Here’s a piece of good news to all Instagram foodies in Singapore: You can now be rewarded with complimentary food or drinks sponsored by your favourite brands in exchange for sharing their meals on your profile!
The team behind this “goodwill trade” system is local start-up HoneyHype. Launched in April this year, HoneyHype aims to help brands – especially start-ups in the F&B line – gain the initial traction with its target audience. The team’s focus on Instagram is not just driven by the fact that it is the social networking site with the 4th highest penetration in Singapore, but most importantly, food largely relates to the visual sense too.
With HoneyHype, any Instagrammer could be part of the next big trend in the food circle.
“Instagram is our choice medium firstly because it is highly visually appealing. The primary focus is on delivering instant glimpses of the subject matter. These are what we think brands will want to have.
“Secondly, Instagram is very much in the present. Any Instagrammer would know that the timeliness of posts matters. One would expect the majority of interactions to happen immediate hours following the post,” co-founder Sean Ang, 26, said.
Instead of working with highly popular influencers, HoneyHype lowers its barriers of entry by allowing any Instagrammer with 1,000 to 15,000 followers to join its platform. According to Sean, this is about 15% of the number of Instagrammers in Singapore and this group enjoys three times more engagement rate than the others.
Caption: The HoneyHype team is made up from (from left) Sarah Ho, Calvin Tan, Sean Ang and Eldric Liew.
HoneyHype’s decision to focus on the low to moderately popular Instagrammers allows it to charge the F&B start-ups at a lower rate. This goes back to its mission to help the start-ups kickstart their marketing campaigns. For example, brands only need to pay $400 for a two-week campaign in the platform. By contrast, engaging a celebrity influencer could cost around $10,000 per campaign.
“We recognize the power of the masses. Nothing goes viral just because a celebrity says X, but because your friends say X too. These people form the hubs and interconnects and now we’re putting that power in their hands.
“HoneyHype does not offer influencers for hire. Instead, we offer pool of people to win over – they will win their friends over for you,” co-founder Eldric Liew, 26, added.
As per many other digital community platforms out there, one issue which HoneyHype may have to gripple with is the possible monopolisation of the platform by its early adopters. The start-up utilises a reputation system to help brands pick out the right Instagrammers to shout their products. Inevitably, as the early adopters perform well and gain their deserved reputation, it may be less enticing for new Instagrammers to join.
The target number of Instagrammers and partners HoneyHype hopes to achieve.
Brands may focus on the tried-and-tested Instagrammers and shun the newbies. While this is reasonable on the brand’s point of view, it may inadvertently affect the scalability of HoneyHype. Social elitism within the HoneyHype’s community of Instagrammers may kick in. Nonetheless, it has a plan.
Sarah Ho, 25, explained: “I think a great feature of the platform is that we recommend matches not just based on traditional standards. We do our best to understand each Instagrammer and their follower base.
“Users with better reputations may be easier to gravitate towards, but every brand is unique and each campaign has a specific angle so getting the right Instagrammer is not just a matter of who has a higher reach or done more campaigns before.”
The writer welcomes the fact that HoneyHype is focusing on helping start-ups. This model fits the general user profile of Instagrammers, who could well be between 18 to 35 years old. This group of Instagrammers would definitely be keen on trying new food; they would also want to be seen as one of the first to try and recommend anything new to their peers.
HoneyHype’s sign-up page is simple to use. The Instagram connect feature is also useful and provides for a more seamless registration.
In short, HoneyHype can be the ‘cool marketplace’ in which anyone can discover something new to munch on. Naysayers can point out how its longevity depends on the growth of the start-up community – there is a risk that its growth could dwindle once the start-up community stagnates. However, big food brands such as McDonald’s could use HoneyHype to introduce new items on their menu too.
For a limited time only, they have decided to lower fees for brands to $100 for a two-week campaign. The four-member team is also organising an offline carnival to help brands reach out to their fans in person. It is a similar concept used by the World Street Food Congress which held a fair of its own in Bugis last year.
HoneyHype is more than just about giving perks to Instagrammers who post their sponsors’ offerings; with their built-in analytics dashboard for both Instagrammers and partners, it has the potential to be the go-to platform for upcoming F&B businesses to take their first leap into the local market, test their creations, find out what appeals to their target audience’s taste-buds and then from there expand beyond.