Category Archives: Allie Wester

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)

Social Media Activists Put Pressure On The Food Industry

Written by: Christy Wise
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foodtweet

Food manufacturers and suppliers have a simple goal, create desirable products and keep costs as low as possible.  While that goal is actually quite far from simple, there is a new threat further complicating this mission, social media activists. These activists are utilizing social platforms to put pressure on the food industry to label their products properly and to use and source healthier and sustainable ingredients.

Social media gives brands and marketers insight into what products to introduce along with helpful consumer trends on how best to market those products. But in recent years, consumers have taken to social media to tell brands not just what they want in their food – but what they don’t want. Food companies  have increasingly become targets of complaints – magnified by social media.

Who Are These Activists?
These activists are actually just everyday consumers like you and me who care about the food they eat and what they give their families. That said, social media gives these consumers a voice and rewards them for their activism.  These activists run blogs, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and more to communicate with thousands of other consumers on a daily basis. As a result, they can cause quite a stir and occasionally inspire a brand to change directions.

Influential blogs and bloggers with names like 100 Days of Real Food and Food Babe have been known to target major food manufacturers in an effort to change ingredients and labeling.

Foodbabe

Meanwhile major non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Non-profits, and consumer advocacy groups have utilized their substantial social media followings to also go after food manufacturers.

NGOs

Both individual activists and large Non-profits are taking advantage of free and highly cost-effective platforms such as blogs, email, text messaging, social networks, online petitions, and user-generated video to enlist the support of thousands of consumers to affect these changes.

GMOInside
It’s Working
Around the world, brands are listening. Kraft recently removed artificial food dye from their Macaroni & Cheese product after 300,000 consumers signed a petition and inspired 10,000 mentions across social channels.

Kraft1

leading to…

Kraft2

Be Warned, Activists Are Not Easily Soothed
A caution to the brand, make sure you’ve thought everything through. Consumer activists will call out brands that don’t go the distance to make real changes. For example, if you say that you’ve removed Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) from your food, be prepared to back that up with proof as you can see from the below post after General Mills claimed to cease using GMOs in Cheerios.

cheerios

Proactivity Reaps Rewards
For brands that can see this coming and find themselves in a position to make changes before they are called out by their consumer, the opportunity to gain positive notoriety is there for the taking. See below how Post’s efforts to remove GMOs and certify that action gained them a thumbs up from the social activist community.

GNTweet GrapeNuts

Retail Responds
Meanwhile retailers like Walmart and Whole Foods are siding with the consumer on this front and looking to stock more sustainable products and ensure better labeling. Walmart is rumored to be studying seafood sustainability and Whole Foods has promised that within 5 years all products they carry containing GMOs will state that fact on their package.

Summary
While this can be a giant headache for many in the food industry, it just requires a little more thought into how you make your products, how you market them, and ultimately how you handle your customers. By recognizing that social media activists are looking for an excuse to call you out if you lack transparency, you can hopefully plan accordingly.

 

Photo Credit: The lead Image was lifted from a blog post from the Organic Agency

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.

Title4

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.

Title6

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.

Expert Series: Influencer Marketing

Written by: Digitally Approved
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We’re proud to introduce a series of posts in which Fanscape social and digital marketing experts explain best practices and recommended strategies in their related areas of concentration. The first will feature Allie Wester who leads us in Influencer and Blogger Outreach marketing.  Having connected some of the largest brands in the world with some of the most influential voices in social media, Allie knows a thing or two about helping get the word out about a brand’s products or events.
Allie has been with Fanscape since 2008, and her guidance, extensive background in pr, blogger relations, and ongoing insight to social media trends has contributed to countless successful marketing campaigns.
Look for Allie’s regular posts including these: