R. Riveter exploded after an appearance on the popular investment show, “Shark Tank,” in 2016. The company sells handbags, but they also sell a mission. Founded by two military spouses looking for flexible employment opportunities, R. Riveter employs other military spouses to craft bags and create buzz as influencers.
“There is a shared passion and an instant connection in the military spouse community,” says Cameron Cruse, a cofounder of R. Riveter. “A group of influencers with such a strong bond and identity, such as military spouses, has incredible potential for strong messaging, instant credibility, and passionate engagement.”
Influencers have the power to impact their followers because they have already developed a relationship with them. Just like when a military spouse is looking for information about an upcoming move or deployment they turn to other military spouses, military spouses trust the opinions of their peers when it comes to products.
Here are five ways military online influencers matter, from their emotional connections to their user generated content.
1) They’re authentic.
The founder of Jo, My Gosh!, Joanna Guldin-Noll, says her readers can tell when posts are genuine. As a popular blogger in the military spouse community, she speaks to issues relevant to her dedicated followers — and herself. “No matter the medium, they can determine when my heart is,” she says. “Having a strong sense of tone and strong purpose is just as important as the type of media you’re putting out.”
As a successful military spouse entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker, Judy Davis, known as The Direction Diva, agrees. “I think that transparency and the fact that I do understand the challenges other military spouses go through sets me apart from other influencers,” she says. “Because of that, I can create content that builds a relationship, instead of just talking about a company’s product or service.”
2) They’re geographically diverse.
Military families live in every state in the U.S. and abroad. There’s an advantage to utilizing military spouse influencers living in a place that naturally fits a product. For example, a spouse stationed in Hawaii might serve as an influencer for a company that focuses on beach-related products or apparel.
“It’s a natural fit with that influencer’s organic following,” says Krystel Spell, an influencer and director of SoFluential. Spell provides companies with a one-stop connection point to military spouse influencers. Companies can benefit from using several military spouse influencers, located in different geographic locations, who each have their own niche, Spell says.
3) They genuinely want to help.
Military spouses genuinely care about each other and often share their challenges, emotions and fears out for others to learn from. Lauren Tamm’s website, The Military Wife and Mom, provides tools and resources for parenting as well as navigating the military lifestyle. Tamm makes herself available to help spouses through her blog and Facebook pages. She has several free e-mail courses to help military parents and recently released a downloadable binder, to help military spouses thrive through deployment.
“I’m able to fill my highly engaged Facebook page with the type content that speaks specifically to military spouses,” she says. Tamm finds a mix of high quality and engaging video, memes and link-based posts get the most engagement on Facebook and Pinterest, which then drives people to her website, and keeps them there.
4) They have a unique perspective.
The content on Jo, My Gosh’s social media and blog is different from some of the other military spouse influencers. Whereas many influencers write about life as a current active duty family, or a retired family, Jo’s readers have shared the whole military experience, from enlistment to leaving the service, with her. “We’ve done the complete cycle,” she says, and her followers appreciate how she’s shared her experience along the way.
The families of National Guard members and reservists are often excluded from the military community and often overlooked in marketing campaigns. The Homefront United Network (HUN) connects these families with each other and gives brands insight into this typically underserved demographic. Angela Caban, founder of HUN and a National Guard spouse, strives to provide interactive UGC, mostly images on Facebook, to give companies exposure to this large and untapped market.
5) They’re incredibly diverse.
Kristine Schellhaas is the founder of USMCLife, a resources-driven website for Marine Corps families. Over the past eight years, the site has grown to include information and resources relevant to all of today’s military families. “Brands seeking to impact a cross-section of the population find success within the military market,” she says.
Schellhaas believes that Facebook is still the king of engagement, as it offers several methods of reaching people through groups, pages, and inexpensive ads. “I’ve been able to find success with groups through people who share a location, job, or stage of their life, all within my niche,” she explains.
As for R. Riveter, Cruse finds influencers on Instagram, and has seen an opportunity for the brand to speak through them. “We have seen referrals and user generated content (UGC) have the potential to raise customer retention rates up to 20%,” she says. “Our friends and family are some of our most trusted confidants, and therefore much more likely to purchase based on recommendations than expensive advertising.”
The top military spouse influencers know what R. Riveter has discovered. They offer unique value to businesses looking to improve their bottom line. Military spouses have a lot to offer a company with their content, and consumers are listening.