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June 28, 2022

Three Ways to Grow Your Food Brand in 2022

Bradley Eshbach

Three Ways to Grow Your Food Brand in 2022

A decade of Food Empires, built on social

Modern brands are born on social media. It’s where they find their people. Where they nurture long-term relationships. These brands became household names with little more than a beautiful photo, a thoughtful caption, and a commitment to simply keep posting.

Food brands have harnessed this power for the last decade, unlocking unmatched returns by engaging directly with current and potential customers. For some, it is nearly their entire advertising strategy.

In the food industry, companies hire photographers, pay influencers, and have interns write captions. Both agencies and brands have built social content production units to fuel these algorithmically driven content machines.

The Big Algorithm Change of 2021

Profit motives on platforms shift and algorithms change. Originally, these social platforms were built around your real-life connections. Accordingly, in 2018, Instagram changed its algorithm to favor posts from people you actually know–over branded content.

However, Instagram, which is owned by META/Facebook, made another major change to its algorithm in December 2021 to prioritize video. In particular, their proprietary video format, Reels.

“We’re going to double down on our focus on video. We’re no longer just a photo-sharing app.” – Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram

Instagram tells its users that successful Reels are high-quality; use text, filters, and camera effects; are set to music and trending sounds; and are “entertaining and fun,” featuring content that “delights people, grabs their attention, makes them laugh or has a fun surprise or twist.”

This reprioritization is based on one simple fact: video keeps you watching for longer.  You only have to look at the app that keeps META executives up at night: Tiktok. That’s exactly why scrolling through Tiktok sometimes feels like the algorithm is tapping directly into your brain stem.

Photos can captivate, but video can hypnotize.

It’s a big win for the platform but a headache for brands looking to increase the impact of their social strategies.  The planning, editing and voice-over, and music skills for more produced video content are very different from the still iPhone photography most thrived on. You should adjust accordingly.

The seemingly small change has been a jarring wakeup call for food brands who now find themselves trapped, unable to speak to their massive audiences. In 2022, they learned the hard way that if you built your audience inside someone else’s walled garden, they weren’t your audience.

As you may have experienced yourself, brands (especially food brands) that have yet to adapt have seen their engagement slip at an alarming rate. Their content is ignored by the algorithms, the audience moves on, and a competitor steps in.

It’s never been more crucial to own your brand’s community.

How to adjust your thinking

1. Make the algorithms your friends

Feed them what they are hungry for and you win. Divert funds from static content capture into various formats and scales of video. Brands that find novel, repeatable and interesting ways to fill the coffers of their asset libraries with a video that’s vertical and visceral will win.

2. Reassess your Platform Strategy

A hard truth: Your brand likely has too many social profiles. You may not need to post so often. Less is more. Make every post count. Make it smart.

A few places to start:

  • New School: Chase the viral fame on TikTok: PJ Monte, the founder of Monte’s Fine Foods, turned his attention away from Instagram and toward TikTok for precisely this reason.  “With basically no followers on TikTok, I’ve had two videos gain a few million views,”
  • Old School: your email + text list has never been more important, how can you utilize these in your sales funnel?

3. Use ongoing social listening to inform what you do next

An effective social listening strategy and process is probably the best way to discover new insights about your customers, how they perceive your brand, and where your competitors are weak.

The goal of social listening is to discover less obvious places in which your brand’s existing fan base spends time online.

  • Which watering holes do your prospects frequent?
  • When they are there, what do they say?
  • Who are the voices in that community that influence their decision-making process?

How does a modern content production machine work? Is it possible to scale it down to meet a smaller budget? Does it have the potential to become a business growth engine? Personally, I am obsessed with wrestling issues like these to discover the hidden opportunities to lap your competition. At Creative Energy we tackle problems like these every single day and would love to hear what you’re working to solve