Social media is culturally ubiquitous these days. It’s a tool that allows manufacturers to connect with operators in any place. However, in spite of its ease of use, access, and affordability, few foodservice manufacturers leverage social media in their marketing plan.
While trade shows, email marketing, paid search, ads in publications, and an abundance of other marketing tactics are certainly important, we encourage you to add social media to your marketing mix for the following five reasons:
1) Meet operators where they’re at
Busy planning menus, engaging with guests and distributors, training employees, coordinating schedules, and more—it’s easy (if not an understatement) to say foodservice operators are on-the-go. They’re most often checking in on their phones. Social media allows you to connect with operators in their everyday lives.
- An INside tip: Social media makes it easy to target specific audiences based on demographics, interests, and followers. You’ll have to put a couple dollars behind it, but the investment is worth it.
2) Showcase your team and products in an authentic way
Beyond the standard brochure, social media is the perfect opportunity to create a voice for foodservice manufacturers. Be strategic, show what makes your company unique in the industry, and don’t be afraid to let your personality show by sharing behind-the-scenes stories. Work you’re putting into product development, the chefs behind the recipes, and your sales team engaging with operators are all examples of content to leverage.
- An INside tip: Depending on the content you share; social media creates a platform for your company to show expertise and be positioned as a thought leader. (Also, people love looking at appetizing food, so be sure to share lots of those tasty pics!)
3) Engage in two-way communication with operators
Simply put, this is HUGE. Getting ideas and content out into the cyber-sphere like recipes, product how-to’s, merchandising ideas and more creates a platform that operators can interact with. Not only do operators get to share their thoughts, they can ask questions and give critical feedback. Encourage them to post about how they’re using your ingredients or how they serve your products!
- An INside tip: Use this communication to further other areas of marketing by determining what content operators respond to. Be thoughtful, engaging, and show your operators love by responding to questions and comments in a timely manner.
4) Create hooks to drive to your website
Not only is social media great for creating awareness, each post can drive people directly to your website. Its flexibility allows you to tailor posts to your goals—such as growing a specific channel, driving more traffic to your website, increasing newsletter subscribers, etc. Once customers are on your website, think of all the good stuff they’ll likely have access to: rebates, promotions, and recipes that can bring them to the next step in the sales funnel.
- An INside tip: Monitor website traffic through Google Analytics to determine your main acquisition sources. It’s important to take this data with a grain of salt, however, as there might be some overlap (i.e., a person may see your ad or social post and later perform a search, rather than directly clicking the ad or link in post). Another idea is to create campaign specific URLs to get insight on how specific posts perform.
5) Build a community of engaged operators
Social media creates a space for operators to learn from each other, stay up-to-date with the latest food trends, ask specific questions on prep, and more. By encouraging operators to engage with your posts, and by featuring actual operator stories, you not only will further your reach but also create a stronger operator community.
- An INside tip: Encourage operators to follow your company on social platforms at tradeshows and events. Establishing the initial face-to-face connection will increase operator loyalty.
All in all, social media is an efficient, affordable, and successful way for foodservice manufacturers to market to and reach new and current audiences. Its platform encourages ingenuity and playfulness—so, be flexible and willing to test ideas! You never know the impact a single post might have.
Looking for ideas to get started? Contact us to take your social media strategy to the next level.