Saturday, August 4, 2012

Foodservice & Social Media - Tips for Succcess

Marketing through social media is essential these days, but how do you know if you're doing it right?  As part of my studies as a grad student in Northwestern's IMC program, I found this great article on understanding the role social media should take in your firm - no matter the industry.  The author outlined some great, general points on how to make social media efforts successful:
      Provide an identity for your company/products
      It can serve as a way to communicate with your peers and customers
      You cannot depend just on Social Media as your marketing platform
      And, the Importance in keeping a consistent message

I thought it was a great article but wanted to share my take on her points and some thoughts of mine provoked by hers … and ultimately, explain how it might relate to the foodservice industry. So, from this article and my examination of effective social programs, here are my thoughts:
Have a consistent Brand Image – create a social networking image that’s fresh, but also ties in nicely with your current brand position.  Too many times there’s a disconnect with the brand image in traditional forms of marketing compared to how it’s portrayed in social marketing – it should be one consistent message across an entire marketing platform.  Remember, social marketing is important and effective if done right, but is only a piece of your integrated marketing plan.  However, different marketing techniques are better for different things.  In the foodservice industry social marketing is a great way to introduce new products, solicit feedback, and to encourage visitation through apps/couponing. 

Understand your Audience – Know exactly who your audience is and, more importantly, know who the influencers are.  Everyone is at a different stage in social media “sophistication” and should be treated as such.  It’s your responsibility to segment these groups and engage them accordingly.  In the foodservice industry, trends change so quickly so it’s important to know what your target is saying, who is listening, and how that can affect your business.
Engaging Content – make sure your social media platform is engaging and is managed on a daily basis.  It should have interactive technology that encourages dialogue between organizations, communities, and individuals. Pictures are a must in the foodservice industry as we "eat with our eyes" - no matter what you say about your product, the picture conveys what you want the consumer to see about your brand and/or products.
If you take nothing else out of this blog, take these three action steps:
  1. Keep the brand image consistent so there’s no wasted time in your customer’s mind on whom the message is coming from.  It should be fresh, but should also fit within your brand current brand position.
  2. Know your consumer! This means knowing the topics of conversation, sites they’re visiting and participating in, and ultimately how influential they are to others.
  3. Change and update your content regularly to avoid it becoming ‘stale’ to your followers.  This will encourage more frequent activity and ultimately increase engagement – which can lead to stronger loyalty among your audience. 

Even if it’s a small piece of your overall marketing platform, social media is a necessity and is expected.  I know, if done smartly, marketing through social media can successfully expand your reach and engagement with consumers, especially in the foodservice industry.

Carrie Phelps is a current graduate student in the Northwestern Medill Integrated Marketing Communications program, with 5 years of work experience in Marketing Research within the Foodservice Industry. Follow her @cphelps16 and connect with her on LinkedIn: Carrie Phelps.

1 comment:

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