In 2010 Chandler Sykes started sewing baby clothes at her kitchen table while her son was asleep, marketing them on Etsy under the name Boco Baby.
A year later she was working on the clothes full time, and in 2013 she joined Instagram.
One of her favorite designers, Sarah Jane, posted a photo on Instagram that mentioned she was pregnant, and Chandler offered to make her some custom clothes. Sarah’s baby was born, and she tagged Chandler in photos of the baby wearing the Boco Baby outfits.
Chandler’s Instagram followers instantly jumped, and that’s when she realized what an opportunity this sort of connection offered. Her influencer marketing campaign had begun.
(Investigate the pros and cons of paying influencers for their work in this expert webinar led by Kristen Matthews of Group High.)
The Story of Boco Baby
Boco Baby is a mama-owned and operated company specializing in personalized clothing and goods for babies, toddlers, and children. It started out like many others as an Etsy shop, but after Chandler’s success with influencer marketing on Instagram the business warranted a move to its own branded site.
The company makes handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces, many of which use a child’s name to create their patterns.
This use of a baby’s name as part of the product makes it a great influencer marketing tool, because it’s a personalized item that was clearly made for a particular family. It also creates a longer lead time because Chandler has to not only create the promotional item, but in some cases to also find out the name of the child she’s making it for.
“More Guerilla Than Strategic”
In an email interview Chandler talked about how she basically stumbled into this type of marketing without realizing what she was doing.
When she initially contacted Sarah, the fabric designer, she wasn’t doing it for marketing purposes. “Reaching out to her was more about being a fan girl than a marketing mastermind,” she reminisces. It was only after the bump in Instagram engagement that she began approaching the tactic deliberately.
“That is when I realized there might be something to sending free products to people who have lots of Instagram followers, especially mamas who have lots of mama followers,” Chandler writes.
Chandler now has 58,600 followers on Instagram and a thriving online business.
She’s clearly a success story for influencer marketing, so I asked her how she does it.
Influencer Marketing and Boco Baby
During the early years of running Boco Baby, Chandler felt a little trapped by her Etsy storefront:
“I felt like I would never be able to branch out on my own because the only way people found me was through the Etsy search platform. Marketing on Instagram has enabled me to launch my own website in August 2014.”
One of the reasons this tactic has worked so well for Chandler is that she is a regular Instagram user; she doesn’t use it just for its marketing opportunities.
She enthusiastically professes her love for the network, adding that, “It isn’t just my marketing tool, but it is also how I stay on top of trends.” It’s only by being an active member of the community that she can reach the right users at the right time (they have to be pregnant or have small children).
Chandler’s Tactics for Instagram Marketing
Aside from encountering high profile users who have or are expecting babies, Chandler keeps an eye on her Instagram feed and also looks through the photos suggested by Instagram.
She then comments on an influencer’s photo:
“asking if I could send them products and if I could contact them by email. Instagram also allows direct messaging. If those options didn’t work I would contact them through their website and ask if there was an address I could send products to.”
After she makes a connection and receives the name of the influencer’s baby, it can take her 2-3 weeks to complete the clothes she wants to send. The the waiting starts.
Since she often reaches out to pregnant women, the length of time until she sees any activity varies enormously:
“If they are still pregnant it could be months before they promote my product,” she says. “It has been a good lesson in patience. Once a package is shipped I send out a few positive vibes and then I try not to think about it again. Then when they tag me it is really exciting. By having realistic expectations that they might not tag me I am never disappointed!”
Words of Advice on Successful Instagram Influencer Marketing
Chandler takes a very sensible approach to her influencer marketing efforts: “My primary goal has become to increase my Instagram following,” she says (at over 58,000 she seems to be doing well). “This way I have a direct audience of people I know are interested in my products.”
She’s maintained her focus on Instagram because the audience has proven to be valuable, and since she does most of the connecting herself it keeps her from wasting effort on other less valuable channels.
The success hasn’t made her complacent, however. Chandler has her sights set on some significantly bigger fish: “I have sent out several packages to higher profile celebrities but they haven’t been posting pictures of their babies yet!”
She realizes that each pitch won’t be a homerun, but her work will ultimately bear fruit.
“I have tried to take the perspective that each influencer that I send products to is like planting a seed,” Chandler says. “Not all will be fruitful but with patience and tenacity I know that my efforts will pay off.”
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