Uplift Food + Influencer Blocking and Tackling Work = Success!

Influencers help move product, plain and simple.  Statistics show that 49% of consumers rely on influencers for product recommendations, while 40% of consumers say they purchase products or services after seeing them on Instagram, Twitter, or Youtube.

Because influencer marketing has become one of the main ways for brands to reach new audiences, 59% of marketers plan to increase their use of influencers. Here at Sircle Media, we believe deeply in the benefits of not just influencer marketing, but meaningful influencer partnerships that take things a bit deeper than one time collaborations.

Creating authentic, long-term partnerships with influencers fosters trust between a brand and consumers. When an influencer truly believes in your brand, their followers will believe in it too, especially when the influencer is authentic and true to themselves. This makes selecting the right ones, very important. It might seem like a daunting task, especially when a company is young and might be new to the social media game; though there are certain tactics a brand can use to implement long-term partnerships early on.

One of our clients, Uplift Food, has recently begun to deploy paid partnerships with true believers in their product. They focus on gut nourishing, prebiotic fiber with vitamin D and magnesium to help boost your mood. Uplift was founded by well known Registered Dietitian named Kara Landau, also known as @thetravelingdietitian. She was adamant about only working with fans and consumers and not just empty paid partnerships with people who dont use her product or believe in the company.

One of the strategies Uplift has used for creating influencer relationships is gifting in exchange for recipe posts. This is when newer or smaller brands pitch influencers that they trust will resonate with their product. An influencer then agrees to create a post featuring the product, and the hope is that when they discover that they love it, they continue to post with it because they truly believe in the benefits. Gifting can create incredible ROI, and in Uplift’s case, will also provide great user-generated recipes and content to use for their blog and Instagram account.

Because Uplift prides itself on the mood-boosting aspect of their product, on their feed you’ll find smiling faces of soon-to-be Registered Dietitians, health coaches, foodies, nutritionists, etc. With Uplift being a newer brand, we’ve found micro-influencers to be extremely beneficial. Micro-influencers (between 1-10K followers) might have a smaller following, but typically have much more engagement, and cost less, when it comes to paying for posts/endorsements of a product. Working with micro-influencers, when they have a smaller following allows partnerships to be more authentic. Not only have we been able to see success with these followers, but we have been able to make meaningful connections with them. The founder, Kara is in personal contact with all of these influencers and enjoys getting to know each of them to create a community.

When reaching out to micro-influencers for Uplift, we found success with college students studying nutrition, or soon-to-be Dietitians. We chose this specific audience to work with because they are the up-and-coming experts in this field and love to educate themselves on proper diet and nutrition. With a Founder like Kara in tow, we are one step ahead of the competition, because she is a rock star in this space.

One micro-influencer that we have seen great success with is the incredible Hannah, also known as @wholesomely_hannah. Hannah is studying food science at Penn State and loves all things health and wellness related. Her feed is loaded with recipes from sweet to savory. Back in April, we gifted her a bag of our product and asked her to give it a try. At the time, Hannah was studying the microbiome, so Uplift really resonated with her. After creating her first recipe, she absolutely loved the product! About a month later, she created an in-feed recipe post including the Uplift powder.

As Hannah continued to make delicious recipes using Uplift in her Stories and feed, our relationship grew, and she even created a testimonial video explaining how much she loves the product.

Another great example of the success that comes from gifting influencers is our partnership with @paiges_plates! Paige is a recent graduate of the Dietetics program at the University of Delaware and has just started the next step in her journey to becoming a Registered Dietitian at Rutgers University. Like Hannah’s, Paige’s feed is full of delicious recipes. For some time, Paige has followed and seen great success with the F-Factor diet which emphasizes the use of fiber, making her the perfect spokesperson for Uplift. Because we saw great success with Paige’s recipe posts and because she loves the product, we decided to do a giveaway for Memorial Day.

As our relationship grew, she also created a testimonial video explaining how much she loves Uplift. This was an unsolicited asset and one that helped us both. Not only has Paige enjoyed the functionality of Uplift, but being able to post about the product has helped grow her portfolio as a future RD. Win-Win!

Another successful influencer marketing tactic that brands utilize are long-term paid partnerships. In Uplift’s case, one of our new and paid long-term partnerships with Krista, also known as @frozen_bananas_, began as a gifted, unpaid partnership. Krista also makes mouthwatering recipes on both Instagram and her blog.

Krista’s first post was a delicious Peanut Butter Cup recipe using Uplift. The recipe was well-received by her audience, and she continued to use Uplift in many more of her posts and Stories. When we first started working with Krista, she was considered a micro-influencer but has grown over time to 13.9K followers. As her page gained momentum, we thought she would be the perfect influencer to begin a long-term paid partnership with.

Long-term partnerships create more visibility and authentic, meaningful relationships between an influencer and brand. In addition to creating meaningful relationships with influencers, Uplift loves to make connections with followers of those influencers by engaging consistently with their posts. We do that heavy lifting for our clients to make sure they stay engaged in those conversations.

When recipe maker Nicole, also known as @lashesandlemons, posted a recipe including the Uplift powder at the beginning of August, we made sure to engage with every earned comment from her followers. Following up with potential customers shows that you truly care about your relationships and want to develop a community. The whole point of social!

While Uplift is still a young and relatively unknown brand, they are playing the game right and have a lot of exciting stuff on the horizon. Our influencer partners and their followers will certainly be the first to know!

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Influencers: Pay them, deploy them and let them do what they do…

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I recorded a podcast episode on the Inner Sircle about working with influencers in today’s market. So many brands are missing this golden era and excellent time of opportunity by not engaging with influencers or by doing it all wrong.

First off, you should not be on the sidelines, plain and simple. Influencers represent targeted community infiltration at scale and that should be part of your mix. Find solid power users, who fit your target demo, analyze their posts, tone, energy, and community and then reach out and negotiate. Remember these are humans and often don’t know how to price themselves correctly. Most swing for the fences and unfortunately, often get their ask from PR Firms or brands that don’t counter well. As a result, they get the wrong sense of the true market. That being said, there is always room for compromise and conversation if you get in the sandbox and play the game. We find the best dollar value comes from multiple posts over many months, rather than “one and done” relationships. This happens because the human behind the Instagram profile values guaranteed recurring revenue for security.

Don’t just look at follower count, which is often BS or has a lot of fluff, that is not your target demo. We argue that you don’t even look at the quantity of engagement as this can also can be BS or just a lot of likes, that equate to nothing. Instead, find someone with fewer followers and less engagement, but who engages back with every single follower. This is someone who is creating a real bond with those users and therefore wields more influence over them. Bottomline – beware those who post but don’t engage and/or who only post staged, one-off product photos. Conversely, over-value those who really carry out on the dialogue and who integrate more with the products in their feed and Stories, like @calliegullickson did for OWYN above.

Once you do get in the game, source the right influencers and negotiate well, but don’t mess it up by trying to be too controlling over the message. Hire them for their storytelling and then let them do just that. The best example of the right way, was when Nike hired Casey Neistat to make a commercial for the #MakeitCount campaign. Rather than a big budget commercial, he and his friend Max just hit the road and went on an epic journey together to actually live the message rather than show it in a contrived way. The result was over 29million YouTube views and a campaign that went down in history as one of the best influencer engagements of all time. It doesn’t hurt that Casey is an all-time great storyteller and content legend, but worth noting this was way back in 2012 when he was not as expensive and was much less well known than he is now.  Go out and find your Casey Neistat people!

 

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