Moncton Event Connects Businesses With Influencers That Can Help Them Grow

Michelle Collins and Ruth Ann Swanburg. Image: Submitted

MONCTON – Michelle Collins and Ruth Ann Swansburg are two Moncton bloggers and influencers who have been leveraging their audiences to help grow local businesses, events and organizations. They want to see more local companies link up with bloggers at their workshop-based event BBLink on April 27 at the Crowne Plaza hotel.

“We want our participants to be able to leave with some action plans, some concrete ideas that they can use to make connections between business and bloggers,” Collins said. “The main focus of the idea…was to introduce bloggers and influence marketers particularly in the New Brunswick region, Moncton region, because it’s still a new kind of concept for people here. And we also want to help start conversations between business and bloggers.”

Collins said many bloggers and digital influencers in New Brunswick aiming to monetize their work tend to think only of big national or international brands for partnerships. But a lot of local businesses are just now hearing about marketing through bloggers and influencers.

In Nova Scotia, Collins says more bloggers and influencers are ahead of the game in working with local businesses. This includes keynote speaker Jennifer Naugler, who runs her blog Simple Local Life out of the south shore of Nova Scotia.

Inspired by momentum from Atlantic Canadian blogger event BlogJam in Moncton last October, Swansburg and Collins got to work for BBLink starting in January.

“The more that we made connections and went to events that bloggers had, the more we saw the need for working locally and what that can mean for people,” she said.

Too often, neither the bloggers nor the businesses know where to begin and what questions to ask their potential partners. Collins noted that there’s more than just a written blog post. Bloggers and influencers can reach their audience via Facebook Live and other tools as well.

“There’s the fact that a business is connecting with a blogger who has an audience who respect the opinion of the person who’s writing because they’ve made that connection already, especially in an area where networking and personal recommendation carry a lot of weight in what people do, what business they approach and what products they use,” Collins added.

Steve Charlebois, the owner of Off the Wall Eyewear Emporium in Moncton, has worked with several bloggers to promote his business, including Swansburg. Sometimes it’s the bloggers who come to him, sometimes the appeal is his family dynamics – parents who own one business each with two young children, other times he sought the bloggers out.

“If we had a specific kids line that came in and we wanted [bloggers] to come in and just do a little presentation at the store, talk about what our values are at the store, they’ll come in, they’ll do a little interview or they’ll do sometimes a Facebook Live. Sometimes they’ll just do questionnaires, they’ll take pictures of the store and then post it on their blogs,” he said.

Charlebois regularly sees a return from doing so, especially when working with well-known blogs like Pickle Planet Moncton, which covers a lot of family-related topics.

“We get people who come in based on the fact that they read the blog and then they shared the blog, they shared the store, they’re happy and it just branches off from there,” he said. “I actually get people who come in afterwards – two or three months later – who said, ‘hey, I was reading about you a couple of months back on Jenna’s site [Pickle Planet] or Ruth’s site and I started following you. They read about you, they go find you, they’ll follow you and then they’ll actually share you too. It turns into a network that way, not just with businesses but also a network with other people.”

Charlebois said he usually pays a blogger between $200 and $500, depending on the size of their audience. But he’s not interested in blogs with less than 4,000 followers, assuming followers who truly engage with the content is lower than that.

“If you’re going to be sharing me with 10,000 people, I don’t mind sharing the $400 or $500. Because if you do three or four sales after that, you’re covered,” he said.

Currently, Charlebois said he’s focusing on working with bloggers that cover family-related topics because not only does he and his wife have two children and already follow such blogs, he also sells glasses for children. It’s important to find the right fit between the business and the blogger, he said.

“If you can get in with an influencer who has similar interests to you, it’ll go a lot further. Our most common thing is the kids. So if we’re doing a lot with the kids, we tend to do a lot with the bloggers who write about family stuff. A lot of times, when you get the kids in, then you get the families in,” he said. “Obviously if you’re doing clothing and that kind of thing, you want to hook up with a blogger like Boho and Braids.”

He’s not sure that a lot of local businesses are taking advantage of this digital marketing tool. But he said he would recommend it to others.

“A lot of the local businesses that I know are tattoo shops and piercing shops, and I wish they would [work with bloggers] because there’s a lot of bad piercing and tattoo places out there, and it would be really smart for the good ones to be known that ‘ok, these guys are clean, these guys know their stuff’,” he said. “Even some of the barbershops would probably do good.”

Other speakers and facilitators at the BBLink event include Marrow Marketing‘s Natalie Davison and Cearagh Vessey, Jennifer Gyuricska of the Prairie Telegraph Digital Marketing, and Melody Land of Bluemind Lifestyle Consulting, among others.

The event will take place from 9 AM to 4.30 PM, with lunch included in the $99 ticket price. There will also be a speed networking and elevator pitch creation section.