If you’re a marketer, you’ve probably heard plenty about online influencers lately. But, did you know some of the most impactful influencers do nothing but eat and talk about fast food in their car?
Just ask three of the most widely-watched YouTube food reviewers – Daym Drops, KBD Productions, and TheReportOfTheWeek.
All three of these reviewers are a little quirky – Daym Drops has a loud, almost bombastic style, KBD Productions encourages his audience to ‘scratch-and-sniff’ their screens when he eats, and TheReportOfTheWeek reviews all his fast food in a suit. And, all three usually review common junk food items alone in their car.
Here’s an example:
This begs the question: if all these influencers are doing is eating fast food streetside, just what is so appealing about them? And, once that is understood, how can you position your brand to take advantage of influencers like these?
Why are food review influencers so beloved?
At first glance, you might assume the appeal of a food review is to understand food. You might expect them to answer questions like: Is a certain item too salty or sweet? Are the ingredients of good quality? Is the product visually appealing?
Not so fast! Watch just a few of these video reviews, and you’ll find something surprising: when describing the food, the influencers aren’t all that detailed.
Instead of deconstructing the product, these YouTubers are much more likely to talk about things tangential to the food – he may recount a personal experience at a particular fast food chain, or discuss certain observations he’s noted about the restaurant’s marketing. Often, the discussion isn’t even about fast food at all – the reviewer will talk about his own personal life.
So, what gives? Do YouTubers just like the influencers themselves? And if so, why? Are they funny? Charming? Do they tell great stories?
Luckily, we can use a deep social media listening tool like Tracx to collect and analyze information on relevant discussions.
A deeper analysis of conversation drivers
To understand the appeal of YouTube food reviewers, we can peer into the conversation drivers on their owned and earned media. An example of the corresponding display is shown below – this particular one is for all three – TheReportOfTheWeek, Daym Drops, and KBD Productions – for the month of April 2017 and displays conversation drivers as a word cloud:
As you can see, some of the biggest drivers are about food. No surprise there!
But, also note how many conversation drivers are about the channels themselves, as the conversation driver “channel” suggests. Using the platform, we can drill down into any of these conversation drivers to read the chatter behind the result. If one were to click on the boldest, most talked-about conversation driver – “play button” – the system retrieves this result in the drill-down.
We can see that this conversation driver yields a lot of congratulatory posts. As it turns out, “play button” refers to a framed award Youtube sends content creators who exceed 100,000 subscribers (in the case of the silver play button). This particular conversation driver refers to the play button awarded to TheReportOfTheWeek.
This should be a little surprising. Again, the most talked about item in our timeframe is not about food at all – it’s about the success of the content creator and his community. Other conversation drivers refer to similar topics – “#just4ucrew” refers to the viewing community of KBD Productions (he begins every video promising the viewer that the review is ‘just for you’). #Domiknation refers to the same thing.
Other conversation drivers get a bit more personal. For example, if one were to click into the conversation drivers for the TheReportOfTheWeek, you’d find the drivers “cuff links” and “look like” – both these describe ROTW’s physical characteristics, not the food in question. In a similar vein, the conversation driver of “stay strong” for KBD Productions refer to a cancer diagnosis the reviewer himself received. Terrible news, but unexpected to any marketer thinking these channels are just about food.
The final lesson on influencer marketing
Of course, the real advantage to social listening isn’t so much knowing what a community is like, but rather knowing how to position your brand within that community.
Think, for a moment, about the community and conversation we just looked at. The food matters, sure, but so does the reviewer himself. These reviewers are beloved, yet everyday people, expressing their genuine opinions about brands the average joe is already familiar with.
Moreover, we saw that many of the messages left in the community are clearly intended to be read by the reviewer directly – there’s a perceived personal, even intimate, relationship between viewer and influencer that is honest and authentic.
That said, how can a brand work with these communities? Should the approach be heavy-handed and corporate-sounding? Should McDonald’s or Burger King pay these influencers, or manipulate their work?
Probably not! If the nature of these communities is to be casual, personal, and authentic, a brand would do a lot better working within these communities, rather than dominating them above. A soft brand entrance seems a lot more functional that a hard intrusion.
A soft entrance, in this case, means entering into the conversation as an audience member, rather than attempting to sway the influencer directly.
In the comment section of each of these videos, and on these influencers’ other social profiles, audience members will talk amongst each other and to the influencer. If a marketer were to join the conversation here, it would be a more acceptable way to evoke brand influence.
So, get involved! Watch a few food reviews, maybe chow down on some of the subject matter yourself, and get into the conversation. And above all, don’t forget to keep listening.