Time Inc.’s newest food publication, Well Done, exists only on social media. Launched yesterday, Well Done mimics BuzzFeed’s Tasty and similar channels like Tastemade and Delish, sharing mouthwatering recipe videos intended to generate social engagement.
These videos have proven viral appeal. In the past year, Tasty and Tastemade received more than 375 million Facebook likes, comments and shares—six times more than all brands in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Food combined. Now publishers like Time are trying to get a piece of the action – and so are Food brands. Watch Pillsbury’s Apple Cinnamon Bubble-Up Bake video, and without scrutinizing for a brand logo, you might find it hard to tell it wasn’t posted by Tasty: the same sped-up apple chopping and butter melting, the same cutesy type indicating how many cups of milk and sugar to add.
Consumers are reacting as enthusiastically to recipe videos by brands like Pillsbury as to the non-branded equivalent. (This is likely aided by the fact that adept Food brands share videos by Tasty and Delish alongside their own branded content). How-to videos generate almost four times as much engagement as anything else shared by Food brands, according to L2’s Food: Social Platforms report. Pillsbury has become particularly adept at social media. Looking at the five videos in L2’s study that generated the most engagement, Pillsbury accounts for three of them; its biggest winner, “Weekend Mornings Call for these Easy Bacon and Egg Cups,” scored more than 460,000 total interactions.
Of course, brands are nowhere near achieving the engagement recorded by Tasty and Tastemade. When Tasty shared its own “Cheesy Bacon Egg Cups” recipe in 2015, the post scored millions of interactions. However, the videos can be valuable sources of referral traffic, taking users from Facebook to brand sites. And of course, as advertisers discovered long before the Internet, recipes are the most effective way for Food brands to encourage purchase. As one user wrote on Pillsbury’s Apple Bake-Up video, “Omgosh, I’m going to try this.”