Why Food Brands Should Continue to Work with Influencers During the Pandemic

By Hana Bieliauskas
June 22, 2020

Originally published by SmartBrief.

These are wild times for everyone -- including influencers. Like many, they are wondering: What can I do to stay relevant, be strategic and establish a new role in a “new normal?” This time of uncertainly has led to a surge of interest in cooking, incredible food creativity and even the emergence of new culinary trends -- all which influencers are helping support and drive.

For food brands and companies, now is not the time to cut blogger and influencer engagement. Instead, take this opportunity to leverage influencer relationships and feed content-hungry consumers what they are craving.

Why partnering with influencers matters now

Everyone is eating and preparing meals at home, igniting a whole new interest in home cooking and recipes, which is an opportunity to reach new and different populations with content they are actively searching for.

“We've had an opportunity to be exposed to a whole new audience these last few weeks -- those who wouldn't normally be home cooking or baking,” said Julianne Dell, dessert cookbook author and long-time blogger at Beyond Frosting. “We are suddenly finding ourselves to be 24-hour cooks, cooking three meals a day for multiple family members. A lot of people aren't used to that.”

“When I ask what they are doing to stay busy, they say ‘cooking,’” said Julia Jolliff of A Cedar Spoon about her audience, who she describes as “those everyday, stay-at-home chefs.” She has been busy the past month.

“[Consumers] are looking to bloggers they follow for guidance on cooking techniques, products to use, shortcuts, ways to save money, cook on a budget -- and how to still provide their family with healthy options,” she said. “I have had a lot of readers coming to me for things they wouldn't have before, like tips on storing milk and cheese, and how to freeze products, whether it is meat or dairy.”

Get in front of at-home social media food trends

Food trends no one could have predicted are taking off on social media. When it became clear that whipped coffee (or Dalgona coffee) was accelerating into a social media phenomenon, we helped our client coordinate with Dell, who I’ve worked with closely for the past six years, to produce a one-minute how-to recipe video in just three days. It was shared on the American Dairy Association Mideast’s social media the same week, and, to date, it has received nearly 50,000 views across channels.

“Influencers have the unique ability to pivot and adapt on the spot,” Dell said. “Not every business can be as reactionary.” She said influencers can fill immediate needs.

Having strong blogger and influencer relationships matters. Had we not been able to call on her last-minute to quickly produce the video, we would have lost our chance to be at the forefront of an emerging trend. Adding the Beyond Frosting name and logo to it gave the recipe expanded credibility, because Dell’s site is a respected source for cooking tips and high-quality recipes, and sharing it with her networks greatly expanded reach.

Build trust through creative, relevant content

Bloggers and influencers are highly effective content creators. They know how to use photos and video to connect, initiate action and drive engagement, and they can deliver the unique assets brands need right now to stand out and stay relevant.

Can’t get out now to shoot new food photography or assemble a crew to produce a cooking video? Want to tap into all the foodies perusing Instagram, looking for new recipes and cooking tips? Enlist a food blogger to help develop compelling content in short order. They likely will bring fresh new perspectives and ideas, too.

With much of the world homebound, people are looking online for new things to learn and do, especially when it comes to food.

“You can teach a new skill and recipe easily through video content, or step-by-step photos, or by using Instagram or Facebook Live,” Dell explained.

Relationships matter -- now and in the future

Now is the time to invest in communications strategies that are not only helpful during the pandemic, but will matter in the future, too -- whatever the next few weeks, months or years bring. Brands that are leveraging influencer relationships are seeing firsthand the benefits of those partnerships because they are connecting creatively with target audiences and staying top-of-mind.

Consider blogger and influencer engagement as a tactic to enhance and expand digital marketing -- an investment in real people who are succeeding in uniting socially-distant audiences to form genuine online connections through food.