How to kickstart your social media collaboration

Despina Singh

June 19, 202310 min read

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I believe that social media collaborations are filled with promises. Every time I must plan one, I feel like a pirate following a treasure map. It leads to a trove of untapped audiences. It also helps me unlock the secrets of connecting with potential customers through the power of influential voices and fellow brands.  
But, in the words of Captain Jack Sparrow, the legendary fictional pirate, "Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate." 

Partnering with brands to boost online presence can quickly feel like navigating uncharted waters. The pain of investing time, effort and resources only to see the treasure quest fall flat is REAL. 

Imagine a fast-food chain teaming up with a health-conscious influencer. The clash in brand values will be no news, or would it?  

So there are some milestones to a treasured social media collaboration. Rising above mismatched collaborations is just one of them. 

Together, let's navigate the digital waters, addressing aspects of a successful social media collaboration, one by one. 

Table of Contents

What is social media collaboration? 

The idea behind social media collaborations is: together, we are stronger.

Brands join forces with other brands or influencers to reach new audiences, increase social media engagement, build brand awareness and even drive sales. Together, they create content and share it on their respective social media channels.

Everybody wins.

Ultimately, it's two brands working together to expand their customer base and boost their brand awareness ASAP. 🎯 

Why do you need social media collaborations?

Good news: you get to decide your driving factor(s) that would make a social media collaboration a valuable marketing strategy for your brand. 

From expanding your reach and audience to increasing brand credibility and creating unique content to accessing new markets, the possibilities are endless. You get to take your pick. And then march towards it.

Let’s now discuss the positive outcomes you derive from engaging successfully in social media collaborations. 

Benefits of a good social media collaboration

Social media collab is a marketing strategy that stands out from the crowd. It offers unique advantages over traditional marketing approaches like running ads. Here are some of them:  

  • It adds a genuine touch to your marketing efforts: When you collaborate with admired brands or influencers, the audience sees it as a vote of confidence — building trust and credibility for your brand.  

  • It opens a secret door to a whole new world of potential customers: Joining forces with another brand or influencer gives you access to their loyal audience — expanding your reach and targeted exposure to new segments and demographics you might not have reached on your own.  

  • It brings together diverse perspectives: You get to mix colors on a vibrant canvas — bringing together different approaches, expertise and creative styles to create diverse and captivating content. Also, the content variety keeps your audience intrigued and involved in your brand’s messaging.  

  • It means more likes, comments, shares: Like a wave that keeps growing, collaborations often generate higher engagement rates. They have the potential to go viral because they combine the reach and influence of multiple brands and influencers.  

  • It yields great returns without breaking the bank: Like a smart investment, social media collabs can be cost-effective as you leverage existing relationships, networks and resources without a fraction of the costs involved in paid ads.  

3 real-life examples of successful social media collaborations

I hear you. As a human, it’s natural to want to know about real-life successful social media collaborations. You know... for tangible evidence, contextual understanding, relatability, validation, credibility, and most importantly, for MOTIVATION and INSPIRATION.

I get you. And... I got you, too.

1. Spotify x Starbucks — a digital co-branding genius

Starbucks, as we all know, has a long-standing legacy of providing a unique coffee shop experience, often accompanied by carefully curated music. Spotify, on the other hand, is a digital music service that gives you access to millions of songs.  
Coffee and music. Both have the power to evoke emotions. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee and the comforting ambiance of Starbucks with Spotify music to add another layer to the relaxing experience — it’s a match!

An image of a mobile phone with the Spotify app open playing the Starbucks playlist

Source: Starbucks

The brand-to-brand partnership is all about that and then some.  
The deal: Starbucks employees receive Spotify Premium subscriptions, enabling them to create Spotify playlists from Starbucks' 20 years of music selections.  

The partner-influenced playlists can be streamed on Spotify through the Starbucks mobile app, giving customers the flexibility to enjoy music on their mobile devices anytime, anywhere.  

In addition, Spotify users can earn "Stars as Currency" for the My Starbucks Rewards loyalty program. 
What happened next? By offering Starbucks playlists to all Spotify users, the partnership creates a unique "First-of-Its-Kind Music Ecosystem" and ALSO provides musicians with greater exposure and financial rewards. 
The result? Increased visibility, engagement and mutual benefits. 🤑 

2. Nike x Apple — a creative love story  

One of the more memorable and clever social media collabs would be that of Nike and Apple.

An image of Apple Watches displaying the Nike+ app

Source: Nike

The deal: Nike collaborated with Apple to create a Nike+ app and integrate with Apple’s ecosystem, including Apple Watch.  
What happened next? The collab allows users to track their fitness activities, set goals and share their achievements on social media. It combines Nike’s expertise in sports and fitness with Apple’s technology, enhancing the experience for fitness enthusiasts. Bingo! 

Nike is known to be a master of teaming up with top players in various industries, allowing them to tap into new audiences and expand their market share. From fashion to sports to tech, Nike’s collabs have propelled their brand value and put them ahead of the competition.  
Apple hasn’t shied away from integrating their technology with renowned luxury brands like Hermès either. Just look at Apple, attracting fashion-forward consumers who may not have considered Apple as a luxury fashion product before. Who would have thought?  
Nike x Apple, as expected, boosted Apple’s brand value. It also paved the way for Nike to make a splash in the tech market.

This is your sign to pursue non-conventional and innovative ways to actively market and grow your brand to the global village — and be convincing at it.  

3. Shaq x Papa Johns — the #heartwarming #funny #duets

You read that right. Social media collaborations can happen between the fourth largest pizza delivery restaurant chain in the United States and the NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal too.

An image of a quote by the NBA legend Shaq on loving the Papa John's pizza since his childhood

Source: Twitter

The deal: Papa John’s used creative hashtags to increase the reach of collaborative posts organically. So users had to shoot a video of themselves dancing to the song “Shaq-a-Roni" by Shaq and use the #Shaqaroni hashtag. Then Shaq would respond to the challenge entries in a series of TikTok duets that are funny and heartwarming.  

This campaign is a perfect example of how humor and creativity can do wonders in spreading your message far and wide.  

Just so you know, Papa John’s teamed up with Shaq, who has a massive social media following, to spread their comeback message, unveil new menu items and create hilarious skits starring the one and only Diesel himself. It was a brilliant move that grabbed people's attention and kept them entertained at the same time. 

Common challenges of social media collaboration

Joint endeavors realize dreams. Teamwork makes the dream work. Oh, and they say two heads are better than one!

But have you ever tried fitting two people in a single cubicle? It’s more like two heads are better until they bump into each other every time they reach for a stapler! Juuuust saying.

Here’s why a social media collab may seem like two heads bumping into each other at times:

1. Brand voice inconsistency

When it comes to managing social media accounts as a team, we've got to watch out for the sneaky culprit called "tone inconsistency." It's like a wild chameleon that can mess with your brand's image. Imagine spelling variations, design clashes, emoji mayhem and a mixed-up tone of voice. It's a recipe for branding chaos! 
Like I mentioned earlier, just imagine you're a fast-food chain and you decide to collaborate with a health-conscious fitness influencer for a promotional campaign. The partnership inevitably creates a mixed message for your audience.

2. Delays and missed opportunities

Imagine this: two team members both responding to the same message, causing confusion for the person on the receiving end. Or picture a scenario where multiple posts are scheduled to go out on the same day, overwhelming your audience and diluting your message. 

These mishaps often stem from different time zones, departments and varying ideas about what needs to be done. It can be like navigating a maze of confusion.

3. Collaboration chaos

In the fast and furious world of social media, teamwork can quickly turn into a wild ride — high-pressure situations, different personalities, dependencies, etc. Picture this:  

  • Updates get lost in the black hole of multiple email threads 

  • New designs take an unauthorized detour to a lone ranger's laptop, never to be seen by the rest of the team 

  • Posts go on a joyride with boosted engagement, leaving others in the dark 

  • Complaints wander aimlessly, unsure of their rightful owner

4. Poor reporting

Collaboration isn't a one-and-done affair. Yet, too often, people part ways without evaluating their collaborative performance. Maybe because it’s time-consuming or because it requires input by multiple people on each channel.  

However, establishing clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and tracking performance metrics is the secret to successful collabs. By doing so, both parties can witness the tangible impact of their collaboration and pave the way for smarter decisions when it comes to future collabs. A report should clearly state the change in your enagagement, followers, most popular posts, the budget and an overall summary of how the collab relates to your KPIs.  

5 tips to plan social media collaboration effectively

You can be the most persuasive communicator in the room but still fail with regards to social media collaboration. Standardization is key in such scenarios.

Here’s what you can do to avoid any blame game: 

1. Identify a gem of a collaborator

Finding the perfect collaborator requires evaluating their compatibility, influence, expertise and positive contribution potential. Here are some key considerations for potential collaborations:   

  • Values and vision: Do their values align with yours? Seek authentic partnerships based on shared vision. 

  • Reputation and expertise: What is their reputation and expertise? Partnering with respected experts enhances credibility. 

  • Audience alignment: Does their audience align with yours? Seek partners with complementary or overlapping audiences. 

  • Complementary skills: Do their skills complement yours? Look for collaborators with unique strengths to enhance joint efforts.  

  • Communication and commitment: Are they responsive and committed? A reliable collaborator fosters smooth collaboration. 

2. Let the collaboration voyage begin with both sailors on board

Once you've been invited for a collaboration or you've reached out to someone for a collaboration, it's important that both parties are aligned with their ideas. 

Then, it’s time to chart a course and decide on:  

  • Styles 

  • Tools 

  • Formats  

Beyond the usual ‘feature them on your social,’ here are a few ideas to set your creative gears in motion:  

  • Interviews: Set sail on a conversation with your collaborator for a podcast, video or article and share it on your respective platforms. 

  • Social media takeovers: This popular form of collaboration involves having a creator or influencer temporarily steer a brand's social media ship, posting Instagram Stories, TikTok videos or tweets on their behalf. 

  • Joint course or digital product: Raise your collaborative flag by partnering with a creator or brand that shares a similar audience and expertise, offering a course or digital product together. 

3. Unfurl a documented treasure map of style guide

A documented style guide is a valuable chest of knowledge that every prominent brand and social media crew should possess.  

You can include the following in your invaluable map:  

  • The tagline, guiding the ship's essence 

  • The brand voice, setting the tone and language to be spoken 

  • Choice between UK or US spelling, ensuring consistency across the seven seas 

  • Hex color codes, capturing the true colors of the flag 

  • The company values, steering the ship with purpose and integrity 

  • The customer demographics, leading you to the shores where your audience resides 

  • Examples of how to respond on social media, showing the right words to utter in the digital taverns 

  • Any legal risk warnings or disclaimers, keeping you clear of danger 

  • Guidelines on emojis, GIFs and memes, adding a touch of joy and humor to your communications 

4. Stay vigilant and share updates on your journey (or lack thereof)

Set a course for regular check-ins and progress updates to navigate any obstacles or challenges, raise the flag in celebration of milestones and keep the project on track. Establishing a reliable system for updates also ensures there’s no blame game if something goes wrong..

5. Continuously evaluate and refine your collaboration strategy

As you sail along in your collaboration, keeping a close eye on how things are going and being ready to make adjustments as needed is vital. Think of it like a journey where you might need to fine-tune your route, bring in fresh ideas or even revisit your initial goals.

Regularly checking in and adapting your strategy will keep your collaboration ship sailing in the right direction. It's all about staying engaged, being open to changes and actively guiding your collaboration toward ongoing growth and success. This is where social media metrics such as reach, engagement, impressions and more come into play. 

8 best practices to ace your social media marketing

How does a social media management platform improve your social media collaboration strategy

A social media management platform is a game-changer for improving social media collabs.

Here's how it can help:

  • Centralized collaboration: It's like a hub where your team can easily access and manage social media accounts, content and campaigns together. 

  • Content planning and scheduling: You can plan and schedule your content in advance using standout features like content libraries and calendar views. It keeps everything organized and ensures a consistent flow. 

  • Content approval workflow: Say goodbye to back-and-forth emails. The platform simplifies the process of reviewing and approving content, ensuring everyone is on the same page and maintaining top-notch quality. 

  • Analytics and performance tracking: You can track important metrics like engagement rates, reach and conversions. This helps you gauge the impact of your collaborations and make smarter decisions for future campaigns. 

  • Communication and task management: Collaboration becomes a breeze with intuitive features for communication, task assignment and progress tracking. No more confusion or dropped balls! 

  • Influencer collaboration: Finding and teaming up with influencers is easier than ever with the platform's influencer management features. 

  • Cross-platform integration: The platform seamlessly integrates with various social media platforms, saving time and effort by allowing you to manage everything from one place. 

Get more information on social media management tools and try one that suits your business needs.

Signing off
Social media collaborations are exhilarating. When everyone is on board, success is inevitable. It's important to have fun while you get all this humongous work done. And let’s not forget, the seas can be rough, but you are the Captain! 

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