How do food marketers get the most from social media? It’s a perennial question that I tend to answer in the same way: the brands that use social media effectively are the brands that offer value up front. It’s a pretty simple idea, the foundational principle of content marketing, but it’s frequently forgotten when it comes time to populate a social content calendar.
Value, of course, is in the eye of the follower. It can be as functional as a conference pro-tip, or as useless as a beautiful garnishing gif. It can be as involved as a deep-dive employee profile, or as simple as a well-shot recipe photo. A winning, value-driven social feed is within reach for anyone willing to look closely at a target’s interests and needs. It takes some planning, and when called for, some focused spontaneity. The next time you are staring at a wide-open content spreadsheet—before you decide to start mining those obscure food holidays—here are a few practical tips to get you on track to attract and engage your target:
Stop reading this and do it now. You can use the Content Cookbook to get you started…welcome back. As a food manufacturer, recipe content is the structural bread and butter for your social calendar (among many other tactical touchpoints). Your audit will help you collect and activate all of the great content you already have on hand, and at the same time determine what holes need addressing. In addition to being a good idea for planning, it also feels good to go open a calendar with a nice stack of valuable content ready for use. Once complete, you can set in place a plan for developing new, trend-conscious recipes and accompanying visual media to ensure your feeds stay fresh and valuable.
Does your product have a growing season? Did you find some season-specific recipes in your audit that you can offer up? Think about key holidays where food plays a leading role and match your audience’s anticipation with practical tips and fresh recipes.
Pay attention to events that matter to your target, and use your brand perspective to say something of value.
Retail—Yes, sometimes this is an obscure food holiday, but show premiers, sporting events or cultural events like festivals are opportunities to show your audience you see them.
Foodservice—Your sales team can always use reinforcement building up to and following up after events. Confirm your presence and tease your offerings at key food/beverage conferences such as seasonal distributor trade shows, the National Restaurant Association Show (NRA), regional/state food shows and segment-specific conferences.
A well-defined audience can do wonders for engagement. A helpful exercise: name and describe two or three different user profiles within your target audience. Always have at least one of these profiles in mind for each post. Taking a look at your existing commenters/followers can help you get started.
Retail—If you manage multiple platforms, determine which audience gravitates toward which platform. There is likely some overlap, but the more targeted your approach, the stronger your connections.
Foodservice—Keep in mind segment-specific trade show and conference dates. Keep in mind buying season is key for non-commercial audiences.
On top of your calendar’s bones (target-relevant recipes), you have a lot of potential content ready to make that you may not have considered:
Your Story—People are drawn to compelling stories, and you are your own best storyteller. Look at your mission, purpose, history and team. If you are addressing an operator audience, consider profiling your sales team. For retail audiences, highlight some of the values you both share.
Your Fans—Pay attention to the people paying attention to you. Ensure someone is responsible for liking/sharing/re-tweeting user praise. For operator audiences, consider highlighting client testimonials. Engaging industry partners in social banter is a great way to connect with their base of followers.
Your Promos—Product launches, big media initiatives and trend-focused content pushes should all be built in to your plan. While this is an important part of your feed, it should not be the bulk. Above all—adding value by entertaining, informing and solution-offering is what your users are after.
By considering what existing content you have to offer, when you are posting content, and who your audience is, you are on your way to a winning social calendar. Having your schedule in place on your “go-live” date will keep you from going dark (a steady stream of valuable weekly posts is a good target). Your final planning consideration: flexibility. By keeping up with flashes of cultural interest (i.e. blue dress vs. gold dress), you have a chance to build stronger connections with your audience and build brand relevance.