If you run a food-related enterprise and aren’t yet using social media to boost your business, now is a great time to start. Not only are most social platforms like Facebook and Twitter free, but many are also oriented toward visuals – and there’s nothing as visually tantalizing, tempting, stimulating and piquant as the sight of a well-prepared meal. That’s why we called in a panel of experts for the dish on social media for your food biz, and this was their sage advice!
1. Define Your Goals
Whether you are just starting an online food-zine, or run a well-established restaurant, each business has different social media needs. For Alex Vallis, Digital features editor of FoodandWine.com, a top priority is using social media to drive more traffic to their already popular site (the more hits, the more advertising space is worth) as well as expand to new demographics. In contrast, Dhruv Singe, Founder of !Savory, turned to Social Media when he was just starting out to develop brand awareness and forge relationships with customers. Similarly, Joe DiStefano, founder of Chopsticks + Marrow, is a one-man shop and manages his own social media. His focus is on creating buzz to build an audience. When his blog posts are referred to by other publications like the NYTimes, he shares it on his Social networks and sees a spike in site traffic.
2. Align Your Social Media with Your Audience
Consider your target audience when choosing your social media platforms. If it is customer engagement you’re after, Facebook and Twitter are wonderful tools. To reach your business contacts, use LinkedIn. A great way to explore ways to use the different platforms is to browse through profiles of businesses similar to yours.
3. Be Explicit
In the food business, don’t underestimate the power of great images. For example, Food and Wine’s Fantastic Pasta board has over 25,000 followers, which translates to more site traffic. When it comes to food, presentation is (almost) everything, and that’s why Food-related businesses lend themselves so well to visual platforms like Pinterest, Instagram and increasingly Facebook.
4. Keep an Eye on Current Events
While it can be difficult to measure the ROI (Return on Investment) of your social media activities, they can certainly impact your bottom line. Sometimes it’s all about timing. After Hurricane Sandy, many restaurants were struggling from damage and loss of product. In response, a group of New Yorkers in the restaurant industry created an online campaign called Dine Out NYC (#DineOutNYC on Twitter) to encourage people to dine at restaurants throughout New York. The campaign had a combined 4 million impressions.
5. Learn from It, and Have Fun
For Dhruv, the use of social media was an organic process that helped define his brand. Through his engagement with his growing consumer base, he learned what worked and what didn’t, and used it to tailor his branding efforts. What he discovered? An irreverent, playful and daring tone worked best for !Savory.