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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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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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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Truth Nutrition X @Stellathelight = Influencer Collaboration Success!

When a great brand and influencer pair together, what you see are quick results. Recently one of our clients, Truth Nutrition, an all natural, vegan pre-workout supplement, and influencer @stellathelight, came together for an epic giveaway collaboration.

 Stella, who is a plant-based health coach and fitness enthusiast, was not only a perfect fit for our client, but was also a positive, and professional partner. For the giveaway, Stella was asked to create a post promoting Truth Nutrition’s Vegan BCCA and she truly exceeded our expectations!

Instead of a simple in-feed post for the giveaway, Stella stepped it up and created a well-directed video showing how she incorporates Truth Nutrition into her diet and in the caption, explained all of the benefits of the product. Her motivation to do a stellar job for the giveaway showed that she is a hard-working partner, and someone we’d like to collaborate with in the future.


Not only did Stella provide excellent feedback and create good quality work, but it also produced great results! Our client saw an uptick of 200 followers, which is significant for an unknown brand and from a single post. This giveaway also earned a reach of 16,861 users and 397 profile visits which represents some solid visibility. The fact that she presented it in a fun and simple usage case, made that even more impactful. This served as an excellent advertisement for how and when to use the product. = Win!

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Because Instagram is now saturated with influencers, it has become more and more difficult to find partners who will settle on a reasonable and accurate market price and also provide very solid work. Sircle is always on the hunt for value plays in this arena and this partnership with @stellathelight provided just that. We will most certainly be working with her again!

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Stop, Collaborate & Listen!

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Over the years we have managed countless examples of successful collaborations between like-minded brands. They are proven winners with regards to improved awareness, increased followers/reach/email captures and they just really add to and augment overall metrics for a brand’s social strategy.

One of the most common ways for brands to collaborate is through a giveaway. The most common formula we like to deploy is to have two or more brands give a prize to a random winner who follows all brands included, leaves a comment on the giveaway post, and tags a friend in the comments. This alone immediately increases followers, engagement, and reach.

Sometimes we will loop in an additional brand that might be outside of the vertical but still appeal to a similar consumer. Just this week, one of our clients, Simply Tera’s, a line of organic and deliciously flavored whey and plant-based protein powder, teamed up with well-known healthy CPG brand Carrington Farms, as well as the outdoor equipment brand Yeti, for an epic giveaway.

The giveaway offered a prize of Simply’s Tera’s Chocolate Organic Whey Protein, Carrington Farms’ Coconut Oil Go Packs, and a Yeti insulated mug to create the perfect cup of joe for #NationalCoffeeDay, a popular social media-based “holiday.”  These types of days add extra juice to collaborations because the hashtag is trending and there is already a conversation around it. Add in a nice piece of creative and a solid prize and you have a winning formula.

Tera’s was acquired by Carrington Farms, back in March of 2018 and became a Sircle client soon after. As a way to grow each brand’s following and pair the two together in the minds of consumers, they began partnering in a series of collabs in June of this year.

Not only was it important to cross-pollinate a bit, but it was just as important to appeal to new audiences too. To help with this, we decided to loop in a 3rd brand in each giveaway to guarantee even more reach and engagement among new eyeballs.

The first giveaway launched in June with a Keto theme, which included a prize of Tera’s Simply Whey Vanilla Protein, Carrington Farms MCT Liquid Coconut Oil, and a sampler pack of the delicious Keto Bars.

The giveaway received an uptick in 100+ followers with extremely high engagement on all brands’ posts.

Their next collaboration launched in July and featured the popular blender brand, Ninja. The collaboration included a smoothie bowl recipe using Tera’s and Carrington’s products, and a blender included as an extra incentive! This giveaway was posted on July 10th and ran until the end of the month, creating a longer-runway for entries. When giveaways run for a longer period of time, there’s even more opportunity to advertise the giveaway through Stories, paid social, email and WOM, which affords users more time and entry points, to follow all brands, engage and enter! Running this longer giveaway created an influx of 200 new followers throughout the month.

Our team has mastered the art of a successful giveaway and to do so you need to double down on the tried and true, while also always be willing to experiment with the new. When collaborating, it’s important to think outside the box and create giveaways you believe your audience will love. Try to pair with like-minded brands, create assets that are compelling (VERY IMPORTANT) and make sure you’re promoting your giveaways via as many tactics as you can to improve your results.

If any brand wants to collaborate, we are all ears!

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Creating a Community With Facebook Groups

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At Sircle Media, we believe in three key categories for a successful social media strategy; content, engagement, and growth. Engagement is often the least focused on, but we believe it is the most important of the three pillars.  The whole point of social media is to be just that, social. You need to post content with the hopes of striking up a conversation and then be ready to continue the dialogue when a person takes action. When you actively respond to comments, customer concerns, etc., you show your customers you care about creating a relationship based on trust and respect.

A great way to foster a community is with Facebook Groups. In 2018, the new Facebook algorithm made groups more noticeable on the feed. Nowadays, Facebook Groups operate more like fan pages did a few years ago and they offer the only real organic opportunities on the social network. If you create a group that is properly centered around your brand and what it stands for, you give users the opportunity to move from loyalty to advocacy. You do this by sharing experiences, giving customer support, testing products and services, generating feedback from group users, and much, much more. These groups give you the opportunity to showcase your expertise and display dedication to your customers.

Here are some best practices that we found worked best for our client, Rethink Water, when we created their Facebook Group, called Project MOM-entum. This is where brand ambassadors share photos of their children drinking Rethink and then take part in a small, but active community of like-minded parents.

Facebook Group Best Practices

Give your group a catchy and effective name

Choosing the right name is one of the most important steps when creating your Facebook Group. Make sure your group name reflects the people who will be engaging with it every day.

Define the What and the Who of your group.

What is it?: A community? A hangout? A support group?

Who is it for?: Fitness experts? Personal trainers? Dietitians?

Make sure to include keywords geared towards your niche audience, because Facebook acts almost like a search engine with this. For Rethink, we decided to name their group Project MOM-entum that would be a place for moms to come and share content and stories about their favorite topic, their kids!

Understand your target audience 

What are they passionate about? What do they have in common? What are their goals, dreams, and aspirations? What would make them feel like they’re part of a community? Knowing all of this early on will help guide you when posting and engaging with your group members. Make them feel like the group is about THEM.

Engage as frequently as possible 

It’s not enough to just know who your audience is, but you also need to give them attention and show that you care. Answer customer questions, generate feedback and improve the customer experience every day.

Post your best content 

Yes, a Facebook Group is a community, but it can also be a visual platform. Not only should you post your own “best-of” content to start a discussion, but you can also collect user-generated content from your group members and share, share, share.

Push the community agenda 

Make sure that your customers, influencers, brand ambassadors and even new prospects know about the group. Don’t be shy about spreading the word and then make sure to add value to your members so they feel compelled to do the same. You want people to want to be insiders and then partake as much as possible.

The goal is here is more about depth than width. Meaning you want to harvest real loyalists, more than just focusing on boosting vanity metrics. It isn’t about maximum members, but more about highly engaged members.

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#TastesSoFresh: A Mutti Pomodoro Influencer Success Story!

At Sircle we believe influencer marketing is a must-have component of your social media strategy. One of the best ways to generate exposure for your brand is working with influencers on a calculated social marketing plan. Last October, one of our long-time clients Mutti Pomodoro, launched their #TastesSoFresh campaign. Mutti worked with 16 foodie influencers who authentically paired very well with the brand to promote the freshness of their finely chopped tomatoes.

Mutti Pomodoro is a Parma-based company that produces 100% Italian grown and produced, non-GMO tomatoes in a variety of forms. Mutti is the self-proclaimed guardian of authentic Italian tomatoes and honors a rich history while investing in innovation and leading sustainability practices. When finding influencers for a brand like Mutti Pomodoro, it’s important to search for those who are interested in creating delicious recipes and can genuinely speak about why their products taste so amazing.

The foodie influencers we carefully selected for the campaign shared videos of themselves eating their freshly chopped tomatoes straight from the can. Not only did this create great exposure for the product, but also gave them excellent user-generated content for their Instagram Stories and feed. This plan, therefore, nailed each of Sircle’s core pillars; growth (followers, impressions, reach and emails), engagement (captions, comments and lots of buzz from influencer followers) and content (really nice, influencer produced UGC).

Because Mutti is a very traditional brand, it can seem a bit more difficult to make their campaigns seem trendy in a social media space. That’s why searching for the most compatible influencers such as @madelinemhall, and @meatballssmama was essential for this niche brand. What is unique about working with true foodie influencers, is that many of them never show their faces in their posts. Once we found influencers that truly resonated with what our client is all about and got them to actually try the product, nearly all of them showed their faces in their posts. This is significant, as it assigns a deeper stamp of approval from these tastemakers AND it ties in nicely with Mutti’s marketing philosophy, which is that it is about the “chefs” as well as the food. If you love to cook and use great products, this really is the brand for you. This came across well thru this campaign.

Throughout the #TastesSoFresh campaign, we posted an influencer regram every two days to keep the buzz and momentum going and to show that Mutti tomatoes are perfect just the way they are; just tomatoes and salt. Once all of the influencers posted their videos, Mutti created a compilation video to send to email subscribers, creating even more exposure and interest in the product and helping create excitement among their growing community.

This campaign was a huge success and didn’t require a big financial commitment. It was more about hustle, finding good, smart partners and believing in our client’s awesome product(s). We will be running something similar back in the coming months, so be sure to go and check out Mutti and keep an eye out.

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