TUESDAY - MARCH 26, 2013 - NAPA, CA - Kristy Sammis is a founder and partner of Clever Girls Collective which she describes as a social media agency that connects friends with influential women online. J.L. Sousa/Register

Advertising is a whole new animal these days, but Napa’s Kristy Sammis is embracing that.

Bloggers are heading up advertising’s newest incarnation, said Sammis, co-founder of a blog network and social media agency called the Clever Girls Collective. Blogging, Sammis said, is best done by consumers about products they already use.

“That’s much more compelling,” she said. “It’s more interesting and I think that advertising is reflective of the way media has shifted. It’s not just top-down anymore (and consumers) aren’t engaged by slapping a banner ad on the top of a page.”

Gone, Sammis said, are the days of traditional marketing schemes and tired ad campaigns. In the age of Yelp and Angie’s List, it’s all about creating a buzz in the virtual world. If you’re a company, it’s just like back in high school, when you wanted people talking about you — in a good way.

Founded in 2009, the San Francisco-based Clever Girls Collective harnesses the marketing power of technology-based tools like blogs and Facebook. Getting exposure for clients’ products via “hits” to posts on social media like Pinterest and Instagram is key, she said. Stirring up virtual chatter among industry trend-setters about specific brands is the idea.

A network of more than 8,000 mostly female U.S.-based bloggers is the backbone of Clever Girls. Most are so-called “millennials” ages 25 to 35. The bloggers – many of whom are also moms – work as contractors for Clever Girls.

“Women are primary consumers and they’re also the majority of social media users,” Sammis, a 37-year-old mom of two, said. “Companies know that women are responsible for purchasing decisions in the home. Our (blogger) network is primarily women and our clients are certainly interested in talking to moms.”  

Clever Girls got its start after its co-founders, including blogger and mom Stefania Pomponi, made an important discovery: Companies were having trouble rounding up the right bloggers to write about their products.

“I learned that companies are interested in talking to women who have an audience,” Sammis said. “I also learned that they really don’t know how to do that.”

Clever Girls was born when Pomponi enlisted the help of Sammis and others to co-found the company and build its network.

The female-run company makes money by using a sales team to pitch advertising campaigns to companies. The Clever Girls network of bloggers and social media trend-setters takes it from there.   

The bloggers write about everything from electronics and food to fashion and products for infants and children, Sammis said. Some bloggers create video reviews that they post online, while others stick to web-based writing and posts on Pinterest, Instagram and other social media.

Sammis stressed that Clever Girls’ bloggers always disclose if they receive products or money for blogging or reviews.

“It’s so exciting to be able to pay a woman in the middle of the country who has this third-generation recipe for Cool Whip,” Sammis said, adding that bloggers can post such recipes on Pinterest, for example. “To be able to have her share that and be compensated for that from the brand she already loves,” makes (dollars and) sense.

A few of Clever Girls’ clients include General Mills, Tempur-Pedic, Fresh & Easy, Toyota, Tropicana, Duncan Hines and LeapFrog, which manufactures popular electronic educational children’s toys.

The Clever Girls network came in handy when a company called Beaba debuted a new, high-end bottle warmer and wanted to have moms write about it, Sammis said.

“It’s a sensitive topic,” Sammis said, adding that it would be difficult for Beaba to ferret out pregnant and new mom bloggers on its own.

Clever Girls — which markets largely to women via its fleet of female bloggers — is also run by the women. The company’s four co-founders are women, and so are 10 of its 12 high-level employees.

Sammis, who came of age in tandem with major technological advances, said she’s a longtime fan of most things high-tech. No stranger to bits and bytes, she has a personal blog called “She Just Walks Around With It” — which chronicles her life as a busy, working mother and wife. In 2010, Sammis also created the blog, “Promtacular” — a tongue-in-cheek yet nostalgic nod to 1980s prom pictures, big hair and fashion.

Before co-founding Clever Girls, Sammis was a conference manager for BlogHer from 2006 to 2009. Prior to that, she launched the Walmart.com internal communications department, according to the Clever Girls Collective website. Sammis’ previous professional background was in “marketing communications, product development, and project management” with a New York consulting firm.

Fast-forward to today, and Sammis is all about being a Clever Girl. The challenges of the business are keeping her on her toes.

“The technology changes so quickly, so we’re keeping on top of that,” she said. “We are on the forefront of where online advertising is going.” 쨌

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