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Shoppers are spending more time online than ever before, and on all sorts of platforms – from e-commerce sites to social media and beyond – so it makes sense to boost your assets while the iron’s hot.
A strong online presence could amplify your business in more ways than one. Not only will it raise the profile of your business beyond your immediate area – potentially attracting new locals as well as consumers from further afield to check out your wares – it could cement your existing customer base and generate some much-needed extra sales.
Diving into socials
Social media is certainly worth an investment of time (and potentially funds) in 2023. Its various platforms offer a wealth of community-building opportunities for any food business.
One staunch advocate of social media for indie retail is Laura Roberts, owner of Laura’s Larder. “Social media has been so important for the growth of Laura’s Larder”, she tells Speciality Food.
“We share the lunch specials on it daily, I’m told it’s an appointment to view by many whether they are thinking of coming for lunch or just want some inspiration for something to make at home. We share products and their stories, recipe ideas and so much more. Weary people sent on shopping tasks show me their phones and declare they’ve been sent to get what’s in the picture. It’s just brilliant.
“It’s a great way to communicate directly with people during and outside of shop hours too, to respond to questions and comments and to take orders for things like afternoon teas, Christmas cheese boxes, if you can manage it all”, she adds.
Social media is increasingly being used for e-commerce, with Instagram and Facebook pages allowing retailers to display their products and consumers to buy via the app. Charlie Wells, director and head of marketing at The Farm in Stratford, uses these channels to promote her store.
“I wouldn’t say it helps a great deal [with sales] but it certainly works as another point of advertising our products or seasonal specials, which hopefully creates a sale. It also allows advertising on Facebook shopping pages as well, which if you have a large Facebook following plus Instagram it gives you double the chance to sell through your social media channels. The Farm has a very different audience on Instagram than Facebook, so we cover all potential customers.”
What to post
Thinking about what to post on social media can be daunting, but social media should be fun at heart, and allow retailers to be creative. Laura advises, “Approach social as an extension of the store. Use it to replicate all the detail that makes your customers loyal – sharing products, their stories, and examples of them being used such as demos and recipes.
“It’s a great way to broadcast menus, specials, events and more. Also, if you can manage the communication channels it’s a great way to engage with people. Engaging also gives you the opportunity to get to know your customers at scale in a way you could never do in-store. You can ask questions, run polls and even share special offers.
“But don’t be too sales-y, use the same tone of voice as you would if face to face, you’ll quickly lose those followers if you post nothing but promotional content. I always ask myself before I post something, what one thing do I want people to think or do from this post? And if there’s no answer or not a positive answer I need to rethink, rework, or redo it.”
The bottom line is that whatever you choose to post, it needs to look good. As Charlie concludes, “Make sure it’s an attractive photo that’s going on! I know that seems obvious, but I’ve seen some terrible photos recently. A bad photo can be just as influential as a good photo! It represents your brand so make it a good one and make that product pop!”