Before becoming one of Cincinnati’s top Social Media Influencer’s, Ray Ball began her marketing career working for an advertising agency. She quickly learned that agency work was not her flavor. During her time with the agency she discovered her love of building relationships with her clients and helping her clients promote their business. She also loves food. Her passion for food led her to start a food blog “A Few Hungry Girls”.

After transitioning from the agency work, Ball began working at a startup. At the startup she handled all of the company’s PR, marketing and ecommerce. Unfortunately the startup failed, thus Ball took this opportunity to venture out on her own. Initially she worked as a freelance writer and blogger, working long hours barely making enough to make ends meet. In late 2015 early 2016, she decided that she needed to open her own firm, Ballr Media. Put quite simply she declared, “I can either build someone else’s dream, and not be satisfied, or I can work on my dream and figure it out.” That is exactly what she did, she figured it out!

When we approached Ray Ball about sharing her experience in Influencer Marketing, she eagerly agreed to help our readers figure out too! Through her experience, one can learn to leverage their social media influence, so they too can help businesses grow through social media. Influencer Marketing is a powerful tool as consumers are more likely to purchase a business’ products or services when someone they trust recommends it.

Start With Brands You Already Use

Ray Ball’s first experience using her social media influence to promote a brand happened by chance. Late one evening, she posted a picturesque sunset photo featuring Palm Natural’s pomegranate seeds and she tagged the company. Palm Natural reached out to her and asked to repost her photo, she agreed. It happened yet again, when she posted a recipe for a sweet treat she had made using Sweet Tango apples. Ball soon realized that she was on to something.

Ball pointed out that in the “early days” bloggers were excited if a brand they were using even had a social media presence. Her early endeavors led to an organic experience allowing her use her relationship-building skills to form a bonds with the brands she “endorsed”. She quickly learned that “a little digital influence can go a long way”.

Even today, Ball prefers to rely upon organic growth to boost her client’s message on social media. Technically, Ball would be considered a micro-influencer as she has less than 100,000 followers across her social media profiles. However, due to her long-term commitment and spunky, yet charismatic attitude, her reach on social media far exceeds the number of follows she has on each platform.

Be Your Authentic Self

 Authenticity is something that Ball values greatly. According to Ball, one of the advantages of being a micro-influencer is that she is able to keep that organic feel to their post. The outcome is that her post tend to come across to consumers as more genuine. The brands that work with Ball benefit greatly from this, as her followers have grown to trust that her opinions are genuine.

In one instance, Ball was approached to promote a brand of protein bars, most of which she did not care for the taste. Instead of selling out to support the brand, she strategized with the brand and found a way to spotlight the flavors that she actually enjoyed. The brand still reaped the full benefit of Ball’s influence and she was able to remain her authentic self.

Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Ball encourages influencers to partner with others social media influencers, especially those that operate in a different industries. She shared an experience where she worked collaboratively with an event décor influencer on a sneaker drive. The added touches that the décor influencer brought to the table helped make the event a more memorable experience, than just a bunch of people dropping off bags of shoes. “We had a DJ and we had balloons. It ended up being a lot of fun!” she added.

Do Your Homework

Ball encourages influencers to do their research on the brands they promote. She typically looks at the company’s reviews as well as how they handle negative feedback. She also looks at their engagement with clients. She wants to know going into it exactly how she can expect her followers to be treated should they have questions or concerns. As a social media influencer you need to be mindful of the companies with whom you align. According to Ball, you have to think long-term about which brands you align yourself with, as the brands past or future actions could potentially present challenges for you in the future.   

Are You a Brand Owner or Strategist?

We didn’t want to leave our business owners and brand strategist out of the mix. Ball even provided some pointers to help you get started working with influencers. During our chat, Ball shared some best practices that she feels all brand strategist should consider whether they are working directly with their influencers or going through a 3rd party.

  1. Send a Brief to the potential influencer with a detailed scope of work so the influencer has a clear understanding of what you are expecting.
  2. Include branding guidelines, this will help the influencer best align their post with the overall branding message.
  3. Send photos of past campaigns to serve as a visual aid.

Furthermore Ball encourages brands to diversify the influencers with whom they work. In her opinion the best way to accomplish this is to create short-term engagements. Short-term campaigns allow brands to work with a variety of influencers across various niches. As a result, your branding message reaches a wider audience and gives your more opportunities to see how your products perform within different market segments.

Measuring Success

Both the influencer and the brand strategist should be measuring the success of each campaign. From the influencer’s perspective, Ball uses analytics such as social media insights to prove how effective her post are to both current brands and future brands with whom she intends to work. From the brand strategist perspective, it is imperative that you are able directly tie your investment to the added revenue for each campaign. Many brands achieve this by using tools such as Google Analytics or by creating affiliate links for the influencers to use in their post.

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We highly encourage you to follow Ray Ball and her company BallR Media across all social media platforms. Her social media is always fun and engaging and you are sure to learn even more about how she uses her own personal style and her voluptuous hair to help brands get their message across.