Emmy Rener, who graduated high school in March 2020, grew up in a world where people bought things from Instagram over TV commercials and discovered new brands from tags on a post instead of a magazine ad.
So when she was at home during the pandemic and taking a gap year before college, she started Sophisticated Spreads, a curated cheeseboard business, on the idea that she could get it off the ground with the help of influencer marketing.
“My entire immediate family is business owners,” she told In The Know. “I had a lot of guidance from my parents and those closest to me, as well as lots of mentors that I met along the way.”
Sophisticated Spreads is a very Instagrammable idea, and a lot of its growth was dependent on customers taking photos of their charcuterie boxes and posting them on social media.
“Social media is everything for my business,” she explained. “The power of TikTok has proven how somewhat easy it can be to reach millions of people within minutes. With the help of social media, I have reached people that I could not dream of being in contact with, as well as establish a nationwide brand with over 115,000 followers on TikTok.”
This power was highlighted best when actress Sofia Vergara posted a mini Modern Family reunion picnic featuring one of the Sophisticated Spread’s platters.
“Sofia Vergara has been a paying client for a while now, and of the few times that she has posted, it has always done wonders for my brand,” Rener said.
In a stroke of luck, Vergara’s Modern Family co-star Jesse Tyler also commented, “Why didn’t you post the cheese platters? I’m going to post them.”
Almost 4,000 people liked his comment, and then an additional 135,000 people liked his post.
Rener’s TikTok about Vergara is coincidentally how I found out about Sophisticated Spreads.
There’s a psychology behind why people trust celebrity endorsements for products — through transitive properties, if you’re a fan of an actor and think they’re a high-quality person, you’re likely to think the product they’re promoting is also high-quality. Decision-making is driven by our emotions, and our emotional connection to celebrities and influencers can be leveraged to connect those positive emotions to products or brands.
Rener, who is part of a generation who gets their skincare advice from TikTok instead of doctors, knows this — which is why she regularly emails hundreds of influencers to ask if they want to try out Sophisticated Spreads. Not all of them respond, but when they do, she’ll send them free products in hopes that they’ll post about it.
“This has been the easiest way to market my brand,” she said. “I have never delivered a box to an influencer and had them not post.”
It seems almost too risky of a strategy, but it’s worked so far for her. Almost one in four Gen Z women learn about products via influencers, and since that’s part of her target customer demographic, it makes sense that Rener would put so much stake into social media.
Ultimately, her dream endorsement would be from Lizzo — who she would send a vegan cheeseboard, of course — and she hopes to one day get the attention of TikTok creators like Tinx, Fibula and Remi Bader.
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