Social Media Tips for Food Entrepreneurs

You know you’re supposed to use social media to promote your business. Maybe you’ve set up a Facebook page. Maybe you even tweet. Or maybe the thought of juggling posts, tweets, and pins makes your head spin, and you’d rather just get back to the kitchen.

You’re not alone. Social media can be overwhelming. So many sites: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube…for a small business owner, it’s a lot to keep up with. But if you use social media properly, you can take advantage of this powerful (and essentially free) tool to get your message out.

Here are some basics to help you make the most of social media.

Be consistent. If you have to start small–say one post on one site per week–that’s fine. Just stick to it. Many beginners launch with a flurry of activity and then fizzle out.  The idea is to become a familiar contributor to the online community, and that familiarity comes through consistent actions: posts, tweets, uploads, etc. Once you’ve got that weekly post down pat, you can add another platform. (See “Work Smart” below.)

Be interesting and customer-centric. This is probably the most important principle of social media. Imagine a TV channel that only played commercials–no one would watch it. Likewise, if all your tweets are promotional, no one will want to follow you. You’ve got to deliver some real content in between the commercials. Imagine what your customer wants. If you’re a wedding caterer, share links to articles that brides might find helpful. If you’re developing a line of healthy snacks, post health and fitness tips. Educate, inform, entertain–give people a reason to follow you. If they like what you’re giving them, they’ll share it with their networks, and that’s where you start to see growth. Promotional posts are fine, just be sure they’re sandwiched between customer-focused content.

Remember, it’s a community. Get involved. Follow leaders in your field. Join online groups that mirror those you’d join in real life. For example, if your specialty is gluten-free cooking, join Celiac-awareness groups. If you want to cater for local businesses, find the Facebook page for the local chamber of commerce.  Not only will you make new connections, but you’ll find content that you can share, quote or retweet to keep your own pages interesting. Just be sure to give credit or link back to the source. If you’re not sure, ask permission before you share it.

Work smart. Use a program like HootSuite to manage multiple platforms. HootSuite allows you to post to all your accounts simultaneously. In other words, you can tweet it, post it or update it all at once. Or, you can select specific accounts for each message.

Get help. If you can afford it, engage a social media expert to manage your program for you.  If that’s too pricey, consider paying someone just to set up the accounts and show you how each platform works. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part.


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