Instagram Giveaways During The COVID-19 Pandemic

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Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many brands have found themselves asking the same question: How can we give back to front-line workers and followers while continuing our efforts for increased exposure and awareness? The past few months have been a crucial time for brands to pair together with an overarching theme of giving back. Whether that is to nurses and doctors, the immunocompromised, or just their hard-hit fans and followers, brand collaborations have been an excellent tool to do so.

We have urged our clients to use this time to create giveaways with strategic partners while emphasizing the importance of work done by front line workers. To that end, various clients have created giveaways in an individualized way that makes sense for how they are giving back.

In order to successfully engage with audience members while conducting giveaways, you must identify your theme, pair with brands who share a similar message and add an interactive tactic for entering the giveaway. In addition, it is important that the asset featured for the giveaway is eye-catching. Bright colors, bold words, and/or animation are all successful tactics to draw in audience members.

Here are some ways Sircle Media clients have successfully engaged audiences with the use of giveaways:

1. Pair with brands that share your message

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One of our clients, Urban Remedy, an organic plant-based company, paired with other local wellness brands for their giveaway to highlight the importance of at-home wellness during the global pandemic. This is a great way to be very timely (we are all locked away at home), to give back to followers and to promote brands with a similar ethos and target audience.

2. Use a giveaway image that showcases the overall theme

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Playing ion a similar theme, but from a different angle, Positive Beverage recently conducted a giveaway with the focus of “packing your bags for a much-needed getaway”. The giveaway image had bright colors and clearly showcased all products featured around a large suitcase. This emphasizes the theme of a weekend getaway while promoting the various brands that were featured in the giveaway post. In addition, the main cost of entry was to enter your email on a landing page, which resulted in +1,000 emails for all of the participating brands to use at their discretion.

3. Use interactive tactics to engage audience members

Ithaca Hummus, makers of the most delicious and creative hummus, wanted to specifically highlight front-line nurses in their giveaway for Nurse’s Day. Their giveaway allowed users to nominate their favorite nurse as part of their entry requirement, in addition to following each brand featured. The personal aspect of this giveaway allowed followers to show appreciation to the nurses in their lives and teeing up a chance for their nominee to win this awesome package of prizes from some very well known brands. Knowing that many brands were interested in giving back in this type of way, we were able to contact bigger brands that would help accelerate this more than any normal giveaway and we received unanimous participation from all of the brands we asked.

Now is a great time for companies to utilize giveaways to promote their brand and their overall message while also doing some good, during a dark time. If you want to collaborate with any of our brands, just hit us up at hello@sircle.me and we can put one in motion right away!

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Put Product Front and Center With Simple Motion Graphics!

During this global pandemic we find ourselves in, there are more eyeballs on social media than ever before. With “stay at home” orders being the new normal, consumers are inside and are looking to social networks as a form of entertainment to fill their time. It is also very clear, that since they cannot go shopping at stores, they are buying right from their phones and computers more frequently too.

At the moment, many aspects of life are uncertain, but Q2 can be a great time to advance your social media game and take strides toward expanding awareness around your brand. At Sircle, we’re doing this by creating very simple animations that focus on our clients’ packaging and branding. Brands sometimes get too cute with their content and forget to showcase the most important component, their actual product IN PACKAGE.

If you want to create awareness, consideration, and trial then you must be putting brand packaging front and center in your content plan. Even though someone might scroll past your post, your packaging will be the first thing a user sees and remembers, and they’ll be more inclined to purchase in the future when feeling familiar with your brand. In addition, video tends to gain more reach than static-posts, so they pack a bigger punch on both the organic and paid fronts.

Here are some ways we’ve implemented simple animation while focusing on packaging:

  1. Show off brand packaging while also highlighting key ingredients:

For one of our clients, Uplift Food, a line of feel-good probiotic and prebiotic products, animation that highlights ingredients is key. Showing the ingredients in these simple animations is a great way to showcase your product with eye-catching (and scroll stopping) colors and explain the benefits and/or ingredients that set you apart from the rest.

  1. Highlight deals and promos using branding as the focal point:

 

Another one of our clients, Urban Remedy, a line of organic, plant-based meals and drinks, has made use of simple animation for highlighting promotions. In this particular post, they presented a free delivery promo with their branding and products surrounding text. This is a great way to not only tell potential customers what they’re ordering but show them as well!

  1. Use stop motion to draw the viewer’s eye into your packaging:

 

Our client Ithaca Hummus, a line of all-natural hummus, has made great use of simple stop-motion for creating attention around a specific SKU. We focused on the hero ingredient and implied fresh taste with the use of the lemons. This is a key differentiator for this special brand, in a crowded category.  Stop motion is a great way to catch someone’s attention, and draw a user’s eye to the branding.

Now is a great time to get packaging in front of as many people as possible with consumption at an all-time high and CPM’s on paid social at an all-time low.  Using motion graphics is a smart way to get more reach and awareness and also leave a lasting brand impression on consumers and prospects. That is is just smart social media management.

 

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Testimonials = An Effective Win for Q2!

This is a very unique time to be alive, let alone run a marketing and communications strategy for a brand. Though we’re living in uncertain times, studies have shown that social networks have seen increased usage and engagement across the board, as most Americans and bunkered down at home.

Right now, more eyes are on social than ever before and people are doing most of their product discovery online and at home rather than in-store. This means brands really need to hone in on their key marketing messages, including their USPs and their testimonials. Right now, what others say about your brand will be mission-critical in helping facilitate sales. One tactic we’ve found to be very successful of late is using more testimonials in-feed on Instagram. They provide a great vehicle to showcase the usage of a product by real customers and more importantly, to convey their sentiment and experience to new potential prospects.

At Sircle we’re constantly creating new ways to gather and present this content on our clients’ social platforms. Here are some ways we’ve done it:

1. Make testimonials an entry for a self-run giveaway:

         

Recently one of our clients, Ithaca Hummus, created a self-run giveaway using a video testimonial as one of the forms of entry to win a case of hummus along with some branded swag! Our design team then takes quotes from those video testimonials and turns them into eye-catching graphics. This is a great way to get your fans and followers more involved while creating outstanding content at the same time.

2. Create a #TestimonialTuesday in-feed to share customer feedback:

Bare Bones Broth, a line of Keto and paleo-friendly, Non-GMO bone broth, has made use of testimonials by creating a reoccurring #TestimonialTuesday & tagline “What People Are Saying” on their feed. Using bright colors and bold text is a great way to capture attention and to stand out from the clutter when users are scrolling through their feed.

3. Create branded Twitter/Instagram testimonials:

Another one of our clients, Buff Bake, a line of better-for-you protein cookies, plant-based protein bars, and protein powder, has seen solid engagement on branded testimonials from their fans. This is a great way to repurpose positive comments and feedback that already exists on social, by simply adding your logo as a backdrop. It makes for a very simple graphic that can have positive results, from minimum input.

4. Share customer testimonials that include product usage:

This longer-form testimonial posted by our client Truth Nutrition, a line of all-natural, vegan pre-workout, has bright coloring, clearly shows the product, and explains how the product is used. This type of testimonial not only informs your audience but also shares positive customer feedback in the process. It truly paints the picture for your prospects.

 5. Just get out there and ask for positive feedback from your customers:

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We like to practice what we preach and often include our customer testimonials in our own content. It helps humanize the experience AND paints a picture of how it might be when others experience your brand too. Make sure that picture is a positive one!

Q2 of 2020 will be a very interesting time, to say the least, and it is important to connect with customers and fans as much as possible. Not only does it help convert new consumers from consideration to trail, but it also fosters a sense of community when you share their feedback on your channels. These simple pieces of content pack quite a punch.

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Don’t Overlook The Power of a Self-Run Giveaway!

Social media is a vehicle to engage in conversations with customers and prospects. There are a number of different ways for brands to strike up a dialogue and some are more simple than others. One low input/high upside tactic is deploying giveaways.

The most common kinds are multi-brand giveaways with two or more brands pairing together to combine their audiences for optimal reach and awareness, as well as vanity metrics such as follows and likes on a post. While this giveaway tactic is a proven winner, it isn’t the only way to go about it. If you have a full strategy in place, including paid social, targeting and solid prizes, a self-run giveaway can be highly effective too.

One of our clients, @lovegracejuice, a line of gourmet and GMO-free juices, smoothies, and elixirs ran four different self-run giveaways throughout the month of January. The prize was a cleanse package, which comes with a significant price tag and therefore more of a CTA than most.  As you know, January is a time of healthy resolutions, many of which don’t always stick. To appeal to Love Grace’s target audience of health-conscious individuals, we ran a juice-cleanse giveaway each week to keep that motivation up throughout the month! This giveaway resonated extremely well with our target sets and earned an average of 300+ comments per post.

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The client also wanted to start harvesting more emails for ongoing marketing purposes. To that end, we made it that the cost of entry was to enter an email on a separate landing page. We earned over 1,000 link clicks to the Love Grace landing page and a ton of new emails. On top of that, it generated a retargeting audience of website visitors and a lookalike audience of that group too, that we can now market to in the future,

To ensure delivery of a promotion like this, you need to invest dollars into Facebook and Instagram Ads. The intent of these should be link clicks (drive traffic to the landing page) and not just awareness (impressions). An ancillary benefit of boosting this giveaway was an uptick in actual web sales for January.  Who doesn’t like revenue? ;)

You need to take action to produce action. A well thought out self-run giveaway is entirely in your control and the awareness is all about you and your brand, with no Costar. It only makes sense though, if you know what success looks like upfront and then put all of the pieces in place to maximize that result.

Once you find a winner, double down and run it back!

 

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Instagram Saves Are All The Rage!

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Social networks are never static and always changing. Adjustments are constantly being to create a more impactful and user-friendly platform and if you are a professional in the space, you need to be fast and adjust with the times swiftly. In recent months Instagram has been testing out hiding likes as a way to improve the experience and devalue a vanity metric, which they found was having a negative influence on people.

We are big believers that like and follower counts are irrelevant, especially in a paid social-first environment, so this is a welcomed change. We care more about the consumption of content than how many people follow you, many of whom don’t see your posts in a nearly zero organic reach world. With the hiding of likes, one success metric a brand or business can hang their hat on is how many saves a post receives. Instagram saves are a part of the Instagram algorithm, meaning that the more saves a post receives, the more people will see it in their feed. Also, those users who already saved a post, are more likely to see that content more than 1X, which is great from an “awareness and consideration” POV.

As we started to see the positive impact of saves, we began shifting our tactics for clients right away. One early winner is creating a requirement to save a post in order to enter a brand giveaway! Most giveaways have rules to enter, one of them usually being “like this post”. We would argue that a save goes a bit deeper, as it is still one click, but it also curates that post for potential future consumption.

Recently, in order to rack up those saves, one of our clients, Bare Bones Broth, a line of all organic Bone Broth soups and collagen, participated in a multi-brand giveaway with three other brands, making the cost of entry to save or “bookmark” the post! The giveaway was Whole30 themed in order to help users get a jump start on the January Whole30 diet. We capitalized on a very popular trend (dieting or “cleaning up” to start the year) and found great partners to align with, which in turn helped us increase and improve the value of the prize for the winners. See below:

The results exceeded our expectations! The giveaway received 938 comments,10,415 impressions, 755 likes (yes, those are still in effect) and over 150 saves. That last metric is key as this is an excellent algorithm builder and because this group is very niche, it is highly likely that they will go back and reference the saved asset, as they think about maintaining their diet throughout the year and want to recall some of these awesome Whole30 approved brands.

With social media, you must be paying attention to platform moves, making informed decisions on how to adjust & react and then always be testing. SAVE this post as a reminder! ;)

 

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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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