Food blogging is hot right now. Millions of bloggers vie for eyes on their recipes and recommendations in the kitchen, each trying to create content that will set them apart. It’s not a surprise then that, when you’re scrolling through Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, almost every post is a food photo, recipe or even a video or two.
You might have even noticed some packaged, branded ingredients set amongst the artistically arranged plates of cookies. That’s no mistake.
Brands know that the most popular bloggers have built intense loyalty among their social followings—sometimes more than a million engaged users welcome these bloggers into their lives for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And it’s a loyalty that brands are increasingly tapping into.
For years, the LAND O LAKES brand has partnered with food bloggers to promote products and bring the Land O’Lakes, Inc. farm-to-fork story to new people and places. And almost every time a new blogger is exposed to our story and the stories of our farmer member-owners, they want to know more.
“In our experience, food bloggers like to get behind the story of the brand and see what exactly happens on a day-to-day basis to make the products they use every day. We wanted them to walk away with a feeling—that Add a Little Good™ feeling," says Anna Squibb, marketing manager for Dairy Foods.
That’s why earlier this summer, Land O’Lakes brought bloggers and some of our member-owners together to learn the history, business practices and values behind LAND O LAKES. And even more importantly, to meet the farmers behind the butter and cheese.
Bloggers get behind the brand
This year, 11 influencers are creating recipes using our dairy foods products and sharing them across their social networks.
Shawn Syphus, the owner of I Wash…You Dry and mom of four, lives in Southern Utah and started blogging more than seven years ago. What started as a recipe Facebook page for friends and family has since spiraled into 21,000 Instagram followers and a published cookbook in 2015. It’s her first year as a LAND O LAKES brand influencer, a decision that isn’t made lightly.
“Everyone knows LAND O LAKES,” Shawn laughs. “A few years ago, I wrote on a vision board who I’d love to work with—the brands I use all the time that I know are good quality. LAND O LAKES was one of them.”
Shawn was one of nine bloggers who made the journey to Minneapolis for a two-day immersive visit. Brett and Meredith Reinford, Tyler and Jen Ribeiro and Connie Meyer, member-owners from Pennsylvania, California and Minnesota, respectively, joined the blogger group at our corporate headquarters and accompanied them on a farm visit.
Sadie Frericks, Land O’Lakes member-owner, hosted the group on her farm, Blue Diamond Dairy, and as a blogger herself (Sadie’s one of the nine official influencers), she helped the bloggers develop a deeper appreciation for agriculture.
More than milking a cow
When Connie Meyer received the invitation to meet with the food bloggers and assist Sadie in helping them understand what farming’s all about, she jumped at the opportunity.
“I thought it’d be a lot of fun to meet them and hear their perspective on dairy farming,” Connie says. “They were really interested in the process of moving the product from Sadie’s farm to their table. It really hit home, the fact that we, as farmers, are committed to making a high-quality product.”
Connie and her husband John own Quarry Hill Dairy in southeastern Minnesota milking 800 cows on two locations with 22 full time employees and 1,000 acres of alfalfa and corn. She thought engaging with food bloggers and sharing her experience in the farm-to-fork process will only get a more accurate story out there to consumers increasingly interested in where their food comes from.
“One of the biggest misconceptions about farming is that it’s old-school. I find myself telling people all the time: farming’s a business. It’s full of advanced technology and the decisions you make influence your profitability. And, you have to be able to do it all,” says Connie.
After a tour of the barn, a presentation on the cooperative business model and an overview of all the conservation practices farmers take to ensure their farm will sustain future generations, the bloggers certainly saw Connie’s point…that there’s more to dairy farming than simply milking the cows. And Shawn specifically, felt tasked to share what she had learned.
“I can bring what I learned here and present it in such a relatable way to moms, really anyone—Sadie’s managing the farm and a household, she does it all,” Shawn says. “I get a lot of great feedback from my readers when I share what I learn on the farm. A lot of people are interested in learning where their food comes from.” In practice, a career in blogging and farming is entirely different. But when you look beneath the surface, there are more similarities than you’d think. The spirit of entrepreneurship is the common denominator within both. And, the idea of creating a legacy.
“They [the bloggers] are very passionate about what they do. They’re always looking for new ways to do things or a new place for their content. We are doing that, too,” says Connie.
Food bloggers create recipes people love and farmers help feed the world’s growing population. Their energy comes from the same place—passion for food, their careers and a belief in the power of storytelling.