We advise your read this interview with snacks on hand as we sit down with Katherine and Rita from Lick Your Phone. They spend their time throughout Sydney and the globe finding and shooting the most instagrammable food delights and building an incredibly strong following. They have a large presence across Instagram, Facebook and Youtube developing a style that tingles tastebuds across the world.
Katherine and Rita talk about how they built their influence, how they best work with brands and give a myriad of tips on how to replicate their success. Don't let the delicious advice get cold and dig in below!
Can you tell us about yourself and your blog?
Lickyourphone is our open love letter to food for all to read. It’s a place for sharing our and other people’s recommendations of the best places to go and experience in Sydney. We also touch on global viral trends and a lot of food porn. We have always been an inclusive platform, with user generated content being an integral part of our strategy and offering.
Katherine: I’ve always been an avid watcher of cooking shows and reader of food publications. I particularly love shows that delve into the cultural aspect of food and how it has shaped the way we eat today. Food has always had such a prolific presence in my life, with my Italian mother being an amazing, curious cook. I spent a lot of my childhood watching her dance around the kitchen and helping her plan menus for family gatherings. As a creative, food styling and photography has always been a keen interest of mine too. I’m fascinated by food origins and traditions, how flavours work together and the bonding experience of sharing a meal.
Rita:Love to laugh, I’m a very friendly bubbly person that loves new fun experiences to explore and spend time with friends and family. I love sharing, entertaining and showing people where to explore to eat next. Food is life, it isn’t just a necessity eating is a hobby and a way to bring people together. My purpose in life is “feeding people happiness”.
What inspired you to start your blog?
We had come back from a tour of the Greek islands and had experienced such wanderlust that it inspired us to explore more of what our own city had to offer, especially in the way of food and entertainment.
What are your secrets to success and how did you turn your passion into a paying job?
There is no secret, it just comes down to hard, consistent work, backed by a love and deep knowledge of the product. A lot of research goes into what we do, from reading up about algorithm changes, new apps to use and of course keeping on top of new places, standout chefs and trends in the market. People look to us for guidance and insider tips and for us to position ourselves as ‘experts’, we need to not only be able to relay that information, but also express our own views and opinions.
Rita tips:Be persistent, be consistent, be everywhere.
Biggest misconception about you and your job?
That it’s easy or not credible. Yes, physically posting something is easy, but that is only a slice of the process. What people don’t see is the time and energy that goes into planning, content creation, customer service, analytics and most importantly, the years it has taken for us to build the audience.
What channels are you active across? What is your favourite and why?
Instagram and Facebook are the main players for us. Instagram is where we started so it will always have a special significance - especially as a visual medium. We are starting to branch out into YouTube and have recently launched our website. We plan on creating longer form content on YouTube this year.
What is the biggest tip you would have given yourself when you were starting out? What would you have done differently if you knew then what you know now?
Don’t be afraid to say no to opportunities that don’t align with your brand.
More and more social tools have become available for us to use in terms of insights etc so that has made reporting and learning from historical data much more effective. Learn and grow with the platform and don't be afraid to try something new.
Career highlight since being an influencer?
Staring in two E! News pilot episodes for a new segment called Celebrity Eats on E!. This was a really fun and new experience which enabled us to get in front of the camera more.
We’re super excited and proud to achieve the below within the past 12 months:
978,355 unique people have shared our stories with their friends and family.
207,895,768 unique people have viewed our stories.
Also to partner with and provide massive value to recognisable brands such as Coca-Cola, Arnotts, Ben & Jerry’s & McDonald's.
How do you “beat” the Facebook and Instagram algorithms?
Well, we feel this is something you will never ‘beat’ as it is a constantly evolving thing. What’s most valuable is the content that you are putting out there. Keeping on top of changes is important though, as this informs future decisions on how you can trial different things on the platform and see what works.
What do you feel is most important to your community and how do you provide that in your content?
Our community sees our accounts as a visual directory of the best places to go and to eat. In knowing this, we really strive to feature a good selection of venues across Sydney based on new openings and innovative menus. We find a lot of accounts and websites focus a lot on inner city venues, which is a missed opportunity in our eyes as there are so many hidden gems all over Sydney. We aim to create informative content also and are always thinking about how it adds value. An example of this is our ‘hack’ style videos which re-shapes people’s thinking around a certain product and the way they can use it.
What’s your top Instagram tip?
Always strive to produce authentic content. With more and more accounts out there competing for attention, it’s the ones that demonstrate a true passion for the content they produce that will succeed. Amongst many other factors like consistency and actively engaging with your audience, if you're not truly passionate about your brand, users will notice and will disengage as a result. Be an early adopter and user of Instagram’s new features like IGTV, as they will reward you for doing so.
What is your top Facebook tip?
Use closed community groups to your advantage. It’s a great way to share relevant information to an engaged audience and it’s also a way to gain user insights through conversations. These groups are on the rise as it allows people to filter out information they don’t want to see and engage with in such a noisy market. It’s also useful to be able to converse with like-minded individuals that are more likely to have genuine conversations with you and provide feedback. These are YOUR people and a fabulous tool for nurturing brand advocates.
How do you go about choosing the brands that you work with?
We have quite a stringent vetting process when choosing to partner with brands. First and foremost, we have to genuinely be passionate about the product and we look for that same passion in the people behind the brand too. This creates a harmonious working relationship that allows our creativity to shine through. Other factors we consider are whether our audience will resonate with the brand or if it’s bringing something unique to the market.
What has been your favourite brand collaboration to date and why?
Our ultimate favourite is our ongoing partnership with Insider. Our stories and work are being recognised & shared by the world's leading media publications.
Just one LickYourPhone video reached 102 million people, becoming one of the most viral videos of 2018.
Our TimTam slam campaign was also epic, our role was to show people how to eat Tim Tams (seriously how cool is that) and we reached a massive 610,804 impressions within 12 days.
What advice would you give to brands looking to work with influencers?
Be open to taking creative advice from the influencer, as they are the experts when it comes to knowing what resonates with their audience. Brands can often stifle creativity due to stringent brand restrictions (which is understandable) but if you are wanting to implement influencer marketing, there needs to be a level of flexibility that allows the influencer to create content in their own tone of voice. If brands are simply using the influencer’s platform to advertise their product the way they want, it is really a waste of time. It will look out of place and come across disingenuous to their audience. On the other hand, brands should select influencers that are a natural fit from the outset, which would minimise or even eliminate these issues.