I am a big proponent of Social Media in food and because of its importance to Food Entrepreneurs; a monthly series of articles will focus on this all important topic. Some of the articles will be "how to" focused and others will feature best practices of consumer food brands, both large and small.
I asked my colleague David Hochman of DJH Marketing Communications to participate in an interview with a focus on how to make social media work for your food business.
The Basics: What Social Media Does?
This is a common question that comes up frequently and David points out the benefits of social media in your marketing mix. David says "It enhances your traditional marketing and PR vehicles which include print, radio, TV advertising, search engine optimization (S.E.O), telemarketing, direct mail, email marketing (such as Constant Contact) and press releases." Dave points out that social media is strongest when you have one or more marketing tools working for you so don't abandon what is working for you.
Social Media supplants traditional marketing by filling in the gaps where traditional marketing isn't sufficient. For example print couponing constrains you by the publisher's schedule. Dave said a good example is "the deli manager of Sickles Market in New Jersey wanted to do an 'all soups 15% off' promotion immediately. Within an hour their facebook page had the offer posted. The deli manager said they had customer's respond within the same day." He said the fancy marketing term is "frictionless" marketing. In the past Sickles only option for last minute promotions was in-store signage which is limited to those people already committed to going to the store. "The interesting thing here is they were able to compare traditional marketing of the past to this new social media effort and they saw a sizable increase in sales." Said Dave.
Why Should Food Entrepreneurs Embrace Social Media?
According to Dave, "Social media tools help the food entrepreneur obtain valuable, specific real-time information on what moves your market and influences consumers." Real-time is the key since consumer is changing rapidly and older methods like the focus group are but a snap shot of consumer feedback in time.
Social media allows customer's access to the people who make up your company as well as relevant info about your brand and products. From a marketing/branding perspective, this means every company can personalize their brand like the well known brands Newman's Own and Orville Redenbacher. Social media allows you to personalize your brand, create an identity in ways that were unaffordable in the past. From a purely operations perspective, Facebook, Twitter and blogs can help reduce inbound calls to your company, lowering operating expenses.
Social media improves intra-employee communications, enhances staff moral and potentially reduces turnover.
For startups strapped for cash, Social Media enables you to develop and publish your brand story and key product messages that directly reach your market segments without having to pay dearly for the PR & advertising to overcome the filters and pay walls erected by third-party media.