Barter collaboration: A win-win strategy for brands and influencers

Bartering with influencers is becoming increasingly popular with brands - the benefits of this form of collaboration are tenfold. Here, we look into what it is and how to make it work for you.

What is a barter collaboration?

A barter collaboration falls under the umbrella of a barter economy – for the uninitiated, this is a transaction system that involves an exchange of goods or experiences without money. A great example of this in the social media space is influencer gifting - whereby brands pay influencers with their product or services in return for their authentic endorsements, such as reviews or promotional content on their social media. 

In a world where audiences are growing tired of being marketed at as a result of ad saturation, many users love genuine reviews. With barter collaborations, influencers can freely promote the products in their own way and drive tangible results, whereas brands gain consumer trust and loyalty.

Brands: Why should I do barter collaboration with influencers?

Although there’s no money involved, barter collaboration can be a win-win strategy for both brands and influencers. As a brand, you can benefit from several factors as follow:

Cost effective

Instead of spending loads of cash for ads, sales pitches, or other expensive marketing campaigns, brands can simply exchange or barter their products or services for influencers endorsement. Through barter collaboration, brands can reach targeted audiences and improve their brand visibility with lower marketing expenses - which can be especially beneficial to smaller businesses such as start-ups.

Reach new audiences

Influencers often have a circle of niche audiences that align with their personality. By collaborating with influencers, brands can effectively reach new, highly engaged individuals with specific interests, leading to valuable leads and conversions. Additionally, such collaborations can enhance the brand’s visibility among a wider range of potential customers that they might not otherwise reach.

Authenticity and trust

Influencers are trusted by their audience, who are more likely to see the influencers’ content as credible. When influencers genuinely enjoy a brand’s offerings, they have a tendency to give authentic endorsements of the products. Influencers know their audience well, so they can create content that appeals to their specific audience. Therefore, with barter collaborations, brands can gain more trustworthy recommendations and credibility from their desired audience.

Measurable results

Brands can get measurable results through barter collaborations. By tracking engagement rates, website traffic, conversions, and any other metrics, brands can see the effectiveness of their barter influencer campaigns for future campaign strategies. 

How to choose the best influencers for a barter collaboration?

Set campaign goals

Firstly, a brand should establish some straightforward campaign goals. Whether it’s about getting the word out there, driving sales, or keeping customers coming back for more–it’s crucial to have a clear direction. It’s also important to make sure those goals align with what the influencers can bring to the table. For example, if you’re a new brand aiming to create awareness and generate some brand exposure, collaborating with influencers can be a great way to introduce your brand to a niche audience segment as a kick-off. 

Understand the audience

Another important aspect to consider when choosing the right influencer is to really get to know the audience and their interest. This will help brands to select the right person to review or represent the brand. For example, if your brand caters to young people who wear sneakers and streetwear, then you should look for influencers who have a similar fashion sense and passion for sneakers and streetwear culture. This ensures that their audience shares a genuine interest in the product you offer. 

Focus on relevancy

Relevancy is essential in choosing the right influencer for barter collaboration. Brands have to seek influencers who are relevant to their industry. Ideally, the influencers should have expertise or a genuine interest in their product or service category so that they can get an authentic review. 

Types of influencers

Brands also need to consider the types of influencers they’re going to collaborate with. There are four types of influencers:

  1. Mega influencers: more than 1 million followers
  2. Macro influencers: 100,000 - 1 million followers
  3. Micro-influencers: 10,000 - 100,000 followers
  4. Nano influencers: 10,000 followers or less

Generally, the higher the followers, the bigger reach you can get. Hence, you must choose the types that match your budget and needs the most. Typically, micro and nano influencers tend to be more open to barter collaborations, while some macro and mega influencers prefer more paid collaborations. 

Keep an eye on influencers' reach and engagement

Brands need to evaluate influencers’ reach and engagement metrics, such as the size of the audience, followers growth, and the level of engagement they receive on their posts (e.g. comments or likes). Look for influencers with a significant and active audience to maximise the impact of the collaboration.

Review their content

As a brand, you’d need to assess the quality of an influencer’s content, including their visuals, reels, post feeds, or storytelling abilities, and overall presentation. As well as the influencers’ past collaborations to see their ability to promote products or services and brands they're collaborating with. Some influencers don’t fancy doing an endorsement with the competitors of their current brand. 

If you want to understand more about the power of influencers and the impact they could have on your marketing campaigns, download our Love Trust Barometer for free!

Influencers: Why should I do barter collaboration with brands?

If you’re an influencer pondering the benefits of barter collaborations with a brand you love, here are the perks you can get from the partnership.

Personal branding

By partnering with relevant and well-known brands, influencers can create more creative and high-quality content to shape a strong personal brand and gain credibility. 

Let’s say you're a beauty influencer collaborating with Charlotte Tilbury, you'll get plenty of beauty products that you can use to consistently create beauty product review content on your Instagram. This collaboration not only amplifies your influence but also strengthens your positioning as a trusted beauty influencer.

Get awesome stuff for free

Imagine the thrill of getting free products from your beloved brand! Not only do influencers get to enjoy the benefits of receiving free goodies or exclusive products, but they also have the exciting opportunity to be the first to try the newly launched products. 

If they get favourable responses from your audience, they will get the attention of other well-known brands, paving the way for exciting collaborations and even more incredible opportunities.

Spice up your content

Barter collaboration lets influencers spice up their content by featuring various cool products or services that influencers might not usually showcase. This keeps their content fresh and exciting, attracting more followers and boosting their overall influence. And it goes without saying, by staying active on social media, influencers can connect better with their audience and steadily increase their number of followers. 

Long-term partnership

Barter collaborations can serve as a stepping stone for long-term partnerships between influencers and brands. Through consistent collaboration and positive experiences, influencers can build strong connections with brands, turning themselves into brand advocates and long-term partners. If the collaboration is a hit, it can open up many more exciting opportunities, such as becoming an exclusive partnership or a brand ambassador.

If you’re an influencer looking for a barter collaboration with top brands around the world, Room Unlocked can help you connect with them easily. Work hand in hand to create content with your favourite brands and receive great products that we know you’ll love, in exchange for your authentic advocacy. 

Apply now to explore how we can make a difference for you. 

FAQs about barter collaboration

What are the differences between barter collaboration and influencer gifting?

Barter collaborations and influencer gifting are almost the same. Influencer gifting involves providing free products or services to influencers without monetary compensation, with the hope of organic promotion, while barter collaboration entails a mutual exchange where brands offer products or services to influencers in exchange for specific promotional efforts. 

Influencer gifting is typically a one-time occurrence, while barter collaborations involve clear expectations, potential long-term partnerships, and greater brand involvement in content creation. 

Can influencer marketing be both paid and barter?

Yes, influencer marketing can involve both paid and barter collaborations – it will depend on the brand’s goals, budget, and preferences of both influencers and brands. Some campaigns may involve a combination of both paid and barter collaborations. However, most businesses are more likely to do more barter collaborations to reduce their marketing expenses and get genuine reviews.

How to ask an influencer for a barter collaboration?

As a brand, you can start by introducing yourself and expressing genuine appreciation for the influencer’s content. Then, explain why you believe the influencer is a great fit for a collaboration with your brand. Don’t forget to clearly outline the benefits of the collaboration too. 

Personalise the proposal to the influencer’s specific interests or preferences, and also give them specific details about the collaboration, such as how long it will last, what you expect them to deliver (e.g. social media posts), and any specific guidelines or requirements you may have. 

If you don’t get an immediate response, you can simply follow up politely after a reasonable time to show you’re still interested and remind them of the awesome benefits of your barter collaboration. Stay enthusiastic throughout the process and you’ll get a good shoot at winning them over. 


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