A plus-size fitness trainer, Kanoa Greene has some valuable influencer marketing tips for brands and content creators.
A fitness trainer and influencer, Kanoa spends most of her time between Orlando (Florida), Hawaii and sometimes New York City. Before transitioning to fitness, she had a career in corporate recruiting at a New York ad agency and talent acquisition at a Hawaii luxury airline. Kanoa was drawn into the fitness industry out of a desire to help women as well as create a community around her own fitness journey.
“I wanted a really positive, encouraging, uplifting experience and I didn’t know where to find that. So I created my own. And so in sharing my own journey it then turned into influencer-ship. I was never seeking to be an influencer or a content creator. It just happened as I continued to do the work that I was doing. Then I realized in addition to helping people on their journey, I can also create these partnerships with brands and create another stream of income.”
She doesn’t consider herself a full time content creator since she still has her other job as a fitness trainer.
“I do teach fitness and so I create content for Joyn, which is a fitness app. I run adventure retreats. I curate these types of experiences for plus size women too. Whether it’s skiing or surfing or snowboarding. It’s giving them a safe place to do it because those things don’t exist for the plus size community.”
Her biggest challenge in influencer marketing was understanding the landscape including how to price herself. At the beginning, she would say yes to nearly every brand that approached her but is now more specific. She had to hire a consultant to educate her on the influencer space.
“When I started, I would look up the brand, look at the dollars. But now I’m extremely specific in regards to who I am, what do I use and what makes sense to my life.”
Kanoa’s experience early in her influencer career taught her the importance of trying products out before promoting them. She learned the need to study the content of campaign contracts including how long the brand can use the influencer’s image. It’s something she wishes she knew from the start.
“Starting out you feel like the brand is in control of the conversation and you are just like ‘Yes, thank you’. But you really are the driver of the conversation and it should go the way you want the conversation to go.”
She deems a campaign successful if she feels good about it, the brand feels good about it and her community is engaged. Kanoa isn’t overly keen on engagement rate as a KPI.
“Anything can happen in culture, in the media that then draws engagement down or up. That’s been the toughest thing to navigate. So then it’s hard for me to then always kind of go to that because I know that there are other factors outside of my control.”
The Schwinn Bikes Campaign
Kanoa considers her partnership with Schwinn Bikes as the most successful campaign she’s had so far.
“Schwinn Bikes had reached out to me in 2020. And it was one of the first large brands that I knew, at least large commercial brands. This was one that I was excited about because that was my first bike as a little girl.”
Schwinn had already looked through her content and this drew her attention, she says.
“From the jump, they were so incredibly nice. And in that initial conversation, it was so collaborative. The great thing about Schwinn is that they wanted to actually have a conversation. What is it that I feel I can bring to the table? Or how can I make that campaign a little bit more unique and special for me and what will make it special for my community?”
The brand allowed her to decide what content she would run in the first campaign.
“I did go to their page and I did look at the things that they are typically using on their timeline. I wanted to have at least somewhat of the same, same aesthetic. They really did give me freedom, Which I did appreciate.”
The campaign’s main message was making cycling welcoming. The reception was enthusiastic, she says.
“They really were interested in cycling. And they wanted to see more. Then they had questions and genuine just wanting to learn more about it or people who had the thought about doing it before. This was confirmation that I wanted to do it again. So we both felt it was successful because we are now in the middle of six months’ partnership. And we’ve already talked about doing a year-long partnership for 2022.”
She believes the responsiveness of the Schwinn team and their commitment to answer her questions was central to making the campaign memorable.
“The team is absolutely amazing. I am the person who comes with a lot of questions. When one person in the team didn’t know, they would go into the team and they honestly came together as a complete team at Schwinn to really make me feel like my questions were answered. I felt so confident signing that contract.”
Advice for Influencers and Creators
Kaona has advice for upcoming creators when they start working with a brand.
First, stay professional.
“It’s fun but it is a business. You have to treat it as a professional. I have 20,000 followers which you know that’s like a mini micro influencer but I make more money than people with four or five times because I am a professional.”
Second, know your worth.
“The more the followers you have on any platform, the more you can charge. Know what you and your time and content is worth and demand that. Especially in niche markets like plus size fitness where it’s not like there’s millions of you.”
Third, have the right attitude.
“Just have an attitude of gratitude. For your community, for the brands that do put time and energy into you”
Fourth, be authentic.
“As influencers, we may have a reference, right. There might be someone we follow that we think is super cool and we may try to mimic. But the reality is that you need to do it your way. Be the most authentic you.”
Kanoa Greene’s Advice for Brands
Likewise, Kanoa has advice for brands.
First, pay content creators.
“What we do takes time and energy and sometimes resources. You’re asking us to do work so just do the right thing.”
Second, listen to content creators.
“You are coming to these individuals because something sparked your interest. Allow them to have a real seat at the table.”
Third, recognize that influencers are human.
“Content creators work under extreme pressure. We are humans and I think people forget that a lot of times too. We are real people with real lives.”
Other than Schwinn Bikes, Kanoa has worked with major brands such as Muscle Milk, Nike and Gatorade.
She would like to work with Apple someday.
“I’d almost do that for free.”