7 Ways Retailers Can Partner with Online Influencers

Kayleigh Alexandra
Guest Contributor

Influencers are powerful individuals, known tastemakers and savvy marketers, and for retailing brands it can be well worth integrating them as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy.

As social media platforms continue to grow in popularity, so too are socially-savvy individuals who have mastered them.

Consequently, more and more retailers are beginning to cotton onto the considerable clout that these individuals can offer. Powerful online influencers, such as Julie Sariñana and Kate La Vie, are able to provide both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce retailers with valuable opportunities to grow their business.

By partnering with key industry influencers with huge social followings and considerable sway, retailers can boost their growth and increase brand awareness. Here’s how.

Free product giveaways

A simple but effective way to partner with online influencers is through product giveaways.

Reach out to an individual who operates within your niche (e.g. a lifestyle blogger for a health food retailer) and ask them to share their thoughts on a new or exciting product you’re offering.

A short post about its benefits and how much they enjoyed it serves as a springboard for them to get their followers to like, comment and share in exchange for a free sample. Everyone loves a freebie, and it generates publicity rapidly and easily.

A great example of this is when the makeup retailer John Frieda partnered with beauty blogger Blair Fowler for their spring giveaway.


Hey Guys! ICYMI: Check out my April Favorites video now up on my channel. It has all my favorite products this spring and a special @johnfriedaus giveaway! #workingwithJF

A post shared by B L A I R F O W L E R (@missblairfowler) on

Fowler reviews her favourite products of John Frieda’s collection, and her 1.7 million subscribers were then encouraged to like and comment for their chance to win. It’s great publicity for the makeup brand with a huge audience that’s in its target niche.

Exclusive launch parties

Another great way to partner with influencers is by making them the VIP guests at your next product launch party. Organize a glitzy, immersive event through InstaMeets and invite your influencers to document it all in real-time on their social feeds, sharing their brand experience with their audiences.

Such an event affords your product a significant degree of glamor and prestige, creating a buzz around it.

The Burj Al Jumeirah hotel in Dubai hosted such an event in 2015, inviting 10 popular Instagram influencers to an exclusive two-day tour of the gorgeous hotel and beautiful surroundings.

The combined audience of the influencers was 18 million, and as a result, the hotel’s social following increased by 3.2 million. It’s a considerable degree of engagement that paid dividends, and one you can capitalize on too.

You could even hold the event in your brick-and-mortar store so attendees can purchase on the day! Be sure to create an online hub for your business so that potential online leads can learn more about your brand, and encourage your influencers to tag you in each post too.

Product development

Where influencers were previously auxiliary to retail brands, serving simply as marketers, today they are much more involved with business, right down to product development.

The influence that these individuals hold over their audiences is considerable, and this is down to their deep understanding of their followers. It, therefore, makes sense that retailers use these valuable audience insights to create and develop products that their target market is most interested in.

The discount retailer Target employed this to great effect in their partnership, The Class of 2017.

Connecting with 10 influencers aged between seven and 14, they worked together to create a range of custom-designed clothing that was put on sale, both online and in Target stores across the country. The designs were a hit with their target audiences, and the partnership was repeated during the fall with six new influencers in tow.

Your influencer has an audience understanding that most marketers could only ever dream of. They know what their followers like and what they want, and as such, it is well worth involving them in an exciting new product development. Involve them closely at every stage, and pay attention to their insights into your customers.


Video is one of the most popular forms of content on the web, and it’s something that influencers are very good at. They frequently employ vlogging as a means of documenting their everyday life, and their audience loves it. As such, sponsoring a vlog as a retailer can net you a considerable return. Indeed, a staggering 64 percent of consumers made a purchase after watching branded social videos.

An example of this can be found in online learning resource Lynda.com’s sponsoring of YouTuber Jack Douglass.

Douglass incorporated the site’s resources into his Yesterday I Asked You series of videos, seamlessly blending the sponsored content into his regular output. This campaign works particularly well because of this, and it’s clear that Douglass truly believes in the product he is selling.

As a retailer, getting your product seen and promoted on an influencer’s vlog is an effective and genuine means of marketing. It’s important that your values and theirs align to create an organic partnership. If the product is in sync with the influencer and their niche, it will fit naturally into their output.

Unique influencer content

Influencers amass their followings through unique and engaging content that is delivered in their distinctive, inimitable style. What they’re saying is only part of their allure, as it is how they say it that plays a significant role in it too.

When deodorant brand AXE partnered with a number of influencers to promote their products, they were given free reign in their content creation. This helped them retain their authenticity, which in turn offered the product authenticity too, as in Josh Elkin’s promo post below.


People often ask me how I keep my hair out of falling into my breakfast, two words, AXE PASTE!! In partnership with @axe styling my hair everyday is important to me because it gives me the confidence to be The Ultimate Undisputed Breakfast Champion… with good hair. #yougotsomething

A post shared by Josh Elkin (@thejoshelkin) on

When it comes to working with your influencer to create content for your retail brand, it is vital that you let them create it in their own unique style. Consumers today are becoming ever more advertising-savvy, and if they feel they are being marketed to directly they will switch off. To that end, set out goals for your influencer and let them know what it is you want to achieve and write this up in a brief or contract. But, ultimately, allow the influencer to craft it themselves.

Branded hashtags

Hashtags serve as rallying points for products, events, and brands. They can help create conversations and when done right can quickly go viral, giving your brand some excellent visibility. They can be branded (#ShareACoke) or non-branded (#LikeAGirl), but both can work wonders for a retailer.

A notable example of a brand leveraging hashtags for their gains is makeup retailer Jouer Cosmetics. Back in 2016, they partnered with internet personality Mariale Marrero for their #AwayWithJouer campaign.


Cannes Film Festival Ready 💕🎉 Wearing @jovani_la 😍❤ ——- Lista para el festival de cine de #Cannes 💕🎉 Utilizando #MiTako en los labios!!! Amo este color de mi nueva linea de labiales!!! 🎉 #MarialeEnCannes #AwayWithJouer @jouercosmetics

A post shared by Mariale Marrero (Mar) 💕 (@mariale) on

Marrero shared herself wearing Jouer products with the hashtag, encouraging her subscribers to follow suit. The hashtag was picked up by other influencers, increasing the brand’s reach to millions of potential customers worldwide.

To leverage hashtags for your retail brand, you’ll need to get creative. A unique and interesting hashtag concept will resonate more with audiences (think Charmin’s #TweetFromTheSeat). Make your premise quirky (dogs or cats interacting with your product), and craft a hashtag that is short and snappy. Ideally, it would incorporate all or part of your brand name, to reinforce your brand throughout your campaign. Wherever you land, be creative to make your influencer campaign stand out.

Influencers are powerful individuals, known tastemakers and savvy marketers, and as a retail brand it is well worth integrating them as part of your marketing strategy. Partnering with them can create a buzz around your products, the benefits of which will be felt in both your sales and your consumer engagement.

About the writer: Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups – a site dedicated to spreading the word about startups and small businesses of all shapes and sizes. Visit the blog for the latest marketing insights from top experts and inspiring entrepreneurial stories. Follow on Twitter @getmicrostarted.

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