“Catching Influence in a Bottle: How J. Lohr rapidly boosted their Instagram following”

Seth:

Are you interested in significantly increasing your brand’s Instagram following in a matter of months? Us, too!

With that in mind…We’re pretty pumped to be joined by the Vice President of Marketing for J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Rhonda Motil. Rhonda was the mastermind behind a recent influence-based program that led to just that.

Influence is a BIG theme for us at Beverage Marketing Association — which is why Rhonda will be sharing her complete vision for leveraging influence in 2019 and beyond at eBev 2019 in October. Rhonda will uncover a new/shifted paradigm on the most effective use of influence that’s sure to raise some eyebrows; and she’ll be accompanied by over 50 of the most impactful beverage/CPG brand executives worldwide (along with much of her team at J. Lohr!).

Rhonda, thank you so much for joining us today! We’re so impressed by your latest work, and we look forward to setting the stage for an incredible presentation this fall 🙂

Rhonda Motil:

Thank you!  So glad to be joining you today.

Seth:

Let’s not tease our members/readers: You really grew the J. Lohr Vineyards Instagram – one that first posted August 1st, 2011 and represents a brand with a longstanding tradition of excellence – by 31% in a matter of months with a single contest? Even with incredibly quick success once you rolled it out, a ton of time must have been spent planning your strategy around influence (and how it fit into your over-arching strategy) before ever putting it into motion. What were a few of the key insights you were working against?

Rhonda:

Strategically, we knew that Instagram follower growth was the primary objective as we approached campaign planning. Like many brands that started on social media many years ago, we kicked off our first social priorities on Facebook. Due to extensive efforts in that area, J. Lohr already had a robust Facebook following of passionate fans. Therefore, we wanted to concentrate our efforts on building a similarly engaged community on Instagram. Our decision to format this campaign as a contest was in large part due to the success we had in 2018 with our J. Lohr Estates 101 Sweepstakes that was also supported by influencer marketing but on a more modest scale. We hoped to recreate that success, and achieve equally positive results.

Seth:

You knew who you were looking to reach – and that influence/WOMM would be the avenue – can you tell us a little more about the vehicle(s)? What was this contest you launched?

Rhonda:

We launched our “Springtime is J. Lohr Time” contest in April of this year to support a broader campaign – one that included email marketing, a dedicated landing page on our consumer website, and POS materials for retail sales. The focus of the campaign was celebrating all of the Springtime holidays, particularly emphasizing Mother’s Day, with family, friends and a bottle of J. Lohr wine. The contest began on April 2nd, and ran for a full month. During that time, fans were invited to enter the contest by tagging a friend in the comments of one of the contest posts. The prize was one of five $200 gift cards to be used to treat a mother figure to a Mother’s Day brunch. This was a huge lesson for us that the prize does not necessarily need to be large, just targeted and engaging.

Seth:

Even with such a creative, crafty, and engaging contest in place…you still had to share it with the right consumers and drive that engagement. I’m guessing this is where harnessing the power of influence comes into the story? What about media investments?

Rhonda:

Exactly, Seth. The strategy of engaging influencers in the support of our contest was in pursuit of two main objectives: drive entries (+followers) and create high quality visuals we could repurpose for contest promotion on our own platforms. We partnered with four influencers who had follower communities ranging in size from 14K to 92K, and their content garnered 110K impressions. We also leveraged our advertising relationship with Wine Enthusiast, who supported our contest with an Instagram story which went out to their audience of 314K Instagram followers. Both actions were critical to driving entries.

In addition to our influencer marketing and advertising efforts we also cross-promoted the contest on our other social channels (Facebook and Twitter). From there, because we have such an engaged fanbase, we benefited from fans sharing to their own communities which resulted in organic increase in impressions and reach.

Seth:

We know this program was extremely effective, thanks to a heck of a plan. Can you hit us with some facts and figures? What’d you learn, and what came out of it?

Rhonda:

We learned that these types of contests resonate with our audience, and that it’s critical to carefully select strategic partners for promotion. This contest drove 10K+ entries and garnered a total follower gain of about 2K in a single month; for our account that was a +30% growth. We’ve seen added value in the content created by the influencers, being able to repurpose it on our website, emails, digital advertisements, and organic social media. Because we were careful to only select influencer partners with well above average engagement rates (+3%), we have not seen the typical follower attrition that can sometimes happen to other brands after such a distinct spike in follower growth.

Seth:

Okay, now we can tease a little. When you think about the future of influence as a tool for marketers…do you think we’re reaching a total saturation or “end-state” of diminished value for the digital paid post, or do you think we can push forward as-is by continuing to increase relevancy? Will the digital “path forward” in WOMM be lined with AI’s ability to unlock near 1:1 targeting and requisite agile comms – or will it be lined with a more human approach?

Rhonda:

We believe that the future of influencer marketing is strong. As social media becomes increasingly ubiquitous, we feel that consumers will only rely more heavily on the endorsements of individuals whom they feel connected to through authentic messaging. For us, this means placing tremendous value on the selection process of partners. It is about ensuring you’re carefully pursuing influencers that align with your brand, personality, look, feel, and values. When the fit is natural, the fans respond and stay with you.

Seth:

Rhonda, thanks so much for sharing your story with us today. We’re excited to hear more about it at eBev later this fall.

Rhonda:

Thank you for having me.  I look forward to sharing more about our influencer experience at eBev!

For questions or comments please visit: 

https://www.linkedin.com/posts/seth-hillstrom-70802025_ebev-influence-marketing-activity-6572545933307899904-Fr_I/

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