Yoghurt brand Chobani divulges marketing tactics on how they’ve grown their social followers

content marketing

The next article in our Q&A content marketing series produced by SmartCompany’s content agency, Bureau, features Chobani Digital and Communications Marketing Manager, Olivia Dickinson.

Olivia leads the digital and content, influence marketing, corporate affairs and the consumer loyalty team. She’s a creative marketing strategist with a passion for building relationships between brands and customers through the combination of technology and communications.

She caught up with SmartCompany’s content agency, Bureau, to share her thoughts on content marketing.

What’s your definition of content marketing?

I once read something which really resonated with me, and I’ve embedded the underlying message into the thinking across my team. “Content marketing is like a first date. If all you do is talk about yourself, there won’t be a second date.”

At Chobani we pride ourselves on establishing relationships. We’re the brand that people ‘swipe’ right to. We get viewers’ attention, we’re storytellers and we understand that consumers are in control – they choose when, where, and how they interact with us.

So, in short, it’s about creating valuable, relatable content to engage and build to a relationship, which results in loyal fan base.

How does this method work without overtly promoting a brand’s product/service?

This goes back to my point earlier, about building a relationship with your audience through shared value. If you only talk to product attributes you won’t drive the loyalty that will ensure conversion when your consumer is at the shelf.

By building these relationships through content marketing your brand becomes more than just a product it becomes a lifestyle for consumers.

A great example of the power of personal connections for a brand is a recent occasion where we had a fan contact us online to say, Chobani had been such a big part of her life and asked if we could attend her wedding day. In true Chobani style, we jumped at the opportunity. The team gave away samples of Chobani Flip to guests following the ceremony with engraved “Mr and Mrs Myles” Chobani spoons. For the bride, we gave away a bouquet of flowers in our 907g tub and a wedding gift for the bride and groom, that included a pair of customised Chobani pot rings.

How has content marketing changed over the past five years?

Video has exploded – Ever since video marketing made its way into inbound marketing more prominently in recent years, it hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down thanks to mobile tech and apps advancing its delivery and consumption. We’ve seen some great results using social and catch up TV to deliver reach through targeted segments.

Pay to play – The distribution channels such as Facebook and Google have changed making it harder to get branded content in front of your target audience without a boost from paid ads.

Role of technology – Technology advancements have led to interactive content such as AR and VR allowing users to experience product benefits in virtual way. Due to tech advancements, this is something which has also become far more accessible for brands.

Less is more – Five years ago it was a mad dash to create as much content as possible. If you weren’t posting daily, ‘your brand was doomed to die’. Today, however, it’s about quality through fierce prioritisation. “Fluff” content, or content without original ideas, will become obsolete, rendering lower and lower returns compared to low-frequency, high-value content.

How are B2B audiences consuming content differently than previously?

At Chobani, our retail B2B partners are so important to us. Our relationship with them has and always will be an imperative part of our marketing strategy.

We’re always looking for fun and creative ways to engage with them offline.  Whether it’s through a haunted house activation to support our new Halloween pouch, or installations where we’ve created artwork that virtually looks like you’re inside a fridge.

What’s important is to recognise that engaging marketing at all facets involves content marketing. You can’t have an engaging activation or a PR story without a commitment to meeting your audience’s needs (whether B2B or B2C) with valuable and interesting content the essence of content marketing.

For SMEs with a limited budget, what are the best tactics to use?

  1. Utilise micro-influencers and build your brand through social media. The key to success is finding influencers that resonate with your target audience and are authentic (true brand ambassadors). Influencers that genuinely love your product will often create content for the exchange of product only.
  2. Leverage mass volume platforms such as Creatively Squared, Shutterstock Custom, 90seconds to create content. This is a cost-effective way to produce high quality content. The tip here is to always control the content. Ideate and create the concepts internally but leverage expertise of external stylist and photographers through these platforms.
  1. Connect directly with followers and focus on building a community with things like competitions, reward and recognition of user generated content (UGC). Start a hashtag (#MadeWithChobani) to encourage consumers to engage with your brand/product and reward them by re sharing their content. Llead your brand’s social community offline – we send out our product Surprise and Delights in the mail and to date still write hand written cards. This is something we’re really proud of and we’ll never stray from as a level of personalisation.
  1. Analyse and learn – have the guts to try new things without becoming immediately addicted. Try new formats and mediums, but also be willing to ditch them fast if they are not working.

Content is more pervasive than ever. How do you ensure your content gets cut through?

Content is king isn’t just a saying, it’s the real deal. You can’t just throw social content spaghetti at the viral walls because it won’t stick. Your content needs to be original and relevant. Create your own content. Use your own ideas. Go to places where your competitors aren’t and do things they won’t! It’s pretty simple.

When my team is concepting, I always encourage them to think of their concept and then to think about how we can display this in an abstract or novel manner. The most interesting ideas come from flipping expectations on their heads, breaking moulds and taking risks.

A great example of this is our 2017 Snapchat Lens we created for a new product launch, Chobani Flip. This was a new format and we wanted to illustrate to users the product experience in a virtual way. We created a lens and then we then amplified it through a competition on our social page. The result? 2.5 million unique reach in 24-hours. We even had feedback from retailers telling us consumers were coming in store asking to buy ‘the Snapchat yogurt.’

Has content moved beyond awareness and vanity metrics to more lead generation and ROI attribution models?

Being a brick and mortar store, our ROI is not directly measurable through online conversions. At Chobani, brand love and loyalty are at the centre of everything we do as we have firm belief that this is what has an impact on the bottom line.

What brands are doing it well and who isn’t doing it well?

Hi Smile is a great example of a start-up that grew from a small investment to a $40 million e-commerce powerhouse in three years. They started by pushing a heap of content out in the early days to a broader audience and then narrowed their audience.

From this, you could see a shift in content not just about the product but the ‘ideal lifestyle’ for the demographic. And they did this through working with micro-influencers. They create buzzworthy content that speaks to millennials across Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat video including, beauty tutorials and comical videos.

Interestingly, Hi Smile has a ‘results page’ (@hismileresults) which is focused on product only content. This page has 15k following VS over 1M following for their page (@HiSmile) illustrating the benefits of providing content that isn’t just product centric.

Vinomofo are also one to check out. They’re an online wine retailer. Sign up to their EDM to get a taste of their quality content, but subscribe at your own risk – they are unignorable.

Can you quantify the importance of video and voice over the coming years? 

Video is certainly on the rise. Consumers like it because it’s an easy-to-digest format that gives our eyes a break from the overabundance of textual information online. It’s engaging, entertaining and a powerful form of communication. As marketers we need to continue to keep up with the demand for video content. Not only because it works, but because video is now what consumers expect.

We’ve seen great success through our use of video content. We create bite-size content, packed with a punch that cuts through while scrolling through a social news feed. This works great with Facebook’s auto-playing and auto-looping function and these pieces are generally our best performing content.

Instagram stories play an important role in our content strategy. An incredible 500 million people around the world use Instagram Stories on a daily basis. So, leveraging this, in 2017 we introduced a 24-hour story strategy to share authentic videos that don’t look like ads.

We established content pillars, a process and trained our CHOteam (field marketing team) in styling and creating structured stories. Our teams are currently executing stories every week on our social and our fans are loving it. It’s a great affordable and effective way to consistently grow and scale user base through engaging and interactive content.

At Chobani, we’ve taken what we’ve seen happening online and leveraged this through our internal communication. We evolved from traditional monthly updates via an electronic newsletter to creating video updates, created by our factory employees. Because when you tell great stories that resonate with your audience, you can drive engagement to entirely new levels.

Read more from Bureau‘s content marketing series here.

Voice will be essential for brand relevancy as search rankings shift with voice queries

Audiences are tired of listicles and clickbait headlines – brands must educate, inform or entertain

Influencers are playing a greater role in marketing says international software brand

Brands need to earn the right to mention their products by creating valuable content says ME Bank content lead

Marketing trends shift as voice spearheads new content tactics

Brands need to use the right content on the right platform at the right time: IAG Head of Content, Zara Curtis


Bureau is SmartCompany’s content agency helping brands attract and connect with small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs. Bureau creates articles, ebooks, videos, podcasts and infographics from data-led insights to achieve marketing ROI for businesses.

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