What’s cooking, with Bare Bones Broth X @Sweatsandthecity?

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Creating meaningful relationships with influencers is more important now than ever before. 2019 was the year that saw Instagram become too over-saturated with “one and done” influencer partners, trying to promote different products seemingly on a daily basis. That’s why as a social agency, we seek out long-term, authentic relationships with influencers who give honest feedback about their favorite products and can be a true partner and collaborator. These are much more valuable than an influencer who poses once with your product in hand, but never really becomes a customer or a fan. 2020 should be all about depth!

Recently one of our clients, Bare Bones Broth, an organic line of high-protein, Keto-friendly Bone Broth teamed up with fitness & wellness experts, Elizabeth and Dale of @sweatsandthecity for a three-month partnership. Their first in-feed post included an extremely thoughtful caption by Dale explaining the four ways she loves to enjoy the product. Elizabeth and Dale are the perfect partners for this brand because they talk about all things wellness, fitness, beauty, and food-related and have a large and engaged audience base. Their fans have diverse interests and this client wants to cast a wider net than just strictly speaking to super healthy eaters, making this a perfect pairing.

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When creating long-lasting, meaningful relationships with influencer partners, it’s important to show the authenticity of that relationship to your fans and followers in more ways than an Instagram post. We suggest that brands think outside of the box and look for creative ways to bring value to their audience. To that end, as part of this partnership, we had them create a blog post that we felt would better explain the product and the relationship. This is an excellent format to answer potential questions and is good fodder that can be used as part of the content marketing and sales journey on the brand’s domain.

Here we allowed our fan base to learn more about who we’ve chosen as a partner and why they’re such a great fit. To show this, we conducted a Q+A with Elizabeth and Dale found here! They answered a bunch of great questions and even highlighted their own personal, favorite products:

What are each of your favorite products from Bare Bones?

We are both huge fans of the Organic Chicken Bone Broth and Rosemary & Lemon. They have so much flavor!

 

 

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Brand Authenticity is Key: Incorporate Your Founder

It’s true that in the world of social media, we’re surrounded by perfectly curated photos, filters, and the ability to “fake it.” It’s easier now than ever before, to be something you’re not, but it is very hard to fake a true founder’s story. Lean into that.

At Sircle Media we believe brands should be vulnerable and display true transparency on social networks. Social media affords customers an opportunity to speak directly with their favorite companies and it also allows brands to tell their story in an honest way. While planning and curating are still highly recommended, there is something special about the opportunity to get into a dialogue with a driven and passionate founder. Not only does it feel more real and connected, but in today’s Shark Tank inspired culture, people love the idea of the Entrepreneur’s journey, especially from a confident and awesome woman!

If the founder has a personal story about why they created their brand, this creates a sense of trust and personality. Even better, if they are an expert in their field, this will establish and convey competence and authority. It is one thing to think “your baby is the cutest” but another to back it up with data and experience.

The strategies you use to include your founder are just as important. For one of our clients, Uplift Food, a line of prebiotic gut-healthy foods to support your mood, we actively involve their founder, Kara Landau. Kara has a very personal story as to why she started her brand. In an Uplift Food Instagram post, she explains how she created her brand after she moved from Australia to America following the end of a long term relationship. She found herself heartbroken and emotionally distraught. As a student of nutrition, she set out on a quest to discover the relationship between food and happiness.

Since Kara is also a Registered Dietitian, creating content around her only reaffirms her expertise in the nutrition field and the quality of her products. Not only does Uplift Food include Kara in their posts, but they also have a highlight called “Kara’s Corner”, where she shares recipes, events, and benefits of the Daily Uplifter. Kara’s personal Instagram handle (@theprebioticdietician) is also featured in Uplift Food’s Instagram bio, so users can explore her account and get a taste of her personal life.

            

We love working with Kara because she is knowledgeable, positive, and always ready to brainstorm new ideas! Audiences love getting insider information from Kara because it makes them feel like they are part of a community and her journey. When you have an inspiring founder, with a compelling story, you should really double down on it.  Remember, that people want to buy from people they know and trust and most of us want to feel inspired. Let them inside and develop a community of loyalists!

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Happy 5 Year Anniversary, Jenna!

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This week, our senior photographer Jenna Ruocco celebrates her 5 year anniversary with Sircle Media. This is an important milestone, especially for someone working at their first job straight out of college. We sat down with her to ask some questions and get her POV after a half-decade working full-time on the squad. Enjoy.

How did your journey with Sircle Media begin?

My journey here began back in December 2013, as an intern during my senior year of college. CRAZY!!! Two of my sorority sisters worked for Sircle and they had asked if I wanted to start an internship. I said yes with no hesitation and started as a remote intern. Adam later asked if I wanted to continue interning post-grad, and of course, I said yes as I truly loved what I was doing and wanted to continue to be a part of it!  I continued to intern for a few months in the office, then started working part-time for a short stint and eventually moved up to full-time on January 5th, 2015. The rest is history!

What have been some of your biggest milestones while working at Sircle?

In college, I was a dual concentration in Graphic Design and Photography.  Early on though, there wasn’t much need for a photographer at Sircle because it was much more about graphics. As a result, I began here as a Graphic Design intern and never really touched a camera. So I would say my biggest milestone, was when we moved to more reliance on taking photos and I became the first photographer for the agency. Fast forward and now we have developed a department that is one of the agency’s biggest strengths. We have grown tremendously since our early days when I used to shoot simple product shots at my desk or around NYC. Nowadays, we have a full studio, on-site photoshoots, and three more photographers working alongside me. Working my way up from intern, to part-time, to full-time and now finally to Senior Photographer, has been a series of great milestones for me.

How have you seen your skills progress over your time here?

Coming in, I was very much an abstract/film photo photographer, but at Sircle, it is mostly product photography, food/spirit photography and model/lifestyle photography. Product photography is very different than anything I had done in college or even in my free time. I had to jump right in and learn quickly and I am constantly evolving and adapting to the needs of the many clients Sircle services. We are always shooting something new so it keeps things very interesting! 

How has the company changed for the better in your 5 years?

Sircle has grown tremendously since I first started back in 2013. What was just 5 employees back then, has ballooned to 19, across multiple departments and our client list is ever-growing! I have seen quite a bit of change over the years. From coworkers to clients, to office space AND I have to say that where we are right now, is the best and strongest Sircle has ever been. I am proud to be a part of it and pumped about all that is on the horizon.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned from working with Adam?

It’s hard to narrow down the biggest lesson as I am always learning from him. This may sound cliche, but I would say Adam has taught me how to be the best employee/coworker I can be. He is always guiding us and making sure we are always putting forth our best selves with our coworkers and with our clients. We are truly a family here at Sircle and that is made possible through the foundation Adam has built and the values he instills in us each and every day.

What has been your favorite product or client to work with and why?

I would say Michter’s Whiskey has been my favorite client for sure. It’s the account I have worked on the longest and was one of the first spirit brands I’ve ever photographed. I have developed a very strong relationship with them over the years and I have even been down to Kentucky to shoot at their distillery, which was awesome. They are an amazing brand and I love helping them tell their story.

What do you look forward to in the future at Sircle Media?

There are SO many things I am looking forward to. Mainly, our ever-growing team and new coworkers I get to crush life with every day. I am excited to continue to meet and shoot for new clients and products and further develop my skills. This year I am focused on expanding my management skills and growing my department, so that should be a rewarding challenge.

I’m excited to watch this company continue to grow and to know that am such an integral part of that progress. I’m so grateful to be a part of an amazing team and company!

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OMG! – Magnesium is magnificent!

When launching with a new client at Sircle Media, we make sure to focus our efforts on developing a strong foundation for success. When a brand starts out with little to no social media presence, it’s important to be very strategic in your efforts early on. This might include promoting e-commerce, partnering with large brands for giveaways, or striking up relationships with genuine, like-minded influencers.

One thing we see, especially in the CPG space, is that many influencers love to promote products that support a healthy diet and lifestyle. If you have a great product, that solves a real need, many influencers are willing to present it to their followers because they truly believe in it. This is gold for a brand that is truly functional and provides real benefits.

Recently we launched with OMG! Nutrition, a line of on-the-go, easy to mix vegan magnesium packets that help with a multitude of health concerns, such as stress, restless sleep, heart health, digestive concerns, immunity, bone support, nighttime cramps, and even muscle relaxation. OMG! Nutrition is also NSF Verified, meaning that their claims have been vetted by a third party. This is mission-critical with this type of product.

With supplements, it was very important we reached out to those who could speak on the validity of the product. We made sure we partnered with registered dietitians who have studied the benefits and uses of magnesium. Since it also helps with workout recovery, we wanted to partner with an influencer who could show the use of the product in their everyday life.

We eventually came across the perfect fit with @happystronghealthy.rd! Jenna is a well-respected dietitian with an online coaching business. She was the ideal influencer for this collaboration because she has the authority and qualifications to speak about OMG! Nutrition. Our partnership with Jenna started with an in-feed post using their Berry Blast product.

Her results were solid! Jenna is considered a micro-influencer because she has a smaller following, but we have found that most tend to get more engagement on their posts because they are truly connected with their audience. Jenna received 43 comments and 33 website link clicks on her first post, which is impressive.

She posted a very descriptive, well thought out caption speaking to the benefits, uses, and quality of the product and because Jenna is a dietitian, many of her followers are also dietitians, nutritionists, or those looking to improve their health. As a result, many in the health field commented on the post saying they also wanted to try OMG! Nutrition which only reinforces the value of the product to outsiders looking in the comments section.

      

Jenna was a pleasure to work with not only because she was the perfect fit for this collaboration, but because she went above and beyond to promote the product. Since her audience was our ideal target market, her followers truly appreciated her sharing OMG! Nutrition and we found some solid conversations to engage with while doing our follow up community management.

This really did provide much more depth than width, which we would argue is a better play for a product like this.  We plan to sircle back and double down on this strategy.  Stay tuned…

 

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Nowadays, Giveaways are a smart way to hack exposure!

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With Q1 2020 quickly approaching, it’s essential to take inventory of your social media strategy from 2019 and adjust where necessary. Here at Sircle Media, we’re always staying on top of social media trends and making awareness, consideration, and trial the top priorities for our clients.

In 2019, giveaways were a surefire way to help increase followers and awareness among niche audiences, especially when collaborating with multiple brands.  If you strictly want eyeballs on your packaging and/or some usage cases, then side by side collaborations with likeminded brands remain a smart, and low-cost play.  The rub though with some of these collaborations is that users will often only follow the brands involved in order to receive a prize, rather than turn into a true fan of the product. This leads to a drop in followers after the giveaway has closed.

I would argue that this is ok and a byproduct of the strategy, as long as you got views on your solid content showcasing your product. BONUS: you picked a winner that is likely someone from your core target demo and you got the product into their home. If the product is good, repeat trial is likely. Also, all of the losers give your social media manager some targets to strike up a dialogue with and see if he/she can convert them with community management and/or surprise and delight tactics, such as delivery of coupons/discount codes, etc.

In 2020, take your giveaway strategy a bit deeper, by running some self underwritten promotions with larger prizes AND even include a CTA to one of your primary sales channels. To that end, recently, one of our clients, Energice, a line of vitamin-infused frozen hydration pops, held a giveaway where the prompt was to follow the Energice account for a chance to win a “40 Energice variety pack” and a $50 Dick’s Sporting Goods gift card.

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Energice is an attractive product for professional athletes and active individuals in general. Their pops have an isotonic formula of electrolytes, B vitamins, and potassium for peak performance. Energice is sold through their website, Amazon, and at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

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The Dick’s Sporting Goods $50 gift card was the ideal add on prize for this giveaway, considering it is:

1. The retailer at which the product is sold, and we created awareness around the partnership.

2. A relationship we really want to protect and grow.

2. Where Energice’s core target audience loves to shop and gives them a prize they can cash in on, above and beyond our client’s product.

All of the above made the giveaway extremely attractive to the exact target audience they wanted to speak with.

Rather than boosting this giveaway through The Facebook Ads Manager which we traditionally use, we boosted it through the Instagram App which has the button “View Profile”, making it even easier for Instagram users to find the Energice page. It also helps pad vanity metrics a bit, in the feed which helps incentivize others to join in.

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The results of this giveaway were favorable for the brand. First off, Energice received 400 new followers (not my most important KPI, but one the brand cares about nonetheless), and we only targeted new eyeballs, which means these are new prospects for the brand.  While they clearly didn’t follow the full instructions (the first ask was to LIKE the post and only 95 people did) it still earned a nice amount of impressions and significant comments. It also was a great advertisement for our shelf space at Dick’s and is a solid show of partnership for their salespeople to share with the buyer.

In 2020 it is important to get a little more creative with these exposure hacks, especially as Facebook and Instagram Ads will start to increase in price as the Presidential election draws near. Id recommend everybody consider, multi-brand, dual-brand, self-run, influencer supported and some retailer focused collaborations in the first quarter. Get out there and make it happen!

 

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Sircle Squad Intern: Claire

Name: Claire Anzalone

Hometown: I hail from the land of Austin, Texas.

University and Major: I attended Austin Community College to major in 2D animation!

Year: I graduated in spring 2019.

Favorite Movie/Book: My Favorite Movie is currently Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. I love the combination of 3D and 2D animation in this movie, and the uniqueness it creates.

Beach or Forest?: I would choose the Forest. I love the scenery and all the different animals that you can find!

Why Sircle Media?: I chose Sircle Media because I thought it would be great experience to learn how motion graphics are done for social media.

What is one social media skill or topic you’ve been working on during your internship?: Creating entertaining and informing videos for Instagram posts.

What is one skill or topic you hope to learn more about?: I’d love to learn more about effects on After Effects, and the possibilities they offer.

Favorite client to work on?: Currently, my favorite client to work on is Rethink. I love drawing and coloring their characters and animating their products.

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Influencers provide eyeballs and content, but do they produce revenue?

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Creating memorable content is so important when trying to convey to a user how your product might perform. When it comes to food, performance is best conveyed through taste and usage cases, such as recipes. Influencers are an excellent resource to rely on for compelling content, especially since they are the ultimate customer and can convey a more authentic narrative to other users and potential buyers of your product.

When it comes to influencers, we think some are great for influence (providing eyeballs) and some are great for content (food stylists and/or photographers) and the best ones provide both. The truly special partners are those who are judicious in their brand selection and therefore are deemed more reliable than others who seemingly date a different brand every day. These ingredients (pun intended) are what makes Ashley Cuoco (@ashcuoco) one of the best in the game. You cant overuse her because she is selective and ultra-authentic, but when you have a good pairing, as we do with our client Mutti, you have a truly special partnership.

Not only has she produced wonderful content and exposed their brand to other impassioned foodies on Instagram, but it has also opened up a number of great opportunities to have a conversation within the comments.  While community management is the least sexy component of social media, it is probably the most important. Remember, that this is an uncontrolled communications medium and you want to engage in a dialogue with consumers. This is what makes it “social” in the first place and differentiates the efforts from traditional, controlled media, such as PR and branding. Having a true fan of your brand as your influencer partner activates solid word of mouth activity and can directly lead to new business.

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Some brands sleep on the comments and are even completely unresponsive at times. They are happy (sometimes) with the awareness and/or the photo they received, but ironically it is the comments that will most likely lead to actual sales. All brands want to see increases in revenue and that’s why our team pays close attention to the comments section – it’s where the business happens.

We see this especially when a brand works with an influencer that people actually respect and are influenced by. When they post about your product it will often directly lead to questions such as “where can I find this?” or “what are the ingredients?” These are literal buying questions and give you the opportunity for a sale right then and there. Rather than telling and selling, you are responding and facilitating. This is a much better position to be in for a brand.

Below you can see an example of this in action. In May, Ashley posted about a Tomato Confit recipe using Mutti’s Canned Tomatoes. The asset was beautiful and it opened up a dialogue with various users.

Another micro-influencer, @gatherweekly, commented on Ashley’s post and the influencer and brand both responded quickly and provided ways to secure the product through various distribution channels. This is excellent ammunition for the client’s salespeople, especially in retail, to showcase demand.

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The lesson here is that you should be working with authentic influencers that can provide you with both content and influence. If you do, it is then mission-critical to be in the weeds on the comments on both their profile and your own. Marketers are obsessed with scale and volume metrics (like impressions and reach) as well as ROAS analytics (Spent X and made Y) but these types of small ball activities are perhaps the most valuable and underrated. We spend quite a bit of time here for our clients and although it is a lot of work, it is certainly worth it.

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Boost Brand Awareness with Facebook’s CBO!

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Over time, we’ve seen organic reach become non-existent on social. These days it really is a paid social ecosystem and if you know what you are doing and you are committed to testing and experimenting it can bear a lot of fruit. Not only do you want your product in front of new eyes, but you want your product in front of the right eyes.

Creating your own, solid branded content is important and while it doesn’t need to be your entire diet (we actually believe it should be about 50-60% of your content mix) it should be a significant portion of it. Once made, if you want that content to be seen you need to pay to make that happen. Then, when you boost content, you need to target the right audience for better results.

That’s why we’ve been utilizing Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO) within the Facebook Ad Platform. CBO takes your top audiences and puts dollars behind posts that perform the best organically. CBO creates higher reach, engagement, and even follows.

In order to utilize CBO to its fullest, boosted posts should be high quality and have engaging captions so your target audience is as responsive as possible. This is one of the many reasons we believe in investing in quality content as well as experimentation. You want to make sure the asset is powerful so that if it does get seen, it is memorable and then you also need to try out different tactics to see what resonates. It is very important to not just sit back and play it safe.

One of our clients, Driftwood Jeans, is a unique denim line with chic embroideries that has been seeing incredible results from CBO. For the past few months, we’ve been experimenting with this tactic on many of their posts. First, we created four audiences to be assigned to Driftwood’s top-performing organic posts. Facebook then pushes funds to whichever audience AND post perform best. Then, at the beginning of each month, we swap out those audiences and continue experimenting with new ones.

We created a specific audience, one of many that we have created for this client, (that we cannot share here) that has really stood out. Then, CBO paired it with one of our PFC (Product Front and Center) video posts.

This was an engaging video and had an interactive caption. Because the post was also targeted to the perfect audience, we saw 568 likes, 32 comments, and most importantly, 24,956 video views. For a nominal investment, this asset packed quite a punch!

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Organic reach is nearly zero and less relevant than ever before. It is so important to have someone on your side that is well versed in paid social and not just acquisition experts looking for the best possible ROAS. If you are in the social media game, then you need to be creating content at scale, experimenting with different types, styles, cadence, and captions and then putting funds behind guaranteed delivery of that content to a variety of audiences.  If you stay the course and use tools such as CBO, then sometimes things catch fire.

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Sircle Squad Intern: D-Jai

Name: D-Jai Kosiyabong

Hometown: Bangkok, Thailand.

University and Major: Pratt Institute, Majoring in Photography with a double minor in Psychology and Art History.

Year: Senior

Favorite Move/Book?: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Beach or Forest?: Definitely forest!

Why Sircle Media?: I just love the way Sircle creates such innovative and compelling content. I also really like our work environment and how everyone is super communicative and how we are given solid feedback about our work. I was really surprised how much trust they put in the interns and how on my first day I was able to shoot with them. The amazing environment and amount of trust are really what makes Sircle such a good place to work!

What is one social media skill or topic you’ve been working on during your internship?: I’ve been working on honing my skills when it comes to retouching and how to edit packaging in a certain way. Jenna and Ticha have really given me such good feedback and have taught me tips and tricks in order to save time and make the end result great.

What is one skill or topic you hope to learn more about?: I am hoping to learn more about how to talk and communicate with clients!

Favorite client to work on?: There are so many! But right now, it would have to be Terra Origin!

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Sircle Squad Intern: Cameron

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Name: Cameron Scotland

Hometown: Brooklyn

University and Major: CUNY New York City College of Technology / Communication Design

Year: Third Year Student

Most Likely To?: Most likely to laugh at a bad joke

Why Sircle Media?: I wanted hands-on work experience and an opportunity to build my portfolio, and Sircle Media looked perfect for that. So far I have done quite a bit of work and seeing it go live on a client’s social network has felt very rewarding!

What is one social media skill or topic you’ve been working on during your internship?: Creating templates for my work when I have the opportunity to is something I’ve been doing; It’s helped guide me, and also allow me to work more efficiently all while keeping client’s content cohesive

What is one skill or topic you hope to learn more about?: One skill/topic I want to learn more about is rebranding

Favorite client to work on?: TravelStore has been my favorite client to work on, I’ve been doing a lot of graphics for them!

 

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