Buzzworthy: How 18 Rabbits Keeps a Laser-Focused Social Media Strategy
It can be easy for an up-and-coming brand just starting out on social media to want to do it all – there’s a new way to connect with friends, family and fans cropping up seemingly every other day. While it may not feel like work, keeping up your brand image and properly engaging with customers on across social media is just that – hard work.
For our second instalment of Hubba’s Buzzworthy series, we spoke to Kelly LeCoy, Marketing Director at organic, gluten-free granola and granola bar brand, 18 Rabbits. She divulges how her team keeps a laser-like focus on what platforms work best for them, how the 18 Rabbits customer engages across social and how these two factors have impacted their overall online marketing strategy.
H: Does 18 Rabbits plan on expanding to any additional platforms in the near future?
KL: It all comes down to capacity. We’re a very small team [and] if we were to put anything out into the universe, we want it to be really well thought out and true to the brand. The main focus is Instagram and really growing our following there. We’re seeing what we can get without having to spend [too much], so a lot of trial and error. Influencers are a huge help, so we’re trying to grow that as a strategy as well. I think Pinterest is the logical next step from there.
H: What strategies do you use for each platform? Or is it the same one across the board?
KL: We’re really focusing on what channels are working best for us and that right now is Instagram; we’re finding that we have so many amazing consumers that are taking these really great pictures of how they eat our granola bars and how they use our granola in recipes.
So we’re trying to leverage this growing number of people that are excited about 18 Rabbits’ food on a platform like Instagram and over this year we’re hoping to grow that into Pinterest as well. For us Facebook and twitter – but Facebook especially – is becoming a more and more expensive platform for brands to use and when you have a zero-based or very limited marketing budget, we’re finding that tools like Instagram and Pinterest are great to leverage a body of customers that are already very excited about your product [which can be used] as influencers or brand ambassadors to grow the platform.
Last year, we were spending a lot more [on Facebook] in order to grow our fan base and we found that we were getting better engagement on Instagram without having to spend the same amount. We’ve done some cross-promoting from Instagram on Facebook but then again, anything you put up on Facebook as a brand, you have to [spend money] or no one’s going to see it. So our strategy right now is, ‘more earned versus paid media’ (so being more focused on Instagram).
Now we’ve sort of shifted our strategy for Facebook; when we have events and things going on in specific cities, we try to support an event in a region. We find we can really target the our [marketing] spend that way. [Otherwise] the way we’re using Facebook right now is just keeping it active keeping, the conversation going, cross-posting content from Instagram and as we grow this year, we’ll definitely get back into targeted content [with Facebook].
H: Are there any lessons in regards to social media you had to learn the hard way? For examples have you ever implemented a strategy only to have it backfire?
KL: We don’t really have any cautionary tales with Instagram yet, thankfully. But one lesson learned last year was specific to Facebook. We used a third party to run a sampling campaign. It was super successful from a Like, Comment, Share, getting-feedback-on-the-samples perspective. However, we found over time that the people this third party had attracted to our page weren’t necessarily true fans of organic food or organic bars but were more interested in giveaways. So, while at the end the day it was great to be able to grow our fan base on Facebook, we found that it wasn’t really the fan base we were looking to grow – [the campaign] just added a set of customers who were really only interested in sampling and couponing [which wasn’t] true to the demographic we were trying to target. So I think a cautionary tale would be, if you’re going to do a campaign like that, that’s going to garner a lot of attention and a lot of traffic, really do some vetting with that service. Ask where they’re pulling their consumer base from and how their targeting people.
H: What role do you think social media has played in 18 Rabbits’ success?
We just went through brand strategy development last year. For 6 months, we were really looking at who was buying 18 Rabbits, who was talking to us across social, and who were we seeing in the aisles at a store level. We did a lot of analysis of our customers and as we continue to grow social platforms, it’s so fun to see how people are engaging with our brand. We can sit in the office and say, “This is what 18 Rabbits stands for and this is who we are,” but at the end of the day, your customers are the ones who will tell you who you are. It’s been really great getting that feedback from them and getting some validation [of our products]. Customers are so important, we love engaging with them and social media is one of the best ways to do that.
H: What advice can you give to an upstart brand when it comes to building a social presence?
KL: Content is King. We’ve been really trying to work on consistency in our content and really thinking through campaigns. Partnerships and influencers are huge; we’ll generally partner with something complimentary to one of our products. [For example] we’ve done some stuff with almond butter and yogurt [brands]. We’re really trying to utilize both of our fan bases to grow each other and I’ve seen so much more success when we’ve done a collaborative post or campaign then when we’re just trying to speak on our own. I think that’s definitely been one of the best ways to approach the platform, especially when you’re looking at a small budget or no budget.
I’ve [also] been talking to other brands about how they put Influencer Programs together and some of the best advice I’ve ever been given is about vetting [potential influencers and/or partners]. Just really knowing the person you’re collaborating with because essentially [they are] a brand ambassador. They already sort of are on their own but when you start to pull them into your brand, it makes them feel more like they’re an extension of your team. Being really clear about expectations but still celebrating them as a customer [is important]. Be clear about what they’re going to receive throughout the year, letting them know of all your new products as they come out, how many social posts you’re expecting and how you’re going to share those as a brand as well.