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A beginner’s guide to social media for food and drink companies

Social media for food and drink companies

Social media is one of the only free communications channels available to small food and drink companies and it provides a way of directly interacting with your customers.

Therefore, it seems like a no-brainer. 

But, before you dive feet first into setting up every social media channel, here are a few things consider:

Is this the right time for my business?

Do you have spare time to dedicate to social media? There’s no point in setting up social media accounts and never posting or replying to anything because you’re too busy fulfilling orders. This can do your brand more harm than good.

Also, there are a number of things you need to put in place first – have you got your production process set up and have you got anywhere to sell your product? If not, park social media for now and come back to it later.

What do you want to achieve with your social media?

Once you’ve decided you’re going to commit to social media you need to understand why you want to use it:

  1. What do you want people to get from your social media? Do you want people to buy your product directly from your website or from a retailer? Or do you just want people to engage with your brand and give you real time feedback on your products?

  2. What types of content will you post that will keep your audience engaged? You can’t just post the same pack shots all the time or sales messages. Behind the scenes insights, competitions and creative photos and videos will all keep your audience engaged.

  3. How will you define success? It’s easy to spend a lot of time on social media and time costs money. You won’t know if you’re using your time effectively unless you’re focused on what success looks like e.g. a certain number of engagements, followers or traffic to your website.

Which social channels are right for you?

So, you’ve decided that social media is right for your company. But, which social media channels are right for you? Working out where your target audience are and your rationale for using social media are vital to this decision.

  • Twitter is the most real-time of any social media accounts allowing you to share your news as and when it happens. You can also easily get live feedback from your customers and share it with your other followers. 
  • Instagram is a visual network and a hub for people who are passionate about food. So, if you can take lovely photos then you can engage a relevant audience. But, Instagram makes it difficult to link people away to your website and share other people’s content.
  • Facebook is by far the biggest of all social media channels so if you can crack it then there are big rewards.  It also suits a variety of content and if you’re willing to put money behind Facebook then you can deliver very targeted advertising campaigns. But, with recent changes to Facebook’s algorithms, brands are given less prominence in people’s timelines making the job of building a following difficult.

Producing quality content

Now you’ve got your social media set up you need to make sure you’re making optimum use of it. Here are a few tips:

Have a plan – Decide how often you’re going to try and post, when you’re going to post and the types of content you want to share. You can schedule content in advance using tools like Hootsuite – this will allow you to be active on social media even when you’re busy doing other things.

Engage with people – It’s called social media for a reason. Make sure you reply to people who engage with you in a timely manner. Like and share other people’s content if it’s interesting. Follow people who could be of interest and value to your company and follow people back who regularly engage with you.

Information, identity, emotion - Make sure your content is either informative, people identify with it or it elicits an emotion. If you achieve any of these things and you start picking up shares then your content will begin to appear in other people’s timelines.

When are your audience online? Maximise the effectiveness of your social media posts by posting content when your audience are most likely to be online. This guide provides an overview of the best times for different social networks.  

Get support from friends and family – When you’re starting out it can be hard to build a following. So, make sure you get all your friends and family to like your page and when you post something important ensure they’re primed to engage with your post. 

Tag relevant people into your posts so they’re aware when you’re posting. But, don’t tag them too often as it gets annoying.

Effective use of hashtags will ensure your Instagram (and Twitter) posts reach a far wider audience than your followers. Look at what hashtags other similar companies are using for an idea of what’s relevant.

Don’t overuse hashtags and emojis - whilst there’s a temptation to throw in loads of emojis and hashtags into your posts, don’t forget that people still want to see well-written, concise and grammatically correct posts.

Attractive visuals are king so make sure you’re armed with a good camera phone and know how to effectively use photo and video editing tools and filters.

Share other people’s content about you – If people post nice things about you then share it with the rest of your audience. This is harder on Instagram but you can use the Repost app to make this possible (you should also ask permission on Instagram before sharing someone’s content).

Analytics – Before you spend too much time creating dashboards and graphs to analyse how your social media is performing, try the tools that are built into each network to give you some quick insights:

  • Which are my most successful types of posts? If it works then do more of it!
  • Are my follower count and post impressions, engagements going in the right direction? And, are you achieving your key objectives? If so, don’t dwell too long on your analytics.

Now that you’ve established what your objectives are, which channels will work for you and how to produce great quality content, you’re ready to set-up your company’s social media.