Top tips for using Facebook for Food Producers

March 22, 2013

One of our aims as a community festival is to help small businesses who work with us to learn from others about how they use some of the tools available to promote their business.  We hope you’ll enjoy this insight into how two of our producers are using Facebook to promote their business.

Founded in 2004 as a way for college students in the USA to keep in touch with one another, Facebook has become part of everyday life and connections between friends for many people world wide.  In the UK, over 50% of the population has a Facebook account, and anyone with a Facebook account can create a page for something they’re passionate about – which could be you, and your business!

Two of the businesses who are returning for the 2013 Crail Food Festival are run by Tanya Muttitt (Days Gone Bye Jams and Home Made Preserves) and Darren Mollan (Chilli Papas). We spoke to them about how they promote their business using Facebook.

Tanya started her business selling Jams and Home Made Preserves back in 2010, selling at car boot sales and progressing to selling at events throughout Fife (and beyond).  Her aim is to reintroduce our clients to the taste of “real ” jams and preserves. Just like your granny would have made – full of fruit and taste.  Tanya’s business is currently in the process of setting up a shop in Newport, Fife where she will sell her preserves, as well as providing a base for other local crafts people and artisans to trade.

How does Days Gone Bye Jams and Homemade Preserves use Facebook?

How does Days Gone Bye use Facebook for their Jams and Preserves business

Tanya’s Tips for using Facebook to promote her home-based business

  1. A home-based business may not have the resources for a website in the early days, so a Facebook Page for your business can help to spread the word without the cost of web development.
  2. Be true to yourself. Share items which are important to your business and your potential customers.  Don’t participate in artificial ways to inflate your number of followers if you want genuine contacts with people who are real customers.
  3. When you are going to be selling at an event, ask the organisers for a digital copy of a poster for the event and use it to make a post on your timeline.  Helps your customers to know where they’ll be able to buy from you.
  4. Share the event on your own timeline and ask your helpful friends to share it with their friends.
  5. Share information about what you’re making so that your followers get to know about it, and can contact you.  Take pictures when you’re producing your preserves, and post them on your Facebook page.
  6. Work to support charities and the publicity gained will help more people find out about your business.  Tanya mentioned her support for animal charities, “Help for Heroes”, and an army wives charity.  She gives prizes for raffles and this leads to more people tasting her products and becoming customers for the future.
  7. Be prepared for your business to have to “think global” – Facebook is an international medium and Tanya’s business has had to find out how to package and ship products to different parts of the world after people have sampled her wares and want to re-order.
  8. Remember to include details of how your customers can find you on Facebook on your printed materials – business cards and jars were specifically mentioned by Tanya.

Darren Mollan of Chilli Papas also has a home-based business, creating curry mixes and spice and herb blends to help people make delicious low-fat home cooked meals from raw ingredients.  Darren set up his business in 2010, just as we were devising the plan for the first ever Crail Food Festival.  Looking for a low cost way to reach potential customers, Darren set up his Facebook page as a central part of his business strategy, and has made a huge effort to grow the Facebook following for his page.

How does Chilli Papas use Facebook?

Chilli Papas spices and herb mix for creating low-fat curries

Darren’s top tips for using Facebook to promote his home-based business

  1. You have to work at it.  Darren posts on Chilli Papas’ Facebook page every day, either featuring photographs from his business, or asking topical questions of his followers to get people talking.  The more people who engage with your Facebook page, the more their friends are likely to see the comments and join in or become a new follower.
  2. Vary the times of day when you post as you will get different people interacting at different times.  Sometimes post the same item of news twice or three times in a day to ensure that you reach as many of your followers as possible.
  3. Darren sees his Facebook page as just like having a shop – if you talk to your customers when they pop in, they’re more likely to remain customers and return to buy more.
  4. Facebook provides the interaction with customers which allows Chilli Papas to grow.  By using Facebook to offer new products free to existing customers to sample, Darren has grown his spice and herb blends from just 3 products in year one to 5 products in year 2, to the current 9 products, with 3 more in development.  He asks his customers about the balance of ingredients and adjusts the flavour of the mixes to suit customer taste before launching the ‘final’ product.  Big business develops products in a similar way, by testing, sampling and refining the offering until it is deemed acceptable to launch.  Darren has direct contact to create new products in line with his customer demands.  He says “I couldn’t have done it without Facebook.”
  5. Facebook fans will help to spread the word about your business by letting you know that they’re cooking with your products, posting photographs and asking for advice about recipes.
  6. Sharing personal items helps Chilli Papas’ customers to understand more about the business.  Darren is a house-Dad whose first priority is to make sure his children are looked after.  He works on his business late into the evenings to ensure that orders are met, so if he falls behind occasionally he can keep his customers informed and manage expectations via the Facebook page.
  7. Using a Business Page within Facebook is important for Darren as it gives him Facebook Insights which help him to monitor what’s working and what is not.  He can see how many people his posts are reaching and which posts are most popular, which also helps him determine when the best time is to post for maximum impact.
  8. Use Facebook applications to display reviews from customers – you can see what people are writing on the ChilliStars page.
  9. Use Facebook to sell your products.  Chilli Papas has used an app to set up their on-line Chilli Papas shop within Facebook, which allows customers to shop without leaving Facebook.
  10. Feature your favourite customers or stockists regularly. Chilli Papas is running a “stockist of the week” feature, giving extra exposure to other businesses, as well as showing their customers where they can buy Chilli Papas products.
  11. Focus on your favourite social media application and it will pay dividends.  Each one has different strengths and weaknesses.  Chilli Papas puts the effort into Facebook and it reaps rewards.  They are also using Twitter, but the interaction there is different and requires a different approach.
The thing which shone through for me when interviewing both Tanya and Darren was their personal approach to using these social tools.  Social media for them is about interacting in their own way, and with their own personalities playing a big part in the way they want to run their business.
It’s great to hear success stories from two of the producers who will return to Crail Food Festival in 2013.  You can meet both of them on Saturday 15 June 2013 at the Crail Food Festival Food Market event where you’ll find a range of suppliers and some exciting food demonstrations too.
If you’ve used Facebook for your food-based business, we’d love to hear about what worked and what didn’t.  Leave us a comment in the space below.  If you haven’t been using any social media for your business, or would like to find out more, then our social media manager, Susan McNaughton would be happy to hear from you.
by Susan McNaughton for Crail Food Festival 2013
Find out more:
Facebook: Chilli Papas