Transparency in advocacy

We invited social media Influencers to advocate for organic alongside  the industry during #OrganicWeekDC

This year, Organic Week in Washington, D.C., was all about the organic sector doubling-down on bold ideas and better solutions. In the backdrop of the nation’s capital, more than 200 participants explored leading-edge thinking, discussed bold strategies, and took incremental steps to advance policy and private sector solutions.

As an organization whose mission is to promote and protect ORGANIC, we know that social media is continuously shifting landscapes in both marketing and politics. This context set the stage for the Organic Trade Association to launch our first-ever Influencer Program at #OrganicWeekDC in 2019. We chose eight widely followed social media Influencers to cover Organic Week for their diverse audiences and to get a behind-the-scenes look at organic advocacy in action. 

Why? Because organic has nothing to hide.

The following of these enthusiastic and committed organic activists on Instagram alone totaled nearly 300,000, but their reach and influence go far beyond that. The Influencers selected for the program were diverse—spanning various regions, demographics and audiences. What they had in common: they were all educators, passionate about learning more so that they could bring organic to life to their communities. Being able to experience directly the organic advocacy process in the nation’s capital, and to chronicle that experience to their hundreds of thousands of followers, was an invaluable learning lesson for all involved.

Influencer marketing +  education

According to research from the influencer marketing measurement company, Instascreener, Influencer marketing spend has increased 83%, year over year, in the U.S. and Canada. Organic businesses, like so many others, are asking themselves where Influencer marketing fits in with their overall marketing spend.

As an industry, we are constantly asking ourselves how to fit messages about organic production standards, environmental and human health, farmer prosperity and the complexity of government regulations on product labels and in marketing copy. The organic story is both compelling and complex for consumers, and figuring out just how to tell that story is an ongoing question that marketers of organic brands are exploring. 

Influencers have earned trust with their communities, and they have the ability to tell the organic story over time through varied creative content and channels. It’s widely understood that Influencers must have a combination of three factors to influence purchasing decisions: reach, contextual credibility and salesmanship. And for organic businesses, I would suggest contextual credibility is the most important factor when deciding which Influencers to work with. If an Influencer has already laid the foundation with their community about what organic is and why it matters, they have already done some of the critical work that marketers of organic brands are charged with. 

Influencers are consumers themselves. They are also trusted storytellers. Potential partnerships between businesses and Influencers synergize when a brand, a product, or a mission aligns with an Influencer’s deeper values—when the story can be easily shared with their communities. As a trade association committed to the promotion of organic, we are focused on educating Influencers—helping to construct that contextual credibility— so that they are able to effectively and accurately share the organic story with their consumer audiences. 

Advocacy in action

The success of the Influencer program reached well beyond the million impressions made by #OrganicWeekDC content. Influencers cited Organic Week in Washington as the highlight of their professional blogging careers, and one of the most inspiring programs they had participated in to date. They were overwhelmed by the commitment of organic business leaders to grow the movement for the health of all families, the environment and the economy. They were awe-struck by the power of their own voices in advocating to advance organic priorities in the Farm Bill appropriations process. And most importantly, they were empowered to get involved, take action and encourage their communities to do the same. //

This article was prepared by Kelly Taveras, the Organic Trade Association’s Digital Specialist.