This Q&A is part of an ongoing series of interviews with micro-influencers — tastemakers and trendsetters with approximately 1,000 to 100,000 followers. Their small but deeply loyal followings help brands reach new audiences and sell more products.
Meet Macarena Ferreira. By day, she’s a developer for a tech company. But on Instagram, she’s @macarenaferr the “fashion and French Fry enthusiast” modeling ripped jeans, oversized sunglasses and to-die-for shoes.
Since 2013, she’s been chronicling her love of style on a blog called The Material Girl, offering fashion and beauty advice. Now armed with 24,000 Instagram followers, Macarena has gotten the attention of brands like Hair Cuttery, Neutrogena and Dunkin’ Donuts who partner with her for branded Instagram posts, blog entries and event hosting.
I was curious about how Macarena got her start, how she structures influencer partnerships and what insights she has for marketers — so we sat down for coffee in Philly’s trendy Rittenhouse neighborhood. True to form, Macarena (yes, pronounced like the 90’s dance craze) wore green velvet pants and a breezy white top. Her hair and minimal makeup were flawless. She discussed why it’s crucial for influencers to be authentic, why they need a strong backbone and why she isn’t quitting her day job.
How do you create a large social following while keeping it organic?
It’s really about engaging with my followers. I have certain followers who will comment on every single picture. I try to reply to them and really engage with them. It’s modern-day word-of-mouth. Also, hashtags have helped me a lot.
Why is authenticity crucial for influencer marketing campaigns?
I wear whatever I want. You either like it or you don’t. I’m here providing inspiration. If you like it follow me. If you don’t, don’t. Let’s say Talbots offered me money to post something, I don’t think I would ever shop at Talbots. My following would never shop at Talbots, so why would I post about that? Or something as silly as waist trainers. I’m a petite person. I like to work out but I’m never going to post about a waist trainer that I’m never going to actually use. Thank you for the offer, but I’m not the right fit for you.
Will a lot of influencers work with any brand that offers them money — even if it’s the wrong fit?
Definitely. That recently happened to @SomethingNavy. She has over 1 million followers. She’s always wearing designer head-to-toe. She recently did a campaign with DSW and got so much flak for it. You would never shop at DSW! She’s literally posts about $3,000 shoes. Now she’s posting about deals for $30?
But influencing isn’t your full-time job?
No. I’m a front-end developer in HTML, CSS and jQuery. My blog and Instagram presence are nice extras for me.
Any dreams of making influencing your full-time gig?
It represents about 5% of my salary. I’d have to make an equivalent salary from influencing. Would I love to do it full time? Absolutely. Is that my goal in life? Probably not. I don’t put enough time or money into it to make it grow huge. I’m happy with where it is.
What should brands know about reaching out to an influencer?
A blogger is going to ask for compensation. I created this business and I want it to stay afloat. The only way it can stay afloat is to put money into it. A lot of companies will say “there’s a blogger who will do it for free” and go with them instead.
What would you say to executives that aren’t sold on influencer marketing?
With Instagram and analytics, bloggers can prove their reach and impressions. I use Instagram Insights. I can show brands that approximately 15,000 people will see my posts. It also shows my impressions, whether I’m up or down this week and shows that my followers are 73% women and 27% men. It tells me which posts have performed best and how many people visited my profile from a specific post.
Ever had a disagreement with a marketer and how did you resolve it?
I did a campaign with Dunkin’ Donuts. They said “we need you to get a medium-sized coffee.” So I got a medium-sized coffee, booked my photographer and shot all-day on a Saturday. They said: “That’s not a medium-sized coffee, you need to retake the pictures.” I said “that’s absurd.” The pictures were really good. I paid for the photographer and spent an entire day off of work shooting. I was genuinely bothered by it. I know I ordered a medium-sized coffee. In the end, my contact said “I’m so sorry, the pictures are fine.” We worked it out.
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Do you get approval before posting?
Nine times out of 10, I don’t need approval. Once a post is up and live, I’ll send a quick link to the brand and say “it’s up, hope you like it.”
Is it valuable when a brand @mentions you on their Instagram account?
A lot of times they’ll use that as leverage. “We’re going to repost you on our Instagram that has 1 million followers” and they’ll try to haggle with you. I don’t take it though. There’s no guarantee they’ll repost me. Most of the time they don’t. It’s a nice offer but not worth giving up part of my fee. When I got reposted by Forever 21 a while ago, I got like 500 followers in a day. Steve Madden did it once and I got 200. But the Instagram game has changed a lot due to the algorithm no longer being chronological. It’s becoming a lot like Facebook. Pay to play.
Do you care about Facebook?
No. The reach is terrible. My own parents never see my posts.
Are you seeing any popular requests recently?
All beauty. Lipsticks, eyeshadows, brushes. Makeup sales are at their highest levels ever. I think they want to keep that train going.
Any advice for a budding influencer?
Be authentic. Stay true to yourself and stay consistent. Once you give up, it’s over. I know girls who started blogs and then never went back to them. Even if you have to take a week off or a month off, try to still post pictures. Stay in your routine. I shoot every Saturday morning. But if I don’t shoot for a week I’ll prepare accordingly. Also, never take a brand deal that doesn’t make you happy. If you’re killing yourself over this and you’re unhappy, it’s not worth it.
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