Personalising Her Brand

NZ Business Magazinenzbusiness

April 2010

By Ruth Le Pla

When NZBusiness polled readers on whether or not they use social media, Breastmates’ owner/manager Frances McInnes came back with an astounding yes.

“Facebook has made a significant difference to my business,” she told us.

Breastmates specialises in maternity, breastfeeding and bottle feeding essentials, McInnes, who happily admits she’s learning social media as she goes, uses Facebook with automatic links to update Twitter via  She also blogs and posts on YouTube: both automatically go to Twitter.

“It’s so easy.  People think I’m very busy but I’m not.”

McInnes handles all her social media from her desktop and reckons she spends just ten minutes a day on it.

“Every day I try and get a post onto Facebook: whether it’s a comment like, ‘hey we’ve got new stock coming in’, or a poll, or just something so that every day I’m in people’s news feed.”

She stockpiles ideas for busy days but usually finds stories come up in the news: anything related to children.

“I’m always learning.  I’m always pleased if I get around 20 replies, but the other day I asked a question: a quick poll on Friday night, ‘did you have a C-section or vjayjay birth?’

“I put vjayjay because I was too embarrassed to put vagina.”

“About 180 people replied.  I couldn’t believe the response.  They laughed because I’d called it vjayjay.

“And it was really short.  I always try to do a really short sentence because I know myself I don’t bother reading more than a couple of lines.

“I’ve also noticed that if I put a question on in the evening, it works really well for me.  Most mothers read it in the evening when the kids are in bed and they have the time.  I notice the difference if I do it in the day.”

McInnes sees social media as a great way to personalise her brand.

“A lot of people see my website and assume it’s a big company.  But with social media it’s just me.  I might comment on my children and that just personalises everything.  Then, if people need to buy something, hopefully I spring to mind.”

Down on the business bottom line, Breastmates’ online marketing is tracking well too.

McInnes recently started tracking sales driven exclusively by her social media marketing after she worked out a way to do what she calls her ‘secret Facebook’ sales.

McInnes codes her website to hide a product unless people follow a link that she provides only on Facebook.

“I did it over one weekend and got probably 15 times my normal weekend turnover.

“I’m learning as I got, but I’m also really enjoying it.  I sit at home in my office all day and I don’t see anyone.  This is an outlet and it’s really encouraging that people like what I do.”