The Big Picture

Throughout my experience of blogging about food brands use of social media, I have noticed various trends in successful campaigns. Successful social media marketing is important because it can translate into an increase of ROI. Here are some conclusions I have drawn from my research, and tips on how to use social media to effectively market a brand:

1.  Always put the consumer first and relate content to them.

 One of the trends of successful social media marketing campaigns I noticed was that brands find where their audience is, and target them on that platform. Chobani knew that females were their target audience, and that they were big users of Pinterest. The brand used Pinterest to post content that related to the lifestyles of their consumers. In order to increase ROI, companies must first monitor existing conversations and identify influencers. Dunkin’ Donuts targeted their audience on Twitter by tying in the brand into the existing conversations they were having about football results.

2.  Build brand value through communicating values and CSR.

Chipotle and Whole Foods are two brands that stand out in their efforts of communicating CSR. Putting an emphasis on a brand’s CSR adds value to the brand name and connects the brand to larger social issues. One of AdAge’s ways to increase ROI is to, “make CSR reporting a year-long window into your impact on communities and their impact on you.” Whole Foods branded themselves through their company values, and created a multi-platform campaign around them. Chipotle took a creative approach of producing a cartoon video that communicates their corporate social responsibility mission.

3.  Be creative and produce innovative designs.

So many social media platforms encourage and provide opportunities for creativity in posts, especially Instagram. Food brands can use this tool by engaging consumers through posting artistic content. Starbucks and Nutella are two brands that create unique, visually appealing posts. Pictures of food account for a large amount of posts uploaded on Instagram. Food brands can take advantage of this trend by creating innovative posts and encouraging consumers to share their own posts. Nutella creates original graphics that draw viewers in and relate well to the brand.

Studying a variety of brand campaigns was very informative on how to successfully use social media for marketing.  I learned that the most important component of a plan is to position and relate the campaign to the target audience.  It is also important to go beyond just trying to sell products, and build larger brand value through CSR.  Creativity is a fundamental part of advertising and marketing, and brands should always keep their content interesting and appealing to their audience.

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Lay’s Listens

Mid_products_laysLay’s created a campaign called “Do Us a Flavor” to celebrate it’s 75th year in the United States. This campaign gave consumers a voice by allowing them to decide the next Lay’s chip flavor. This type of social marketing is called crowdsourcing, meaning it delegates decision making to the consumers. First consumers were able to suggest possible flavors for a new Lay’s chip. Lay’s then gave consumers the option to go on Facebook and Twitter and vote for their favorite flavor out of the top suggestions. CMO of Frito-Lay North America, Ann Mukherjee, stated, “It’s a new way of getting consumer research, we’re going to get a ton of new ideas.” Brands can learn a lot about the demands of their audience, by just simply listening to their ideas for products. Lay’s is also using location to specialize the contest in different areas around the world. The winning suggestion of this year’s contest was “cheesy garlic bread” flavor. The winner received prize money and Lay’s made a spotlight profile about her.

Crowdsourcing is an up and coming trend that will have a big influence on building relationships with customers. Customer relationships are an important part of marketing because “There has been a shift away from a product-centric approach to marketing towards that of a customer-centric focus in that consumer opinions are largely affected by the combination of messages they receive from marketers and their peers.” Engaging with customers helps build customer relationship management (CRM) and shows them that the brand cares about their opinions on products.

Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” campaign was very successful, generating 4.9 billion PR impressions in the 10-month period, according to PRWeek. It also won a 2015 PRWeek award. This campaign is a great example of the importance of engaging consumers and listening to their opinions. Brands will have better relationships with their customers if they show that they care about them.

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Visuals & Design

Almost all social media platforms today give users the ability to share images and videos. Visuals are the first thing that catch a viewer’s eye and draw them in to read the rest of the written content posted. Brands that post pictures on their social media channels have a much higher number of users that engage with them—over 40 percent of people more likely to engage.

One brand that stands out in their use of social media visuals is Nutella. This brand uses Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to engage their audience through creative visuals. They post well-designed 10405446_727653847283232_4079765314735434153_nIllustrator graphics and animations that catch the consumer’s attention and relate to what current events or holidays are occurring. One example is a clock animation
that moves to a different type of food with Nutella spread on it each hour. This animation was tweeted when daylight savings time switched with the text, “One extra hour. One jar of Nutella. So many possibilities.”

The visuals they use are simple and sweet, which ties in to what Nutella represents. The graphics capture the essence of the brand through clean design and conveyance of a fun and happy mood. These graphics also work towards branding the company through repetition of similarly designed images.

Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 6.36.00 PMNutella uses photography and Instagram to visually communicate the message of their brand. Nutella strategically posts pictures of different ways consumers can incorporate the product into their daily meals. The photos the brand posts are incredibly well composed, clean, and visually appealing. Social media users are more motivated to follow an account that posts inspiring pictures that they look forward to seeing on their feeds.  Sharing on social media  allows for images to be sent virally amongst consumers, which impacts the brand’s marketing efforts.

Image sharing has revolutionized advertising, “Today’s Internet users are not only posting their own photos and videos to social media, but many consider themselves ‘curators’ of images they find elsewhere, forwarding them and posting them to image-sharing sites.” Images are powerful resources a brand can use to visualize their brand and encourage sharing among consumers.

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How to Build Brand Value

543px-Whole_Foods_Market_logo.svgWhole Foods works to brand themselves as “America’s healthiest grocery store.” They target consumers that specifically shop for healthy foods, and recently have created their first national brand campaign called, “Values Matter.” A lot of grocery stores have hopped on the organic and healthy food trend lately, so Whole Foods has to work to differentiate themselves from other brands. The campaign they created, “communicates that value and values go hand in hand,” according to Whole Foods global vice president for marketing and communications, Jeannine D’Addario.

The Whole Foods website is completely designed around the Value’s Matter Campaign. It has interactive tabs that consumers can click on in order to see content customized to their needs. For example, a person can click on if they want to see food, people, or planet. Then they have the option to either learn or do, and choose how much time they have to spend watching the content. Whole Foods put together various videos that communicate its values, while building the actual value of the brand. This campaign brings in the social aspect because people have the option to share these videos on various social media platforms.

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Branding is very important for helping companies stand out and thrive in today’s market. Branding helps “communicate company values, differentiate from competitors and strengthen esteem and loyalty ties in the relationship between the company and stakeholders.” Whole Foods brands their company as a healthy lifestyle brand. Through branding they communicate how they value healthy lifestyles and eating healthy, organic foods. Communicating their values makes the brand itself more valuable to consumers because it shows that there is depth beyond the products themselves. Whole Foods uses different social media platforms to deliver their brand values, and allows for consumers to share that material amongst each other.

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Customer-Brand Relationships

ddcup-1One of the biggest advantages of using social media as a brand is the having the ability to create conversation with consumers. Dunkin’ Donuts joined the conversation by partnering with ESPN and building a relationship with football fans. The brand tied together mobile, social, and traditional marketing to effectively reach their target audience and create brand loyalty.

Dunkin’ Donuts strategically uses social media to appeal to consumer’s interests and build a relationship with them. First, Dunkin’ Donuts used their partnership to create the first television ad made completely out of Vine videos with ESPN last year. More recently, Dunkin’ held a contest on Twitter, where customers could voice their predictions about football game results. The people who correctly predicted the outcomes won DD Perks Points and were entered into a sweepstakes to go to the Super Bowl. Dunkin’ Donuts was able to integrate their social media marketing plan with what their customers were interested in and talking about.

Dunkin’ Donuts president of global marketing and innovation, John Costello, reflected on their marketing efforts saying, “The other thing is that we view social marketing as more of a dialogue with your customers than traditional advertising, per se. That dialogue with customers needs to add value. It can provide information about your brand, introduce new products, provide offers or sometimes just have fun. We decided to leverage the fun part of that dialogue in a way that leveraged how much consumers love to talk about football and the game.”

Mobile is a rapidly growing area in brand marketing and advertising. Dunkin’ Donuts continues to build their loyalty program through their mobile app. It has 8 million downloads and targets customers based on their location through geo-targeted offers.

Research on customer-brand relationships show that there are two main reasons why people use social networking sites– for social connections and information sharing. When successful customer-brand relationships are formed on social media sites, “brand communication is no longer automatically perceived as disturbing advertising but as interesting and reasonable conversation among friends.” Dunkin’ Donuts created a friendly relationship with their fans by talking about the consumer’s interests, instead of trying to strictly advertise their product.

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#ShareACoke Gets Personal

People alwaPrintys come first when creating a marketing plan, and that is just what Coca-Cola applied to their campaign this past summer. The brand targeted their audience and used a mix of advertising strategies to increase their sales by starting the “Share a Coke Campaign.” Coke decided to target teens/millennials, so they put the 250 most popular first names of their generation on bottles instead of the brand’s name. Coke combined a new packaging idea with interactive advertising to create a connection with their customers.

IMG_9514This campaign incorporated social media by encouraging customers to buy the product, then post photos or stories on their social media accounts using the hashtag, #ShareACoke. Putting customer’s actual names on the product not only enticed them to purchase, but also to be excited to share the product. Over 500,000 photos have been uploaded to Instagram using the hashtag. This campaign created a great amount of publicity and buzz about Coke, because people were buying the product and virally posting about it on online. Coke also put terms like “BFF,” and “family” so that people can purchase one for someone else and “share a Coke.”

Personalization is an effective way to build brand loyalty and a long-term relationship with a consumer. According to the findings from this article, “advantageous campaigns on social media are the most significant drivers of brand loyalty followed by relevancy of the content, popularity of the content among friends, and appearing on different social media platforms and providing applications. “  The “Share a Coke” campaign increased brand loyalty using all of the ways listed.  The campaign related to consumers by personalizing the product, and then encouraged them to share content with others.  Coke used multiple platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to convey the campaign message.  The “Share a Coke” tour also integrated offline marketing efforts through interactive billboards and traveling kiosks.

Coke’s advertising campaign proved to be successful—resulting in a 2.5% dollar increase in sales. The brand was able to turn around a declining rate of Coke consumption by connecting with customers on a personal level, and increasing brand loyalty.

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Chipotle & Social Responsibility

brandSocial media can be used as a beneficial tool to communicate a company’s corporate social responsibility. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is, “a concept defining how companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and how they interact with stakeholders on a voluntary basis.” Chipotle emphasizes the fact that they buy all of their ingredients from family-owned and operated farms instead of industrial farms. Chipotle created the mission statement, “Food with Integrity,” which is their “commitment to finding the very best ingredients raised with respect for the animals, the environment and the farmers.”

In 2013 Chipotle created a video called “The Scarecrow.” This video showcases Chipotle’s mission by showing the negative effects of the industrialization of the food industry. It shows a cartoon scarecrow farmer that sadly witnesses the change from farm-grown food to factory-processed food. At the end of the video the scarecrow returns back to his farm and loads his truck with his own crops. Then he goes back to the city and opens up a stand with his farm-grown food– next to all of the places selling processed food. Chipotle also created video in 2011 called “Back to the Start,” with a similar message. Chipotle’s chief marketing and development officer, Mark Crumpacker, said he didn’t expect the video to become so popular, because “It was a film. It didn’t have built into it a way for people to share it. It didn’t have any promotional element built into it.”

This video is a great example of authentically communicating a company’s corporate social responsibility. Chipotle is incorporating their brand’s values and social concerns through a video, and spreading it through social media effectively. Communicating corporate social responsibility also increases sustainability. Sustainability is especially important for food brands because having a sustainable food system is essential for our society.

Chipotle is listed under the S&P 500 firms from the consumer discretionary sector according to Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS.)  Their “Food with Integrity” mission has been so successful in spreading social responsibility because it doesn’t focus only on their reputation, but instead shows that they are trying to improve the overall global food industry.  Chipotle used social media to effectively communicate how they are integrating societal issues into their business plans.

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