- “Made In Chelsea” star Tiffany Watson is a business owner with 529,000 Instagram followers.
- She sees a lot of companies making mistakes when they try to work with influencers like her.
- She’s vegan but says she often gets messages asking her to promote fur coats.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The influencer marketing industry is set to grow to $13.8 billion this year. Companies of all sizes try to get their products promoted by TikTokers and Instagrammers – two platforms that each have hundreds of millions of monthly active users.
But reality TV star and influencer Tiff Watson is at times frustrated by clumsy approaches from businesses keen for her to promote them.
Since first appearing on UK reality show “Made in Chelsea” in 2014, the 27-year-old has built up 529,000 Instagram followers and set up her own business — vegan accessories line ThreeSixFive, whose social channels she runs herself.
As Instagram evolved from a filter-heavy photo diary into a powerful e-commerce channel, Watson has worked with brands such as Protein World, Lounge Underwear, and lingerie brand Boux Avenue.
Here are her top six tips on how to work with influencers to grow your brand on social media and ultimately get you more customers.
1. If you’re going to gift something, don’t make demands of the influencer first
Businesses offer influencers free products or services in the hope they share it with their sizable following.
But Watson says these offers sometimes come with stipulations of how it should be promoted.
“It’s very off-putting when someone messages you wanting to gift you but it comes with demands. Gift if you can afford to and have no expectations …
“Normally, if you expect nothing I find influencers are more generous with posting in return.”
2. Personalize your outreach to the influencer
The fact Watson is vegan is a regular talking point on “Made in Chelsea.”
“So often I get messages from brands asking me if I’d like a fur coat gifted or a chocolate box and it’s very obvious they have just copied and pasted the same message to a group of people,” she says.
Contacting influencers en masse isn’t the most effective use of time, she warns.
“Look for people you think might actually like what your brand is about — a personalized message goes a long way.”
3. Encourage an influencer’s creativity
Watson is also frustrated when companies set overly firm guidelines about how to post, saying this can hamper creativity.
“Often I’m given such a strict brief of what sort of content to produce,” Watson says. “I know, given my way, I could have come up with something that was more authentic to my style and a little bit different.”
4. Don’t just focus on big follower counts
If companies take time to research what else is out there on social media, Watson says, they can figure out the type of influencer that fits their strategy and approach followers with a variety of followings.
“Look at what other people are doing, see what you like and don’t like and what you think could work well for your brand and adapt to make it your own,” she says.
5. But don’t obsess over trends — know what makes your company unique
Watson says she regularly scrolls through reams of businesses whose social media profiles and posts are very similar.
Instagram Reels is full of popular routines that people imitate but Watson says: “Don’t follow every trend or you may find someone looking at your page and not even understanding what you are about.”
When ThreeSixFive works with influencers, it seeks out lifestyle bloggers and cruelty-free brands. Watson says the company’s page can then “give a sense of community rather than just a shop-view style of what products we sell.”
6. Don’t get upset if posts don’t always do huge numbers
Establishing a consistent voice online will help with Watson’s next tip.
Many social strategies chase high numbers — good engagement ratios are prized in the digital world.
Watson acknowledges it can be disappointing not to see big figures, especially for posts both the business and influencer have put a lot of work into, but she recommends posting consistently and focusing on the bigger picture.
If content is “consistent and authentic,” she says, “your content will grow your following and loyal customers organically … Don’t get disheartened if you don’t get a huge amount of likes or followers.”