All posts by Allie Wester

The Next Frontier for Food Influencers: YouTube

Written by: Allie Wester
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It is undeniable that YouTube is a big platform for influencers. But when it comes to the food space, compared to the massive power and reach of food blogs, it is still finding its footing.

Why? I think it is because Gen Z – the core YouTube consumer – hasn’t quite entered the stage of life where they want to learn to cook. The oldest Gen Z members are in college, which means a lot of eating out and easy convenience foods. 

However, once Gen Z graduates, they will want to learn how to cook. Will they look to blogs or Pinterest (which ultimately leads to blogs)? As a majority, probably not. They’ll look to where they always look for “how to” information: YouTube.

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Source: Google

There are a TON of high-quality food blogs out there right now. There are a handful of food YouTube channels, but comparatively it’s slim pickings.

For food marketers: Start experimenting now! You may not get huge view counts right away, but think of the long-term effect. Your video could get hundreds of thousands of views down the line. And you can perfect your craft now before it is mainstream.

“Food hack” videos, demonstrating tricks and tips for making cooking exciting and fun, draw interest from one in four millennials. Use this as an opportunity to not only promote your product, but also explain how to cook with it and why it’s a useful tool or ingredient.

For food bloggers/influencers: Start experimenting now! Many food bloggers I’ve talked to are hesitant to start on YouTube because video is complicated. I get that. But I also know that the food blogging industry figured out food photography and styling from scratch. I have faith that they can also figure out food video. 

In the meantime, the millennial generation is watching food YouTube videos. According to a survey by Google, Millward Brown Digital, and Firefly:

  • Sixty-eight percent of millennial moms purchase food products featured in the videos they watch. Sixty-nine percent of these highly-engaged moms watch food videos every week, and 68 percent of them will also watch videos while cooking.
  • While three out of four millennial women are open to watching branded food content, close to half (43 percent) have not done so, representing a significant opportunity for brands to gain new audiences.
  • Sixty-eight percent of millennial men described themselves as a “confident cook” – two times more than their millennial female counterparts.
  • Millennial dads are the most engaged with food content on YouTube, watching videos to spark inspiration and create meals. And 42 percent of them will make special trips to the store to buy products they learn about in food videos.
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Source: Google

For the foreseeable future, food blogs are not going anywhere. They’ll always have the millennial, Gen X, and boomer generations. But if they want to remain relevant with the younger generation — and let’s be honest, make more money — they should start experimenting on YouTube now!

6 Things to Know About FTC Disclosures When Working with Influencers

Written by: Allie Wester
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Earlier this summer, the Federal Trade Commission updated their Endorsement Guides FAQ for disclosures in digital advertising. This new document helps provide additional clarity into their 2013 Disclosure Guide, which is a bit ambiguous.

In blogger/influencer brand partnerships, it’s always best to make disclosures clear and conspicuous. If you’re not sure if something is clear and conspicuous, take a step back and look at the content through the eyes of a consumer who doesn’t work in the advertising/marketing industry. Assume this consumer has no idea that bloggers, YouTubers, Instagramers, Viners, etc. get paid by brands to market on their behalf. Is it 100% clear that the content is a partnership with a brand? If not, then you have some editing to do! If it is… good job!

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Here are some general guidelines that bloggers/influencers and marketers should follow when working on sponsored content:

1. Make sure to clearly disclose relationships in blog posts.

Again, make sure the disclosure is clear and conspicuous. You can say something like, “This post is sponsored by Brand X,” or “This post is in partnership with Brand X.”

2. Disclose relationships in individual social media posts, too.

Typically, influencers promote brand partnerships on social channels that complement their primary channel (such as their blog or YouTube channel). These complementary social channels include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc. If the brand is mentioned in text (e.g., calling out the brand’s Twitter handle) or image (e.g., the product is visible in the Pinterest image), disclosure needs to be included in that individual piece of social content, too.

Linking to a blog post with disclosure is not sufficient. What if someone never clicks on that link?

3. #sp and #spon are not acceptable disclosures on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. Use #ad instead.

Many bloggers use #sp and #spon as disclosure. This is a common mistake. The FTC Endorsement Guide cites #spon as insufficient and not clear. A consumer may not realize that #spon or #sp is shorthand for “sponsored.” I see their point here; even I, a marketer, read #sp and think, “Spelling error!” (Elementary school essay flashbacks…)

The easiest solve is to use #ad. It uses the least amount of characters and is undeniably clear. For a softer approach, you can disclose in context such as, The easiest BBQ brisket, in partnership with @BrandX: [LINK].”

4. Don’t put #ad in the first comment on Instagram.

If multiple people comment, then it will get buried and no one will see it. It needs to be in the description.

5. On YouTube, make sure disclosure is stated verbally both in the video and in the description.

Make sure that the disclosure is featured in the description above the fold, before the “Show More” link. Additionally, disclosure should be stated verbally at the beginning of the video, since YouTube videos are often embedded and a consumer may never see the description. And, as the FTC says, it’s even better to disclose multiple times throughout the video.

6. If you’re working with a blog network, make sure they call out the brand name in the disclosure. 

Some blog networks have bloggers disclose with a simple “This post is sponsored by Blog Network X,” without any mention of the brand name. The consumer may think Blog Network X is a neutral third party, so it is not sufficient. The brand name must be mentioned.

For further insights and guidance, visit:

FTC Endorsement Guides FAQ

.com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising

My Visit To The Natural Products West Expo

Written by: Allie Wester
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NPEW logoEarlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending Natural Products Expo West, which is THE trade show for everything natural, organic and healthy. This year, there were over 67,000 attendees and 2,600 exhibitors. To put that into perspective, SXSW Music/Film/Interactive has about 72,000 attendees.

Our client Blue Diamond Growers had a presence at Expo West to show off their new Honey Cinnamon Nut Thins, Honey Mustard Nut Thins, Hint of Honey Almond Breeze Almondmilk and Hint of Honey Vanilla Almond Breeze Almondmilk. (They were all delicious, by the way.) In addition to Blue Diamond, there were many other great brands there from Cabot to Seventh Generation to Burt’s Bees.

expowest copyOne of the best parts about Expo West is all of the free food and samples. It’s like grocery shopping at Whole Foods… for free! This year, there was lots of kale, chia seed, non-dairy and gluten-free products. There were also some interesting items – like protein bars made out of crickets. (Did not sample those.)

Here are some key trends from the show this year, straight from Natural Products Expo West themselves:

Health & Wellness Consumers: The healthy eating movement is spreading across all demographic groups. Five distinct consumer segments, differentiated by lifestyles, behaviors, attitudes and beliefs about health and wellness have been created for the industry.

Convenience & Accessibility: The importance of making nutritious, clean food more accessible and convenient across multi-dimensional demographics and how will it affect the health and wellness of all Americans.

Labeling Transparency: Consumers are asking for transparency with regard to food/product labels, claims and certifications, including non-GMO and organic.

Food Tribes: The growing gluten-free, vegan, paleo and other special diet communities are fueling the healthy eating movement and changing the way people view food and community.

The Future of Personalized Health: With nutrigenomic advances and the rise of food intolerances and autoimmune diseases, we are learning that one person’s “medicine” is another’s “poison.”

Triple Pundit wrote a great article on Expo West, which pointed out that, “Healthy food has leaped from a marketing niche to a revenue growth engine for the food service industry.” Truer words have never been spoken – the food industry is undergoing a massive shift and the size of Expo West (which grew by 5% this year) is a prime example of that.

Now pass me the kale chips!

(Photo Credit: @gwynethmademedoit)

Expert Series: Influencer Marketing – Blogger Tips Pt. 2

Written by: Allie Wester
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The following is part of our ongoing Expert Series and features Allie Wester, Fanscape’s head of Influencer and Blogger Outreach marketing.

I recently spoke at Freutcamp, a 2-day creative boot camp for bloggers run by Leah Bergman of Freutcake. From Photoshop skills to tips for better social media usage, Freutcamp covered everything it takes to be a successful and savvy blogger.

Leah invited me to speak about making brand collaborations organic to your blog and content. What follows is part two of the top tips I shared with the bloggers at Freutcamp. You can find part one here.

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I’m thrilled when a blogger I’m working with goes above and beyond what we’ve outlined in our contract, and it pretty much guarantees that I’ll continue to work with them in the future. Going “above and beyond” can be something as seemingly small as an extra Instagram or tweet, but it goes a long way!

How else can you get on a marketer’s good side? Send all coverage links. Gather every tweet, Instagram, Facebook update and send it my way.

I like to think I know the blogs I work with well, but at the end of the day, no one knows your blog better than you. Send a recap at the end of your brand collaboration that includes benchmarks and insight like, “This blog post performed on par with other sponsored recipe posts. It received X comments, most of which focused on Y. Pinterest Influencer Z pinned it on Pinterest, which led to over X repins, thanks to her X followers.” Any insight you can give me is GOLD when I’m putting together the final recap. It saves me time and puts you top-of-mind for the next opportunity!

Lastly, consider doing a reader survey. Find out who your readers are – ask when the last time they purchased something from you was. Ask what their favorite types of blog posts are, etc. This info is a great tool to show to brands to help prove your worth. Furthermore, it can also help you shape the strategy of your blog and inform the types of brand collaborations to pursue in the future.

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I often find new bloggers to work with via features in traditional media. To help expand your audience and create legitimacy for you and your blog, pitch yourself as an expert or source to outlets and other blogs via services like Help a Reporter Out.

When a blogger has been featured in traditional media outlets, it helps my clients understand just how big and influential s/he is. Blogs are still new to many clients, so if I can say, “Blogger X has been featured in Good Housekeeping, was named a top blogger by Glamour and has done cooking segments on the TODAY show,” it gives the blogger instant clout and credibility.

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Think about other ways you can add value to brands beyond blogging. Many of the skills you have are in high-demand now that brands are content creators themselves. From recipe development to copywriting to photography – these are separate revenue streams that you can create alongside blog integrations. Case in point: I met a blogger at a blog conference last year, and took notice of her photography skills. Six months later, I hired her to help with the social photography for a CPG brand I was working on!

To get these gigs – network, network, network. You can do this via local blog events, on Twitter and Instagram, or at conferences. To catch the eye of recruiters, make sure your LinkedIn profile is entirely filled out with applicable keywords. You can also submit yourself to creative/advertising recruiting agencies. And finally, adding your services to your blog and media kit is a good idea, too! Put yourself out there.

Expert Series: Influencer Marketing – Blogger Tips Pt. 1

Written by: Allie Wester
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The following is part of our ongoing Expert Series and features Allie Wester, Fanscape’s head of Influencer and Blogger Outreach marketing.

I recently spoke at Freutcamp, a 2-day creative boot camp for bloggers run by Leah Bergman of Freutcake. From Photoshop skills to tips for better social media usage, Freutcamp covered everything it takes to be a successful and savvy blogger.

Leah invited me to speak about making brand collaborations organic to your blog and content. What follows are a couple of the top tips I shared with the bloggers at Freutcamp.

It's ok to say no

As a blogger, it’s absolutely okay to say “no” to brands that approach you – in fact, to maintain the quality of your blog, you should! Although a paycheck might be tempting in the short term, if a brand isn’t a right fit for you and your blog, you shouldn’t work with them.

Working with a “wrong fit” brand is bad for you and the brand in the long term. It will alienate your readers, and on top of that, you can be sure that your readers are not going to be convinced to buy said brand. It just won’t be an effective post for either party. By saying “no,” you’re doing both yourself and the brand a favor.

Quality is number 1

The quality of your blog should always be #1, so you need to be incredibly strategic about the brands you partner with. Readers are savvy when it comes to sponsored posts and can sense when something isn’t a genuine fit. Ideally, brand content should integrate seamlessly with your usual, non-sponsored content. If you don’t stay true to your usual content when you do sponsored posts, you will lose the very thing that drew brands to you in the first place – your readership!

It’s a delicate balance, for sure. A good guideline to follow is 70% non-sponsored content and 30% sponsored content. Of course this will vary from blog-to-blog and month-to-month, but it’s generally a good rule of thumb.

focus on content copy

Don’t overthink sponsored posts. Focus on the content and story first and foremost, then lightly weave the brand into that. I always tell bloggers to take a step back and think about what they would write about if it wasn’t a sponsored post. Ideally I want the brand integration to be very light and natural. I want the post to tell a story. In fact, sometimes I even tell bloggers to tone down the brand in their post, because it’s too overt! I truly believe that this is key to a great sponsored post. If a brand is too “in your face,” readers will simply skim over the post.

Each and every sponsored post you create should have value for your readers. Let’s be real – no one wants to feel like they’re being marketed to. Your readers should get some sort of utility in a sponsored post, whether it’s entertaining tips or a new recipe to try out.

Not sure if you’re hitting it quite right? Think about if you yourself would want to read the post and share it with your friends.

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Read Part 2 HERE.

Celebritweets

Written by: Allie Wester
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I read an article the other day on TechCrunch about how Twitter is hiring an employee to handle celebrity relations. According to the article, that person’s job duties would be to “make sure the celebrities on Twitter are ‘happy’ and use the service effectively, whatever that means.”

WHOA. WHOA. Hold up. Stop the presses. Insert that scratchy record back-up sound here. “Whatever that means?” I think we all know exactly what that means.

It means:

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Selling Girl Scout Cookies Online

Written by: Allie Wester
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The other day I read an article about little Wild Freeborn, a girl scout who utilized online methods to sell Girl Scout cookies. With a goal of selling 12,000 boxes of cookies, Wild created a YouTube video with a cute sales pitch and had her dad help set up an online ordering system. Great idea, right? Yes, but due to the competitive nature of cookie selling, Wild’s approach was deemed an unfair advantage. After she sold 1,000 boxes of cookies, Wild was forced to dismantle her online ordering system. It’s interesting to note that Wild’s online ordering form was more of a request form. You couldn’t pay online – that had to be done when Wild delivered the cookies to you.

When I first read this article, I wished Wild lived in my neighborhood. It’s no wonder Wild sold so many cookies – if there was a little girl utilizing online efforts in my neighborhood, I’d be online and ordering Samoas in no time. Online ordering is so much easier than staking out Girl Scout stands at grocery stores and Wal-Marts. Who has time for that?

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Late Night With Jimmy Fallon Blog

Written by: Allie Wester
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Everyone has been abuzz lately about Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.  What I find most exciting is the fact the show has a blog that’s slated to be way more than just your typical television show blog. You know what I’m talking about – the lame show blogs that are rarely updated, and if they are updated, it’s rehashing information you saw on the show.

LateNightWithJimmyFallon.com promises to be “a destination site for the funniest stuff on the web, [with] original comedy brought to you by both our bloggers and the show’s writers, and of course behind-the-scenes stuff that you can’t find anywhere else.”

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