Ferrara knows that authenticity is the sweetest thing

How an emerging powerhouse in US confections and sweet snacking uses data to create social content that hits the spot

On social media, the only constant is change. Keeping pace with new content types, formats, platforms, and trends can certainly be stress-inducing, but the constant flux is also a great opportunity for those who are up to the challenge.

Ferrara is one such company, with iconic brands such as SweeTARTS®, Laffy Taffy®, Trolli®, NERDS®, and Gobstopper® to their name. We caught up with the emerging powerhouse in US confections and sweet snacking to learn how they stay relevant and adapt on social media to keep results rolling in.

Andrea Easley, Social Media Manager at Ferrara, breaks down how agile marketing principles allow the team to be flexible in communication and true to their audiences. Diving into her perspective, a key takeaway stands front and center: brand authenticity is the most important thing.

Stay open to real-time opportunities for connection

Ferrara has a lot of creative potential to play with on social media. With many avenues for expression, the team comes at social with a willingness to change things up and get personal when the moment strikes. Andrea Easley described how the team views social media:

"At Ferrara, we see social media being a playground for brands to elevate themselves in response to the right cultural moments, so agile marketing is really a huge part of our process. We see agile marketing as real-time opportunities that we can engage our brands".

The key to doing this well is not to jump on any and all new trends for the sake of it. For Ferrara, a strategic activation is what makes a real impact. Andrea said, “When acting on real-time opportunities, it’s important to set guardrails in effect, so you’re not just doing something to say you were a part of it. We won’t act on an opportunity unless it’s something that’s relevant and authentic to our brands.

Being agile, one of Ferrara’s core values as an organization, also means an openness to trying and learning new things. With constant innovation on social media platforms, brands that can adapt easily are apt to see results. The success of Ferrara’s strategy across brands can be seen in a number of key metrics in H1 2020 compared to the previous period:

  • Interactions: +177%

  • Engagement Rate: + 1,069%

  • Content Impressions: + 867%

Andrea said, “We’re constantly evolving and adapting our social content to meet trends, but we’re also looking to new platforms. We really use TikTok as a test-and-learn platform. With SweeTARTS® being the first confection brand on the platform, we’ve seen a lot of success already. It’s just crazy how quickly things can go viral. It’s really such a unique platform.”

Give fans a reason to engage using personalized content

So how can brands know what opportunities to take on to create really personalized brand experiences? Ferrara keeps data front and center.

"We really see content as currency, and aim to give our fans a reason to keep engaging with us. To do that, we have to tap into relevant brand insights. Emplifi’s data helps us create socially relevant content". - Andrea Easley, Social Media Manager, Ferrara

She continued, “We have really polarizing products, like banana Laffy Taffy® or candy corn. People love it or hate it. So we like to tap into that.” Celebrating National Taffy Day, the social team leaned into the candy’s iconic and unique wrapper jokes to create a fun and personal activation.

"We decided to give people that familiar experience, but digitally. We asked people to share their friend’s names and something that their friend loves to do. Then, we created custom jokes for them on a digital wrapper and shared it with them on the day. It was a huge success. Customized content provides people social currency that really goes a long way," said Andrea.

Tune into brand advocates for authentic partnerships

For any discussion around influencer marketing, authenticity has always been the standout reason for its success. But as some companies rally around the buzzword, the partnerships they invest in may still miss the mark. And audiences can tell. Ferrara’s approach to influencer marketing champions true authenticity. They see real value in engaging influencers and celebrities who are already fans of the brand.

As Andrea said,

"If you see an influencer mentioning you in their Stories or on their feed, there’s always a way to authentically engage yourself in that conversation. Doing that right and staying in tune with what people are saying about your brands, while also finding ways to build on relations that already authentically, and organically, exist, is so important."

To do this, it’s key for brands to not only follow the data and scout out fraudulent activity, but also consider the entire campaign moment end-to-end. With a recent movie partnership, Ferrara sought influencers who were not only fans of their brand, but fans of the movie too.

Andrea described why:

"You don’t want it to feel random. You want there to be a really seamless tie to what you’re talking about because fans can see past that."

While it may be harder to discover these types of influencers, it’s worth it in the end.

The takeaway

Looking into brand and audience insights helps Ferrara stay proactive and flexible with their social media content calendar. For brands looking to create really relevant and authentic brand experiences, the success of SweeTARTS® and Laffy Taffy® campaigns shows just how important it is to do the research and stay ahead of what’s coming.

To dive deeper into the industry leader’s approach and advice, watch the panel discussion by Socialbakers (now part of Emplifi) on the State of FMCG. And, if you would like to learn more about the Emplifi platform and the brand insights it offers, get started by requesting a demo with one of our experts.

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