Experts to Talk Social Media Strategy at United Fresh

Experts to Talk Social Media Strategy at United Fresh

DALLAS — For supermarkets and the fresh foods they sell, the rise of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter has been a bit of a blessing and a curse. On one hand, these tools offer the opportunity to reach out to customers directly. On the other, disgruntled customers can now instantly broadcast their dissatisfaction to everyone they know.

On Wednesday, May 2 at 4 p.m., at the United Fresh 2012 show here, Sonny Mayugba, executive vice president of AugustineIdeas, will be joined by Lisa Mowry, a Dallas-based food blogger featured in Rachael Ray magazine, to present “Driving Brand Loyalty with Social Media,” a seminar designed to help retailers and produce companies understand some of the opportunities and challenges that these tools present.

“The tools we have today — at our fingertips — marketers in the past would have killed for,” Mayugba said. He added that even negative responses to a product, store or brand can be turned into something positive, if a company learns to listen to their customers.

“In the old days, if someone didn’t like [a product], they just told people within earshot, and you never even knew they didn’t like it. Now they can go online and talk about how they don’t like it, and you have a chance to strike up a relationship and find out why,” he said. “You can potentially fix something that many other people don’t like. Now you’re a better company for it.”

It’s free and it’s simple enough to set up a corporate account on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, but Mayugba noted that companies should recognize that they need to make a time commitment to these accounts if they expect to extract any value.

“The cost comes in having the time to nurture relationships [with customers] and grow an audience,” he said. “So, how much does that cost? What should people set aside?”

The “stock answer” that many social media experts give is one to two Facebook posts and three to five Twitter posts per day, possibly a couple of videos on YouTube each week, along with regular online contests or giveaways, Mayugba said.

However, he encourages brands to empower one to three people at their company to communicate their message on social media platforms. Post what you want, but always make sure it’s quality content.

To that end, Mayugba cited research indicating that 40% of people who “like” a brand on Facebook are doing so because they want promotions and special offers. This makes a good case for offering occasional contests and giveaways. But, brands should also have a bigger vision, thinking of themselves almost as a specialized media company that creates content for their readers.

“If I’m an onion grower, do I walk into a cocktail party and say, ‘Guess what? I’ve got onions, and if you can jump through this hoop, I’ll give you a pound. It’s a contest.’ Of course I wouldn’t. I would walk into the room and say, ‘Hi. Here’s who I am, and this is what’s going on in my world.’ … Think less about the commodity that you represent, and more about the lifestyle that surrounds it,” he said.