The Knot’s Chief Innovator Helps Local Wedding Businesses Connect With a Social-Savvy Audience

Anja Winikka creates in-person workshops around the country

Now The Knot's director of education and industry innovation, Anja Winikka joined the firm as a copy editor in 2006. Mel Barlow
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With over a decade of experience at XO Group’s multiplatform wedding inspiration and planning brand The Knot, Anja Winikka knows better than most just how much the wedding industry has been affected by the advent of social media.

“Couples have come [to The Knot] after getting engaged for years,” said Winikka, “but now the expectations of what it means to plan a wedding are changing.”

Winikka joined The Knot as a copy editor in 2006, eventually working her way up the editorial ladder to become site director. In 2015, she became head of audience development, helping to shape the site’s overall social strategy. Now the company’s director of education and industry innovation, she helps local businesses keep up with the constantly evolving demands of modern weddings.

As more couples turn to social media to help select vendors or locations, Winikka explained, many local businesses that have been around for decades have fallen short on adopting platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

“We’d done so much for the couples that use our services,” she said, but “we were missing the feeling of reinvention on the local side of things. A real evolution had existed, and the industry needed an update now.”

To help businesses achieve their goals, Winikka creates in-person workshops around the country. Topics include everything from how to best use social media to reach the right audience to more niche topics like which markets are more likely to hire outside caterers or let the venue take care of things.

Occasionally, Winikka’s team leads online versions of those workshops hosted by experts who can explain the benefits of using hashtags online or how to “regram” a photo.

“You used to be able to list your company in the phone book,” she said, “but now you have to be in conversation with potential customers across a lot of channels … to get your message out there.”


Curriculum Vitae
Director of education and industry innovation, XO Group
2016 – present

Director of audience development,
2015 – 2016
Kicked social strategy into high gear, building The Knot’s social following to 2m+ and monthly UVs to 12m.

Site director,
2011 – 2015
Built a team of digital writers and reporters to grow

Job Profile
At The Knot, Winikka helps local businesses reach, grow and connect with the website’s audience. She and her team use webinars and in-person workshops to pass along new knowledge about the wedding industry.

How She Got the Gig
After discussing The Knot’s local business goals—and realizing that many local wedding-focused businesses weren’t able to keep up with technology and social media—Winikka developed her current position.

Words of Wisdom
For local businesses, it’s important to “have a strategy for putting your brand out there,” said Winikka. “A majority of this industry contains female-founded companies, and connecting the dots between businesses and couples is important to me.”

This story first appeared in the July 24, 2017, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@samimain Sami Main is social editor for Adweek, where she posts Adweek content onto social platforms and looks for creative ways to communicate what's new.