We are often asked to define an influencer, in which case, we typically respond with: someone who has garnered a larger than average social media following and can influence these online communities because of their well developed trusted relationship online. Their followers tend to not just “follow along” but regularly engage, communicate, and actively participate with the influencer and their activities throughout their communities or abroad.
This is our Influencer Spotlight Series, where we feature movers, shakers, and the disruptors of our social feeds – who we follow, engage with, work with, and have gotten to know post by post.
Enter: Charmaine Daudu
Note from Lauren: Watching Charmaine rise to fame on social media (like, mega fame… she has 92k Instagram followers and 45k YouTube Subscribers!) has been the most inspiring experience. I went to The Academy of Design with Charmaine, and knew her dazzling personality and stand out style really had to be shared with more people… so, I was glad to see so many people respond to her YouTube channel and connect with her on Instagram. The best part of her online presence, besides the DIY styles and adorable baby pics, is her realness. She isn’t up there filtering her face away, she is being real, sharing her pain points, opening up about her insecurities, and using her platform as a way to connect, share, and collaborate. Also, she actually responds and gets back to almost all of her followers… and THAT is extremely rare. In my opinion, more influencers should look to Charmaine for guidance and inspiration; she is someone who has developed a career not just through stylish photos, but also, by using a public forum to speak her mind, share her thoughts, and connect with people from all over the world by use of two-way conversation, positivity, and collaboration. Charms, we are proud of ya.
Anyways, onto the feature…
We were lucky that Charmaine found the time while juggling a newborn, a career, and a plethora of social channels, to answer our many questions about her life as an influencer. Read on, and see what she has to say:
Q: What propelled you to start a YouTube channel?
A: Moving to the US from Canada, I knew I would have less friends around and I would be working from home. Having this extra time, made me yearn for a creative outlet.
I really enjoyed watching youtube and seeing the growth of the social platform, and since I had already gained a bit of a following via Instagram (initially geared around my curly hair,) it felt like a great way for me to answer questions that I often received, by providing visuals and tutorials. I also loved the idea of having a central place to share my different interests from DIY projects, to curly hair care, and personal style, while teaching my tips to others around the world. It felt like a visual diary, and that is what attracted me to start my channel.
Q: What does being an ‘influencer’ mean to you?
A: Being an influencer feels like being “that helpful friend” to thousands of people across the globe. We don’t all have people to look to in our personal lives to give us advice on how to style our hair, what to wear on a first date, what to wear to an interview, how to maintain a long distance relationship, etc. so I love that I can help total strangers with these common questions, simply by sharing what comes natural to me…being my authentic self. I believe the most successful influencers are the ones that share a level of reality and authenticity. Anyone can share pretty pictures, but when an influencer genuinely cares for their “followers” by engaging on their posts etc., that’s what makes them trust what you have to say or share. Because I value their trust so much, I consciously only share products/services/opinions that I absolutely believe in, whether I am being paid to promote something or not, it has to be from my heart.
Q: What is your favourite social media platform and why?
A: Definitely Instagram. I am a very visual person, so I love that I can share snaps into my life at times but also stylized photos and I can either do it in an instant or I can plan it out for weeks ( if it’s a sponsored post and I have specific ideas to execute. ) I enjoy the visual storytelling that I do with my page, I use my captions as a way to really share my personality, but also provoke conversations in the comments. I love that my followers will often engage with each other in my comments. Youtube is amazing as well, but it’s definitely more time consuming with the editing process.
Q: How do you choose which brands you collaborate with?
A: I am pretty selective now that I have worked so hard to gain a following. Initially, I would get so excited that certain brands that were so well known, knew I existed and I would say yes to collab quite easily, many times just accepting free merchandise as the compensation. Now that I have done this for a few years, I am really conscious of making every situation a win win. It takes time to create content, and I know my worth. This is not about being arrogant at all, but I know that when I mention a brand, many of my followers will go out and buy what I have mentioned, this is the power of influence. Because I have built a solid relationship with my followers, they respect my opinion and often wait to hear it before they try certain products. I will tell brands what sort of compensation I would expect, given the amount of work involved, but also keeping in mind how much reach they will receive via my posts. If it’s a small start up brand, as an entrepreneur myself, I know the budgets cannot be as big as a multi-million dollar company. I would say, the way I often select which brands I work with is based on a level of respect, compensation ( I have bills too! ) and most important, my personal interest. I have to genuinely be interested. For example, I have been approached countless times to promote that IG trendy “flat tummy tea”… offering various amounts of money, but that is just not me, so I will not do it. Money comes and goes, I would much rather collab with a brand with no budget, that I believe in, than a brand that treats me like a number. Being authentic has landed me some amazing campaigns and repeat work from brands, so that is one thing I would highly stress to anyone looking to work with brands, be yourself and know your worth!
Q: How has becoming a new mom transformed your channel and social media content?
A: Being a mom has taken on a whole new angle I never imagined I would take. The interest started with my pregnancy style, I think people found it encouraging to see a pregnant woman maintain a sense of self regardless of the changing body. I not only stayed true to my personal eclectic style, I had fun with it too! and encouraged others to do the same. Later in my pregnancy I became more transparent, and even included a lot more of my humorous side and it truly surprised me just how many women related and enjoyed my “mom posts.” I feel like I have now shifted into a new phase with my social media content and I am enjoying it. At the end of the day, I love to be categorized as a person rather than just checking off a box…ie…fashion blogger etc. I like that I can share all aspects of my interests, talents, skills, and passions, and being a new mom is where it’s at right now 🙂
Q: Define your content in 3 words
A: Authentic, Empowering, Creative