Making social media content stand out is hard. I get it. For most people, even building an audience of 1000 engaged fans can seem like mission impossible. That’s why I invited instagram influencer and social media expert Lauren Dunn to join me this week on The Network. Despite being a foodie through and through, Lauren is anything but your average food blogger. Just read the captions from her instagram account @So.Cooked and it becomes abundantly clear: Dunn doesn’t play by the rules. Her maverick-esque, devil may care attitude toward social media has done wonders in growing the So.Cooked audience. It’s also proof that if you want to make social media content that doesn’t suck, you have to be different! Almost relentlessly so!
Be Different, You Boring Cliche.
“It started as a way to share my love of food with my friends,” Lauren said during her episode of The Network Podcast. Her account’s main point of difference was the way she went about it. “I would caption the photos exactly how I would speak to my friends… It’s not politically correct in any way… I would draw on a lot of intertextual references that I would get from funny movies that I like or jokes that I hear. Anything where I think ‘that’s innappropriate,’ I’m like ‘write it!’ If I don’t think it’s inappropriate, I tend to not write it at all.”
If Lauren was running a meme page, her sense of humour may have been a non event. As a food blogger on the other hand, she stood out. In less than a week with the help of some well connected friends sharing her profile So.Cooked grew to over 1000 followers.
We discuss the comedians and movies that inspire Lauren’s sense of humour on her episode of the Network.
The way I see it, her launch playbook had four main elements:
- Lauren made twelve posts on the day that So.Cooked went live from a collection of photos she’d taken previously. These posts gave potential followers something palpable to check out when they were pointed to her page.
- She went about sending a personal message to everyone she knew. She told them what she was up to, asked them to follow and in some cases share her page.
- The people she asked to share her page had influence. Lauren leveraged the audiences of every person she knew with some social following. Most notably, she was supported by Roxy Jacenko and some of the ladies from Roxy’s PR firm Sweaty Betty PR.
- Her content was worth sharing. IT WAS DIFFERENT! While Lauren’s initial posts were a little tamer and shorter than they are now, she wasn’t asking people to follow something that was already out there. She was bringing something NEW into a familiar space.
Copywriting Highlights from Lauren’s First 12 Posts
- “You may be be boring, but your food doesn’t have to be.”
- “If you can avoid being a cheap f@!k for one night, try this Spaghetti Vongole (Vongole means baby clams for the uncultured reading this).”
- “This is the meal I totally ripped off from the Richardson Hotel. Plagiarism never tasted so good.”
- “If you tend to spend all your money on alcohol and wide leg pants that you’ll probably never wear and leave $4 a week for food (like me) then try this frittata.”
- “This open, tuna steak sanga with wasabi and Japanese slaw from @loxstockandbarrell was probably one of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth. Lord knows there’s been a few..”
I know what you’re thinking ‘why are you focusing on the captions, isn’t instagram all about photos’? As Lauren pointed out during our chat, that is becoming less and less true. Producing great social media content often comes down to doing more than your competitors. Amazing photos are almost becoming a dime a dozen. Eye catching captions can be far more effective at cutting through the noise on Instagram. When everyone simply expects your photos to be great, that’s almost just the cost of doing business.
As Lauren pointed out “When I would write something outrageous I would notice a lot of people sending me DMs saying ‘We think you’re really funny. I sent this to my friend’. So people were sending it around like ‘Oh my god, look what this nut job just wrote on instagram. Like I can’t believe that someone wrote that’.”
Obviously outrageous humour and provocative content isn’t the answer for every influencer or business. So you need to decide whether your brand or business can get away with that kind of strategy.
Oftentimes, brands are highly protective over the messaging in their social media content and rightly so in some cases. You don’t want to be at the centre of a controversy, apologising for something you’ve done as a brand. At the same time that fearfulness and conservativeness so often ends up leaving businesses in a place where they’re completely ignored.
Formerly having worked in crisis management PR herself, Lauren had this to say on the topic. “One of the main things with companies who remain conservative, it’s normally because have shareholders and someone to answer to… With Instagram it’s more about small business I think. It’s an opportunity for small businesses to grow organically without pouring in hundreds of thousands of dollars into advertising. That’s why Instagram has become so popular, because people have realised that they’re able to advertise and make money. Just by creating really interesting content… That’s when they have to go and find someone to help them generate that. Because not everyone has the flair, or the knack, or the wit to do that.”
Influencer Marketing Allows Brands To Be Daring
Influencers know their audience. They know what they like and how to speak to them. The worst thing you can do when engaging an influencer is railroad them into changing their style. It can be scary, but the best thing to do is give them a little bit of direction, some info on the product and then trust that they’ve been successful for a reason. They are the social media content experts after all.
“I think it’s about stepping away from what you think is going to offend people or what you think is the correct thing to do. Let this person who’s had success with what they’re doing add their brand or their flair to what you’re doing. Then just see how it works. You can always delete an instagram post, it’s not going to stick with you forever.” Said Dunn.
There are three main points that I simply can’t emphasise on this enough.
- Influencers are successful for a reason. Trust the ones you work with. If you don’t like an influencer’s style, don’t use them.
- Customers hold brands less responsible for the messaging in “collaborations” than they do of posts on a company’s page. Especially if the message sounds authentic to the influencer. Seize that freedom to diversify your appeal.
- Nothing is permanent. Everything can be made up for. Sometimes taking no risks can be the greatest risk of all. Use your best judgement and see how it goes.
Here’s an example of a collaboration one of my clients, Quax Mobile Accounting did with So.Cooked just last month. We gave her the information and let her creativity go wild from there.
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My face when I was told @quax.tax is like tinder for accountants and not for mini rubber ducks you can shower with. My face during my mobile tax date. My reaction when I realise how easy it is. I literally had my tax return done while I sat and drank piss and ate patè. Get around @quax.tax for the easiest tax return you’ll ever do and you can do it anywhere you like, in your dungeon or at the bloody pub mate! Check my story for the link to download the app. 🐤🐤💵💵📃📉📆🔛
Successful Collaborations Come From The Places You’d Least Expect
“Think about a big brand like Puma. They’ve always been kind of daggy. So recently they went ‘alright, we need to figure out a way to rebrand ourselves. We need to collaborate with someone who’s young and fresh and is going to pull us out of this daggy hole.’ So they’ve gone with teeny bopper sensation Selena Gomez. I would just never have associated her with sport. But that collaboration that they’ve done, apparently their sales since bringing her on have been huge.” Explained Dunn.
That they were, with the star’s first signature shoe: ‘Phenom Lux’ selling out a day after it’s release. Furthermore, Puma’s 2018 Q1 results report showed that their Net earnings had risen by 35.8% to $107.3 million (converted into Australian dollars).
“It’s amazing what you can do when you pair one brand with an influencer you wouldn’t think would have anything to do with that brand… It’s often going to be the opposite of what you think that aligns with your brand and what you stand for.”
“Those partnerships are successful because you open yourself up to a whole new audience. You leverage off (the influencers’) exposure. But then you also create an audience of people that would’ve never normally thought to purchase something with you.”
We discuss more of the other collaborations Puma have made during Lauren’s episode of The Network.
Turn Your Competitor’s Strength Into A Weakness
One of the things I believe Lauren does best, not only with So.Cooked but also her social media clients is follow ‘the Law of the Opposite’. The Law of the Opposite is a concept that was defined in a book by Jack Trout and Al Ries called ‘The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing’. The basic theory is this: In any new market, the first business that reaches the hearts and minds of the customer will become the market leader.
Every business that enters the market after that will fall onto ‘a ladder’ somewhere below the leader. Whether these new businesses are able to move up or down their respective ladders, depends on their ability to play their position on the ladder.
Coca Cola is a great example of a market leader. The first serious cola company, Coke was founded in 1892. It quickly found it’s way into the hearts an minds of it’s customer base and has been there ever since. Still dominating the cola market to this day.
Pepsi on the other hand is an example of a company that perfectly played out the law of the opposite. In 1969, Coca Cola had a strangle hold on the cola market owning around 60% of the market share. Pepsi was a long way behind, gathering roughly 25%, but what happened next was crucial. Over the next 22 years Pepsi used all of it’s marketing to focus on positioning Pepsi as the young person’s cola. The Pepsi-Generation as they were called, was the law of the opposite in action.
Pepsi used Coca Cola’s strength of being perceived as “The original and the best” and made it a weakness. They made it “an old person’s drink”. The results were huge, in 1991 at the height of Pepsi’s youth movement they owned 40% of the market. They’d also managed to reduce Coke’s market share to only 45%.
Who is your industry’s market leader? Are you another cheap imitation or are you doing everything you can to position yourself as an alternative? Your social media content should be a reflection of this.
As an influencer Lauren personifies the law of the opposite.
“I couldn’t agree with that more… When I started to gain some traction (with So.Cooked) I asked myself okay so who are my competitors? I’m going to sound so full of myself right now, but I was looking at people like Jessica Sepel… That’s essentially where I wanted to be – at some point. Looking at what they do, she makes beautiful delicious healthy food with inspiring captions. It’s all about living your best life and wellness and care.”
“I was like okay that’s fantastic and we all need that in our lives. But we also need cold beers and yummy food that’s probably going to make us fat and we need to laugh. So what can I bring into the market that isn’t there, which essentially ended up being so cooked.”
Look at Jessica Sepel’s website and you’ll see phrases like “Heal your relationship with food” and “A nutritionist in your pocket”. They’re great and it’s clear that Jess is serving a section of the food blogger market extremely well. Compare that to one of my favourite posts of Lauren’s of all time. A collaboration that she did with MOP Donuts.
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GUYZ get your better half a bouquet of donuts for Valentine’s Day. No bitch wants something that’s going to shrivel up and die like your boner after a dip in the Pacific. @mopdonuts have these, made to order for $99 ❤️ | @briont_bymopdonuts @briont_bymopdonuts @briont_bymopdonuts | | | | | | | | | | | | | #perth#perthisok#mopdonuts#perthtodo#perthlife#valentinesday#vday#gifts#giftsforher#sweets#sweettooth#dessert#yummy#delicious
The truth stands: In every market there are people who want to buy from the leader and they’re are people who don’t want to buy from the leader. You can compete with countless imitators trying to capture a sliver of Jess’s market share by doing what she does. Or you can make real ground by fulfilling the needs of the opposite.
I know which one I’d do.
Use the Tools Available To You To Maximise Your Social Media Content
When I asked Lauren on her thoughts on maximising social media content using hashtags, tagging pages and geotagging her response was pretty clear.
“Geotagging is the best one ever. I’ve been doing that since day one. You should always geotag the location of your photos. Geotagging when I was living in Bondi was amazing, because everyone looks up the geotag for Bondi. So that was huge help in gaining followers, especially people who were travelling or visiting Bondi.”
“Hashtagging, so my perception on hashtagging and I also learnt this from Roxy (Jacenko) is that they make the post look cheap. It makes it not look as though you got those likes because people just generally like your content. That’s why you’ll notice a lot of people write it in the comment and then they’ll do a bunch of spaces so it’s hidden from view.”
“Sometimes, I’m not going to lie: My hashtags are really embarrassing, but it’s because I’m trying to reach different people. Embarrassing people do embarrassing hashtags and you’ve got to cater for everyone, not just the cool kids.”
“The other thing I love to do is tag people in my photos. So I’ll tag all the best foodies in Perth and then I’ll get really ambitious and start tagging Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay. It’s just on the off chance that they would see. Oh and that’s the other thing, Matt Moran reposted one of my recipes.”
Make Sure There’s Steak to Back Up Your Social Media Content’s Sizzle.
Here’s the thing I may have forgotten to mention to this point: Lauren is an amazing cook. I drool looking at the food she makes as often as I cry from laughter at her captions. Her ability to provoke strong reactions from her audience is one of the reasons I think Lauren has the qualities of a great leader. However, having technical expertise is a key component of all great social media content. It ensures that there’s substance behind what you’re saying and that it isn’t all fluff. The key is to make sure that there’s a balance of both personality and verifiable skill.
Of course it helps when that skill is verified by a legend in your industry like oh… I don’t know… Matt Moran.
“That was literally the best moment of my entire life. I’ve never been so proud. I think I reposted that and like put it on my story intermittently like every month. So that every single person could see it and make sure that they knew that he used it.”
The Rest of The Episode
Tune into Lauren’s episode of The Network to hear some of the other topics we covered including:
- The Importance of fair and balanced reporting as an influencer. [37:35]
- The difference between contra vs payment deals for influencers. [39:53]
- The role of social media consultants or PR experts in influencer marketing. [42:42]
- Why more brands are switching their attention to micro influencers. [43:25]
- The insane engagement levels of Perth’s own @JemWolfie on instagram. [44:34]
(This Perth instagram model has more followers Tiger Woods and Jennifer Hawkins!)
And my quick fire questions:
- How Lauren stays focused working from home & when she’s most productive. [49:02]
- On The Hunger Games and The Lincoln Lawyer being the books she’s gifted most often. [51:36]
- Why a heavy set baking dish she found on the side of the road is the kitchen item she couldn’t live without. [52:56]
- On Rollas Jeans being the brand that Lauren is illogically loyal to. [54:27]
- Lauren’s affinity with Ola over Uber. [55:57]
Get In Touch With Lauren or Follow Her Story
You can follow Lauren on Instagram @So.Cooked or feel free to email her at email@example.com. Finally, in a truly bold move, Lauren offered her mobile phone number should you wish to call her regarding any social media or influencer related queries. It is 0421 183 811. Remember if you’re coming from The Network don’t be creepy as it reflects poorly on us. The best way to get in touch may still be by sending her a DM on instagram.
That’s it for this week’s episode of The Network. I hope you got something from it, if you did please give it a like or a share and help spread the love. Until next time friends.