Socially AdeptI’m not a complete idiot when it comes to social media. Okay, I never Tweeted anybody, but I do understand why they don’t call it Twitting. Sure, I don’t have a Facebook account, but I have never referred to it as “MyFace” as a fellow editor once did. And yeah, I don’t know the entire abbreviated language of texting, but I do know what LOL, CYA and FUBAR mean.
So when I found out that Klosterman Baking recently jumped on the social media bandwagon, I jumped at the opportunity to chat (via telephone) with Kim Klosterman, chief executive officer of the Cincinnati-based company, about how bakers can most effectively use this new medium as a part of a broader public relations initiative.
“Traditional media has become a little expensive and segmented, as we all know, and social media is a way to reach our customers very reasonably -- and not only reach our customers, but also engage in a dialogue with them,” she explained. “Social media enables us to better learn the wants, needs, dislikes of people who purchase bread. It’s interesting for us to relate one on one with our customers and see what they have to say.”
That “dialogue,” she adds, is the most critical aspect. Facebook and Twitter can allow bakers and snack producers to better understand, inform, educate and even react to their customers, often instantaneously. Social media also can be used to develop new products or conduct research that’s complementary to actual consumer panels.
In her family blog called “A Slice of Life,” Kim invites consumers to tell her about everything bread-related from recipes to products to their experiences. In a recent Tweet, the company gave its followers a heads up on National Bologna Day. In another “Tweet for Savings,” consumers had to answer a couple questions about Klosterman Baking or the history of bread to win a coupon for a free loaf of bread.
“With Twitter, you really have to talk in sound bites,” Kim notes. “You just have a small window to get people’s attention, and that can be used to drive people to your Facebook page, a blog or Web site. It might be as simple as a thought for the day.”
Throughout November, which is National Sandwich Month, Klosterman Baking launched its inaugural “Family Secret Recipe Contest” where social media enthusiasts can post their favorite sandwich recipes on Facebook. The winner gets a year’s supply of bread.
“I’m looking forward to seeing more engagement with our customers as recipes go up,” she says. “I’m hoping that people will like to read what recipes are being posted, and it opens up more of a discussion. What you are constantly trying to do is put a question, a thought or an idea out there to get response back.”
Being interactive, however, requires a little due diligence. On Twitter, for instance, a follower may not be a bone fide consumer. Rather, they could be people who just want to glean some of your followers so they can build up their network of followers. Likewise on Facebook, you need to monitor your page or untoward postings.
“You have to watch what’s coming in because you don’t want things that are questionable coming up on your page. You are trying to present a certain image,” Kim says. “If something comes in that’s off color, you need to nip it in the bud.”
Klosterman Baking has worked with its agency, RMD Advertising of Columbus, Ohio, to develop and now keep a close watch on its budding new networks. Kim and the bakery’s sales and marketing staff are involved in the program on a daily basis. Just because it’s cheaper than regular advertising doesn’t mean there aren’t additional costs in time and money.
Launched in September, it’s too early to evaluate the success of the program. Down the line, however, Klosterman Baking may use traditional forms of media -- whether it be tags on radio, snipes on billboards or promotions on its bread bags -- to drive traffic to its social media outlets. That’s how traditional and new media can be used to reinforce one another.
Kim also has some advice on going into social networking.
First, keep it real.
“This is a dialogue, and it’s a friendship,” she says. “Listen to your customers and give them appropriate feedback and do it immediately.”
Second, keep it simple. It can be a sound bite, a photograph, a recipe or even a link to a Web site.
Third, keep it consistent.
“Reinforce your message through all of your social media and do it on a regular basis,” Kim advises. “If there is too big of a lull, you will lose people, remember this is a conversation about your product.”
As for me, I think I’m going to do a blog. That spicy burrito from last night isn’t agreeing with me.
To engage consumers in its social network, Klosterman Baking ran a virtual trivia game called “Tweet For Savings.”
In September, five trivia questions were posted daily and the first follower to direct tweet the correct answer won a coupon for free Klosterman products redeemable at their local grocery store. The contest presented an “incredible opportunity to connect more directly with consumers” in a fun and enjoyable way, says Kim Klosterman, chief executive officer of the bakery.
Here are some of the sample questions that consumers had to answer.
Klosterman: In what city is Klosterman Baking Company headquartered?
Klosterman: What kind of transportation was used to make our first deliveries?
Answer: Horse-drawn wagon
Klosterman: Who, commonly referred to as the “father of sliced bread,” invented the first sliced bread machine?
Answer: Otto Frederick Rohwedder
Klosterman: Where is the Klosterman family originally from?
Klosterman: On average, how much bread does each American consume per year?
Answer: 53 pounds
Klosterman: What bread product was temporarily banned during World War II?
Answer: Sliced bread
Flowers Searches for the Real Mrs. Freshley
Here’s another way in which bakers are using social media to reach out to consumers.
Flowers Foods, the producers of Mrs. Freshley’s snack cake and sweet goods, invited Facebook fans to nominate people in its nationwide “Who is Mrs. Freshley’s” search. Consumers have been asked to define the characteristics of the brand by suggesting who is the “Mrs. Freshley” in their lives.
Nobody knows who embodies the characteristics of Mrs. Freshley. She may be a grandmother who always has fresh-baked goods ready for visitors or a 20-something mom whose baking skills are loved and admired among friends. Whoever she is, it’s certain that she’ll have a dash of sweetness, pinch of charm and a little bit of spice, according to the Thomasville, Ga.-based company.
“Since its introduction in 1994, Mrs. Freshley’s has never had a person or character associated with the brand. Through the years, our customers have had a direct hand in shaping our products so asking them to help define the personality behind the brand makes sense,” says Brent Bradshaw, Flowers Foods’ brand manager. “We are excited to have consumers search for Mrs. Freshley and we can’t wait to see the nominations.”
To submit nominations, consumers have been asked to visit www.Facebook.com/MrsFreshleys to upload photos and write brief descriptions of why they believe their nominees are the real Mrs. Freshley.
Flowers plans to award the winner, along with the person who nominated her, with gift cards. In addition, the company plans to post the winning candidate on www.MrsFreshleys.com and may be used in future merchandising.