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Want an Online Following that Translates into Foot Traffic?

This New York practice built one with the help ‘local influencers’.

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MUCH HAS BEEN made of the role of the social media “influencer” — someone with the power to affect the purchasing decisions of their online following. Unless you’re doing a roaring online trade, however, a blizzard of Facebook Likes won’t help you much. Recognizing this, savvy small biz owners have refined the concept, seeking out “micro” or “hyper local” influencers in their area — often business owners like themselves — with whom they can build a shared local following of people who live nearby and value what they do.

One independent optical owner who has made this approach work for him is Carl Cameau Jr. at Hudson Spectacles (formerly Eyevolution Optique) in Nyack, NY. For the past few years, he has been posting photos of carefully chosen local restaurateurs and other biz owners from around the Hudson Valley on Instagram — fitted with eyewear from his collections — and through them expanding his reach and building a loyal, like-minded clientele.

THE IDEA

“I see a lot of campaigns that use people to model product, but never know the story behind the people in the photo wearing it,” he says. “I am lucky to work with some of the best independent brands, so for me it’s best to pair it with the people shaping and forming the lifestyle of the area where our shops are located.”

The goal is for Hudson Spectacles’ eyewear to be seen “on faces that are genuinely recognized within a 10-25 mile radius,” he says. “I want people to want to be a part of our shop, feel happy and stay connected to our business. I want them to say, ‘I want to experience that place.’”

Matt Hudson, one of the ‘local influencers’ featured on Hudson Spectacles’ Instagram

Matt Hudson, one of the ‘local influencers’ featured on Hudson Spectacles’ Instagram. Says owner Cameau, ‘He’s an avid rower, artist and owner of Hudson House restaurant in Nyack, NY.’

THE EXECUTION

For Cameau, the first step in the process was thinking about what images he wanted to publish. “Think of locations, people, product and placement,” he advises. Beyond the eyewear and the people modeling it, he says, “I love to highlight the Hudson Valley, the beauty surrounding it and the history of craftsmanship here. I try to keep those in mind when posting.” The second step? Find a good photographer (in Cameau’s case, friend and photographer Daniel Silbert.)

Finding business owners to participate was made easier for Cameau by the fact that he generally shops locally. “I have been eating, drinking or shopping at these businesses for years. So when I came up with this campaign, many were eager to join. I have a roster of people who have seen the images and want to be part of the next shoot. It’s very organic.”

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He also tries to match participating owners with appropriate frames. “If you want a younger or older demographic to be interested in a certain frame line… then the business should match the vibe.” The influencers promote Hudson Spectacles by tagging and hashtagging. Some want glasses for free, but Cameau doesn’t believe in giving product away for a shout out. “That can add up quick if you are too fluid with your policy,” he warns. And he doesn’t ask for anything in return aside from the use of their image. “Everyone volunteered and I offer the images for each person to use for their social media as well.”

THE REWARDS

Cameau says he’s seen a “huge” return from patrons and their employees. “I’ve had people come in asking what frames the waiter at Hudson House was wearing and follow through with a purchase.”

Hudson Spectacles has also picked up new customers from surrounding areas, who come in after recognizing the subjects of the photos. “It is a great campaign and one of the foundation pieces of Hudson Spectacles,” he says.

 

Do It Yourself: Team Up with Local Influencers


  • the fEELING iS MUTUAL. Influencers are supposed to be your cheerleaders, but according to Cameau it’s not uncommon for them to forget; so remind them to tag and hashtag.
  • KEEP IT REAL. When it comes to taking pictures, Cameau says, “The location, people and the eyewear selected should match naturally. It needs to read in the photo, and not be trying too hard.”
  • KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. Be conscious of the audience that will be seeing a particular pair of glasses on a certain influencer. Says Cameau: “The demographics have to be there.”
  • WHAT’S UP DOC? Reach out to ODs or ophthalmologists who don’t have your selection. “Some doctors just don’t want to deal with the eyewear part of the business,” says Cameau.
  • DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Before working with a more traditional influencer, make sure their followers aren’t bots. Socialeyesonyou.com has a great resource for this.

After years covering some of the farther flung corners of the world of business journalism, Heath has more recently focused on covering the efforts of independent eyecare professionals to negotiate a fast-changing industry landscape. Contact him at [email protected]

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