Social media fits produce, speaker says

04/14/2011 11:35:13 AM
Tom Burfield

Tom Burfield

Dan’l Mackey Almy , president and owner of Irving, Texas-based DMA Solutions, explains the basics of social media marketing during the April 13 meeting of the La Mirada, Calif.-based Fresh Produce & Floral Council.

CERRITOS, Calif. — Social media marketing may not be easy, but it’s probably not as difficult as you think.

In a presentation called “Social Media: Fad or Forever” given at the La Mirada, Calif.-based Fresh Produce & Floral Council meeting April 13, Dan’l Mackey Almy said platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube offer the produce industry a golden opportunity to promote products.

In fact, the president and owner of Irving, Texas-based DMA Solutions said social media offer the “biggest opportunity I have ever seen for our industry because it’s two-way.”

“It’s not about selling,” Mackey Almy emphasized.

It’s about listening, connecting and engaging.

However, by using social media as tools for branding, customer interaction, reputation management, product development, consumer connection and community building, she said, “Sales will come.”

A big mistake produce companies make is assuming that consumers know as much as produce providers do, Mackey Almy said.

Consumers have a lot to learn, but the industry can educate them through social media.

Mackey Almy dispelled some common myths about social media:

  • It’s free. It’s not, but it’s cost effective, and it can help reduce overall marketing costs;
  • It’s difficult. It’s not, and there are many resources available to help navigate social media;
  • It’s just for the young. In reality, the largest growth among Facebook users in 2010 was among those over 55, and the most influential users were in the 35-54 age group; and
  • It does not apply to my business. That may be the case if your business is writing top-secret nuclear codes, she said. Otherwise, it likely does apply.

Industry members often ask Mackey Almy to list best practices for social media marketing, but she said that’s not practical.

“There’s no cookie-cutter approach,” she said.

The strategy that a business should implement depends on what its goals are, who its audience is and how it measures success.

There are three social media marketing “musts”:

  • A home base, such as a website;
  • Social networking, such as Facebook, LinkedIn or YouTube; and
  • Micro-blogging of 140 characters or less, such as Twitter.

Despite the innovative social networking platforms that offer a quick way to make connections, Mackey Almy remains a strong believer in a home base where a firm can pull marketing messages together.

Facebook and Twitter are good places to start social media marketing program, she said, but don’t overlook YouTube as a way to visually introduce your product to customers.

Volunteer award

Mace

Carissa Mace, president of the La Mirada-based council, is a 2011 Spirit of Volunteerism Award recipient.

The Orange County Food Bank nominated Mace for the award in recognition of her spearheading the council’s efforts to support the food bank, Farm 2 Kids and other programs that provide fresh produce for families in need.

“The FPFC is thrilled to be nominated for this,” Mace said. “It’s really a testament to our membership and the volunteer work that they do.”

One OC sponsors the award, given April 14.

Supporting the food bank is a natural endeavor for FPFC members, Mace said.

“Feeding people is what we do,” she said.



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