Vanessa Grant is the president of Mommyfluencer, a boutique branded content and influencer marketing agency that connects parenting and women-focused brands with stylish, influential moms. A trained journalist, Vanessa was a web producer and style editor before having kids. She quit full-time employment (and a dream job at The Kit) to freelance so she could be home with her first son Jackson. “I really didn’t know what it was going to be like after having a baby. I just didn’t want to be away from him.”
While at home with her babe Vanessa found Bebo Mia, a doula-training agency and loved what they were doing so much that she hunted them down and offered up her PR services. Eventually they received coverage on Breakfast Television, Global, and Hello Giggles (an online site founded by actress/musician Zooey Deschanel, from The New Girl-fame). This led to more word-of-mouth clients and the ability to start building a freelance career.
“I noticed this trend towards treating bloggers and influencers like media. Mommyfluencer grew from a love of working with other moms and a need to build something.” (Fun fact: Vanessa originally wanted to buy but it was owned by an American dad blogger who advertised some not-so-family-friendly content).
While she acknowledges that there is starting to be a backlash against influencers and their validity, they are still attractive as a marketing vehicle for businesses. “I enjoy working with women who are influencers both in real life and online and who are particular about the brands they partner with. Integrity is so important.”
Her How-To Tips: Influencer Marketing & Your Small Business
Choose the social media channel you want to focus on. First, figure out where your audience is. This will be different depending on what you offer, whether you serve consumers or other businesses and whether you sell products or services. Next, choose one or two of the most popular channels to focus on.
Craft a great profile. Your bio should be as impressive as the influencers you would like to work with. If your personal brand is important, use a headshot as your profile photo, along with a logo. A bio for LinkedIn will be much different from one for Instagram, but the basics are the same: Be clear, concise and charming. So, explain what you do in a simple, easy to understand way and add a little something fun. Maybe it’s an emoji on Instagram or a favourite quote on LinkedIn. Show your personality. On visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, make sure you have some content right from the start. It’s okay to post 5 times in a day if it’s your first day or week on the site and then you can decide on a more manageable rhythm as you gain your own following.
Engage, engage, engage. Find your friends and customers on social media and follow them, then take an interest in their posts. Like their posts and comment when it feels authentic (an empty heart emoji comment or “great photo” doesn’t say much). Spend just 20 minutes each day exploring your new social media channel and network and remember to spend some time browsing every time you post something new. Also, respond to each comment made on one of your posts. Taking part in the community will help you discover the influencers you want to interact with. Pay attention to the suggestions for new friends or connections the social media channel suggests and take a look at who your followers follow for ideas on how to grow your network.
Identifying your influencers. Find some people you might want to work with then take some time to get to know who they are by following their posts, liking and commenting. Pay attention to what they post, what they seem to enjoy and the brands they’ve already worked with. If they don’t mention where they live, look at their posts and location tags for clues. Then ask yourself if you could see your product or service making a difference in their lives. It’s always important to me that collaborations with influencers are more than just a one-time partnership. I aim to match brands with influencers who will truly love what they do, so I’m very careful about who I partner my clients with. For instance, if I’m working with a small independent brick-and-mortar shop, we generally stay away from influencers who collaborate with big box brands as there may be a conflict of interest. We also want to work with people who live nearby. While living in the same city is good, living in the same neighbourhood is even better.
Make contact and be specific. After flirting for a while, reach out via DM or email with specific ways in which you would like to collaborate. Asking them to host a giveaway or write a guest blog post is a good way to start. And look at influencers or potential brand ambassadors with smaller audiences and big engagement rates (higher than 6% is good,. There are many online calculators that will find this rate for you). Fewer than 2000 followers on Instagram, for instance, may mean that the influencer is open to unpaid collaborations. Many influencers with large audiences will request payment in return for their content creation. And that’s fair. This is their job. What can you expect from a paid collaboration? It’s really all about exposure. Hopefully, that exposure will lead to sales but there are no guarantees. Want to increase those odds? Offer a discount code that you can track so you know exactly how many people purchased via your promotion or have the influencer host a giveaway. With a giveaway, entrants will usually have to follow the influencer and the brand so at least you’re increasing your following.
- Vanessa’s fave face cream was sent to her by BICOM PR. “It seriously works! My skin tone is more even and brighter and I have fewer fine lines. Like, for real!” it Secret Sauce.
- “Talia is a fellow entrepreneur and her scarves are stylish, high-quality and super affordable. This is so big and cozy that I wear it as a scarf with my jacket, and then when I move indoors I wear it as a shawl (I’m always cold!). Plus, it dresses up my T-shirt and leggings when I have to do the school run.” Accessories by Talia Blanket Scarf
- “I’m taking advantage of toque season to stop colouring my hair. Phyto’s RE30 grey hair treatment actually kick starts melanin product in grey and white hair. My stylist (@tinyhousemamabeautyandgoods) couldn’t figure out what I was doing because my greys were turning into highlights!”
- “I just got every day black booties and the chunky heel is perfect for making me feel slightly dressed up (better than sneakers or my beloved Blundstones) but they’re easy to run around in. Plus, they’re not slippery in the snow!” Kenneth Cole booties.
- “My husband bought me a Roots Cabin Onesie for me last Christmas and it may be the best present I’ve ever received. I wore it last year with a bathing suit underneath to parent-and-tot swim classes with my toddler.”
- “I love a mascara that gives major impact with minimal effort. It’s great for looking put-together quickly, especially when I’m so bundled up that all you can see is my eyes. And I swear, when I’m wearing it, it looks like my eyelashes are longer!” Nars Climax Mascara.
- “I have very long fingers so gloves never fit right and let’s face it, mittens are cozier. I treated myself to a pair of leather ones from Simons on a recent romantic trip to Montreal with my husband. Fingers crossed I don’t lose them. I might need mitten clips.”
- “I have a winter coat with huge pockets that fit this mug perfectly. I swear, it’s never spilled. I fill it with hot matcha for cold morning school drop-offs.” Contigo Travel Mug.
- I try to get regular FREEZE facials and know it’s time for another when I start obsessively exfoliating and using masks. To keep my skin looking healthy until my next appointment, I use The Freeze Clinic’s signature products. Freeze Microdermabrasion Facial Polish.