How Ali Grant Built An Empire By Believing In The Power Of The Influencer

An interview with Be Social's founder, a visionary in the field of social media.

ali grant interview

Now that we’re nearing 2020, we can pretty much guarantee that most of us are well-versed in the definition of what an influencer is. Online storytellers who create beautiful content for their followers to give them knowledge about new brands, social causes, or their life and how it may relate to us. An influencer is an individual who’s knowledge, position or relationship with their audience. An individual who has a following in a particular niche, which they actively engage with on the regular. More than likely, the woman behind some of your favorite influencers is Ali Grant of Be Social.  Ali launched Be Social in 2012 and was one of the first people to recognize the potential and power of the influencer. Be Social has laid a foundation in this field by specializing in digital-forward campaigns for lifestyle, wellness, and beauty brands as well as talent management.
With Ali leading the way, Be Social has been featured in WWD, Forbes, The Huffington Post, PRWeek’s The Innovation 50, Daily Front Row, and Fashion Monitor, to name just a few. Be Social was also recognized as one of Inc.’s fastest-growing companies in the Inc. 5000. If you thought that was impressive, Ali’s passion for beauty, wellness, and fashion go beyond publicity. She’s made it an agency-wide initiative to support and partner with Freedom and Fashion, an LA-based organization that uses the arts of fashion and beauty to empower youth overcoming trafficking, homelessness, and other injustices. We interviewed Ali to ask her all about her life, career, and how she made it to the top by recognizing a trend well ahead of its time. Keep reading below to learn more about this girl boss!

Where did you begin your career? 

I always had an interest in writing and storytelling, so I wanted to build a career around that. I studied journalism in college and interned like crazy. After school, I gained experience at different agencies in public relations and social media working with fashion and lifestyle brands. My passion grew from there and I knew I found what I wanted to do.

How did you get the idea for Be Social?  

I was working at a social media agency at the very start of brands utilizing Twitter and Facebook for marketing. We were exploring new ways to drive web traffic and conversion for e-commerce brands and we started heavily getting into affiliate tactics. We were sending products to “bloggers” and getting them to post. I got the idea of Be Social as an agency that would combine traditional methods of awareness for brands but have a hyper-focus in influencer marketing. Today, we do just that! 

ali grant of be social interview
Image: Ali Grant of Be Social

How has the industry you work in changed since you’ve started? 

Drastically. And it is always changing. At the start, we were focusing more on blogs and Facebook, where now we are looking at Instagram and YouTube creators for brand integration. I am always having to look at what’s next, right now we are really interested in TikTok as a platform for brands to collaborate with.

How do you start your day? What does a normal day look like for you? 

I like to wake up and work out so my day is off to a good start. I am usually in our office behind a computer all day, but I do have meetings and calls throughout the day. Our line of work also allows us to travel, so I am often in New York City as well.

What was that spark that prompted you to take on a larger office in DTLA?  How much staff do you have now? 

I wanted a place our staff could be creative, comfortable and enjoy their workdays. We absolutely have that now and it feels so good to have a place we can dream and create in. We have about 20+ employees and are currently hiring!

ali grant of be social interview
Image: Ali Grant of Be Social

Who are some of your top talent and PR clients?  

We have a diverse portfolio from start-up brands to established retailers like an H&M. In the talent space, we work with YouTubers with millions of subscribers to traditional celebrities. Everyone has something unique to offer.

What is some of the best advice you’ve ever been given? 

Just go for it. Fear can be our biggest setback. 

How did you overcome any challenges you’ve faced in your career? What’s your advice on picking yourself back up? 

There are a lot of ups and downs in entrepreneurship and I have certainly made plenty of mistakes. I started my company at 23 and I didn’t have a fancy background, but I had passion and hustle and that’s what allowed me to be successful. There will be downs in the launch of a company, but you need to celebrate success along the way and keep powering through. I think a good lesson is understanding you will make mistakes and you need to learn and grow from them.

How do you handle being a boss? What are some of your tips for commanding a room, organization, creativity, time management, etc? 

It’s not easy and definitely doesn’t come naturally! I try to learn and absorb from others. The best piece of advice I have received comes from the book Radical Candor. It’s a must-read! It’s important to be a boss, but also be warm and kind.

ali grant of be social interview
Image: Ali Grant of Be Social

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