Devising a digital brand strategy for your food company can involve making some tough decisions. With so many social media platform to choose from—and more cropping up every day (Periscope, anyone?)—how can a food brand stay on top of the digital sphere? Especially as depictions of American food culture are becoming increasingly fragmented across a variety of channels.
Well, for starters, you can stop being so stressed out about it. There are many ways to go about digital marketing. And you don't have to tell the same story the same way across channels. In fact, you don't want to.
First and foremost, you need to know your audience. Who do you want to reach? Foodies? Millennials? Women? Grocery shoppers who eat on the go, or parents who need to plan and buy for family meals?
Each social channel tends to specialize in a different segment of the market. Before you figure out how and where to tell your brand's story, you need to research who your core consumers are and what their purchase motivators may be.
You should also take a look around the Internet to see how established food brands are already realizing digital marketing success. While you'll want to develop a unique voice and narrative for your food brand, there are plenty of ideas out there that could inspire your marketing plan.
Cadbury: The Joyful Digital Brand
The British chocolatier best known stateside for its Easter-time Cadbury Eggs is also one of the most prolific food marketers on the oft-overlooked Google+ social platform. Cadbury boasts nearly 4 million followers and over 90 million views.
Cadbury's Google+ page prominently features the company's branding, is designed with a sleek, easy-to-follow visual aesthetic, hosts loads of scrumptious-looking pictures of foods made with Cadbury's signature, smooth chocolate and has plenty of recipe shares.
The brand also maintains a quirky sense of humor, from its weekly "It's Friday, Let's Dance" video shares (they have little to do with chocolate, other than that they tie in with the brand's "FreeTheJoy slogan) to pictures of "Choc-henge."
Tesco: The Interactive Digital Brand
Another example of digital marketing savvy from across the pond is UK grocer Tesco. The retailer's Facebook page has over 1.6 million followers whom it actively engages by encouraging users to post questions to its timeline, which are in turn answered. It takes quite a bit of effort to actively manage a social media relationship with so many people, but Tesco obviously sees value in reaching out directly to its consumer base.
The grocer has also taken the curious direction of creating separate Twitter accounts for each section of its stores. Again, this takes quite a bit more active management, but it also simultaneously spreads Tesco's social media net wide and allows it to drill down and address key points on different feeds, thereby reducing the chance that an answer will get lost in a single, cluttered feed.
Almarai: The Helpful Digital Brand
One of the largest dairies in the Middle East, Almarai has utilized social media to conduct a health and wellness-focused campaign—in Arabic and English, so that it not only speaks to people in Middle Eastern nations, but to the larger Islamic and Arabic diasporas—centered on its products.
A recent video posted by the company suggested ways that observers of Ramadan—during which many adherents fast—can avoid hunger pains up front and post-fast gastrointestinal distress. It has also produced videos about diabetes prevention, getting better sleep and other wellness topics.
The tie in to its brand? Its tagline is, "Quality you can trust."
Wendy’s: The WTF Digital Brand
We all miss Dave Thomas and those goofy, lovable 1990s Wendy's TV commercials. The Columbus, Ohio-based hamburger chain has endured quite a few ups and downs since it's founder and chief spokesman passed away.
But these days, things seem to be swinging toward the positive, at least as far as the brand's impression with Millennial consumers seems to go. Wendy's has embraced bizarre, often hilarious social media-curated advertising to get above the boring "fast food" stigma and reach out to young adults.
With the 2013 launch of its hipster-targeting Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger, the chain encouraged its Twitter followers to try the sandwich and tweet its praises.
In return, the brand's agency collected favorite tweets and turned them into hysterically awkward "Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger Love Songs," which were then produced and posted to Wendy's social media channels—misspellings, hash tags and all—along with images of the inspiring tweets.
The results? 7.5 million Facebook views and counting, plenty of buzz and a big boost for shareholders.
American Food Brands Take Note: The Advertising Culture Has Shifted Irrevocably To Digital
If you aren't engaging consumers online, start doing so now or be left holding the feed bag. There are an infinite number of directions you could take; hopefully, the examples above will inspire you to find your brand's unique voice.