Food and Beverage in the social media world: how to make the most of their power

Let’s see the best practice for Food and Beverage in the social media world. In a previous post we talked about the importance of customer loyalty in the industry. Now, what are the strategies to effectively reach your target? And how can you build a recognizable voice that stands out from the masses?

If we exclude “kittens”, the king of social media is definitely food, in all its forms. 

You can see for yourself by browsing your social profiles: photos of dishes that make your mouth water just by looking at them, some more professional, others more spontaneous and “personal”; photos of tables shared among friends and colleagues; toasts for important moments, or even at any time; tutorial videos, from those of famous chefs, to street food and “grandmother” dishes; the biodynamic wine producer who shows his plot of land and all the artisanal process that leads to bottling; the pages of millions of Starbucks or McDonald’s followers. These are just a few of many, many examples.

In short, Food and Beverage is everywhere on social media and it’s not just an impression.

At the time of writing this ebook, on Instagram, there are over 380 million posts with the hashtag #food, more than 280 million with the hashtag #foodporn, more than 145 million with the hashtag #foodie, and more than 50 million with the #foodphotography hashtag. We’re sure that, by the time you read these words, the numbers will have grown; and so they will continue to do so.

Would you like more data? According to a survey by Instagram from Accenture, Food & Beverage is the most interesting topic for users (socialmediatoday.com).

In short, it is the confirmation of what we wrote above. Let’s see the best practice about Food and Beverage sector in the social media world. 

 

Your clients are all on social media: some data and three notes

Imagine you are a small brand of craft beers. Or a dairy all concentrated on “zero kilometer”. Or you have just opened a small restaurant that offers mainly healthy food. After what you’ve read above, it’s clear that any food business must be present on social networks and you must employ an effective, coherent strategy. Why is this necessary? First of all, for a very simple reason: social is where your customers are.

As of December 31, 2019, there are 2.5 billion monthly active users on Facebook, an increase of 8% year-over-year; active daily users numbered 1.66 billion, an increase of 9% year-on-year. 88% of these access social networks via smartphone (websitehostingrating.com).

First note: your strategy must be omnichannel, and, above all, mobile-first.

Instagram has recently reached one billion users, and 63% of them use it every day and spend at least half an hour there. It is the social network with the highest growth rates (in terms of users and engagement); and it is mainly based on images and videos; text is very much in the background (de.co.it).

Second: your strategy must start from images, and above all from videos. In the next chapter we will see why.

Let’s conclude with this last trend, perhaps the one with the most surprising increase: In January 2019, those using Instagram’s Stories exceeded 500 million, plus 100 million in just a year and more than 400 million in two and a half years (source).

Third and final note: “ephemeral” is a keyword that is gaining more and more importance. It indicates the content that has a limited duration in time, and then disappears, like Instagram stories, which “last” only 24 hours (the initial idea, in fact, was Snapchat’s). Knowing how to ride this trend can become a powerful lever of marketing and storytelling, especially in the field of Food and Beverage.

 

The flip side of the coin: hyper-competition

Let’s go back to the example introduced above: you are a small brand of craft beers, a dairy, or a brand new restaurant. You have to be on social networks because most people — potential and actual customers — are all there and you’re also in good company because #food, on socials, works great.

But beware: this situation has its own cumbersome downside.

Imagine this huge market, crowded with thousands, millions of stalls that, from the outside, are very similar to yours. Also, you can’t forget the big players, companies who have an incomparable firepower with which to amplify their voices, making their “voice” heard at a distance absolutely unreachable for you.                

Why should people come to you?

This is not an easy question to answer. Also because there is no universally valid truth for all brands or all players in the Food and Beverage industry. However, we are convinced that there are two elements to consider, and they are fundamental: the first concerns the “voice” (which can also be whispered); the second is all about people.

We will dedicate the next two chapters to these two elements.

 

The right voice: not all “media” are equal

Talking about food is above all telling the stories that revolve around it. This must never be forgotten.

Let’s go back to our little brewery: how many stories are there to tell? Very many. Starting with the cultivation of hops and malt; not only how it happens, but also the people who take care of it (again, the importance of people… but we’ll come back later). Then the production processes, these too can be told, to show their accuracy, and the quality of craftsmanship (which differentiates you from large industrial production, for example). But also the aspects more related to communication in the strict sense (why is that type of beer called that? Why did you choose that label, with those colors?). Finally, there is perhaps the most important side: talking about the food or drink is also, and above all, telling the stories of those who enjoy them, alone or with friends and here another universe opens up. It is even more effective, incredibly more effective, if these “stories” are told directly by customers, users, people. 

But, in the meantime, let’s start from the basics.

What is the type of media that works best on social media? The answer, in this case, is very clear: video, followed, at a certain distance, by images. Finally, comes the written text.

According to an analysis of We Are Social in 2019, 92% of users watch videos online. And 78% of companies that have used video consider them an effective business tool. Now let’s move on to “attention”, one of the hardest things to get online: a study by Wirebuzz showed that the average user retains 95% of the message contained in a video (wirebuzz.com). With text, this percentage stops at 10%: an abysmal difference. Finally, we tighten the lens on food: for 53% of “foodie” (people strongly interested in the world of food) videos are the preferred content; images stop at 35%. Then comes everything else.

So, we fixed another certainty: videos are the most effective type of medium, of “voice”. But we have not yet solved the problem of overcrowding of these voices and hypercompetition. We’ll do that in the next section.

 

It is always a matter of people (and personalization)

Let’s go back to our market crowded with counters and “voices”. In that crowd, you have two ways to get noticed: either you have the loudest voice of all (…but, hardly ever, your social media marketing budget would have to be similar to Starbucks, for example); or you learn to speak to the right “ears” with the right tone.

This is what is meant by personalization. One of the oldest arts of commerce, which is experiencing a huge boost with digital. And this is exactly what specialized companies like Doxee are dealing with.

What is it about? Getting to know your audience through data analysis. Personal data, of geolocation, related to previous navigations; the different preferences, the different behaviors, and possible “desires”; and above all, the different customer journeys. On social networks, in this sense, the possibilities of data collection are really many. Based on this information, then, you can modulate your strategies and make them as tailored as possible to your target audience. Or, even better than your target segments, and even more specifically, down to the individual person.

Also, never forget that Customer Care is the first and most important marketing move. Responding to comments, for example, helps to show the human side of brands (which are, after all, a set of people): here, too, each company must set its tone, and based on its target audience. The two things always go together, one is intimately linked to the other.

Then there is also the importance of messaging and chat, where the relationship becomes really one-to-one. According to Drift’s “Conversational Marketing 2018” report, most customers prefer to establish the first contact with the company in this way, a middle way between the direct relationship and a necessary distance.

Finally, to get to the point: in one Aimia study, 56% of respondents said that they follow their favorite brands on social networks to find items for sale, and get an idea about them. 31% do so with the specific intention of making a purchase. 

So it’s about being ready at the right time, with the right people, and the right “voice”. That’s something that applies to everyone, no matter how big or small your position in the social networking market.