There’s no doubt that social media has become a driving force in marketing in recent years.
As various platforms like Facebook and Twitter have ironed out early issues (remember, these companies are barely a decade old), businesses have found increasingly lucrative ways to leverage the power of social media to their advantage.
Over these years of innovation, some established best practices have surfaced. By using these, entrepreneurs can achieve growth in the coffee industry. Here are some tips and tricks that can help coffee businesses capitalize on the social media game.
Marketing in the Modern Coffee Industry
A half a century ago, the coffee industry was dominated by major contenders like Folgers and Maxwell House. Coffee represented a wake-up call and served a practical purpose.
Then companies like Starbucks rolled into town and started to preach the coffee gospel. Freshly brewed java wasn’t just something to exploit for its caffeine; it was something to be treasured. It was an experience to be shared with friends. A cup of coffee was a chance to slow down and experience life.
From there, things kept evolving as the Third Wave coffee industry took off and the quality of the coffee rose to match the quality of the experience. Now, coffee is on equal footing with wine, craft beer, and other elite culinary experiences. Terms like fair trade, organic, and shade grown are the norm, and recreating a coffee shop-style experience in your own home has become the challenge of every coffee aficionado in existence.
This shift from practicality to experience has brought with it a natural change in the way coffee is marketed. Gone are the days when the message focused around encouraging folks to grab a can of mass-produced coffee in order to fuel their bodies with acidic, burnt sludge before work each morning.
Effective marketing today involves developing your coffee knowledge and acumen, and then seeking out the best coffee to offer customers — whether that’s through quality home brewing equipment, an elite globally sourced coffee subscription, or a trip to your local Third Wave shop.
And that’s where social media comes into the picture.
Social Media in the Coffee Biz
Social media is, simply put, social. It’s focused on interactions between people and encouraging them to build communities that they can engage in. It’s an ideal setting to propagate that coffee gospel we already touched on, promoting experience and community as part and parcel of the coffee world.
This human element of social media, in particular, has made it an ideal avenue for coffee businesses to invest their marketing efforts into. Couple that with the fact that social media marketing has experienced explosive growth in recent years, and utilizing it in coffee-related marketing becomes a no-brainer.
With that said, let’s take a look at some of the key ways that coffee businesses can take advantage of social media to help promote themselves, develop their brands, and increase their overall success.
The most obvious benefit of social media in marketing is that it offers a new, fresh outlet for your marketing strategy. Utilizing the various social media platforms at your disposal equips you to drive traffic to both your website and your brick-and-mortar locations, often with minimal financial costs.
Connecting With Customers
One of the unique things about social media is that it’s a marketing channel that consists of two-way communication. While many traditional marketing options like television and radio ads have their strengths, they’re limited by the inability for you to actually connect with the audience you’re speaking to.
Social media defies that restriction by opening up a two-way channel of communication that facilitates direct interaction between businesses and their customers.
Rather than simply conveying a message, coffee businesses can see what their customers are saying, answer questions (more on that further down), and engage in the conversation.
In addition to connecting with customers, social media helps them recognize you more easily as well. The ability to establish and strengthen your brand is a critical component of a good social media marketing strategy.
When it comes to brand recognition, the power of social media, in particular, is that it allows even the smallest operation to develop a recognizable brand without needing to set up a Starbucks-sized operation with a store within 170 miles of everyone in the United States.
A company can quickly and easily connect with a customer a half a world away simply because they share the same interests. They can answer questions, chat, and help them place orders all from the comfort of their own shop.
If you take the time to adopt a familiar feel, color scheme, logo, and message across your social media platforms, it can do wonders in helping to bolster customer recognition of who you are.
In addition to brand recognition, your social media profiles can help your business relate to your customers. The personal element that drives social media platforms naturally brings a human touch to every post, image, and response you create.
This allows your operation to interact in a way that can foster a sense of community and humanity that can be difficult to attain in other marketing channels.
Another great aspect of social media is that it can be an excellent way to promote virtually any initiative your company sets in motion. You can use your various social media accounts to plug new products, advertise sales and subscriptions, advance your organization’s mission statement or various causes, and so on.
When it comes to promotions, platforms like Instagram and Pinterest can be excellent ways to get attention, as they are very visually focused and can be the perfect way to showcase your various offerings.
We already touched on the fact that platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow you to connect with customers by looking for groups that are relevant to your target audience’s interests.
In addition, though, the two-way communication means you can also use your company’s social media presence as a form of customer service, answering questions, responding to complaints, and generally tending to the feedback from customers.
While it’s easy to get wrapped up in all of the possibilities, it’s important to remember a few things before you dive headfirst into your social media efforts. For instance, it’s crucial that you understand that social media is time-consuming. Each post needs to be thoughtfully crafted, and monitoring your various social channels can be exhausting.
It’s highly advisable to create a strategy in order to bring a method to the madness. Try to batch create your posts and then use a content platform to schedule them. If you find you don’t have the time to do your social media efforts justice, consider hiring a part-time employee or even a freelancer to affordably maintain your profiles for you.
However you go about it, make sure to commit to your social media strategy wholeheartedly. Sloppy or unattended social media profiles can be more detrimental to your brand’s reputation than no social media profiles at all.
If you can manage to launch a successful social media marketing campaign, it will quickly become well worth the effort as you engage with customers, increase your brand recognition, and watch your company grow.