We caught up with Jenna Ricciardi to discuss the return of storytelling, building a community through authentic sharing, and the importance of staying organized as an influencer.
Check out the full interview below!
1. Tell us about your background and how you started to build your following.
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. My Bachelor’s degree is in TV and Radio and my Masters degree is in Counseling. I worked as a School Counselor until I had my eldest daughter. Then I started documenting all of the adventures my family had and a few people suggested to me starting a website to create something from what I was already doing. I started slowly and 5 years later, I was able to build a beautiful community.
2. Which platforms do you predominantly use? Which is your favourite?
Instagram and Facebook. I am starting to use TikTok more because that is the current wave but Instagram will always be my favorite.
3. What type of content do you create, and which type works best for your audience?
I create short videos and photography documenting our family trips and life. I believe my specific audience doesn’t like the “skit” type videos that are a current trend, but they love most when I post long captions sharing real depth about my life.
4. How would you define “influencer marketing”?
I believe that so many people/companies/brands have a huge misunderstanding of what influencer marketing is. For me, I believe that influencer marketing is/should be creating content to share a place, product, or service that you truly love and believe in.
I do not believe it is sales in the sense that I do not believe influencer marketing should be where I post, let’s say a toothbrush and then 1,000 people go and buy that toothbrush immediately. It is so completely unrealistic. I wouldn’t see a product I like and run and go buy it that second just because someone I follow (even if I really admire them) posted it. I believe it creates an introduction of something to a new audience. I can create content to introduce my followers to something and from there they can take my information provided as a consideration to save for later, purchase, or come back to at another time.
Many followers of mine reach back out even months later with questions about something I shared. To me, that is the value in influencer marketing. They like my content, they come back to it, it sticks with them and they ask me for feedback about it because they trust me. That is the best relationship to have with your community.
5. Have you worked with brands before? How do you decide which brands to work with?
Yes! But I say no to brands much more than I say yes. I am very careful as to what I accept. If it does not align with my values, or something that I see as irrelevant to myself or my audience, I will decline immediately. I pick projects taking my audience into account as well as my own family.
6. How do you think influencer marketing will change over the next 12 months?
I believe that there will be a return to storytelling. In depth conversations are something I love to see between creators and their audiences. I think brands will see the value in that as well. Not flash in the pan success online, but true relationships in communities.
7. How has influencer marketing changed since you began working within social media?
I have been able to do something I truly love. Being self-employed has its challenges. The worst thing is when I hear people say things like “oh it must be nice to get free stuff” or “I can do what you do, like just share photos?” The amount of insensitive comments from people who have no idea what it takes to be successful is crazy. You have to learn how to build and manage a website, marketing, PR, all admin tasks, billing—you are basically doing 10 jobs yourself. Some people hire out help but I tried that and I just prefer to do things myself. I work 7 days a week, and on vacation, late at night and everything in-between. This is not an “easy” job or career choice by any means.
I think it has overall changed me for the better. I am happy to be working from home so I can be with my kids all the time and be able to select projects I’d like to work on or not. I love the experiences and opportunities I have had and am aiming higher for the future.
8. Do you use any software to help create and edit your content?
I use Canva to help with certain branding or posts; it’s great and easy to use.
9. How do you balance your online and offline lives?
It is very hard because working from your phone you are “available” 24/7. I answer emails all hours of the day and night. It is hard to have traditional office hours. I also have meetings with people from NY to Cali to Europe so I have to coordinate all the time differences and make it work. I also work from my girls’ bedtime until midnight or later. I work when I can around their schedule. I am tired a lot but I make it work.
I would say organization is also key for me. I have a content calendar I use to help me stay organized and then my iCal to help manage everything else. If I wasn’t organized, it would lead to tons of chaos and stress. Writing it all down keeps me sane.
10. Which influencers inspire you?
There are many women I have met through my content creating career who I just admire and adore.
There are a ton more but these are a few!
11. Where would you like to take your career as an influencer?
I am a very social creature and love talking to people. I am planning to launch a podcast (narrowing down all the details), be more present on TikTok, and get back to more consistent IG stories. I have a series on my website about Women in Business and would love to continue to share their stories.
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