Five ways social media can work for you

The food industry is at the heart of the smart phone revolution, according a recent seminar on social media use at Foodex 2016.

The presentation was made by PR agency Pelican and law firm Roythornes and was based around the company's fifth Social Media at Work Survey.

The recently-released survey quizzed a wide range of businesses in the food and drink sector about their policies and practices, along with offering support on how to improve performance.

Here are five key points from the report:

Have a social media policy:

The survey found that 26% of businesses still did not have a social media policy, which could put business and reputations at risk. It recommended that policy guidelines should cover both employees’ personal profiles as well as official business pages.

Roythornes said: “Employment tribunal case law states that employees may be liable for gross misconduct even where posts are published to private profile pages and outside of working hours. If you don’t already have a social media policy in place, then we advise that you make this a priority for your business.”

Work with agencies:

Pelican said using the same agency for digital and traditional communications helped ensure consistency in message and style. It added that any agency a business used should also be covered by its social media policy, due to the fact that the agency would be in part-control of its online presence.

Michael Bennett, managing director at Pelican Communications

Michael Bennett, managing director at Pelican Communications

Adapt your content:

At Foodex, Michael Bennett, managing director at Pelican said: "The food industry is really at the heart of the smart phone revolution."

Indeed, the survey found that most businesses had a social media presence. Twitter was the social media platform used most by businesses, although Facebook and LinkedIn were both used by over 60%.

However, Pelican said businesses should tailor content to each platform, to suit different audience demographics. It pointed to a 2013 study, which showed that Facebook users responded better to text updates, whereas LinkedIn’s less-active users preferred whitepapers and blog posts.

Pelican added that it was also vital to interact with users rather than simply posting content, in order to get the most from having an online presence.

Adapt to change:

The report pointed out that the social media landscape is ever changing and businesses should react accordingly. In 2015, Facebook and Twitter were both used less by companies than they were in 2012, down from 78% to 68% in the case of Facebook and down from 83% to 78% in the case of Twitter. However, the report said Instagram had seen huge growth in the last two years and offered a 4.2% per-follower brand engagement rate – 58 times that of Facebook and 120 times that of Twitter.

At Foodex, Bennett pointed out that the potential of the platform was relatively untapped, saying: "Instagram is increasingly popular with consumers while hardly any food businesses are using it."

Maz Dannourah, associate at Roythornes

Maz Dannourah, associate at Roythornes

Don’t rely on it:

While acknowledging that social media was a great source of information to the traditional media, the report warned that journalists often do not see it as their primary source of news, and that there was no substitute for communicating directly with the media.

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