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Report

How To Use Social Media To Promote Food Products

Findings

• 70% of all social media posts refer to particular food products;
• Cooking communities drive more customer engagement than controlled social media channels;
• Healthy nutrition topics are driving the conversation among cooking amateurs;
• Only one of five corporate key messages reach the target audiences;
• Instagram is an emergently efficient channel for food products promotion;
• Russian food producers are still using social media as a one-way-channel of communication; primarily for brand promotion and boosting sales. Only a few companies take the opportunity to use social media as a two-way channel; a source for getting feedback from their audiences.

In Spring 2013, IBIC conducted a media research with threefold purpose:

• to identify the most popular food brands, within a defined segment;
• to highlight platforms with the most vivid discussions in within the researched food segment (note: particular attention was paid to the photo-sharing social network Instagram);
• to conduct a semantic analysis of social conversation to find out whether the social media participants’ values correlate with corporate key messages

The period of research is framed in by the Lent, when plant food is traditionally growing in demand. We supposed that also exotic grains would receive increased attention from consumers in this period. Accordingly, we selected wild rice, bulgur, quinoa and red lentils as analysis objects.

The social media monitoring of the channels reveals that 70% of all social conversation also contain references to the brand of one of these companies: Mistral, Yarmarka, Agroalliance, Angstrem Trading and Ameria Russ.

According to our study, improved target audience reach can be achieved by using specialized web portals, such as povarenok.ru, koolinar.ru and cooking communities on LiveJournal, LifeInternet, baby.ru and mail.ru. We see Instagram as an efficient tool in promotion of foodstuffs. Obviously, food related treads are highly communicated by the Instagram users. Unfortunately, this opportunity is still poorly exploited by Russian FMCG brands. In 80% references taken from Instagram, no brand is mentioned.

IBIC has applied semantic analysis to point out the main topics of discussions. As mentioned above, we were also analyzing whether consumer preferences match brand key messages. According to our data, the main theme social conversation is healthy nutrition. The food manufacturers have also tried to capitalize on this message for brand positioning purpose. Nevertheless, consumers associate only one brand (Mistral) with healthy lifestyle. Hence, the image promoted by companies is perceived as too blurry by their target audiences, despite various slogans the food manufacturers launch.

Conclusions

Among social media participants, there is a big interest of food recipes, diet methods, food styling and cooking advices. The uncontrolled conversation in social media between participants is highly vivid. Moreover, our research shows that users are ready to share messages and photos with reference to specific brands. These facts offers great opportunities for companies that dare to take part in a horizontal, two way conversation with their audiences.

According to the IBIC research, manufacturers are actively present in the social media landscape but seem not to fully utilize the potential of non-controlled platforms. Food producers keep using these channels only for increasing of brand awareness and promotion of food to support sales. In fact, there is only a few companies which use the social media to get feedback from their audiences. Such conversation, first of all, would allow brands to streamline their key message with the preference of their target audiences. Secondly, such conversation would be useful to create real understanding of what works and what’s not in terms of SMM tactics.