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Are brands working with influencers effectively? The Slimming Foodie

Today we caught up with Pip Vincent, AKA the Slimming Foodie,  the Winner of 'Best Food Blog' at the MAD blog awards 2016 and Finalist in Food category at Brilliance in Blogging Awards 2017, We wanted to understand how Pip started out, her views on the industry of Influencer Marketing and what the future holds for her as a blogger / influencer! 

 
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Could you tell us a little bit about your background and how you started to build a following?

After my 2nd daughter was born, I joined Slimming World because I wanted to lose my baby weight. I was trying to find a Facebook page with good recipes that were Slimming World friendly, but I couldn’t find one so I set up my own and started just sharing what I was cooking every night- just a picture of the meal and how I’d made it. After I’d been doing it for a couple of months I thought there had been a glitch on Facebook as my followers started going up really quickly- about 1000 a day! The popularity of the page kept on so I decided to start the blog, to share all of the recipes and make them easily searchable. It grew from there- I knew absolutely nothing about blogging or social media before I started but I’ve absolutely loved learning about how it all works and developing my channels- it’s such an exciting industry because it’s so new, and there aren’t any rules- the world’s your oyster!

 Is this something you do full-time?

 Yes, I do it full-time now, although I fit it around my daughters so I work during school days, and don’t have much time in the holidays!

What sort of content do you create and what content works best with your audience?

 I’ve always been passionate about good food. I focus on making great tasting recipes that are accessible to the average person- not difficult to source or stupidly expensive ingredients, and not complex to cook. There’s a focus on being healthy, cutting down fat or sugar where possible, and trying to include healthy ingredients, but in a realistic way- meals that you could eat every day for the rest of your life- no fad diets or trends that don’t work in the long-term. Some of my most popular recipes are for meals that might be typically unhealthy if you bought them in a takeaway or as a ready meal (eg. chicken tikka masala, or chicken chow mein) but my recipes are both easy to cook at home, and also healthy! My audience loves a fakeaway, but also a new idea- for example replacing the pastry part of quiche with a sweet potato crust.

What would you define Influencer Marketing as?

A brand collaborating with an influencer in order to create a marketing message that will appeal to that influencer’s engaged audience.

What brands have you worked with so far? How was it? 

I’ve only worked with brands who value what I have to offer (and are willing to pay for it!) and therefore I have had really brilliant experiences so far! some of the brands I have worked with are: Tefal, Frylight, Iceland, Nandos, Sonos, Lee Kum Kee, Naked Noodle, Alaskan Seafood, The Mushroom Council, Maryland Cookies, Pink'n'Whites, The Saucy Fish Company and lots more!

How do you think Influencer Marketing will evolve over the next 12 months?

I think that it will continue to burgeon, that newer influencers will become more savvy about disclosure, and I hope that brands will continue to get on board with, and see the power of influencer marketing.

How has the Influencer world evolved since you began?

I think the market has become a lot more flooded, but I also think that many brands have stopped trying to get influencers to market for them for free, and realised the value in paying proper rates for the influencer’s expertise and audience.

How do you feel brands are working with Influencers?

All the brands I have worked with have been fantastic, they are open to suggestions and trust that I know my own audience. Unfortunately there are still many brands who think influencers should be a free resource for their marketing activities, or PRs who have not discerned the difference between a blogger (who will expect to be paid for their time and access to their audience), and a journalist who is typically on a salary from their publication so does not need to be paid for exposure.

Have you seen any brands that you feel are doing great work with Influencers? 

Iceland works brilliantly with influencers, I think their strategy has been very clever.

How do you balance your online life with offline?

It’s not easy, as it’s not something that has set hours, and there is so much involved with running a blog and social media channels- plus many campaigns are quite last minute! I try to stay away from my phone once the girls are home from school and concentrate on them! It’s definitely a juggling act, and hard to switch off! I always try and respond to potential clients quickly so I’m always contactable by email.

Which influencers inspire you and look up to?

One of my favourite influencers is Hayley from Sparkles and Stretchmarks (http://www.sparklesandstretchmarks.com/) - she really writes from the heart and tackles taboo subjects. She also writes brilliant posts for other bloggers about working with brands, and shares lots of info about how she makes a full-time income from blogging. I’ve also become more and more interested in photography and creating beautiful looking content and so I love to follow influencers who have beautiful Instagram feeds such as Twigg Studios (https://www.instagram.com/twiggstudios/?hl=en).

If you could work with any brand, who would that be?

I’d love to work with Waitrose, and Cath Kidston!

Tell us something about you that people might not know?

I live in a converted Victorian psychiatric hospital! 

What’s your favourite social platform and why?

At the moment it’s Instagram, I love creating attractive images, and I love the genuine interaction on there. I really enjoy using stories, and again, for brands I think it’s where the best organic engagement lies. I used to love Facebook, but the newest algorithm has really strangled my organic reach and I’m finding it frustrating!

Where do you want to take your career as an Influencer?

I want to be able to keep this as my full-time job, and stay on the cutting edge in terms of content and strategy- ultimately I would love to have a cookbook too!

Lucy and Lentils - "I love the Instagram community - you meet, so many like-minded people"

 

Today, we caught up with Influencer and blogger, Lucy and Lentils. Lucy's background and how she started, was all down to the food she was eating and not being excited by what she saw on the plate. She felt unhealthy, sluggish and lathargic, she knew she had to make a change. We explored her background in detail and found out her ambitions for the future!

 
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Tell us about you, your background and how you came to start on social media?

I started my Instagram channel @lucy_and_lentils whilst studying Interior Architecture at university. I initially started it, in the hope to become more inspired in the kitchen and eat a better-rounded diet.

Tell us about what you do on your social channels? 

My social channels and blog are all recipe creations that I have concocted in my kitchen after work or at weekends. I try to inspire people to be more confident in the kitchen and show that delicious meals don’t always require excellent culinary skills.

I have a degree in Interior Architecture, however, have focused my work on creating content for an interior design company.

Sum up your what you do in 5 words?

Create tasty, plant-based food!

What social channel are you most passionate about and why?

I love the Instagram community because you ‘meet’ so many like-minded people with a love for good food. From starting my channel I frequently meet with other foodies across the country which is always fun – picture man vs. food kind of vibe with Instagram too.

How often do you post and update your audience? What content works best for you?

I try to post each day on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to show different recipe ideas. I find my lunch box posts always get a great reaction as people love inspiration to spice up your lunch box.

When did you first start seeing you were building a following? How quickly have you grown your following?

It has been a fairly steady process. Between studying at university, having a full-time job as an interior designer and then a content creator, I have always used my social media channels as a hobby and a creative outlet.

I remember when the Instagram algorithm worked in our favour and jumped 10,000 followers in one week!

How do you stand out on social media? What makes you different?

It’s so hard to stand out on social media due to trends being followed by so many other people. Something I aim to do, is have a very real and honest approach to cooking. Instead of preaching about superfoods and getting a little carried away with certain diet types, I try to keep a very real and honest review about my day / food. I think social media can make certain people feel alienated or alone, whereas I try to show the very normal side to my life as well as the cool projects I get to work on.

What does your typical day look like?

I usually bike to work to start at 7.30am so I can get home, run to the gym then spend the evening creating new recipes, sharing content or carrying out freelance work for companies. It’s a very hectic schedule but it’s fun!

Are you friends with other influencers?

Yes, I have met up with foodies frequently in London which is always lovely, such as @rebelrecipes, @shisodelicious @bettinas_kitchen @HoneyandRoots, and @foodbymaria.

I have also got a lovely group of blogger and influencer friends based around Nottingham (my current home) which is always fun to have a catch-up and see what everyone is producing from all walks of life.

Which influencers do you admire? Why? 

There are many influencers that I admire for many different reasons, whether that is because of their charitable work, raising awareness for plastic free options, or creating absolutely amazing content. People like Gaz Oakley from @avantgardevegan are always inspiring to see such a business-driven approach to their social media channels.

What are your ambitions with social media? Where do you want to take it?

I would love to have my own café somewhere, potentially a cookbook and eventually work somewhere like Waitrose Magazine, recipe creating and photographing. It was looking at the Waitrose food magazines that inspired me to try and better my photography skills so it would be a beautiful circle to eventually find my career there.

What do you enjoy most about social media?

Engaging with people and seeing people recreate my recipes. It is the most humbling experience to receive a photo of someone trying one of my creations and to hear how easy it was to make.

What do you think of using social media for good-cause? 

I think it’s really important to use the tool to promote local business and charities. I always try and take at least one post a week to discuss an issue that matters to me – such as reducing plastic waste and leaving tips on how to do so.

How do you think brands are working with influencers at the moment?

I have been very lucky in the projects I have worked on, mainly due to the ability to be creative and in style with my ethos and message I try to shout about.  If I am promoting a specific product, I try to incorporate it into a recipe that people would want to recreate, making sure I’m not simply placing a random product throughout my feed.

If I’m working with a brand, it is really important that the content has relevance to my audience and doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb as a rather obvious product placement, which let’s face it, never has the desired effect.

I for one am a little fed up of seeing very beautiful people standing with some kind of diet tablet and demanding you go out and buy a lifetime supply to help you look like them, (I say with tongue and cheek of course) but the main message is people are tired of seeing shameless ads that have no real relevance to your usual content.

What brands have you worked with? 

I have been lucky to work with a range of fantastic companies and brands. I have been lucky to work with a range of fantastic companies and brands. The most exciting one was definitely Waitrose #ChristmasTogether campaign, as I used to flick through their magazines and recipe cards looking for inspiration, so to be asked to create something for them was so humbling.

I have worked with Tesco, MonBento, Organic UK, Heinz, Nuttvia, The Last Straw Campaign, Flora, Mornflake, and Love Raw to name a few – all lovely projects.

 

Tesco Projects: http://lucyandlentils.co.uk/tag/tesco/

 

Nuttvia Chocolate Banana Bread http://lucyandlentils.co.uk/banana-and-chocolate-marble-bread/

 

Heinz Lazy Weekday Recipe Video: http://bit.ly/2m0MHno

 

Waitrose Project: http://www.waitrose.com/content/waitrose/en/home/recipes/recipe_directory/l/lucy-and-lentilswinterspicedbutternutsquashtart.html

 

MonBento Project: https://www.instagram.com/p/BeTl5KZD5Kr/?taken-by=lucy_and_lentils
 

Do you use any tools to help you with your content? 

I have recently found apps that help you see what your page will look like before posting. You can also draft what you want to say – which is always helpful when you’ve realised you haven’t posted any content for the day and are desperately trying to think of something profound to say!

There are loads of free apps for this such as UNUM which is great.

As for editing, I am a very lazy Instagrammer, as I use the app to edit most of my content. A favourite with food bloggers is definitely LightRoom due to the vast array of presets you can create to help your page feel established and from the same palette of tones.

What’s the piece of content you’ve created you’re most proud of? Why? 

The most exciting one was definitely Waitrose #ChristmasTogether campaign, as I used to flick through their magazines and recipe cards looking for inspiration, so to be asked to create something for them was so humbling. I created a spiced butternut tart topped with pomegranate jewels, brussels sprouts leaves and pistachios.

Where can people follow you? 

Instagram: @lucy_and_lentils

Twitter: @LucyandLentils

Facebook: @LucyandLentils

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgFYGFtHW9alyzItE0Qa3mQ

Website: www.lucyandlentils.co.uk