Among the beauties of social media is its ability to help cultivate an organic community around a company or product line. At the same time, few things have the power to capture people's fancy and incite enthusiasm like good food and drink. Given that combination of factors, foodpreneurs are perfectly positioned to maximize the business benefits of social media.
Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks can help companies reach a target audience, grow their fan base and build relationships with consumers who can be counted on for brand loyalty and repeat business.
The search engine Bing recently joined forces with Facebook to give Web surfers search results informed by their Facebook friends' preferences and posts. Google has also been experimenting in this realm with the use of data from its own social media platform, Google+. It calls the new initiative Search, plus Your World.
Through this new technology, search engines can draw from the profiles of the searcher's online friends, including the photos they post. For purveyors of food and beverages, this offers great potential. They could encourage fans to post photos of them enjoying a product, perhaps by launching a contest for the best picture. Someone who has never heard of your company may be presented with images of their old college buddy, favorite aunt or co-worker enjoying your product. That's a powerful personalized endorsement.
Pinning Pretty Pics
Food industry veterans know just how important it is to make food and packaging beautiful; food photography is an art form. Now, food and beverage producers can take advantage of the popularity of Pinterest, which has rapidly developed into a social media juggernaut.
Take the results of that latest photo shoot and incorporate them into Pinterest boards that are easily shared, re-pinned and commented on. For inspiration, check out the Pinterest presence of Whole Foods, Lindt Chocolate, Four Peaks Brewery and la Madeleine, each of which was named to Social Media Delivered's Top 20 Companies on Pinterest in 2012.
Spruce up Your Facebook Image
In the wake of Facebook introducing its new Timeline feature, food and beverage companies should view their old "profile pic" as an official business card - one that goes wherever they go on the social network. Because the photo is left whenever the company posts a comment or appears on a fan's news feed, it should be synonymous with the brand - essentially an iconic image.
The main, or cover, photo also offers branding and marketing possibilities. It could be an image of a signature menu item, for example. Companies also can consider following the example of Jackson Kayak, a Tennessee-based kayak company that invited fans to submit action shots for a Facebook photo album, with the fan favorite becoming the cover photo on the company's Timeline.
Businesses can tap into other Timeline features that allow them to highlight status updates, pin updates to the top of the page and identify major milestones such as awards and number of customers served.
Tweeting Product Launches
Twitter is all about what's hot right now. Timely and to the point, it's a breathless buzz generator. That's what makes the social media platform so well suited to launching a new product.
Steer clear of outright self-promotion in tweeting a product launch; instead, look for ways to engage the audience and encourage them to re-tweet and share links. If possible, peg a launch announcement to an event or issue that's important to the target demographic. A hashtag will allow foodpreneurs to track the Twitter chatter about the new product and make any necessary adjustments to the launch campaign.
Each social media platform brings something new to the table and, when incorporated thoughtfully, can benefit a company's marketing strategy . However, the secret to success is generating engagement and building a community of fans. Games, coupons, contests and loyalty rewards can all be part of the initiative to develop brand champions who will spread the word about your new products in innovative and far-reaching ways.
This guest post was provided by Jessica Edmondson who contributes on
social media training and Internet marketing training for the University Alliance, a division of Bisk Education, Inc.