Amy Stern - 05/16/2018
One recurring question that comes up in most client meetings is the need for developing partnerships with influencers. Whether we are in a meeting in close proximity to our New Jersey office, or talking to a client across the country, influencer relations and marketing is a hot topic. Fortunately for our clients, including food brands, there is a recipe for success.
A case in point is Hillside Candy. The New Jersey-based company was seeking to increase brand awareness and product trial of its GoOrganic USDA-certified, Non-GMO-verified assorted hard candy. In addition to traditional public relations and social media, we suggested an influencer marketing program to leverage the voice of third-party influencers who could reach a wide audience of potential consumers in a cost-effective manner. Our rationale was based on previous success with blogger sampling programs for other food brands, which proved them to be highly effective marketing tools.
Initial meetings with the client helped us to develop our influencer strategy. The result was an initiative for GoOrganic that was designed to achieve the following:
- Raise brand awareness
- Drive website traffic to GoOrganicCandy.com and/or the Amazon webpages where the hard candy and chews were available for purchase
- Grow social media following
Choose Influencer Partners Wisely
The first step to achieve these goals was to research the most impactful influencers. We vetted and selected from four key target audiences:
- Influential mom & parenting blogs
- Leading food blogs
- Top gluten-free and nutrition blogs
- Best organic blogs
The influencers were chosen according to a formula that netted those who had a strong following, while also reflecting an authentic voice in the domain where they were active. Our first step was to draft a letter introducing GoOrganic Candy and why we wanted to develop a partnership with them. A key directive that was given to potential participants included making sure that specific product attributes were included in the final published content. These attributes included:
- Great taste
- USDA organic
- Made in USA
- Gourmet flavors
- Hard & chewy options
Once we received responses from a preliminary pool of influencers who wanted to participate, 3E PR identified 25 from the cross-section of targets in the aforementioned categories. While blogs with significant followings were targeted to reach the maximum number of consumers, the emphasis was on partners whose lifestyles and readership most closely mirrored that of GoOrganic’s target audience.
Importance of Selecting an Experienced Agency
One thing that separates amateur influencer programs from those that deliver significant return on investment (ROI) – is having an experienced agency partner. The Hillside Candy experience was proof of that point.
We managed the project in a way that ensured the quality of content that was ultimately produced. Third-party influencers need direction and guidance if their end product is to meet the client’s goals and objectives.
At 3E PR, we work diligently to create a communications brief that is shared with all participants. The brief outlines key messaging and specific terms that should be included in the final post, while still allowing the influencer to write in his/her own voice, remaining loyal to their constituents, as well as their personal brand. Achieving this level of authenticity is vital, as it allows the influencers to maintain their credibility with their following. As importantly, it also makes the content produced resonate better with the target audience.
In addition to managing the influencers, we monitored all posts to ensure they met the timelines agreed to at the onset of the project. We also coordinated fulfillment of all product samples and vetted all third-party giveaways.
Three Benefits of an Influencer Campaign
Influencer campaigns offer multiple advantages for brands, especially food products. The three key benefits of a successful influencer marketing campaign are:
- Third-party product endorsement – as an unaffiliated third-party, influencers have the ability to impact consumer purchasing behavior by introducing new products, educating their audiences, and encouraging trial and ultimately purchase at retail.
- Increase website traffic – for brands and products that are new or may be unfamiliar to consumers, the influencer has the power to raise awareness and encourage further exploration about a brand and its products, by driving traffic to the brand’s website. Content posted on third-party blogs were linked to the GoOrganic website, which saw a significant in website traffic, as a result of the campaign.
- Incentivize trial – just as watching a TV commercial for Doritos can make you want to run out to the local convenience store ASAP, reading influencer content about a better-for-you candy with great taste, like GoOrganic, can lead to consumer trial and purchase.
Bonus: A bonus of working with influencers is that they are very social media savvy (at least those who should be your partners) so their presence goes beyond their site and includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others. Most influencers see it as second-nature to complement their posts with original photos and video, supplying additional content that brands can leverage and cross-promote on their own social media platforms and website.
The influencer marketing program for GoOrganic resulted in robust third-party mentions by 30+ influencers in the food and lifestyle arena, as well as a record number of tweets and retweets. We successfully garnered valuable content across all targeted categories, educating followers about product attributes and encouraging trial both at retail and via online merchants.