Andy NelsonBradley Fitzhenry, brand manager of MJR Creative Group, delivers the keynote address on social media Aug. 20.CHICAGO — It won’t surprise many people to learn that the majority of Americans have smart phones, and that 4 out of 10 Americans check Facebook on a regular basis.
But there are other statistics important to the industry when it comes to using social media as a marketing tool, according to Bradley Fitzhenry, brand manager of MJR Creative Group. Fitzhenry shared social media insights with attendees of The Packer’s Midwest Produce Conference & Expo that might surprise some in the produce industry.
According to Fitzhenry, the keynote speaker Aug. 20, 54% of consumers use social media to find new foods, 39% are on social media sites while eating, 25% post pictures of food on social media and 22% document their own cooking via the medium.
Combine all those numbers with three more — 69% of consumers want to know where their food comes from, 91% want retailers to have health and nutrition programs and 90% expect information from grower-shippers — and you have what Fitzhenry characterizes as a huge opportunity for retailers, shippers and others along the supply chain.
“A perfect storm is brewing around food and social networks that is increasingly facilitated by mobile,” Fitzhenry said. “Most companies haven’t done more than tip their toe (in social media).”
And it’s especially true of the fresh produce industry, he said. Consumers aren’t nearly as interested in using their phones and other devices to get behind-the-scenes looks at center-store items as they are fresh fruits and vegetables.
“The opportunity for produce suppliers is unique and significant,” he said.
It takes time to build social networks via Facebook, Twitter and other channels, so Fitzhenry urged retailers and produce companies to get going. They may be running out of time to get their messages out via conventional routes — by 2017, according to data cited by Fitzhenry, just 17% of retailers expect to be using print to advertise.
One key to a successful social media strategy is to focus on the visual, Fitzhenry said. Facebook posts with a photo have a 120% higher engagement rate than posts without a photo. With two or more photos, it’s a 180% boost, and with a video, 200%.
Targeting mobile is even better — a video on a mobile device is 400% more likely to draw consumers, Fitzhenry said.