Insider Information: How to Become a Brand Rep in the Small Shop Social Media Community...

You’ve noticed the same handful of babies getting chosen as brand reps for the small shop community on Instagram. You’ve sent unsolicited emails and/or direct messages to the shop owners, offering up your adorable child. You’ve asked questions about how to “qualify.” You’ve reposted, you’ve entered, you’ve tagged, tagged, tagged your babe dozens of times to draw the attention of brands. Your kid is cute, but it just doesn’t seem to be working. Wonder why?

As a small shop owner, I’ve fielded thousands of offers from aspiring social media brand reps. As I conducted my last round of rep searching, I realized that many new moms (and dads!) don’t have access to the information they need to be successful in this endeavor. I hope this article helps provide insight into how you may improve your chances in being invited to join a brand as a representative.

What is a brand rep? With increasing popularity, apparel companies are selecting brand representatives or ambassadors as personal models of product. Small shops use creativity in marketing strategy, as many times formal marketing budgets are nonexistent in growing, grassroots businesses. Brands offer gratis or discounted product in exchange for a standing agreement that the rep provide high quality photos for use by the shop across its social media platforms. The best brand reps are active, enthusiastic, and engaged with the brand and its respective audience. They share information about the brand with their own followership, including sales, and new product releases – and offer insight into their own experience with the product and the shop.

  1. It’s Not About Cuteness. Sure, being an irresistibly adorable baby definitely is helpful. But guess what? Most all babies are cute! Brand repping is least of all a beauty contest, so don’t get caught up in comparing the cuteness of your baby to the next.
  1. Photo Quality. Read closely: The single most important factor in becoming a brand rep is photo quality. Once I click into your Instagram profile, it takes me less than three seconds to assess the quality of your gallery. The vastly overwhelming majority of those who inquire about brand repping do not have a gallery that comes close to the kind of quality a successful brand rep has. Do you need a fancy DSLR camera to be a brand rep? Not necessarily, though it creates a huge advantage. One of my very first rep moms took photos on her iPhone for a long time before acquiring a “big boy camera.” iPhone-ography can definitely work, especially in concert with awesome photo editing apps like Snapseed. Pro-Tip: 1) Natural lighting in your photos is key! 2) Don’t go crazy with filters! 3) Diversify your captures with candid moments, varying angles, settings, and poses.
  1. Wardrobe & Styling Quality. The best brand reps and candidates have a large, diverse body of wardrobe styling displayed in their galleries. Styling is a creative, and subjective field. If it is not your natural talent, use cues from the shops and reps you follow! Many times, photos are “tagged” with the brands displayed. Brand rep moms are absolute pros at photo tagging, so if you see an outfit you like, take notes on the shops identified, follow, and support! The exploding small shop community makes it easy to style your little one in the hippest of fashions, which ultimately improves your chances of becoming a rep.
  1. Post Frequency. If the last post you made was two weeks ago, you are not a good brand rep candidate. Brand reps post daily, many times multiple posts throughout a single day! Their galleries are full, diverse, and very active.
  1. Gallery Focus. Though all my current brand reps have galleries that focus primarily on their fashion endeavors, with account names that reflect their own budding brands, it is not a requirement that your baby have his or her “own” dedicated account. However, Mommy’s account being littered with food pics, selfies, and other unfavorable and off-brand types of posts may be a deterrent to securing a brand rep agreement. Use an editing eye when you decide to step into repping. 
  1. Customer Loyalty.  Guess what? Many of the best brand reps began as customers... That means, they actually made a purchase! Many times, this serves as an informal introduction between the potential rep and the brand. Further, once officially on-board, most companies will offer a significant discount on purchases. Those who support the brand by continuing to make purchases (even at their discounted rate), are the best kind of rep -- displaying confidence and love of the product by putting money where their mouths are!
  1. Follower Count. While not a deal breaker, a solid, real follower count can be considered an added benefit to making brand rep choices – since the goal is to reach as large an audience as possible. Pro-Tip: Do NOT go out and “purchase” followers in hopes of tipping the odds in your favor. Professionals can immediately identify fake follower counts – which will likely disqualify you from consideration.

In closing, I’ll leave you with thoughts from one of the newest members of my brand rep team, who recently posted the following about her experience with brand repping:

“I wanted to take a moment to address something that is so, so near and dear to me. I LOVE being a part of the small shop community and it is such an immeasurable blessing to be allowed to be involved with each and every shop we rep for. Both boys light up when they see the camera and it has given me such an amazing opportunity to capture them every day as they grow. So frequently I get asked about the perks. You know, the “free stuff.” And so often I see people get into repping for the sole purpose of receiving the discounts and free items that come with being a rep. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE understand this: “rep” is short for “representative.” It does not stand for “receiver of free things.” You are charged with such a huge task of helping to grow these businesses. That is what being a rep is all about. It’s a lot of work, I know, but oh my gosh is it worth it. Not for any other reason other than you get to stand alongside some of the most powerful and wonderful mama makers out there and build them up. If you’re in all this just for the goodies, please either reevaluate or step down, because the businesses deserve people who represent them, not rip them off. And thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all the small shops who have brought us on in one way or another to be a part of your brand’s journey. I cherish each relationship forged through this crazy community.” -- @the_whole_kit_and_xo // March 3, 2016

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I look forward to buying product for my daughter to ware.

Sara Garcia

Great article, thank you!!


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