Claire Williams has been working with local health food company Chia Bia since 2015. She works in the marketing department where her day to day activities can vary from social media, influencer engagement, market research, new product development, PR agency activity, POS design, event management, all the while improving customer relationships and ensuring positive consumer experiences online, instore and at events. We’ve asked Claire to give her opinion on the best ways to adopt social media marketing for food businesses and this is what she had to say.
Marketing is a multifunctional discipline and it can be hard to know what you ‘should’ be doing for your business. Food start-ups typically have limited financial resources and therefore have to find smarter, more cost-effective ways of promoting their brand. Mixing online with offline marketing is also key to building customer advocacy, a crucial factor in promoting any food brand. It's important to embrace your limited resources as an opportunity rather than a challenge. By analysing new activity you begin to understand the underlying mechanics of your business in more detail, which will serve you well for future marketing campaigns.
Use of Social Media
Health awareness is continuing to grow among consumers and while this is great, it means brands need to work harder to break through the clutter. An increased use of technology gives rise to more user friendly and cost effective marketing tools. Social media is a great way of getting your message out to many people. In Chia Bia we use Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Instagram is our visual platform where we share recipes from our followers on a daily basis, we also post real time content on our Insta Story i.e. staff birthdays, instore events etc. Facebook emphasises our local activity, mainly sponsorship, new products, stockists and special offers. We would typically use Twitter to engage with other businesses and post about trending topics – not specifically Chia Bia related!
Connecting with blogging communities is another way to get social media coverage, virtually all bloggers use social media and as they're fellow foodies you have lots of genuine stuff to talk about. They take an interest in what you do and are really supportive of what you're trying to achieve.
Influencer marketing has taken off in the last year. ‘Influencers’ focus on a specific theme and have highly engaged networks of subscribers who are actively interested in that theme. It can be a worthwhile project to reach out to the relevant individuals (especially the ones who you know use your product, maybe you’ve seen they use it in recipes on Instagram), you can direct message them on social media and ask if they’d be happy to review your product. In return for sending them your product, they endorse your brand and you automatically reach a new audience of like-minded people, who are ‘influenced’ by the influencer!
Market research is another area of marketing that is vital for food businesses, talking to your customers at events or through online surveys (Survey Monkey is a free tool) can help give focus to NPD activity and promotional campaigns. Identify marketing trends for the coming year by simply reading articles and forums online. If these trends can’t be mirrored in a new product, capitalise on them in another way i.e. collaborate with other food producers on a Facebook competition or write blogs about the trending topics. Consumer’s attitudes and purchasing behaviours towards local food is changing for the better according to Bord Bia’s Local Food Report 2017. Local is a by-word that has layers of meaning ‘quality, natural, supports Irish industry, healthier’ so if you can communicate your local message sell your brand story with it. People love a story and if it’s memorable all the better! The story is key to engage a new consumer and a key purchase trigger.
In summary, word of mouth recommendations are one of the most powerful ways to promote a new, interesting or exciting brand, and smart use of social media, based around the goal of attracting meaningful follows rather than simply boosting numbers, is one of the best ways of getting people to spread the word.