These days in the social media sphere, instead of asking the common question of your company: “How many followers do we have?” you may want to ask yourself: “Whose social media accounts am I following?”
If you’re a natural and organic food industry professional reading this blog, you’re probably already using social media personally or are at least curious about how you should be using it professionally (this means networking via LinkedIn or following regulatory Twitter feeds – not Organic FarmVille). But no matter your involvement, I’ll bet the most common reason for not using social media to advance your career is the same: not enough time.
In fact, a recent study by cheesemaker Sargento found that 36 percent of the 242 respondents said they didn’t use social media professionally because they didn’t have enough time. Sargento’s survey was sent to its customer base of food industry R&D professionals to determine the best way to communicate with them.
Making the time for social media
Chances are, your company is already using social media to communicate with its customers. (Looking for inspiration? We’ve got 10 tweet tips for retailers here.) It used to be if you didn’t have a Web site, you didn’t exist – now, it’s if you don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account.
Perhaps out of necessity, in the natural and organic space it seems there’s less emphasis on who is following and more on how many are following you. After all, organic food and beverage sales represented approximately 3.7 percent of overall food and beverage sales in 2009 according to the Organic Trade Association’s 2010 Organic Industry Survey. Although growing (sales in 2009 enjoyed a 5.1 percent growth over 2008) that’s a small piece of the pie. And a small portion of the more than 500 million active Facebook users.
But take heart: some organic food companies are kicking butt and – literally – taking (collecting?) names. Just check out this real-time chart featuring the Top 10 Organic Food Producers in social media.
Whom should you follow?
If you work in the biz, don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to collect followers. That’s up to the social media specialist at your company (unless that person is you!). Instead, focus on whom you should be following – to stay up on the latest industry news, regulations and as a means of quick inspiration when the 2 p.m. doldrums roll around.
Get notified about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's recalls via @FDARecalls or watch their FDA YouTube Channel for updates/news.
- While the Federal Trade Commission is now monitoring social media and blogs for compliance with industry regulations (most notably, about full-disclosure in testimonial advertising), it doesn’t participate in social media.
Safety and Research
As part of the USDA National Agricultural Library, the Food Safety Information Center tweets food safety information.
The Foreign Agricultural Service of the USDA tweets about U.S. agriculture, export opportunities and global food security.
The Agricultural Research Service, the USDA’s principal intramural scientific research agency, tweets their latest research.
American Herbal Products Association
International, non-profit trade association representing members in herbal products, dietary supplements, natural products, personal care, nutraceuticals and more. They’re on: LinkedIn
Organic Trade Association
Represents businesses across the organic supply chain in North America. They’re on: Facebook and Twitter
Natural Products Association
Represents more than 10,000 retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of natural products, including foods, dietary supplements, and health/beauty aids. They’re on: Facebook and Twitter
Non-profit collaboration of manufacturers, retailers, processors, distributors, farmers, seed companies and consumers to ensure the sustained availability of non-GMO choices. They’re on: Facebook and Twitter
Note: Both the United Natural Products Association and Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) currently are not on social media, but CRN’s Life… supplemented consumer campaign is.
Professional LinkedIn Groups
These groups were started by industry professionals for industry professionals and are not necessarily affiliated with an organization.
Natural and Organic Cosmetics Marketplace
For retailers and suppliers of natural and organic cosmetics. About 1,300 members.
Natural Product Industry Professional
For those who work in the vitamin, supplements, green, organic, natural, nutrition and health food industries. About 2,100 members.
For those active in any part of the organic movement, industry and business including farming, food and non-food. About 3,200 members.
New Hope Natural Media is also on social media
Subscribe to our supply-to-shelf Twitter list to follow all our Twitter accounts, plus check out our Facebook Pages and LinkedIn groups.
NewHope360.com: @newhope360 and Facebook
Engredea: @engredea and LinkedIn
Natural Foods Merchandiser: @nfm_mag, Facebook and LinkedIn
Nutrition Business Journal: @nutritionbizjrl, Facebook and LinkedIn
Delicious Living: @deliciousliving, Facebook
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