The growth of opportunity: How the rising importance of social media in the food and drinks world has diversified brands marketing strategy​

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Thought piece by Jamie Maple, Managing Director of Wilderness

In 2022, social media is no longer just a way to connect with distant relatives, or a chance to see the lates viral video, it is arguably the single greatest tool at a marketer’s disposal. From TikTok to Twitter, and Facebook to Pinterest, each platform requires a bespoke approach from brands that allows them to maximise their reach and potential.

Copy and pasted content will not cut it

The first step when assessing a brand’s social media presence is to look at each platform to see if they are posting the same content and copy on each of their channels. If this isn’t the cardinal sin of social media, it is very high on the list. Rolling out the same posts on all accounts is wrong for a lot of reasons, not least the fact that each platform offers unique capabilities, audiences, and challenges. To try and do it all in one go is completely un-strategic and it lacks one of the most important ingredients in your social media recipe book: purpose. Just look at Innocent’s social strategy. Through live tweeted along with Eurovision, they played to the specific strengths of the platform – fast moving conversations, had in real time, around a topic that is getting a lot of attention. They replicated some (importantly not all) of the activity on Facebook knowing that the audience likely wouldn’t keep up with the pace but would rather start lengthy conversations in the comments – which they did. This is a great example of subtle shifts in the usage of the platforms.

Without purpose, consumers will switch off

Each of your posts should have a purpose, and this will be different for each platform. Crucially however, the purpose for every platform and post can’t be to sell a product. Social media users are highly tuned to overt selling and will be turned off from interacting with (let alone following) a brand who are continually ramming products, features and offers down their throats.

Social media isn’t a broadcast medium, every channel and every post is an opportunity to interact with your audience, create a connection, and build a community of individuals who are actively engaged with your brand. If you can get that right, then the selling part will come naturally. You’ll have a captive audience eager to hear what they can buy as opposed to a sea of users, all being hounded by hundreds of other brands, all uninterested and being given no reason to stop scrolling. This is your opportunity to show personality within your brand.

Innocent has a running gag whereby all their social media activity is distraction and nonsense compared to the traditional marketing department. Amongst the nonsense, the channels are also highly effective at promoting its products. They deploy community management really well – whenever someone complains about the cost of a smoothie, they tell them to get one in a meal deal (practical advice that not only answers a negative comment but promotes the fact that they’re now in meal deals). They apply their irreverent tone of voice when sharing their big campaign moments and do so in a way that makes the overt promoting palatable.

How TikTok is changing the game

One of the biggest changes in brand’s social media strategy is the growth of TikTok. The platform has transformed how brands interact with communities and encourages them to be creative in the content they produce. A brand like Little Moons have focused their efforts on Tik Tok as opposed to other platforms. They’re consistent with their activity and are agile and reactive to a moment where users were naturally and genuinely engaged with the brand. Whereas other brands, such as McVities, use content creators and celebrities who are already producing videos on the platform. These brand partners are doing the heavy lifting for McVities in that they are already well-versed in producing the type of content which appeals to TikTok users.

In such a competitive market, like food and drinks, brands need to set themselves apart from those around them. With smart phones in every pocket and viral trends on everyone’s minds, brands must embrace a comprehensive and purposeful social media strategy as part of their wider marketing efforts. Culturally its plays such an intrinsic role in our everyday lives, and is one of the key ways consumers take in information. Each medium is unique, whether it’s the audiences it attracts or the content it produces, and bespoke approaches to each one ensures that brands maximise the engagement and subsequent brand loyalty that drives sales.