Social Media has grown exponentially around the globe subsequently presenting opportunities for companies to develop relationships with potential customers and suppliers on an entirely different plane, to reach markets never thought of before, to engage buyers, to be creative… it is about communication and relationships and relevancy and timeliness… it provides the manufacturer of today with some rather interesting means of raising company and product awareness on a very global basis!
The Wikipedia definition of Social Media is "the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue" using platforms such as Web 2.0 which our own EMC Canada website utilizes.
A couple of years ago, I saw an excellent You-Tube video on Social Media. It provided a quick snap-shot of what Social Media is and the exponential growth at which it's taking across the globe. It took Facebook as an example, just six months to reach 50 million users and the Apple iPod only nine months to hit 1 billion application downloads. Contrast those two mediums with the radio, which took 38 years to reach that same number of 50 million users. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerbergare predicts that in 2013, Facebook will engage 1 billion people in online activity representing close to 1/6 of the world's population!
Considering the above, I thought it would be interesting to explore how Food and Beverage companies are utilizing a "Facebook" platform and to see if there might be some best practices to extrapolate and share with others. It's also an excellent opportunity to share an updated version of that You-Tube video I mentioned above that sets the stage of where we are today. In addition, among the many resources available on-line regarding Social Media in general, there are a few tips on content that I am happy to provide links for near the end of this Blog.
Some quick stats and direct comments from "Social Media Revolution Socialnomics 2011" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzZyUaQvpdc) to ponder:
- It took the radio 38 years, the Internet 4 years, the iPod 3 years and Facebook just 6 months to reach 50 million users
- Facebook currently ranks third in population today falling just behind China and India
- 50% of Canadians are on Facebook
- Over 50% of Facebook users are under 30 years old
- In less than a year, Facebook added over 200 million users
- 60 million status updates happen on a daily basis
- The average user spends 55 minutes per day on Facebook
- The average person watches 24 hours of You Tube video - it is the second largest search engine in the world
- There are 106 million Twitter accounts micro-blogging in 140 characters or less
- First quarter of 2010 saw over 4 billion tweets - and these are breaking news stories faster than the television networks
- Already 34% of new businesses have started on social networks and 56% of those are on Facebook
- Wikipeadia has 15 million articles
- There are over 200,000,000 blogs
- By 2012-2013 - over 50% of the USA and Western Europe's sales will be influenced by online purchases
- 25% of search results for the World's Top 20 largest brands are links to user generated content
- 34% of bloggers post opinions about products and brands
- 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations
- Social media represents a fundamental shift in communication
With those thoughts in mind, how are companies making use of the opportunity to connect with potential customers? Logged in and ready to search, I spent a good deal of time viewing Facebook Pages specifically for those in the Food and Beverage industry and I wanted to highlight some of the great things companies are doing in this regard. It is really amazing to see the numbers of people they are actively engaging in their online activities through dialogue, contests, webinars, supplementary information and event invitations and so forth! Each of these organizations have invested not only time but creative thought in reaching their audiences making a conscious effort to stay in touch with their online following through regular discussion and information sharing.
A Facebook "User" determines the pages they wish to follow - and those "followings" if you will, are considered "Likes". Have a look at the number of Users who are following these companies!
|Ferrero Rocher||7,574,057 Likes|
|Kellogg's Pop Tarts||2,678,361 Likes|
|Campbell's Condensed Soup||29,251 Likes|
|Wrigley's Extra||155,594 Likes|
|Life Made Delicious - General Mills||99,198 Likes|
|Frito Lay||10,992 Likes|
|- Lays||2,304,027 Likes|
|- Sun Chips||523,429 Likes|
|- Tostitos||66,550 Likes|
|Gay Lea Foods||2,979 Likes|
|Kraft Macaroni & Cheese||392,677 Likes|
|Pine River Cheese||216 Likes|
|Sleeman Breweries Ltd.||3,718 Likes|
|Country Harvest by Weston Bakeries||1,560 Likes|
Overall 15,618,839 people will be receiving postings and offerings from the companies they have selected! Imagine first and foremost being able to reach out to this many potential consumers - imagine the opportunity to build relationships, to hear almost instantaneous suggestions for new product development or improvement! Imagine the opportunity to promote your brand, your products, your contributions to the community! Imagine the possibilities!
Getting to this stage definitely requires some effort and driving traffic to the site is critical to building a following. It is not surprising to see links to Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Linked-In on any number of communiqués or advertising today - encouraging people to connect to their page. Contests, celebrations, advice, information, job postings, etc. can all help build interest in your Facebook Pages. Keeping them up-to-date and relevant is very important and seeking engagement and dialogue is necessary to create those relationships that transcend into following your Pages.
The companies above are interacting with their followers in a variety of means and I thought it might be easiest if I generalized as per the tabs on their Facebook Pages with the additional encouragement to take a moment to review their sites for actual examples:
- Regular updates and ongoing interactive discussion that seeks input from readers
- Special offers such as printable coupons, shopping tips, links to new products, videos, contests, recipe sharing
- One company uses a Nutritionist as a facilitator for discussion and she provides feedback, informative links, videos and responds to consumer queries
- There are also opportunities to engage fans through surveys and fill-in-the blank statements
- Company Overviews and Mission Statements
- Product/Brand and Website or Facebook Links to promote awareness
- Website and Twitter Links
- Contact information
- "Like Pages" to other company products
- Company Products/Brands
- Organization Overview
- New Product Promos
- Community Endeavours
- Promoting new Products
- Direct links to website home page
- Charitable Causes (ie. Harvest of Hope - Breast Cancer Foundation Support - General Mills)
Contests and Games:
- Interactive, engaging
- Company Celebrations
- Charitable Causes
- Events, Informative Activities (Webinars), Job Postings, etc.
There are unique attributes for each of these sites - in the case of Pine River Cheese, it is an opportunity for them to stay connected with their customers while they have been rebuilding their plant after a major fire. A wonderful example of continued "customer loyalty" from across their cachement area. Facebook friends not only provide supportive feedback as they endeavour to move forward, but it also allows Pine River to direct those same customers to areas where they may still purchase their product.
On another company's page, I noticed an inquiry from South Africa regarding importing and distributing of that particular company's product there - outlining the very global nature of Facebook and of the potential marketing opportunities that exist.
I thought it was particularly creative of the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese site to utilize a survey - not necessarily related to Macaroni & Cheese at all - but one which engages their readers in a poll - ie. "Should cell phones be allowed at the dinner table?" - a question that we are all sure to have an opinion on!
There are so many ways in which you can touch the readers of your Fan Pages but clearly, staying relevant, interesting, and responding in a timely manner to queries and comments is integral to your success.
There are a couple of good articles available online that look at Facebook Marketing - if you have a moment, please check them out:
"5 Tips on Better Facebook Marketing for B2B Companies", Dave Folkens, February 4th, 2011
- Create Two Way Conversation (Focus on Customer Issues, Challenges)
- Connect a Community (Generate Conversation Between Fans)
- Build Relationships
- Cross Promote Content
- Make it Shareable (Be Creative)
"Facebook Marketing Tips: Make the Most of Your Fan Page", Michelle B
- Keep Content Fresh
- Engage New Visitors (Links to Pages)
- Promote a Contest Via Facebook
- Give Fans Something They Can't Get Anywhere Else (Coupons, Free Shipping, Weekly Specials)
- Encourage Interaction (Polls, Questions, Games, Information)
Do not be afraid to engage the support of your people, your customers, your suppliers to help build interest in your social media endeavours whether that be through Blogging, Facebook Pages, or Twitter accounts - give people a reason to follow you.
We too are doing our best to provide the tools necessary for Senior Manager's to streamline communications through the use of our EMC Canada Web 2.0 platform. We look forward to hearing your comments on our Blogs, participation in our Forums and to keeping you up-to-date on the latest activities through our Calandar of Events. As we move forward, in support of the iMin Project, contact with peers, community partners, colleges and universities will become that much more closer to each of you enabling resources just a few short key strokes away.
Finally just a couple of thought-provoking quotations to consider:
"We don't have a choice on whether we do Social Media, the question is how well we do it." - Erik Qualham
"We are all over this social media stuff. Follow us and you'll be all over our deals, offers and news." - Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Facebook Page, 16-Feb-11.
Have a great day!