Social networking is arguably the most important marketing tool of the last decade, and is undoubtedly most useful for entrepreneurs. Specifically in the food industry, small business owners have the unique benefit of sharing visual content directly with customers through their social channels. Harnessing these platforms is one of the most efficient ways to grow brand recognition, brand value and drive web traffic.
This month I had the pleasure of attending a seminar at ICE called “Social Media in the Culinary Realm,” taught by the very talented Lori Greene, director of content for Maxus Global, through ICE’s School of Professional Development. Lori explained that, in the digital age, people get information from their community and a sense of community from their information. From there, she covered actionable ways that culinary entrepreneurs and small business owners can start using social media to grow their brand:
Determine your purpose: First and foremost, it’s essential to have an understanding of the differences between the leading social media platforms and more importantly, how you want your brand to be portrayed in the social sphere. For example, are you a witty one-liner type or a more reserved industry tastemaker? Determine your voice and what your message should be. Then ask yourself repeatedly, “Why should people follow me?,” and create content that serves that purpose.
Identify a Target Audience: As a young culinary brand, your job is to build a community of engaged followers (a strategically targeted audience) that is loyal and interested in your brand. They choose to follow you and genuinely care about what you have to say. Trying to serve everyone means you’ll end up serving no one, so pinpoint your target audience and cater content to their interests.
Create an Identity: Be consistent. Create logos, backgrounds and images that all point to the same message. Be the face of your brand and create a deeper meaning for your product, so that followers can see the benefits of your brand brought to life. Offer exclusive news or offers, and engage readers with original content. By creating personal relationships, you can connect with customers in a way that is natural and influential than unwanted advertisements or promotions.
Grow Your Followers, Grow Your Brand: Be a curator of food news, photos and events. Promote your social channels and post frequently. By sharing information—rather than promoting or “selling” your business—you create a community of followers who trust your opinion and will look to you as an expert in food and drink. Take advantage of topics that are already trending and join the conversation.
If you’re a student looking to start a blog, open a business or develop your personal brand, I highly suggest taking advantage of these kind of seminars with industry experts at ICE! What’s more, you don’t have to wait to graduate to get started on social media. Post photos of the dishes you make in class or tweet links to your favorite recipes. (Tag @iceculinary on Twitter or Instagram, and you might even get a retweet or regram!) Take advantage of the constant flow of culinary content at your disposal and start marketing yourself now. Happy networking!
For more food media classes at ICE, click here.