David-Michel Davies is the executive director of the Webby Awards, which honors the best of the Web every year, including social media-based hits and misses. We spoke with Davies about the current landscape of food and drink social media, where it’s heading, who’s doing it well, and what companies should take into account before launching a social media footprint of their own.
What are some trends that you’ve noticed in food and drink social media recently?
To be successful on social media, brands have to tell compelling stories. Creating transparency in the food production process is one way to do it. A great example of this strategy is the Webby-winning "Our food. Your questions." campaign from McDonald’s Canada and our Agency of the Year, Tribal DDB.
Food and beverage brands are also seeing great results by strategically sharing user-generated content. Coca-Cola has been doing this successfully on Facebook for years. Smaller brands like Shake Shack are also taking advantage of the innate photo-ready nature of a delicious meal to encourage their fans to share photos on Instagram and then re-sharing them with credit, a great way to encourage community and brand loyalty.
What direction do you see it moving in?
The future of great social media for food and drink brands lies in doing something a little bit different. Great social media requires a solid strategic foundation, and once you have that, there is room to experiment. Customer service is also becoming increasingly important, and with more people active on Twitter than ever before, customer issues will need to be dealt with in a timely manner.
Why do you think more big brands are embracing social media?
Social media is an incredible opportunity for brands to form a positive relationship with their customers, and the impact can be huge when followers turn into evangelists. Social media has become a reflection of our lives and to avoid harnessing that conversation can be detrimental to business. All brands need to be taking note.
What are some of the best campaigns you’ve seen?
Oreo’s Webby-nominated "Daily Twist" campaign was the first of its kind, bringing the idea of "real-time marketing" mainstream. A team of strategists, copywriters, and designers created thoughtful, beautiful content and released it at the exact right moment, the most famous being during the blackout at the Super Bowl last year. We also really like what Chobani, Skittles, and Dunkin' Donuts are doing.
What are some of the most disastrous campaigns you’ve seen?
A surprising number of brands have gotten into a lot of trouble by "hashtag surfing" (participating in trending conversations) and executing insensitive real-time marketing. It is a strategy that comes with a high level of risk and requires a lot more thoughtful planning than is immediately apparent. The potential for PR disaster can sometimes outweigh the benefits of being one of the first to join the conversation.
What are some tips/warnings you’d give to brands looking to up their social media presence?
A successful social media strategy should begin by asking yourself how you’re going to create an environment in which people want to engage. It’s one thing to post content, but it’s a whole other ballgame to get people to look at it and share it, which is the key to expanding your audience. You need to make sure your profiles look great and have a solid plan for what you’re going to post and say. We recently released our very first Social Media Report, "Cats Are Over: Social Media in the Post-Cat Economy" with lots of great tips and tricks from Webby-winning brands of all sizes that are getting it right on social. It’s definitely worth the download whether you’re staring fresh or building on an established foundation.