NEWS

SOFA SESSIONS #4:
INFLUENCERS' ROLE IN FOOD & DRINK CONTENT STRATEGIES

This week’s Sofa Sessions conversation certainly left us with some food for thought, as we tucked into a discussion between top notch influencer talent and big brands from the comfort of our sofas.

ENGINE’s Head of Influencer, Gemma Glover, was joined by content creator and self-confessed foodie Katie Pix, Fever Tree’s National Account Manager, Ben Williams, and content creator for drinks enthusiasts, Matt Hollidge.

As trends for making banana bread and dalgona coffee have swept TikTok and Instagram, we looked at how social media has facilitated this content boom and the likelihood of this continuing as lockdown eases.

COOKING UP A STORM FROM HOME

With 55% of people saying they’re spending more time home cooking and searching for ideas and inspiration online, there is no disputing the dependence on both brands and influencers to create captivating content.

Gemma kicked off the session by asking our panel how they transitioned into the digitally dominated world and the changes they’ve seen over the recent months. Ben mentioned Fever Tree’s previous plans for World Gin Day had been curtailed. However, moving their staff-run masterclasses online had seen great success. In reference to their live sessions he said, people were “responding really well and like the personal touch a lot more.”

Matt agreed, remarking that his followers have been building his “cocktail making into their weekly routines.”

Katie referenced the importance of interacting or engaging with her audience even more through her new content series #ChallengePix, where she works alongside fellow influencers to create quick recipes with minimal ingredients,“You grow and you amplify because you celebrate other people’s voices and they celebrate yours.”

COLLABORATION IN THE VIRTUAL KITCHEN

Lockdown has seen the format of branded content partnerships shift with an increase in the autonomy of influencers. Matt has partnered with a range of brands since the COVID-19 outbreak from Tequila to Sony Entertainment. He believes that live broadcasts work best, both on his channel and in collaboration with other brands as he can “engage with people directly, in the moment, in their home.”

However, Katie finds evergreen content is more successful on her channel. Her collaboration with Waitrose was adapted from their plan to promote Waitrose’s premium line to a “12 ingredient basket challenge” after lockdown was announced. She highlighted the importance of a mutually beneficial collaboration – “the dialogue could not be more important between a brand and the creator, in the same way as the dialogue between a creator and their community.”

RECIPE FOR BRAND SUCCESS

Whilst the past months have not been easy, Ben referenced Fever Tree’s “huge increase in business” from an off-trade perspective as more of us enjoy a G&T from our dining chairs, rather than a bar stool.

With one quarter of people saying they will continue to hold virtual cocktail hours, Ben says the brand will continue to work alongside off-trade partners to create inspirational content for Fever Tree’s 130k strong Instagram following. He believes the consistency of their content has helped the brand as “direct communication has morphed into this more personal, educational way of talking.”

IS IT BACK TO THE PUB FROM HERE?

The discussion wrapped by touching on the re-opening of the hospitality industry from July 4th. From a brand perspective, Ben highlighted that a “sense of security is going to become really important in everyone’s messaging over the next couple months.”

The panel agreed the importance of both brands and influencers continuing to create inspirational food and drink content whilst we navigate the ‘new normal’.

The next of our Sofa Sessions will take place on the 30 July, where we will be joined by an expert panel to discuss the rise of private channels in social media and the impact this has on brands.

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