collaborating!
How many followers do you need to collaborate on Instagram?
There is no specific number of followers needed to collaborate on Instagram, as collaborations can occur between accounts of all sizes. Instead, collaborations are typically based on the quality and relevance of the content being created, as well as the mutual benefits and goals of the collaborators involved.
Can everyone do a collab post on Instagram?
While collaborations on Instagram are open to anyone, they may be more difficult to secure for those with smaller accounts or less established brands. However, by building a strong social media presence and creating high-quality content, anyone can increase their chances of finding potential collaborators and building relationships with other accounts.
Nate Torres is an entrepreneur, growth marketer, and photographer and writes mostly on those topics. Nate runs his own professional photography business and photography blog called Nate Torres Photography. Nate enjoys learning about new digital marketing strategy and new ways to think creatively. He is also a photography speaker and author on Photofocus.