Stephanie Tavares-Rance

“We have an awareness challenge at Family Dollar,” says SocialMedia.org member Stephanie Tavares-Rance.

To me, those are the gems — when you find someone doing something because they love our store with no payment required.

She’s Family Dollar’s Digital Marketing, Social Media, and PR Manager, and she says not everyone knows about the wide variety of products they sell. And since she’s started with the brand in 2013, it’s been her mission to find people to help tell that story.

“Our goal, from a blogger standpoint, was to reach the top influencers in various categories who could help spread awareness that Family Dollar has amazing products at low prices,” she says.

Now, Stephanie’s helped build up a blogger program with over 20 influencers in all of Family Dollar’s key markets. The program includes bloggers specializing in fashion, health, food, home decor, pets, and saving money.

One of their most successful categories is in beauty.

For the #FamilyDollarFAB program, Family Dollar partnered with African American cosmetics and hair care bloggers to create how-to videos, testimonials, and product reviews. Recently, they held an event in New York to surprise and delight the Family Dollar Fabulous bloggers with makeovers and demos from their suppliers like Procter & Gamble and Unilever.

“It’s a really over-the-top, fabulous event because these women are all over-the-top and have fabulous personalities,” she says.

Afterwards, Fab bloggers were encouraged to create videos like this one from Alissa Wilson of the Stylish Curves YouTube channel:

Stephanie says the reach and traction they got from the event was so successful that they plan on doing it again in Atlanta this year. They’re also looking to integrate more of their influencers’ content with Ebony magazine, local radio shows, and in-store activations.

Family Dollar Fab

“My initial outreach was to basically stalk these bloggers,” Stephanie laughs.

She says that before the brand became more heavily involved in social listening tools and invited an agency to help build their program, Stephanie made a point to research the bloggers and contact them directly.

“I went with a very personal approach. I didn’t want an agency to do this because I wanted to reach out to them myself, get them excited about working with us, and let them know they could always reach out to me to talk and kick around ideas.”

And about 80 percent of the people she asked said yes.

“Even though we use an agency to grow our blogger program now, I still keep a personal connection with most of our bloggers. I’m trying to build an affinity and loyalty to the brand as well as to myself.”

Stephanie looks for bloggers with great engagement skills.

I keep a personal connection with most of our bloggers. I’m trying to build an affinity and loyalty to the brand as well as to myself.

“I would pick people who respond to questions regularly, do product testimonials, and really get engaged and excited. I also look for if their followers really enjoy and look forward to the content they put out.”

Other requirements: large reach on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube (around 10,000 followers), a good eye for photos, and a genuine appreciation of the brand. When they post content, it needs to include beautiful “Instagram-filtered-up” photos, over 300 words, and some kind of call to action, like a contest or giveaway of Family Dollar gift cards.

But sometimes, a great brand ambassador can come out of nowhere.

“To me, the best posts are the ones where someone with a huge reach creates something about our brand without us even asking them to do it.”

For example, Stephanie says one of her favorite posts came from Vine comedian Joel James who posted a video in front of a Family Dollar store and earned about five million views organically. They reached out to Joel immediately, and he said he just loved the store. Now, Joel is in a contract with the brand to create content.

“To me, those are the gems — when you find someone doing something because they love our store with no payment required.”

Connect with Stephanie on LinkedIn, and ask about her passion for film.