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How to Launch a Brand on Social
Tips from Graza's social lead Kendall Dickieson.
It’s hard to think of a brand that had a more successful social media launch this year than Graza. The squeeze bottle olive oil company went from nonexistent to suddenly everywhere in a matter of weeks: on my FYP, in my friends’ kitchens, on influencers’ IG Stories, in Samin Nosrat’s posts, and on, and on, and on. That didn’t happen by accident.
Today I am interviewing Kendall Dickieson, the social media consultant behind the social launch for the popular olive oil brand. She breaks down how far out to start thinking about social strategy pre-launch, the importance of product seeding, building community on Twitter, and lots more.
Rachel Karten: Can you tell me about your current job and any previous social media (or not) roles you've had?
Kendall Dickieson: I started in the world of social in 2013, but by way of accidentally becoming a micro influencer. I started growing a community out of my college dorm room at the University of Vermont and that account still exists today over on @theflexiblefoodie. In 2014, I came back home to New York and kept learning more about social and the psychology behind community building. My interests eventually led me to an internship as the "pintern" at Spoon University, a food publication made for college students that later on got acquired by Food Network. During this internship in 2016, I began freelancing for some restaurants throughout NYC while in school and working in retail. Later that year, I decided to leave college and go all in on consulting. I went on to work with local spots like O'Bagel or chains like Gregorys Coffee. In 2020, I shifted to consulting on the brand side, working with brand’s like Graza and Canopy, and haven't looked back!
RK: I'd love to talk a little about Graza and how you launched that brand on social. When in the process of product development did you come on to work with them?
KD: Great question and one that raises a great point to brands who may be reading this and looking to launch soon. Graza's official launch was January 2022, but I came on November 2021. We started teasing and posting on social about one month ahead of the launch. So, if you're a brand looking to launch, start earlier than you think you need to.
RK: Can you give me a peek behind the curtain for that launch strategy? What were some of the big tools or moments you used to build hype ahead of and during launch?
KD: Absolutely. Here’s a brain dump:
We went all in on creators and influencers. One of the first questions I always ask a brand before launch is "how much inventory can be seeded?". [ed note: seeding product means sending product out to people without asking for anything in return.] Andrew and Allen, the founders, made it an important step from the start so I was given more than enough to work with. I started seeding way before the launch so that then we could leverage user-generated content from creators as we led up to and throughout launch—we wanted to show the product in-use and get testimonials about the difference between Graza from other oils. I mainly focused on a mix of more macro creators like Molly Baz and nano/micro-creators. As more and more were getting packages, the more and more inbound requests for product came in.
I would also say Twitter! I won't lie, Twitter used to be the platform where I would never run it for a client, but Graza is the first and I love it. However, Grace Clarke (another marketing consultant who works on Graza) and I also leveraged our own Twitter networks and kind of showed the building of Graza in public. With support from many, the day that launch came around, everyone was sending me their receipts or photos of their purchase email—it was wild. I owe so much to the friends I've made on Twitter and it's hands down my fave community.
We built the account off of more BTS moments and also treating the customer like they were by our side whether that was at our first and only photo shoot, our first friends and family tasting, etc. We want our customers to feel invested in our story and to know that they are a big part of it.
RK: I think something that made the product appear everywhere was that basically every influencer or creator (big and small!) was using the olive oil in their videos, IG Stories, etc. Can you talk to me more about product seeding?
KD: Correct! I'll never forget when I first met Andrew and Allen in person and they told me their goal was to be everywhere—in every creator's kitchen, in the background of videos, being used on IG Stories.
I built out our influencer strategy and seeding leading up to the launch and ever since. Of course, all members of Graza have people they may get introduced to that they may seed to, but I handled all influencer outreach and seeding and still do. Grace handled our retail/restaurant seeding initiatives in the beginning as well and currently assists in seeding partners alongside me currently for community activations.
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RK: Almost immediately after launch there were social franchises starting to take shape—what are some of the core content buckets you created for Graza? What's worked well?
KD: Three of the core ones were definitely: Recipes, UGC, and The Product. Naturally, these all feed into one another but can stand strongly on their own. They all work extremely well and there are different angles I have taken to highlight each bucket whether it is using a recipe as reel, repurposing that same recipe as an illustrated recipe card, or making into a photo carousel. The data I pull across our buckets more so just reflects which formats we should be executing more frequently vs. the content bucket itself.
RK: How does your Instagram strategy differ from your TikTok strategy?
KD: Weirdly enough, it doesn't that much. I definitely repurpose a lot of our long-form Reels of recipe content into around 3-5 short-form clips for TikTok. These clips will also get pushed to Reels at later dates since we have seen a great hit there.
TikTok is definitely our place where we try and get a little more experimental and then take those golden moments and bring them over to our other platforms. For example, the Big Squeeze or Breadies. My favorite thing I like doing for Tiktok is testing the same content over and over in a new edited format, sound, whatever it may be. For example, with Breadies (original video), it didn't do the best it could have in my eyes, but last week, I wanted to bring it back (shoutout Taylor Swift for creating Anti-Hero) and I repurposed clips into this one and this one and they are both moving faster than the original.
I know you didn't ask but I also am a huge fan of YouTube Shorts and think brands should be on there considering how low lift it is. But once again, only if it makes sense for the brand. To date, I have definitely seen some of the best-performing TikTok's either perform just as well or better. We started on YouTube Shorts in June for fun, but to date, we currently have almost 200K views and 567 hours of watch time. I simply just repurpose our TikToks using the songs on YouTube Shorts and aim to post around 3-4 times per week. YouTube is still a platform that I believe in and obviously producing a full 6-minute recipe video is a way bigger lift so I’d rather be on the platform in whatever way we can be. Also, I love YouTube Shorts because no one is pushing their agenda in terms of selling—it's about humor, education, and more. It's wild though because one video on TikTok right now has 9,000 views, but 86,000 on YouTube Shorts.
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RK: You're speaking to a founder of a new product that hasn't launched yet—what's one piece of advice you'd give them for launching the product on social?
KD: It's so hard to choose one! I would say to invest in your team, give them the resources they need to execute initiatives (budget for creators, enough inventory to seed) and, most of all, your trust.
Another piece of advice would be starting social strategy earlier than you need to. Building a cohesive strategy and maximizing distribution across all owned social channels isn't an overnight task.
RK: Okay, so you did all this with Graza as a consultant. Around how many clients are you working with at a time?
KD: I would say anywhere around 4-5 main retainer clients with some projects outside of those (bi-monthly consulting calls, audits, and more). Some might read that and be like "WTF", but every brand’s scope is different! Graza is definitely an example of the full run of a show of my services, but when it comes to how I work with brands, it's flexible.
RK: What do you love about working in social media?
KD: It keeps you own your toes in every single way. You're always learning. You get to control what you can (outside of the algorithms). You have to find a way to stand out. Nothing is ever a flop, it's just a lesson. I think with social media, although it is very stressful at times (IYKYK), it’s so cool to see an idea go through execution and then also seeing the return on your work—whether that is with creator seeding or certain content bringing the community closer together.
The coolest thing of it all is literally building a dang community! You are getting the opportunity to help a brand grow and scale and become a household name. I think seeing someone get a Graza tattoo definitely put that into perspective for me.
RK: Any final thoughts?
KD: First of all, thank you for having me! Super appreciative and grateful for this opportunity. Second, I would say to all the brands who read this, to invest into your team or your social manager! Social carries across so many areas, but as humans, we cannot give 100% all the time. Give them the resources they need to do the work.
Tomorrow Kendall will be doing an AMA on the Link in Bio Subscriber Chat! You can ask her everything about launching Graza, being a social media consultant, and more. Be sure to download the Substack app to be notified once the chat once is live.