Social media is a vital business tool, but it seems like the food industry is years behind other sectors. Engaging with customers through social media is crucial at all stages of the food chain, and those who refuse to risk missing out a high percentage of consumers. Building a brand and a positive public image can be difficult, but without the helping of online marketing and social media it can be near impossible.
Many food companies still haven’t embraced social media and the power it possesses, and most of those who have a social presence aren’t getting it right. So how can the food industry use social platforms more effectively and to its advantage?
Older managers to blame
Mike Greene, business mentor and entrepreneur thinks food companies are getting it wrong because many of them have older managers, or the budget is controlled by older individuals who just don’t get the gist of social media. He compares the shift to when the car was first invented and most people were still using horses for transport. He explains to FoodNavigator, “We’re seeing that with social media versus traditional media, and people just aren’t making the transition, because of fear.”
Nutritionist and social media guru Jenny Westerkamp agrees that food companies need to target younger consumers through social media, and brands need to create online personalities to become likeable. She said speaking to FoodNavigtor, “Because on social media we expect to engage with people, if brands can act like people then they’re going to be much better received by the consumer.”
Social Media Risk
Around seven in ten food companies have a presence on social media platforms, but only 43% implement a policy on how to use it. Without monitoring a brand’s online presence, there is a real danger to reputational damage. Social media can cause problems for food businesses, as it is such a public form of communication. The ‘Overheard in Waitrose’ Facebook page is a minor light-hearted example, but a restaurant in Manchester caused outrage recently following offensive public replies to clients who had left a bad review on Facebook. Without definitive procedures to follow and policies in place, social media can become a PR disaster.
Social media has given a certain degree of power back to the consumer, by allowing complaints to go public immediately. Whether it be on Twitter or Facebook, a rapid response is crucial and remember – the whole world is watching. Managing complaints is an important customer service responsibility, so make sure somebody trustworthy is also managing the social media accounts. Specialist complaints software is a helpful tool so each complaint can be tracked, investigated and dealt with appropriately. Online complaints tracking can collate all data on the internet, identify real complaints and take further action if needed – which is essential for excellent customer service and to keep the good reputation of a company.