I first came across Anne Fedorowytsch - the lady behind the major Australian Instagram fashion/lifestyle account @annefed - when I was working at Ballarat Regional Tourism in digital marketing. Being active on Instagram was part of my job and I couldn't help but notice the posts that started appear under the 'Ballarat' hashtag.
At that time Anne had just moved from Adelaide to Ballarat and in doing so became our region's first major Instagram influencer.
With a mix of sporting events (Anne has been involved with social media for the AFL and Cycling Australia), the go-to places in Ballarat and Melbourne (and sometimes interstate too!) and the latest fashion looks, it was pretty exciting to have new, quality photos and beautifully styled vignettes coming up in our local 'feed'.
It wasn't until I was at a local event (one of Sweet Fern's gorgeous product launch evenings) that I met Anne in person.
Luckily it wasn't one of those 'I know that you travelled to Spain last summer, you have three cats called Millie, Mittens and Misty and your favourite food is Mexican but I'm just going act cool and pretend it's the first time I've seen you' situations.
We both 'knew' each other from online and got chatting away. And since then our paths have crossed many times, at social and work events alike.
I love that Anne isn't about portraying a perfect life. She recognises that Instagram in particular can present a very curated glimpse into someone's life, not representing the struggles, challenges or lows along the way.
In fact, Anne says that she is more and more focused on presenting her authentic life, rather than falling into the unhealthy 'Instagram world'.
She also has a strong grounding in the media game, with a Bachelor of Journalism and sub-major in Public Relations to her name. Anne has even interviewed the likes of Grand Prix Ambassador Brit Davis, Dion Lee, Thurley's Helen O'Connor, actor Melanie Valejo and entrepreneur and 'WAG' Nadia Bartel; she's a regular contributor to the renowned Melbourne Girl website; and often hosts events.
But I want to turn the tables and hear from Anne this time, particularly about what it is like working with big-name brands as an 'influencer' and her advice for other businesses looking to do the same.
Why did you start your blog, annefed.com?
I started my blog as a way of putting to good use my professional writing and social media skills on a personal level.
After moving interstate (Anne grew up in Adelaide) and taking up a role as a casual Social Media Coordinator at the AFL, I thought a blog would be the perfect platform to use my expertise, and spare time, on a project that allows me to express myself creatively.
This came after I had started to build my profile on Instagram and I felt that a website was naturally the next step.
Tell us about your brilliant Instagram community - how did you build it up and how do you keep your followers engaged now?
Building an Instagram community isn't easy! It's a long process that takes time, effort and thought. I'm actually trying to break out of this mould a bit now, as it can be quite draining, and I also believe Instagram is becoming over-saturated with blogger types.
It's my goal moving forward to post as naturally as possible, of my real life situations, and to continue to grow my following and engagement based purely on authenticity. It's very easy to get caught up in Instagram land! Given the over saturated market now I believe this will hold me in good stead in the long run.
What are your favourite ways to work with brands?
I enjoy creating compelling content for my blog and to me this all starts with writing engaging copy. I get the most out of brands who can offer someone to interview or feature, to complement a product for example, or if they can offer a product or service to review.
It's also helpful when brands show they're genuinely interested in you and play a proactive role in the collaboration process.
What is your advice for brands looking to approach and work with influencers and is there anything that brands should avoid?
My advice for brands looking to collaborate with influencers is to reach out to those who might already use their product/service or something similar.
This will ensure the brand capitalises on giving away something for free, or at a small cost. As an influencer is always more likely to do a better job with something they actually like.
It's never a good situation for either party if a blogger is just accepting something for the sake of it as this is sure to reflect in their posting.
Also things like guidelines and a deadline can be useful to ensure the collaboration stays on track.
Some Instagram influencers charge brands to work with them. How can a brand tell whether the influencer who they would like to approach requires payment?
I would suggest brands keep it simple and present all influencers, regardless of how many followers they have, with purely your product or service first. A lot of bloggers are happy to receive something complimentary in exchange for an Instagram post, and most often a blog post too, as I believe a lot are naive or unsure what price to put on their influence. If a blogger expects payment they should initiate this discussion after you've initially outlined your offer.
How should brands approach the initial contact with the influencer - what are the best things to include in the opening email?
First impressions count, on both sides of the ledger, and I always appreciate emails that have a personal touch. This can be as simple as using my name and making a direct reference to my social media accounts and website. Furthermore some brief details about why someone is approaching me about gives me context and helps me to process their request more efficiently.
And are there any examples around ones that haven't worked, and why do you think this was?
Again it all comes back to authenticity and quite often you can tell when collaborations are forced or obvious. I think it's better to naturally integrate a product as collaborations are so frequent nowadays that it's a giveaway when ten different bloggers are suddenly spruiking the same brand. For example I've seen designer handbags loaned out and sold as 'her handbag from x-brand' when in reality the bag is going straight back to where it came from!
I also believe thank you's from bloggers are best reserved for email. It can be tempting to brag and tell everyone that you got something for free but that's a sure fire way to lessen your influence straight off the bat.
What are some of the terms and conditions that brands should be aware of?
First of all if you're after an Instagram post then you need to ask. I'm not obliged to post a photo of something someone has 'gifted' me so it's best to specify in an agreement, over email is fine, that social media posting is required. You can't blame someone for not taking a photo of your product if you haven't asked. Also on this I would suggest setting a timeframe for how long you'd like the image to remain on the influencer's page as often these types of posts can sneakily get deleted down the track.
How do you decide what to post on Instagram? Do you have a plan that you stick to?
I used to be quite regimented with my posting however lately I've tried to loosen up to accurately reflect on my life. As a general rule of thumb I don't posts photos just for the sake of it and if I'm having doubts in the posting process it will usually mean I regret going with the photo afterwards and end up deleting it, so I try to trust my gut!
In terms of posting times I generally stick to the morning before 9am and evenings after 5pm.
Are there any apps that you recommend for using with Instagram?
In your experience, what types of images work the best?
What works for some might not work for others so by using a site like Iconosquare you can see what photos of yours have amassed the most likes and leverage off of that information.
As a general rule of thumb however photos should be crisp and clear as quality always beats quantity.
Anything exciting in the works for you in the near future?
My work at the AFL is always my priority and I'm looking forward to expanding my position there as we get into the new season.
I've also recently moved to Melbourne so I'm really excited to see what opportunities this will bring to my blog. I've got no limits on myself but I know I want to do more and I want to make a proper go of it and be successful as I can be!
A HUGE thank you Anne for sharing her insights into the way Instagram and blog marketing works. Keep scrolling to see Anne's fashion and lifestyle photos and of course, follow the links that will keep you up to date with all things Anne Fed:
Images copyright Anne Fedorowytsch.