Tag Archives: food

Cooking Light’s Social Strategy Pays Off On Mobile, Pinterest

Cooking Light Pinterest strategyTime Inc.’s Cooking Light site has seen impressive growth, with social media referrals and mobile playing a big part.  Social media referrals are now the #2 source of traffic for CookingLight.com, and “the brand has introduced new strategies to ensure these traffic numbers continue to grow.”  And since the mobile site launched back in February of last year, it has grown 106%.

The growth in mobile came as no surprise: the brand pushed to make the mobile site user-friendly last year, realizing that many consumers engaged with the site’s content while shopping and planning meals on-the-go.  According to Long Lowery, “My homepage flows right into the mobile site.”

Admittedly, January is traditionally a good month for CookingLight.com: “People are searching for low-calorie and healthy recipes in January like it’s nobody’s business,” the brand’s digital editor, Allison Long Lowery, told Folio Mag.  Here are the numbers for Cooking Light’s web site in January:

  • the site grew to 2 million unique visitors – a 47% increase year-over-year
  • and to 20 million page views – an increase of 57% year-over-year
  • natural search rose 34%
  • social media referrals grew 114%

While the brand is present on multiple social platforms and uses online video, Pinterest has come to play a major role in social marketing. Long Lowery tells Folio Mag: “Pinterest is hugely important for us right now. Search was a big part of our growth in January but social referrals was the number two reason and it was primarily from Pinterest.”

Pictures of food and recipes are hugely popular on Pinterest, and Cooking Light adjusts their strategy on the site based on what people are pinning, whether that’s putting up salad recipes in the height of salad season, or providing a healthy recipe option for users pinning about “pepper poppers” around Super Bowl time.

The Cooking Light team sometimes adjusts their broader social strategy based on what’s trending on Pinterest; if a specific food is getting a lot of attention on the platform, the brand will post related content on its Twitter and Facebook pages as well.

This approach is not only leading to success in terms of site traffic, but is also appealing to advertisers. Cooking Light publisher Karla Partilla told Folio Mag, “It’s the multiple touch points we offer them—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or the video components that we have. Advertisers are coming to us for the overall experience.”

Social Media On The Farm: Crisis Management, Market Research, Education And APIs

As a mobile-friendly platform, Twitter has been used by farmers to share information, check realtime conditions, and connect with customers from its earliest days — CNN reported on this as early as 2009.

Now, with the drought of 2012 creating extreme conditions for farmers across a great swath of the U.S., farms are turning to Twitter and other social media tools as a support group to share information, gain insights and keep customers informed about changing conditions.  In some cases, farmers are even beginning to use realtime technologies to connect directly with consumers and create new market efficiencies.


Some farmers are using social media as a fundraising tool to help small them recoup some of their losses and survive this year’s drought conditions.   For example, the owners of Harvest Moon Farms, a 35-acre organic operation in southwest Wisconsin, are staging a string of fundraisers called “Drought Aid 2012.”  Using social  media and video to promote it, they generated $10,000 in the first 10 days, as reported by Grist.

Not surprisingly, the drought has also attracted a dedicated hashtag, #drought12, with everyone from farmers to the USDA sharing the latest information and strategies on how to cope.

[tweet https://twitter.com/hogneck/status/239830162710069249]

With a Tweet, Tweet Here, a Video There, …

In addition to using Twitter as a realtime information feed, farmers are using video, blogs and Facebook to keep customers in the loop about conditions on the farm, in the hopes that this will keep customers engaged and supportive.  They also rely on Twitter chats such as #AgChat to connect with other farmers and share information with each other.

Some farmers report that they are now getting more market intelligence from Twitter than from traditional sources such as the USDA.  NPR reports on Bill Graff, who uses Twitter to find out how his fellow farmers are doing and make decisions about when to take his grain to market.  And in May, the Nightly Business Report reported on commodities traders using social media to track news about the drought, and other information that might affect grain prices (starting around 1:20) — one broker says he follows more than 200 farmers on Twitter:

The Farm and the API

The other side of the supply chain is becoming more connected to realtime data feeds, too.  A group called Open Food is collaborating on an open source API to share data about food.  If they’re successful, then this will help grocery stores, restaurants, farmers’ markets, and the growers themselves collaborate to create greater market efficiencies by easily sharing information about supply and demand for various types of foods.

And then there’s Real Time Farms, a a platform designed to help consumers learn where their food comes from, in realtime, which features crowdsourced data about 4,900 farms, 2,600 food artisans and 7, 200 farmers markets, with data from an additional 22,000 farms coming online soon.  The company recently announced a new partnership that would connect its data not only to restaurants, but also to home cooks.

As more farmers discover the benefits of actively using social media, will we start seeing more brands use social media, like John Deere did earlier this year, to reach out to them?

49% of Online Adults Learn About Food on Social Networks

A new study by The Hartman Group looks at how social media is changing the way we engage with food, including purchasing, preparation and consumption.  According to the study, “Social media changes our food behavior” and “indulges our curiosities and provides an avenue for the safe exploration of new restaurants, cuisines and techniques.”

The vast majority of online adults in the U.S. use social media regularly, with 82% visiting social network sites monthly. Once there, many are engaging with food related content: nearly half of online adults (49%) say they learn about food via social networking. 40% of online adults say they learn about food via websites, apps or blogs, and 9% of of those online (nearly one in ten) say they downloaded a mobile food app in the past year.

How does online consumption of food-related information compare to print? Nearly half (46%) of online adults spend more time reading about food from online sources than from print sources, while 31% are equally engaged with both online and print.  For Millennials, online media resources have overtaken print (magazines, cookbooks) and food TV shows as their most valued sources of food inspiration.

Food is traditionally experienced through touch, taste, and smell.  As use of digital and social media increases, consumers are becoming increasingly visual, relying on pictures and social recommendations to learn about food.  One in four of online adults (25%) are inspired by recipe websites or recipe phone apps, and 17% are inspired by restaurant review websites or similar phone apps (in comparison to the 31% who are inspired by food shows they watch on TV).

Social technology is not only affecting how people seek food information, but is also becoming part of the dining process itself.  Nearly three in 10 (29%) of respondents have used a social networking site while eating or drinking at home in the last month; 19% have done so away from home. Almost one-third (32%) of consumers have either texted or used a social networking site or app in the last month while eating or drinking; for Millennials, this number jumps to 47%. According to the study, “lunch is by far the most common locus of online-social eating.”

The study’s conclusion: “Consumers primarily use social media to interact with friends and family. However, they are also discovering, learning, sharing and talking about food online.” They will engage with food brands and companies in this space, but they “want to hear from people who eat and cook food more than they want to hear from the entities who sell.” Brands will have to provide meaningful content, whether it’s useful information, money saving deals or entertainment.

The study was based on an online survey of 1,641 adult US consumers (ages 18- 64 years) in December 2011.


Power to the People: 52% of Consumers Believe They Can Use Social Media to Influence Brands

Consumers Use Social Media to Influence BrandsPerformance marketing agency Performics recently released a report about the interactions between consumers and brands on social networks, and the impact that social media conversations can have on brands.

The social media study found that 52% of respondents strongly or somewhat agree that voicing opinions on social networking sites can influence the business decisions of companies/brands.  And 31% purchase more from companies/brands that they like or follow on social networks than from those they do not.

Brands Influenced by Opinions on Social NetworksThe study, titled “S-Net, The Impact of Social Media,” highlights findings specific to 18 different industries: alcoholic beverages, apparel, appliances, automotive, education, electronics, entertainment, financial services, food, healthcare/pharma, household, magazines/newspapers, non-alcoholic beverages, personal care, restaurants, sports related, telecommunications and travel.  The respondents surveyed used social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

Additional highlights from the report:

  • educational institutions (79%), sports (79%) and entertainment (74%) topped the list of most discussed categories on social networking sites
  • the majority of respondents discuss brands/products on social networking sites to compare prices (59%), to talk about sales/specials (56%) or to provide feedback to brands (53%)
  • respondents who purchase household (29%), telecommunications (28%) and healthcare/pharma (28%) products were more likely to voice their complaints via a social networking site
  • 26% think brands should communicate with their fans/followers once per week on social media; 28% think it should be once per month

Some industry-specific results:

  • 53% follow travel companies/brands on social networking sites for coupons/discounts
  • 43% follow electronics companies on social networking sites for offers to win points or online currency redeemable for products
  • 42% discuss automobiles on social networking sites to compare prices
  • 32% have made a sports-related product purchase as a result of seeing something posted on a social network

Based on the study results, Performics recommends that marketers respond to the specific customer desires for brand interaction in their category/industry, concentrate their efforts on the “most relevant and appropriate” social networks, and engage in social media monitoring.

The study was based on a 30-minute online survey used to collect information from 2,997 U.S. respondents, who access at least one social network weekly. To qualify for a category section, respondents had to make at least one purchase in the designated category in the past six months.


50% of U.S. Women are Fans or Followers of Grocery, Health/Beauty, Household Product Brands or Stores

iVillage and SheSpeaks have released a joint an report, “Women and the Digital Path to Purchase, based on an online survey of random sample of women from the SheSpeaks panel, fielded in March 31-April 2, 2010, in which 1,581 U.S. women participated.  The research studied the impact of different digital marketing tactics on women’s in-store purchase behavior.

Facebook was the most-visited web site among respondents, with 81% saying that they had visited Facebook  in the past month.

The researchers found that 50% of women are fans or followers of grocery, health/beauty or household product brands and the stores that carry them. They are more likely to follow brands than retailers: 36% follow a food/beverage brand, 32% follow a health/beauty brand and 25% follow a household product brand, compared with 19% who follow a superstore via social media.

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Farmers Sow Seeds of Social Media

Farmers are getting the hang of social media and it’s helping their sales at local farmers markets around the country. If you follow them on Twitter and Facebook, you’ll get early tips on good deals.

Take the Chicago area, for example. Dietzler Farms, a favorite of more than a few Chicago chefs, will be offering a one-day-only special for its debut at Saturday’s Green City Market: five pounds of ground beef for $20. Three Sisters Garden in Kankakee will be hawking pea shoots, black beans and rolled oats, among other goodies.

Oh, the power of a tweet. Chicago’s Green City Market (which, of course, has its own Twitter and Facebook pages, each with nearly 5,000 followers or fans just since last spring) encourages farmers to start Facebook and Twitter accounts to get the word out of their offerings. In mid-April, the market gave customers a heads-up online about the first-of-the-season asparagus. Thirty minutes before that Saturday market opened had hundreds of people were lined up, waiting to get to that asparagus, which was gone in 30 minutes.

A Facebook post by Three Sisters Garden about pecans for Green City’s first indoor market last November resulted in a sell-out of 100 pounds of pecans.

Janet Rausa Fuller, the Food Editor of the Chicago Sun Times, has the full story here.

Get a Free Bagel With Friendship in Facebook's First Digital Coupon Campaign

BagelBe my friend, get a free bagel! That’s the message Einstein Bros. Bagels is telling potential customers on Facebook, and, at least in visible numbers, it’s paying off. The bagel-and-schmear giveaway started less than three full days ago, and already the bagel chain has increased its Facebook fan count from a measly 4,700 to a massive 336,000-plus. According to the company, this is the first instance of a Facebook advertiser providing a free offer though instant digital coupons. Is free the Continue reading