A strong social media strategy is a vital part of a culinary marketing plan. After all, food is an incredibly social product and it’s visually appealing - it’s a marriage made in heaven.
To help navigate the quagmire of choices, we’ve compiled a list of those channels most frequently used by consumers and a peek at where they fit in your strategy alongside what you need to know about upcoming features and changes.
Considered one of the social media elders, Facebook is ancient in digital terms but a powerful channel when used properly. If Facebook were an ingredient in your bakery, it would be flour.
Facebook is also the digital equivalent of a dinner party. People are connected by invitation and the conversation is intimate. In terms of your tone and manner as a business, you need to honour that with posts that are conversational and warm.
Facebook has done a lot of soul searching post U.S. election about their role in becoming a trusted news source and a place where we can connect with the people we most want to be close to. As CEO/Founder Mark Zukerberg said in January: “We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. That’s why we’ve always put friends and family at the core of the experience.”
Facebook is changing its algorithms to prioritize personal posts over ads and even those personal posts that get the most engagement. Live videos are viewed almost six times more often than regular videos so use that feature to connect with your customers.
Do post pictures of your food and exciting news about new menu items and promotions. Make sure to write copy that includes a bit of wry humour, as thought you were chatting with a friend.
Understand that social media is where you create the relationship that eventually leads to people clicking through to your website to check out your menu. On that note, do include a gentle “call to action” that shows the reader where they can easily go to get more information. Do make sure your hours of operation are always up-to-date and contact information is visible. At the top of your Facebook page there’s an Insights tab. Look at those to see how the engagement of your posts compare to other posts you’ve shared and even your closest competitors. Follow face-book.newsroom.com to stay on top of changes to the platform.
Don’t try to make the sale on Facebook. It’s like proposing marriage on the first date. Facebook will penalize businesses who expressly tell their customers to share a post because Facebook doesn’t want people spammed on their feeds. If your post gets lots of engagement and is newsworthy on its own, your loyal tribe will want to share it and comment.
The best engagement comes from commenting and sharing, not likes, so don’t high five yourself if you get lots of likes on a post. Likes are fine but they are considered “vanity metrics”. Be like the Christian Bale character in the movie The Big Short and drill down on the details. If your likes are coming from relatives and employees is that really a sign that your message is generating new business?
Facebook owns Instagram so it’s important to understand they will view the channel as a complement to Facebook and we should think of it that way too. It’s quite possible that Facebook sees Instagram as a place to focus marketing messages and brand engagement away from Facebook. Instagram is a personal photo essay. Ironically, we’ve evolved from a society that communicated by carving pictures onto a cave wall to one who communicated through words…right back to one communicating visually. The picture tells the story with few words.
The platform is a favourite of young people who use it to follow their favourite celebrities and to promote themselves with images representing the life they want the world to see…witness the rise of the “curated life”.
Do make some effort to have gorgeous pictures of your menu items. Amazing shots can be produced with a smart phone or tablet but remove clutter from the image and unleash your inner food stylist. It takes just a minute to plate something and garnish it.
Create hashtags so engagement can be corralled in one feed and use the same hashtags going forward. Instagram doesn’t allow for links to be added to the post so it is wise to say “link in profile” so people can click through to your website. Use the new “Instagram Stories” feature to bring followers into your world. It’s a live video that disappears from the feed after 24 hours. People love watching food prep so a video showing a cake being decorated would be fabulous. Encourage the great engagement Instagram generates by starting a conversation. Questions always draw people in more effectively. You could say “Our new apple cinnamon bun has been launched today. Come in and try it” or you could say “Can’t you smell the warm apple and cinnamon? Would you like to taste a sample?” Which one do you think works better? (See what I did there?).
Don’t post too much text. Let the image tell the story. Instagram seems more intimate because the reader gets to insert their own imagination into the message. That’s a powerful tool in terms of raising awareness and interest in your business.
Make up your own whimsical hashtag and only use it. Find the most effective hashtags to use by looking at the feeds of your competitors, celebrity bakers and other culinary influencers. Don’t overdo it with the #yummy. Research indicates that four to five hashtags gets the highest engagement. It drops off slightly after that, but more — even if it’s a dozen — is better than one or none.
The U.S. president has made Twitter “must see viewing” for the modern drama. This channel is more of a town-hall or Hyde Park in London.
Do post news about your business or retweet other food-relaxed posts. Engage with your customers by retweeting their posts or liking and commenting. Be direct, conversational and spontaneous…wry humour is perfect here. Use hashtags too.
Don’t overdo the hashtags; they use too many characters and you only get 280. Avoid engaging in any exchanges that are polarizing or political.
Though Snapchat is similar to Instagram in its gathering of user-generated pictures; it is popular with the younger demographic (71 per cent of users are 18 to 34) because of its editing feature that allow users to add bunny ears, funny glasses or other garnishes to their photo. Posts disappear after 24 hours so it’s truly spontaneous.
Do use the video feature to showcase live events at your store or to show them the latest batch of brownies coming out of the oven. Pull back the curtain and let them see behind the scenes. The video will disappear after 24 hours so not worry about it living forever online. Be spontaneous and share it with your customers.
Don’t get too carried away with the editing tools. Use sparingly but with impact. Don’t overthink things. Grab the smartphone and record. Business Insider reports users check Snapchat 18 times per day. It’s a great chance to reach them often.
Have a schedule for posting and mix up the channels to have the right message presented in the right place.
These are the best-known tools for social engagement and since human behaviour is a social science, it adheres to basic scientific theory: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, plus a social media over-reaction.
Michelle Brisebois is a marketing consultant specializing in digital content strategy and retail/ in-store activation. Michelle has worked in the food, pharmaceutical, financial services and wine industries. She can be reached at
What’s up and coming with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat?
The Twitter tone is direct, conversational and spontaneous. Humour is a great fit on this platform. Photo: Fotolia
Do you feel like you can’t keep up with the latest trends in social media marketing? Join the club. Social media tools and trends change more frequently than your menu does and it can be hard to stay on top of new channels and new features for existing channels.
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