n an era where social media reigns supreme and short-form video has emerged as the king of content, Food & Beverage brands must adapt, innovate, and embrace new strategies to remain relevant and successful. TikTok, which boasts an astounding 26.5 billion views under #TikTokFood, serves as a testament to this shift, demonstrating the vast appetite for food content, not merely for entertainment but as a powerful catalyst for purchase decisions.
As a food & beverage brand, you are competing in one of the top five categories on most social media platforms, especially in the realm of short-form video. This digital transformation presents an unprecedented opportunity to tap into the pulse of your audience and promote your brand in ways that were once unimaginable.
This article will delve into three of the most compelling strategies for your brand to thrive in the social media landscape: brand-owned user-generated content (UGC), paid social video ads, and influencer marketing, with a particular focus on micro-influencers. Each strategy comes with its own set of advantages and challenges, from the organic reach of UGC and the wide net cast by paid ads to the higher click-through rates of micro-influencers.
Understanding and leveraging these strategies is no longer optional; it's the cornerstone of success in today's digital-first world. But how can you discern which strategy is right for your brand? We will explore this critical question, equipping you with the tools to navigate this new era of food marketing. Social media and its video-first platforms have transformed the marketing landscape entirely, making it the indispensable platform for promoting your food & beverage brand effectively.
Brand owned or licensed UGC is a marketing strategy where a brand creates, or commissions the creation of, user-generated content and shares it on its own social media channels. Within the context of short-form video marketing platforms such as Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, and TikTok, this approach offers a blend of authenticity and control. It allows brands to leverage the relatability and engagement of UGC while maintaining their brand narrative, tone, and aesthetics across various platforms.
Understanding your product's potential and its benefits is crucial. For instance, consider a protein-packed, dairy-free, organic snack. This product can cater to various target audiences: health enthusiasts keen on a Whole 30 diet, vegans who are dairy-free by choice, fitness buffs counting their macros, or food artisans who appreciate organic ingredients. Align your product positioning with the needs and preferences of these audiences to optimize your brand's appeal.
While maximizing reach across all short-form video platforms is beneficial, identifying the most effective platform for your content will drive engagement. Instagram is ideal for visually appealing content, TikTok is perfect for storytelling and immersive experiences, YouTube Shorts favors ASMR content, and Facebook's short-form videos tend to reach a slightly older demographic.
If you're a startup with a tight budget, consider creating UGC yourself. Maintain a regular content creation schedule, similar to a blog, aiming to post at least once a day. This hands-on approach offers valuable insights into your brand's content performance. Alternatively, if your budget allows, use platforms like Crafted to create high-performing food videos.
UGC is all about consistency. The viewership of your videos will vary, with most garnering low thousands of views, periodically hitting tens of thousands, and occasionally, hundreds of thousands. Begin with a manageable content creation pace, say, three videos a week, gradually increasing the frequency to multiple times daily.
Engage with popular trends and sounds, but ensure they align with your brand. Vanity views from trend followers may not convert into valuable customers if they don't align with your brand's niche.
Regularly evaluate and optimize your content strategy. Aim to discover which video formats and unique selling points resonate with each target audience. Develop a systematic approach for testing to ensure time and resources aren't wasted on low-performing videos.
Cost-Effectiveness: With platforms like Crafted, you can produce high-performing UGC videos for as little as $200, making it a cost-effective strategy when executed correctly.
Audience Ownership: Brand-owned UGC allows you to build and retain your audience. You control elements like link-in-bio, captions, CTAs, and can engage with your audience multiple times, taking advantage of first-touch/last-touch marketing, which refers to the first and last interaction a customer has with your brand before making a purchase.
Data Ownership: With brand-owned UGC, you own your data, providing insights into your content performance and audience demographics.
Time-Consuming: Creating UGC can be time-consuming if done in-house. Outsourcing to UGC providers like Crafted can alleviate this burden.
Limited Reach: Brand-owned UGC targets a specific niche audience associated with your profile, offering less exposure than paid ads and influencers which have wider reach.
Video ads on social media, particularly on platforms like TikTok, offer a cost-effective avenue for marketers, given their lower CPMs (Cost Per Thousand Impressions) compared to saturated platforms like Facebook Ads. This benefit comes with a catch: the necessity for high-performing video content, which presents a barrier to entry. Therefore, brands must invest in compelling, engaging video content to make the most of the ad space and capture audience attention effectively.
Video ads should be designed to blend seamlessly with the platform's regular content, making them less intrusive and more engaging. Each platform has a unique style: Instagram prefers aesthetic and branded visuals, while TikTok leans towards raw, user-generated content. Disregarding this distinction can make your ads stand out negatively, resulting in lower engagement.
With 91% of ads going unnoticed, it's crucial to grab attention immediately. Employ an intriguing hook, such as a tantalizing shot of a finished dish, an appealing personality, an emotive story, a surprising scene, or an intriguing title. This arresting start will prevent users from scrolling past your video.
Before scaling up your ad spend, test different creatives with varying messages or unique selling points across diverse audiences. For example, a plant-based vegan nugget brand could target different audiences: health-conscious parents, children who appreciate fun shapes, busy parents valuing quick meal prep, budget-conscious families, or vegans seeking quality meat alternatives. Focus on different segments of the ad creative, the ad copy, and the ending CTA. Use platforms like Crafted to produce video content that you can quickly test. Consider testing slight price promotions as well.
Utilize platforms with robust advertising capabilities to ensure accurate targeting and data analysis. Be cautious about spending excessively on platforms with underdeveloped advertising capacities, like YouTube Shorts.
Guaranteed Reach: Unlike UGC or influencer strategies, video ads offer guaranteed reach, ensuring your content is seen by a specific number of users.
Hyperlink Capability: Video ads allow you to add hyperlinks, leading viewers deeper into your sales funnel. This capability is limited or non-existent in non-ad posts.
Precise Targeting: Video ads on social media provide advanced targeting options, enabling more accurate testing across different demographics and audiences.
Costly: Video ads require both content creation and promotional costs. These expenses can accumulate, especially if the content needs to be high-quality to stand out.
Lower Engagement: Ads are often noticed and skipped by users, leading to lower engagement compared to organic content. It's crucial to balance ad content with regular posts to maintain audience interest and engagement.
Influencer marketing involves partnering with individuals who have an established online presence and audience to promote your brand. In this context, we focus on micro-influencers, those with a relatively smaller but highly engaged following. Micro-influencers are often more cost-effective, bring a diversified audience, and their use reduces the risk of marketing failure due to their varied audience demographics.
When sourcing micro-influencers, it's important to check their engagement rates and the quality of their content. A good engagement rate ranges from 1-5%. You can source micro-influencers manually on social media, use influencer marketing platforms, or use services like Crafted. Remember, quality often correlates with cost.
Ensure the micro-influencers you partner with have a follower base that aligns with your target demographics. This strategy allows you to test different selling points with different audiences. Finding micro-influencers in each of your target audiences and tracking the results can provide insights into which benefits resonate most with each group.
Tracking the performance of each micro-influencer is crucial to identify those who yield the best results, so you can find more influencers with similar profiles. This tracking is relatively straightforward for online brands using tools like Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, GTM links, and unique promo codes. For brands converting online viewers to retail store visits, it's trickier, and you may need to rely on upper funnel metrics like views and engagement.
While it's acceptable to offer general guidelines and talking points to micro-influencers, it's crucial not to over-direct. Micro-influencers know their audience well and how to engage them authentically. Too much direction can make the content feel scripted and less genuine, undermining the authenticity that is key to influencer marketing success.
Testing Niches: Influencer marketing enables you to test different niche audiences with influencers who are already embedded in those communities and have earned their trust.
Guaranteed Viewership: The success of a post is not solely reliant on algorithms, as influencers have a set of followers who interact with their content first, providing early engagement signals to the algorithm.
High Engagement: Micro-influencer posts can garner higher levels of engagement than paid ads or brand-owned UGC, especially for newer accounts still building a following.
Time-Consuming: Sourcing high-quality micro-influencers is time-consuming and requires constant cycling to reach new audiences. However, platforms like Crafted can ease this process with their pre-vetted network of high-performing food-focused micro-influencers.
Negotiation Challenges: Pricing negotiations with micro-influencers can be difficult as their listed prices might not align with the actual value or ROI they provide. Services like Crafted handle this negotiation, working within your budget to identify and negotiate with influencers.
Expensive: If done manually and without successful negotiation, influencer marketing can be an expensive advertising strategy.
Potential Misses: Not all influencers will be a hit, even with pre-vetting. A volume strategy can help mitigate this risk, ensuring that successful influencers balance out those that underperform.
Determining the most effective social media strategy for your brand, whether it's influencer marketing, video ads on social platforms, or brand-owned user-generated content (UGC), often requires experimentation. If your resources permit, testing each channel with a small budget can provide valuable insights into what works best for your brand.
With brand-owned UGC, your initial content may not perform as expected. However, this doesn't necessarily indicate a failed strategy. It's common to encounter a learning curve while figuring out what resonates with your audience. To navigate this, consider producing about 10-15 UGC videos. Platforms like Crafted, specifically designed for food and beverage brands, can expedite this process and offer excellent video performance in terms of viewership and engagement.
For video ads on platforms like TikTok, consider setting aside a budget of $1-2K for your initial campaign. This budget should include the cost of content production. Remember, producing high-quality video content is a critical component of success on these platforms.
When it comes to micro-influencers, a trial budget of $4K can be a good starting point. Again, platforms like Crafted can help you source high-performing micro-influencers efficiently, saving you time and resources.
However, if resources are constrained, it's crucial to be strategic in your testing. While cost-cutting might be necessary, it's important not to compromise the effectiveness of your tests. Instead, consider focusing on one or two channels that you believe will be most effective for your brand.
When evaluating the performance of these channels, focus on metrics such as views, engagement rates, and the return on investment (ROI). The return on time invested is another important factor to consider. The ability to produce effective content quickly can significantly impact your marketing efforts. Additionally, look at metrics further down the funnel, such as sales. This metric is easier to track for e-commerce brands, but brick-and-mortar brands can also find ways to measure this.
Experimentation is key to determining the right social media strategy for your brand. With a thoughtful approach and the right tools, you can uncover the most effective methods to connect with your target audience.
In the digital age, a strategic and informed approach to social media can significantly boost brand recognition and customer engagement. Whether through UGC, video ads, or influencer marketing, finding the right strategy for marketing your brand is key. Remember to experiment, iterate, and above all, stay true to your brand's unique identity. Your audience is out there, waiting to connect with your brand; it's just a matter of discovering the most effective way to engage them.
This article provides a comprehensive guide to harnessing the power of social media for brand promotion, focusing on three key strategies: brand-owned user-generated content, video ads, and influencer marketing. It offers practical tips for each approach, explaining how to align product positioning with target audiences, select suitable social media platforms, and effectively use micro-influencers. However, as each brand is unique, it's crucial to experiment with these strategies to identify which resonates most with your audience.