This isn’t your normal, average, and, dare I say, boring case study. This is a cool case study about how our agency helped launch a NEW global DTC brand from scratch. It’s about taking on the responsibility of content creation, strategy, and community management. And how a ragtag team learned, improvised, and implemented new ideas while working with each other and our partners at ZENB.
Helping a brand gain an audience from scratch isn’t an easy task. While some brands get lucky and skyrocket to success, that doesn’t mean it can happen for everyone. Between brainstorming, producing, and publishing social content to managing a community, we learned to adapt as we grew and how to captivate our audience to stay engaged and become a Plant Pal.
While having a slow start on social is typical, we found a way to push past the barriers and break through to create a thriving community on Facebook and Instagram. Our successful start on social let us pave the way for more relevant social platforms, like Pinterest, to help increase website traffic and sales. And, of course, look fancy as all heck.
Starting From Scratch
We paired up with ZENB before launch, which means we not only had to help launch the product but help launch their entire online community...from scratch. No big deal...except for the incredible challenge of building an audience from the bottom up. Because of this, we knew that to find success we had to: keep consistent, put most of our focus on Instagram, and interact with our community. Our first two months live on social were slow in terms of engagement, including comments on paid media. While this made it easier for us to continue our focus on content creation, we knew that as their Community Manager we would have to go out of our way to make new, relevant connections outside of our current audience, better known as Outward Community Management.
In House, High Quality
Before I jump into the divine details of the seasons and the story that follows it, let’s talk more about the process and creation behind the content you’re about to see. While some shoots required more models, crew, and equipment, almost everything was created by our in-house team. This meant we were able to brainstorm one day and create the next. Aside from the obvious “we have to make this office look like a house” we found ways to really step up our game. While I, the lovely writer behind this, had some 🔥 ideas myself, I have to give credit to our ZENB designers who took a concrete corner of the office and an oversized ottoman and worked with photographer, Steve Walter, to create a bedroom.
Oh, it’s the middle of winter and you need a shot of someone lying on the grass? Don’t worry, we got it covered. Just a bit of turf, the right angle, and a little help from our friends and suddenly we have an outdoor shot taken in the middle of December.
Seriously folks, we really did as much as we could with what we were provided. The power came from the team work and it started with every brainstorm. Whether it was choosing the right music or bringing in the right snacks, we always found a way to start our meetings off laughing, powering through the stress of any and all deadlines.
We found the balance between serious and fun with the secret being an extra helping of fun. The work is always better when you’re passionate about it, and it’s hard not to be passionate when you have a great support system and the power to be creative.
On more than one occasion, our shoots were only brainstormed a day or two before we would shoot. But our team learned how to use equipment and how to make an iphone shot look luxurious. We were ready to take on anything and make it happen.
Okay guys, please stop making me brag about how talented and creative we are...I just want to get back to the story here!
Our Favorite Fall
After our two-month slow patch, engagement started to pick up seemingly overnight thanks to new paid media optimizations. This meant that most of our time now went to responding to questions about flavor, texture, and shipping. Interestingly enough, we ran into a lot, no seriously a LOT, of corn hate. Corn hate? Yes, commenters who were furious that we offered a Corn Veggie Stick (we don’t get it either.)
Fun fact: these were all shot on a desk.
Anyways, we were able to bring in new audience members who were passionate about the product and becoming a part of our community. This newfound engagement came at the perfect time since we were about to launch two new flavors: Pumpkin and Carrot. These new flavors were the perfect fall introduction and this shift gave us the opportunity to visually evolve our content while adopting seasonal trends and styles to fit in with the brand and their audience, all the way from props to wardrobe! We’ll say it: these shoots were our favorite.
WHY were they our favorite? Well, aren’t you nosy...I suppose I can share.
We especially loved these shoots because we got to execute shoots in what we call our Houseparty Model. This model allowed us to shoot multiple scenes in multiple settings in and around the space. Whether we were renting a house or making a house out of our office space, we were able to create a TON of backlog and seasonal content that was utilized in social, newsletters, and paid media. No big deal though...
Happy For The Holidays
Once Halloween had passed, we entered Fall Chapter 2: The Holiday Season. Our new fall-centric flavors made it easy to create new delicious, aromatic recipes for Thanksgiving that we could promote on social and in our newsletter, including a tasty stuffed squash meal to share with your friends and family!
When the Christmas season began we were able to go into full creative mode with our social posts. The challenge here was to have fun and be playful while staying on brand. We think we did that pretty successfully with our Veggie Stick gingerbread house made with almond butter. Our audience loved that one almost as much as we did. And to keep up with the sustainability theme of ZENB, we used butcher paper to wrap that gift and hand-illustrated the designs on it. Talk about a GIF-t!!!!
By the way, and this is me bragging, those were all made in house. 😘
New Year, New Us
The biggest challenge with creating content for the new year is keeping up the momentum and fun of your content after relying on the Holiday Season. Thankfully, we had our focus on the launch of a new product: Veggie Bites. This allowed us to create tons of new content for our pages while keeping Veggie Sticks in mind, of course. So while it might have been a bit harder to brainstorm in these dull winter months, we were still able to create some awesome content. Including a Veggie Bites Tetris game complete with a Gameboy frame and music that was used as a feed post on Facebook and a story on Instagram. Although our heart-shaped box of Veggie Bites was pretty #cute too.
Competing With COVID
It would be a lie to say that COVID-19 had no impact on our social planning. When quarantine hit in March, our March and April social calendars changed drastically. Our carefree copy and imagery about going outside and spending time with your friends had to change its focus. Luckily with a brand like ZENB, there were plenty of indoor hobbies we could help our audience learn about. We did the research to learn more about sustainable DIYs to do at home, how to start a garden, and what to plant. This new focus in content helped us to tie our content to the ZENB Lifestyle newsletter and promote content across channels.
As If We’ll Never Say Goodbye
Before our time with ZENB came to an end, we knew we wanted to go out with a bang. This motivation helped us to create a new social strategy for them to help shift their focus from Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. The benefit of ZENB going on Pinterest was huge since their recipes would fit in seamlessly with a user’s feed. To step up our pins, we even introduced video pins so they would automatically play and grab the attention of whoever is watching. While we moved the focus off of Twitter, we knew we should keep it a little active in case an audience member reached out with a question. But pulling the focus allowed us more time to create for platforms where our audience was already active and we could find more success.
Though we’ve since said goodbye to our Plant Pals, we’ll always be grateful that we got to help them with the beast that is social media. It may seem easy from the outside, but when you’re building a community from the ground up you learn the importance of consistency, branding, and adapting to change. Social media is a constant growth process with growing audiences and changes to algorithms. And while you may never be able to tame the beast, you will be able to get your harness tight enough to enjoy the ride.