What you can learn from social media star Anna Hart who links influencers to brands.

The social media world would be a quieter place without Anna Hart. When she started her lifestyle blog, South Molton St Style, Anna knew nothing about running or building a website, let alone HTML nitty gritty or affiliates. Now, it’s a very different story. Such was the success of her blog that Anna quit her day job to launch One Roof Social an influencer media agency that pairs digital influencers with premium brands such as L.K.Bennett, Moet and Chandon, Gap and Marks & Spencer. Here she talks through the challenges of setting up a business, the apps that help and her eureka moment.

Follow on Instagram: @annaelerihart | @oneroofsocial

I came up with the idea when… I was working at a retailer and struggling to validate bringing influencers into our marketing strategy. I’d had my own (South Molton St Style) since 2013 and could see from the other side that brands were stabbing in the dark about their requirements for working together.

I wanted to set up an agency, but needed a USP. I heard a story about a Wellington boot brand that invested heavily into working with one influencer with a large following. They couldn’t understand why they’d had no return or sales from them. When they looked at the influencer’s analytics they discovered that 95% of her following was in Dubai (where there is little need for wellies!) So obviously, the campaign tanked. It was a bit of a eureka moment for me; influencer marketing could be done better through combining all the stats and data stuff departments needs for sign-off reassurance, with the creative wonderfulness only an influencer can do for their audiences.

The biggest challenge is… Waiting for the market to wake up and realise that influencer marketing is incredible (when done well). These guys can power their audiences in a way that no other media form can. Other challenges include getting influencers to understand their worth - some overplay it, some downsize their value. Compared to print, outdoor, TV and other digital concepts, influencer marketing is one of the cheapest forms of projecting your brand to your target audience.

The team consists of... Holly who joined us from the eCommerce team at Liberty, Sophie Hulme at L.K.Bennett; and Mikey, who has worked with me for two years, and is much better at all the creative stuff than I am. We have rolling freelancers for graphics and administration. We’re hiring for three people at the moment.

My favourite quote is… “Would you like a coffee?” Never underestimate how much offering someone caffeine when they’re knee deep in VAT returns can do for their general wellbeing.

I am where I am today because of… My team. Not just my staff; my boyfriend (who runs HedgeBrunch) is brilliant at all the “important” stuff; finance, investment sourcing, operational stuff that goes over my head; a group of my best friends who run their own businesses; my sister for “I know you’re really busy, but” moments; my parents, who let me get on with it and have been excellent dog sitters, tax return advisers and casserole makers since 1984.

I am who I am because of.... My upbringing. It has shaped who I am. I went through a rebellious period in my 20s trying to define myself, but then I realised that I just needed to calm down and get on with life. My parents brought us up to understand how important careers were, not just for the family but for yourself too. Both have done so well in their respective fields, but quietly. You’ll never find either of them shouting from the rooftops about how amazing they both are. I admire their understated success and want to replicate it (difficult because I’m an extrovert). They also taught me that you “work to live, not live to work” and that its very important to take regular steps back and enjoy yourself.

The best advice I've been given... Just get on with it. I can be one to flounder so I do need a push at times.

In five years I’d like to be… Happy, like I am now. I’ve never had dreams of conquering the world. I just want to have a nice, uncomplicated, life and a big part of that for me is a nice, uncomplicated, career. The goal is wanting to want to go to work because I love it, and wanting to come home because I love that too.

The thing no one ever tells you about running your own business online… VAT returns feel constant. I swear I’m signing one off every time I open my laptop. My best piece of advice is; source and value a good accountant.

The websites I most frequently use are... Amazon, obvious but it is incredible. When we’re trying to source things for events Etsy is great as you can often find one-off, original things by local designers, which feels nice to support.

What apps do you use to be more productive... Wunderlist is my life. It works on my laptop and phone and the team share our to-do lists so I know when things are completed and don’t have to be that annoying boss phoning them at 10pm saying “did you post those contracts to the client?" For wellbeing, a meditation app called Headspace (an app) is excellent for switching off after a crazy day.

The most rewarding experience we’ve had to date... One of our brands came to us completely disenchanted about working with influencers. We’ve done three campaigns for them and they have now added two zeros onto the budget they allocate to influencer marketing. That felt good - and not just because the extra zeros came our way - but because it meant we’ve shown them real value, and they understand it.

May 2017