Now more than ever, brands are turning to social media stars to amplify their message. But who are these "influencers," and how do they get their start?
At BBR, we like connecting friends, especially those with a flair for food that tastes and looks good. Here’s our latest “love” connection:
Meet Minh Kiet. Fondly known as “Kit,” he’s a freelance food photographer and writer for various publications in Louisiana. His Instagram feed, @kiet_kat, features the food he shoots and eats so naturally, we swoon as we scroll. With such innate talent, he’s risen to become what you call in the marketing world … an influencer. Although he lives in New Orleans, Kit has a special place in his heart for his hometown of Lafayette, so we knew we had to introduce him to one of our favorite, up-and-coming brands — Cousins Smokehouse.
So more about Cousins. Based in Broussard, Louisiana, the finest pork is seasoned and smoked to tender, chewy jerky perfection. Being delicious and packaged in a “pretty” (that’s right, we said pretty) snack pack, we had to get samples of Cousins Smokehouse Pork Jerky into Kit’s hands. Sure enough, Kit tested them out and posted a rave review on Instagram, but we still wanted to hear more.
Sit down while we catch up with Kit and talk food, influencing, and again…more food.
Kit, thanks again for testing out Cousins and showing them some love! Any additional thoughts on the jerky. Ready for more?
Of course. I actually bought a few more bags of Cane Fire from Rouses after the shoot. I’m also planning to bring some with me to Vietnam soon.
Being a “foodie influencer” now, how often do you get approached by brands, or anyone for that matter, in the food or beverage industry?
Almost daily. I eat out almost everyday of the week now. :)
That’s not a bad deal! Where did your passion for food stem from? Tell us a little about how you grew into this influencer role.
It all started with a little Vietnamese restaurant downtown. I took our food pictures and managed social media marketing. After I exited the business, Yelp noticed my work and offered me a gig for one of their events. From there, I met many local business owners. Publications started to notice my work and offered me contracts.
Now that I have a platform, I try to give back to others as much as I can. My passion is more in helping others than finding food, if that makes sense? I partner with Susan G. Komen, St. Jude, Baton Rouge Green and other non-profits often.
What does a typical day in your week look like as a writer, photographer and influencer all rolled into one?
I don’t sleep. (Kit laughs.)
Besides being a photographer, writer and influencer, I also handle risk management for a very large construction company, import coffee from Vietnam and do philanthropic work. I think entrepreneur/philanthropist is a more accurate way to describe me now.
Maybe we should have asked this first, but do you like being called an influencer?
I don’t dislike or like labels honestly. I grew up being bullied with labels.
I’m just someone who likes to eat good food and help others. I genuinely enjoy partnering with businesses to help their brands grow. If that’s being an influencer, then sure, call me an influencer.
Now that we know you’re cool with it, what three pieces of advice would you give to anyone, in any industry, that wants this label?
- Don’t be afraid of rejection! I reached out to a local publication once for freelance work, and they straight up told me I was “not good enough.” A few weeks later, I was published nationally with American Cake Decorating Magazine. Okrrr….[sic]
- Don’t compare yourself to others. This can demotivate some people. Just “do you,” and people will eventually recognize you. You never know who comes across your work.
- Be genuine. Yes, I really do say “okrrr” often. (Kit chuckles again.)
What advice would you give to brands looking for that influencer exposure?
Partner with people who genuinely have your interests at heart. Also, do some research on the person, and make sure they’re reputable.
Are they effective? Are their followers real?
Just because someone has a large follower count does not mean they’re effective in your marketing strategy.
Now back to food (like usual), what’s one or some of your favorite brands or trends happening in the business?
My favorite trend is people are more open minded to try new food and flavors. And the openness to support local businesses is also a favorite.
(I’m actually publishing a very special article on the trend of Vietnamese food and culture SOON.)
I also recently did a podcast with ‘Porch, Wine, and Gravy’ about how Vietnamese/Asian food has grown in Acadiana.
To learn more about Kit and get lost in his delicacies, scroll through his Instagram feed. We hope to get more Cousins Smokehouse samples in his hands soon, but if you’re ready to sample your own and review, jerky can be bought online or at a retail location near you.
Have some thoughts on social media influencing? Questions about getting started or using influencing for your brand? Send them over to [email protected]