A well planned social media strategy can be a life saver for any food enterprise. It’s an easy, efficient and inexpensive way to grow your sales and generate a stronger relationship with your customers.
As social media is such an essential tool to connect with your customers online, it is worth taking a little bit of time to review and improve what you are doing with it. Here are three steps you can take to make the most of your efforts – specifically with Facebook and Instagram.
Step one: define your goals and Strategy
Your social media activity is most effective when it supports your food enterprise’s overall goals. So the best way to start your social media plan is to get specific on what you want to achieve as a business.
Here are some examples of common food enterprise goals:
- Gain new customers
- Increase sales
- Grow brand awareness
- Reach new customer demographics
- Get funding
- Increase order values
- Reduce customer attrition
Next, create social media SMART goals which are relevant to your wider business goals.
A SMART goal is a goal which is:
Specific: make it as clear and simple as you can.
Measurable: ensure you can measure and demonstrate your success.
Achievable: be realistic with your goals to maintain motivation.
Relevant: it must contribute to your wider business goals.
Timebound: give your goal a target date or timeframe for completion.
To help you get started with your social media strategy, here is a template you can use.
Make a copy and keep what works for your enterprise – discard what doesn’t. The template will guide you through all the steps needed to organise your social media efforts in a strategic way to improve what you are already doing.
Step two: get on the right side of the social media algorithms
Next, let’s cover how visibility works on social media. Facebook and Instagram both control what posts their users see using an algorithm. This is a computer program which predicts how your followers will react to your posts and ranks and delivers them accordingly.
For example, recent research shows the average organic (unpaid for) reach of a business page’s post on Facebook may be as little as 6%. This means not all of your followers will even see your posts. So, what can we do about this?
Let’s start with Facebook, whose main priority is to keep users engaged on their platform. This means the Facebook algorithm prioritises posts which “spark conversations or meaningful interactions between people.” Consequently, the algorithm makes it harder for your posts to reach your followers – unless you provide value to the Facebook community.
With this in mind, here are some tactics to help you get on the right side of the Facebook algorithm:
- Don’t ‘engagement-bait’. This means you should avoid directly asking for likes, shares and comments.
- Don’t use link shorteners, e.g. Bitly, Owly, etc. There is some evidence these are considered spammy as you are ‘hiding’ the actual destination of the link.
- Don’t share clickbait or fake news.
- Avoid creating content which feels or looks like an advert.
- Create posts which generate conversation between people. Aim for meaningful and relevant content which naturally promotes engagement. For example, ask interesting questions or cover interesting topics you know your audience will want to talk about.
- Post more video content. This is because video consistently performs the best for reach and engagement. Lucky for us, video posts related to food and animals gain the most interaction on Facebook!
- Reply and respond. If you respond and then your follower/customer responds back, you are having a conversation – which the algorithm recognises. This customer and others similar to them will then be served more of your content in the future. Even better, replying to comments shows you are responsive to the needs and inquiries of your customers – which helps build loyalty.
- Ask your colleagues, team members, supporters to personally share key social posts to get the ball rolling with the algorithm to improve your organic reach.
- Post consistently.
Like Facebook, Instagram also controls the order of posts on users’ feeds with an algorithm. The Instagram algorithm also prioritises posts based on what it determines of interest to each individual user. As a result, the average reach on Instagram is only 20% – which means only 20% of your followers are likely to see something you post to your grid (your Instagram profile page).
According to Instagram, there are three main factors which determine the importance given to a post in a user’s feed:
Which means the reach of your post will be based on the likelihood your follower will be interested in it, your relationship with this follower, and the timeliness of your post.
Here are some tips to help you get on the right side of the Instagram algorithm:
- Posts with human faces and text graphics tend to get more attention
- The algorithm also measures interest by the length of time spent on a post. For this reason, try to post more:
- Swipe posts. These are posts with more than one photo.
- Posts with longer captions or captions which act like micro-blogs. This increases linger time on the post as well as giving more value to your followers.
- Use Instagram Insights to decipher the best time of day to post for your audience.
- The algorithm acknowledges the accounts you regularly interact with and those which interact with you. This means engagement with other accounts is vital to perform well with the algorithm.
- Given this, spend one hour per week interacting with other accounts by hearting, commenting or sharing their posts to your stories.
- In addition, whenever you post to your feed, stick around for 10-30 minutes and respond to any engagement you get. Always respond to comments.
Step three: create a posting schedule and commit to it
The best posting schedule is one which you can commit to long-term. Be realistic about what you can manage as consistency is vital. This is because consistency not only helps your performance with the algorithms, but also helps you to generate follower loyalty and a deeper relationship with your audience.
Having said that, here are some Facebook and Instagram scheduling tactics which will give you great results:
The 4:2:1 posting strategy – be social, then give, give, ask!
Be social: post 4 x shared content posts per week:
- Share industry news or relevant articles from other users’ Facebook pages or trusted external sources. Focus on positive, inspirational, and educational content – especially content which helps to increase knowledge and understanding of the issues facing food & farming in the UK.
- Any relevant and useful news posted by other users (take care with opinion pieces!).
- Share content from other growers, farms & food producers, your supporters, partners and network. It is good practice to support each other online.
- Create a bookmark in your web browser where you can store relevant facebook pages or websites. Having a go-to list for shareable content will save you time when you are searching for posts to share for the week. You could start with the Open Food Network’s Facebook page – we are always posting useful and interesting content!
- For better workflow, schedule all your shared posts for the week in one go.
Give: post 2 x original content posts per week:
- This is when you can create your own original posts. You could highlight a ‘produce of the week’, focus on how you source your produce, general how-to tips, simple recipes, share your latest news and much more.
- Always ask yourself before you post, is it Entertaining, Emotional, Educational?
- Try to create engaging content – for example, create posts which include a question to actively encourage interaction from your audience.
- This is a good opportunity to educate your customers about your key USPs – for example, your ethics, local, organic, co-op, etc.
- For extra effect, try to tell a story with your posts. This could be about your enterprise, your customers (testimonials are great as they offer a digital word-of-mouth recommendation bonus!), your growers, team-members, and more.
Ask: 1 x strong call to action post per week:
- Make this count!
- What do you want people to do after seeing the post? For every piece of ASK content, consider the action you want your audience to take.
- Make your call to action (CTA) clear and easy to follow. E.g. “Please join our mailing list here: [add a LINK to your email list landing page]” or “Our order cycle is closing tomorrow – don’t miss out, place your order here: [add your shopfront LINK]”. (Note: avoid the actual word “click” as there is some evidence this is more likely to be flagged as spam by the algorithm).
- The work you have done with the shared and original posts should help you rank better with the algorithm – therefore giving you better organic reach with this most important post.
- Think, Give, Give, Ask!
This strategy will give you one post per day. If you would like to post more, just double it.
Here is a video webinar which explains this tactic in more detail:
Instagram is the best social platform for engagement, which is measured by likes, shares and comments. Furthermore, it is great for selling in a more friendly, authentic way through storytelling and developing relationships with your customers.
To get great results with Instagram, you don’t need to post as often as Facebook. Between 2-3 posts per week is normally enough. What is more important is to be tactical about your posting.
When you are ready to upload a new post to your feed, spend 15-30 minutes engaging with your followers before you post. Take these steps:
- Go to your last previous post and like every comment you received on the post.
- Then, look at who liked your last previous post. Go to their individual profiles and like and/or comment on a post of theirs.
These actions will show up as a notification on their ‘activity’ page – which will put you top of mind just before you post. This means when you post your latest post you are more likely to receive engagement from these followers – which will improve your organic reach meaning your post will be seen by more of your followers!
- Maintain consistency in look and appeal, which means keeping the imagery on your profile (your grid) as cohesive as possible. Think:
- Colour schemes.
- Content themes.
- Tone of voice.
- Remember, done is better than perfect! You will learn what works best with your audience and naturally improve your style by posting regularly.
- Aim for greater transparency and authenticity to connect with your audience on a human level.
- GIVE VALUE – it is important to be audience centred rather than self-centred (or self-conscious). It is normal to feel fear around how we look in videos and pics, but if you focus on giving value, rather than on yourself, it will be easier to post. If you feel shy or are struggling to post the ‘right’ thing, it always helps to think of your mission or vision for your enterprise. Remember:
- It’s bigger than you.
- Be message focused – what do you want to say? What are your key messages?
- Think empowering thoughts (or your core values) when you are facing the camera.
- Keep notes and write down any ideas as they occur so you don’t forget them. You will then have a go to list for when you are thinking about what to post.
Last thing is to remember to use INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK STORIES!
If you want to improve your marketing results for your food enterprise, here’s what you can do next:
- Join our Facebook thriving food hubs group here!