Mark McCulloch, founder at Supersonic Inc, presents his guide to the social media channels and trends you should be tapping into.
As we approach the halfway stage of 2019, I am out and about talking to clients in the hotel, food and drink and foodservice industries, and it is striking to me that we as an industry are merely scraping the surface of the potential of digital and social. We are still doing this piecemeal rather than as a joined-up, well-oiled machine, producing constant, measurable activity to drive your business.
I would say it's vital to break down your digital strategy into two areas. One is business as usual, where you have the following in place: your brand DNA (knowing what your brand stands for); and your marketing strategy, which includes audience acquisition (PPC, SEO, social, etc), retention (CRM, loyalty, etc) and brand-building strategies (non-immediate sales-driving activity) for both offline and online. Also baked into this is a long-lasting engagement programme for your teams. The second area is where to focus over and above digitally.
Here are my top areas to focus on in the coming six to 12 months.
Not many food and drink brands are using YouTube to great effect, but with 23 million active monthly users in the UK and far longer viewing times than the usual social media suspects, it is a fantastic way to tell your brand story, showcase products and create long-form content that educates, entertains and/or helps people. For example, you could start a TV-style show reviewing craft beers; you could showcase food and drink pairings; or let people into your business to meet your suppliers, teams, frontline employees and your customers.
When it is barbecue season, for example, it is no surprise that people are searching for your product, whether that is beer, wine, meat or pizza. A set of engaging how-to videos and what to choose, buy and pair your product with is a great way in. You also need to put a bit of money behind your posts to ensure you are seen in the searches you want to appear in.
LinkedIn is the third-biggest social media platform in the UK after Facebook and YouTube. However, there is a huge chance to cut through with B2C-style, engaging content, versus the grey and boring B2B post you usually see. You can target your audience in terms of who you want to talk to through searching for name, company name, job title, area, etc. The targeting options in the back-end are brilliant, plus you can message anyone through buying InMail credits. Just make sure your approach is unique, human and adds value to the person you are trying to get the attention of.
It is now non-negotiable that you need someone on your team who can constantly video, edit and post huge amounts of content. It is said that you should be posting 80-100 pieces of unique content a day across various channels. This sounds overwhelming, but by shooting all day every day, you will have so much to post and then it becomes an editing job versus a content creation job. Documenting your brand and product and your human and company story is now what people want and demand to see.
Why have a social/marketing team of one or a few people when your teams can post about your brand, products and people all day every day? All you need to do is find out who is up for it. Decide what types of things you would like them to post, train them up, and then add a confessional hashtag, saying #iworkhere or #employee.
The messaging apps of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are now bigger than Facebook itself in terms of monthly active users. WhatsApp is a must-have for your business where you can broadcast to your most loyal fans and instantly communicate. Your open rate can be 90% versus 17% from promotional emails, and the click-through rate is said to be 35% as opposed to 3% from promotional emails. It's a no-brainer. Also using WhatsApp status (give it a try) enables you to communicate even more text and image-based ‘story'-style messages to your signed-up community. There is lots more to come from WhatsApp, so do keep an eye out and start playing with it and testing it today.
Lastly, voice (Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant and Apple HomePod) is not coming, it is here. So the big question is, are you using it? Do you have a strategy in terms of how you will ensure you are front of mind when people are searching and buying with voice? And are you investing in the platforms at the other end to ensure you are top, preferred or default search when someone asks Alexa for beer, cooking sauce, a food delivery or to book a room or a table?
Hear Mark McCulloch speak at the Social Media 2020 Playbook, presented by The Caterer and Supersonic Inc, on 19 July at the Soho hotel in London. Book your tickets here.
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