As everyone knows Social Media is an important part of any companies marketing strategy but instead of just pouring a lot of money into different tactics there are budget saving means to generating a lot of buzz on social media.  The Food industry has been very successful thus far with their cost effective means of mobilizing their online audiences to grow brand awareness.

According to a recent mashable article, successful food brands are discovering three very important things about social media marketing:

  1. For a food brand fan base to talk they need something to talk about.
  2. The conversation needs to go beyond company products and services to consumers’ broader interests to engage not intrude.
  3. They don’t need million dollar budgets to succeed online.

The following are five food brands that have done a good job using social media promotions on a budget:

Chobani

Chobani Greek Yogurt was one of the first companies to use niche consumer platforms like Pinterest and Instagram to interact with consumers.  Instead of just explaining the health benefits of their product Chobani used the lifestyle of their consumers to guide the conversation and the different pictures, videos and comments they shared.  It’s important to look to your target consumers to see what they want out of a social media campaign to make sure a company gets the most bang for its buck.  Chobani shared recipes and heathly eating tips with their consumers after being directed by their target consumers what is important to them and their lifestyles.  Chobani is by far the favorite yogurt at BC so there social media marketing towards young college consumers makes sense for them.

Whole Foods

Whole foods focuses their communications strategies on what the consumers and can do and achieve with their products and services.  They decentralize the majority of their social media tactics to individual stores and product offerings around the country to make each twitter or facebook account more specialized to consumer needs allowing them to go into more detail on each page instead of only the broad “Whole Foods” brand.  Its important to Whole Foods to respect the consumer conversation and intelligence over social media and to offer tips and advice only when appropriate.

Chipotle

My favorite Mexican restaurant in Cleveland Circle, Chipotle, has a large management team for their social media accounts that allows them to tweet back at consumers or reply to requests via social media.  Such a pro-active responsive strategy has allowed Chipotle to create genuine relationships with their consumers online making them not only Chipotle customers but avid brand loyalists.  They have really succeeded at social media “Word-of-Mouth” campaigns and getting direct interaction between managers and consumers.  Everyone likes to get a reply from a company or a retweet and Chipotle is definitely leading the way by having certain managers responsible for doing just that.

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese

Kraft Mac and Cheese hired Ted Williams, the internet phenom with the “golden voice”, as their spokesman for their newest campaign gaining online notoriety for his fame.  Though Ted Williams is mainly featured in television commercials Kraft has been able to leverage him online by taking consumer generated tweets and turning them into 30 second commercials that aired on major networks.  In doing this Kraft created traditional media content from online consumer generated content directing the brand image from the consumer.  Its useful and money saving to use consumer input to make successful content and its important to seamlessly integrate traditional media with social media to make the campaigns as successful as possible.

Domino’s

Domino’s, similar to Kraft Mac and Cheese, created platforms for customers to give complaints and comments about their service and pizza.  From this feedback Domino’s was able to improve their quality and introduced as part of their marketing tactics a “pizza tracker” that allowed customers to review their ordering process and explain what Domino’s could do better.  Individual Domino’s franchises have also taken the lead in local social media tactics by creating a Youtube channel or offering deals through Facebook or Twitter.  Domino’s is an example of a company that can utilize not only consumer input but also employee input that will better the entire company.  Going the extra distance to speak with customers is important to retaining customers and Domino’s has proven they are willing to go the extra step to ensure everyone is happy with their product and if not they want to know what they can do to fix it.

These are just a couple Food companies that have successful used social media on a budget as part of their marketing campaigns.  So what do you think? Do you agree with the companies above and if so have you participated in any way online with these companies through their campaigns? Are there any other companies you have noticed doing a good job marketing Food online? I think in future other Fast Food companies like McDonald’s and Wendy’s will do more but why haven’t they been the first? Let me know what you think!

Also for a lot of these companies and other Food brands Pinterest has been huge because recipes are very popular to pin so if your interested in learning more about how Food companies have been specifically using Pinterest check out the article linked below.

http://mashable.com/2012/03/12/pinterest-food-marketing/

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4 responses »

  1. rachelvitale says:

    Pinterest is a great place for food brands to be! Food is one of the most popular board categories on Pinterest (and my personal favorite). And while I do not interact with brands online on a regular basis, I have repinned recipes from brands on Pinterest. They can promote their products while offering value (through recipes) to their customers.
    You mentioned how Dominos uses a pizza tracker. I rarely order Dominos, but I have gotten wings before from Wings over Brookline. They offer a similar tracker, and it is a lot of fun to watch the timer as your food is being made, prepared, and delivered. It adds a level of excitement to your take-out order. I bet if a Twitter widget was added to this page, people would tweet out their order’s status. I know I would be tempted.
    It is interesting that you mention major fast food brands not being particularly visible on social media. I do find that surprising as well, but on the other hand, they have such a hold on the market that they don’t need to always be in front of the eyes of consumers (if consumers walk outside, they’ll see them anyway). And McDonalds did try earlier this year with their rancher’s YouTube commercial, and we all saw how well that went! I would like to see more of them, though, and I do expect we will within a short time. Thanks!

  2. jperson182 says:

    I think its great that food companies are engaging with consumers on social media, especially — as you already pointed out — in sites like Pinterest that allow people to share recipes.

    I think a company like Whole Foods uses social media well, especially with its company blog, http://blog.wholefoodsmarket.com/ There is a lot of conversation on the site about topics that are important to the company and there seems to be a decent level of customer engagement. If you look at a similar company, like Trader Joes which also has a strong following of customers, the company has integrated social medial into their site only so far as allowing people to ‘share’ content on the company’s webpages, there is limited ability for a customer to engage with the brand. I think this misses a large opportunity as the company has many unique products and I can see people sharing their recipes as well as ideas for new products.

    I’m not sure about Domino’s. I agree with Rachel’s comment: “I bet if a Twitter widget was added to this page, people would tweet out their order’s status,” but I’m not sure if the majority of tweets would be positive or negative. Domino’s also has a company blog http://more.dominos.com/ however they are not very active on it. Their customers are, however, and the majority of the feedback they leave is very negative. You also don’t see any company response to the negative comments customers are leaving. In the case of their blog, I’m not sure social media is helping them.

    In terms of McDonalds, I think they are still figuring out how to best use social media as some early attempts have backfired. In this case, its probably better for them to go slow and learn from others’ mistakes (i.e., Domino’s) so they don’t invest substantial money in something that could potentially hurt more than it helps.

  3. Jerry says:

    I think perhaps some of the reason that Domino’s has gotten so involved in social media is because they got so badly burned a few years ago through YouTube. It’s my experience that companies that experience the potential negative impact of social media often respond by developing a very robust social media strategy. They recognize the perils of ignoring these platforms, and put considerable resources into turning them to their advantage.

    • andrewtmoore says:

      Domino’s really struck me for the exact reason that Professor Kane just brought up. Their first experience of being burned by social media probably got management within the company talking about what could be done to avoid such a disaster in the future. Also important in my mind is Domino’s more recent attempt to reinvent itself by offering better ingredients and (arguably) a better overall product than it had previously. Both of these initiatives required Domino’s to teach its customers about its new policies in an attempt to build a more trusting relationship with them. While it remains a bit uncertain whether social media has been an overall benefit to Domino’s, it seems that their involvement with it was a move in the right direction. It’s a little disturbing that Jason noticed their blog being used more by angry customers than proactively by the company, and this is definitely something that they could look to improve on.

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