Being a B2C brand on Twitter can be hard, because the B2B world seems better suited for it.
A potential client in your niche has a question, you answer it. You identified that client because she used particular keywords, which you searched for. Or you identified her through her Twitter bio or LinkedIn profile, and found that she was in your industry. Since there are only thousands of people in that niche — and not millions, like in the B2C world — they’re easier to find, connect with, and keep up with.
But what if you’re managing the social media account for a major food brand?
The traditional reaction is to view this as another advertising channel. Maybe you think it’s an even better advertising channel, because it’s free.
However, advertising on Twitter is just like a commercial-only TV station — no one will want to watch, since no one is producing anything useful or interesting. So, telling people over and over that they can get your product “for 20% off this Friday only!” doesn’t do a thing for them. That’s not effective social media marketing. It’s shouting. No one likes being shouted at. People are either going to unfollow you, or worse, spam block you. (Get enough of those, and Twitter will suspend your account.)
So what can you do? You could try posting recipe suggestions and links to recipes on your blog, but after a while that gets a little repetitive, and people will start to tune you out. You can also do a search for your food item, and retweet the people who are mentioning your product or item, but that’s not really a conversation. (Remember, social media marketing is about interacting with customers and building relationships, not about broadcasting.)
Here are three other social media marketing tactics to try:
1. Create Buyer Profiles, and Find People Who Fit Them
Maple Leaf Farms in Milford, Indiana is the largest duck producer in North America (and a former consulting client from a long time ago). And as a food producer, their market is, well, everyone. Everyone eats food, therefore, they should market to everyone, right?
Not everyone buys food, and not everyone eats meat. So right there we already have groups of people we can eliminate — vegans, children, and teenagers.
If I were running Maple Leaf’s account, I would start focusing on the following types of people, because they are the people most likely to buy duck:
- Professional Chefs — This has always been a target market for Maple Leaf Farms.
- Amateur Chefs and Foodies – They lo-o-o-o-o-ove unusual food. And as big as the world’s duck consumption is, it’s still considered a gourmet item by a lot of people in this country, so foodies will love this.
- Moms, but especially stay-at-home moms — Duck is nutritious and healthy (most of the fat is in the skin, not the meat). And since women make most of the food buying decisions in this country, they’re the natural target to reach. I also specified stay-at-home moms, because many of them self-identify as such on Twitter, often with the #SAHM hashtag in the bio. While you’re at it, look for single dads. They’re a smaller market, but they also make all their buying decisions at home.
- Organic Food Enthusiasts — There are no hormones in duck or poultry of any kind, so organic foodies may be a little more interested in duck for that reason.
In most cases, most of these people will have something about these interest, vocations/avocations in their Twitter bio. Go to Twellow.com and do a search for each of these groups via the keyword search tool, then follow those folks.
2. Create Lists of Profiles, Interact Directly with Those People
Twitter lets you create lists of people and you can drop people in any of those lists. Maple Leaf can create those lists, and then monitor them on TweetDeck or HootSuite. I still recommend TweetDeck, because those columns automatically update on my desktop, rather than having to refresh my screen whenever new tweets pop up.
Then, start talking to these people about the issues that they care about, especially — but not solely — if they relate to food. If you’re a parent, and they’re talking about parenting, talk with them. If they’re talking about marathon running, and you’re a marathoner, talk with them. If they have a question about where to go for dinner when they’re visiting a new city, and you’ve been there, make the recommendation. Build relationships with these people and get to know them. As they get to know you, they’ll be more willing to try the products you sell (without you ever pimping the products to them).
3. Reach out to influential bloggers
There are outstanding foodie bloggers, chef bloggers, mommy bloggers, dad bloggers, organic food bloggers who all have hundreds of thousands of readers among them. Give them a proper email pitch, not a mass email sent to hundreds of bloggers at once.
Ask the most influential of them to review your product, whether it’s through a free sample plus an extra coupon to give away to readers, or a free dinner at a local restaurant that serves duck, or whatever seems to be the most cost effective. Whatever you choose, the most important thing is that you treat the bloggers as individuals, and don’t mass email them. That will backfire, and get them talking about you, but not in the way you want them to.
These are the first steps I would take if I were in charge of the social media marketing program at a food manufacturer. Don’t try to be something to everyone; identify a few niches and appeal to them first. As you gain success, expand your reach to more people within the niches, as well as any other likely target markets.
My book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing (affiliate link), which I wrote with Jason Falls, is available at Amazon.com, as well as at Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. It’s also available for Nook, Kindle, and other e-readers.
Photo credit: Great British Chefs (Flickr)