Let’s be honest: small-scale, family-owned companies from any food sector don’t shine for their Social Media skills. And that’s totally understandable.
With a tight budget and never enough time on their hands, these businesses prefer to deploy their resources somewhere else. Production is the most important aspect, and all the rest is secondary. This is why Social Media is usually the last thought on their minds.
Many of them underestimate the power of their online accounts, and don’t understand why they should even make an effort. It’s interesting to notice how the owners and employees of these companies as online users spend quite a lot of time browsing around the major Social Media platforms, yet don’t believe that these are important in the marketing strategy of their businesses.
Craft chocolate makers and chocolatiers make no exception.
Their small staff needs to be employed in the chocolate making/creating process.
There isn’t any available person that can be paid just to take care of Social Media, and forget about a dedicated budget for a Social Media manager or a PR agency. However, Social Media is extremely important for chocolate companies that sell mostly online or aim to reach an international audience (pretty much all of them). Luckily, there are still some smart changes that can be implemented to make any Social Media account look on point and professional without spending any extra money.
Here are 20 Social Media tips that can improve your Social Media accounts:
1- DON’T GO OFF TOPIC
Your online audience follows you to hear about the latest news and product releases from your company. Of course, getting personal shows the human side behind the brand and makes your company more relatable and trustworthy. However, you don’t want your business profile to be confused with a personal account.
Rule of thumb: stick to pictures involving chocolate and your company. Avoid posting the salmon you had for lunch or the hike you went on last weekend. If you want to share those kind of pictures, a smart way to do so is to show your chocolate in the picture too. This way you are showing something personal while remaining “on topic”.
2- SHOW YOUR PACKAGING
Pictures of chocolate in the melangeur or tempered on a marble table always get a lot of attention. But keep your goal in mind: you want your online audience to remember your packaging, so that they can recognize and buy your products online and offline.
General pictures of beautifully captured chocolate will get you lots of likes and shares, but they will do very little for your branding. Any other chocolate professional can share the exact same pictures. Therefore, remember to show your packaging often, so that when your potential clients step in a fine chocolate store, they will immediately recognize your brand because they have seen it so often.
3- TAKE HIGH QUALITY PICTURES
There is no need to own a professional camera or lighting equipment to stand out online. All you need is to set TIME aside only for pictures. Yes, you heard it right. You need time to get everything ready for your picture, time to find a good angle and time to make sure you are shooting enough good pictures to choose from.
It happens many times that chocolate professionals take pictures in a rush because they have better things to do. The pictures that end up online are blurred, dark, boring and you can tell the person didn’t put much effort into them. They don’t exactly make you crave the chocolate in the picture. So make a resolution to start taking decent pictures for your Social Media accounts. Do it properly with the best intentions and no rush. High quality pictures mean good lighting, sharp, crisp and colorful.
4- ANSWER EVERY COMMENT
Or at least answer most of them. And do it within the first minutes from publishing a new post. Why? Because all Social Media platforms are now favoring posts with high engagement.
This is understandable: Facebook, Instagram and all the other companies want us to spend as much time as possible on their platforms. If a post is engaging, meaning that people comment and interact with it, it means that it gets people “to hang around” on the platform. Therefore, it will be shown to many people and for a long time. Taking this into consideration, if you answer to every comment you raise the engagement of your posts, and this gets your post a better ranking position among all the noise (other than showing your followers that you are very responsive).
5- FOLLOW A SCHEDULE
If you find yourself lost whenever you want to post a picture on Social Media, it’s probably better to get organized ahead of time. This means that you can decide how many times you want to post in a week and already determine the content you want to share. To be super organized and ready, you can also set one day aside when you will be shooting all the pictures for the entire week so you won’t have to think about it when the time to post comes.
For example, you can decide that you are going to post 4 times a week: Monday will be a product shot, Wednesday a behind the scenes, Friday a useful tip (how to taste, how to store, etc.) and Sunday another product shot. You can take a day off like Tuesday to actually take all the pictures for the week.
6- KEEP THE SAME PROFILE PICTURE ACROSS PLATFORMS
Your profile picture should be the logo of your company. Many chocolate companies make the mistake to use general pictures of chocolate bars or bonbons as their profile picture. The result is that online users don’t associate the general picture to that specific brand, so they don’t remember it. The more personalized, the better. And what’s more personalized than your own logo?
Also, you should keep that logo as your profile picture throughout all the Social Media platforms you are using. This way it will be easier for online users to find you and not confuse you with other brands.
7- ASK QUESTIONS
Including a question at the end of every post is always a good idea. It serves many purposes: it shows your online users that you care to interact with them; it raises the engagement of your post, therefore making it rank higher; it builds a sense of community around your brand; it serves as a free market research tool to ask your customers what products from your company they like the most, what flavors they prefer and so on.
Ask questions frequently to get to know your audience and create a community.
8- USE A FRIENDLY LANGUAGE
Social Media is supposed to be a place where to be social, fun, friendly and approachable. Especially when it comes to chocolate, online users expect brands to be joyful, open and down to earth. Using an hyper professional and formal language might be good for a research paper, but won’t serve you any good on Social Media. Playing the snobbish online brings no business to a company, unless you are an internationally acclaimed luxury brand. Therefore, keep your language simple and understandable.
Also, if you have an international audience, try to avoid words and expressions that are strictly dialectal or slang, so that even foreigners can understand the message you are trying to communicate.
9- DITCH THE “ME” VIEW
Social Media is not the place to pat yourself and your company on the back. There is no space for self-referential compliments and paragraphs on how awesome your company is. Social Media is the place where to interact with your audience and keep it updated on what you are doing. Sure, it is definitely useful to get people to know your products, but the first question you need to answer is: “Why should people online follow my account?”.
Ask yourself what you are bringing to the table. Is it education, entertainment, information, fun, inspiration? Don’t make it about you and your company, but make it about your audience and how you can be of value to them. They will remember your brand even more if they feel like they are learning, get motivated or are entertained by your posts. And be reassure that they will be more likely to buy your products too.
10- ANSWER TO NEGATIVE COMMENTS KINDLY
When a disappointed client writes a bad review or comment, his words are like a personal blog. Less people than you think will notice it or give it much attention. But when YOU answer on behalf of your company, that’s like you broadcasting on National TV. People are way more interested in the way you answer to negative comments than in the negative comment itself.
How you answer to negative feedback says a lot about your company, values and attitude. Therefore, whenever you are about to write back to a rude client, stop your defensive instincts and think that everybody is watching and will be reading your answer. If you think twice before writing, a bad feedback could actually be a great opportunity to turn the situation around in your favor.
11- KEEP YOUR BASIC INFO UPDATED
Regularly check that your basic info on Social Media is updated. This includes store hours, location, available assortment, events and tours in the store, and so on. Some online consumers will blindly trust the info you share on your Social Media accounts (in the INFO sections) without doing any further research. What if somebody shows up at your store only to find it closed because you haven’t updated your business hours on Facebook? What if you changed the kind of products you sell but consumers think they are still available?
If you keep your basic info updated, you will avoid any misunderstanding with your clients.
12- ACKNOWLEDGE MENTIONS AND TAGS
When an online user takes a beautiful picture of your product and tags your company, for you to only put a like on the picture is the laziest and least effective way to say Thank You.
The best way to show your appreciation is to like the picture, write a nice comment and reshare the picture on your account acknowledging that person. THIS is how you strengthen your loyal fan base. Especially if your company posts rarely on Social Media, posts of your products taken by your customers are a great way to enrich your Social Media accounts while showing that people like your products. If the picture meets your quality standards, reposting the picture as soon as possible should be a no brainer.
13- DELETE SPAM COMMENTS
Negative feedback is unavoidable even for the most efficient and attentive businesses. As we saw in point 10, you should always answer to bad comments and reviews in the kindest and professional way possible. However, spam comments are another category.
Spam comments include: comments made with the sole purpose of promoting someone else’s business; personal attacks to the owner of the company; comments that have nothing to do with the content of the post or your company; hate speech (racist, misogynous, etc.). Have no mercy with this kind of comments: delete them, and consider blocking the person if this is an action repeated over time. They bring no value to the image of your company, and can actually be detrimental if you leave them there where everybody can see them. After all these are your own accounts, and you are free to decide who is welcomed and who is not.
14- USE QUOTES ONLY RARELY
Many chocolate companies online tend to use general quotes about chocolate in their posts (sometimes even in the description of their business). These quotes are fun and catchy, and will probably get many likes and shares. However, they do very little for your branding.
If your accounts are mostly made out of quotes, your Social Media will start to look cheesy, naive and overall uninformative and uninteresting. Quotes are great to “lighten” your content or to be used as a magic card when you run out of content ideas. Just don’t make them your regular content.
15- TALK ABOUT YOUR AVAILABLE ASSORTMENT
What many chocolate brands often forget to do is to show and talk about their available products. They mostly focus on their latest releases, but they rarely mention the products that make the most of their regular assortment. So it’s useful to take pictures where all your products are included, or to dedicate one post to each single product in rotation.
Make sure that every product gets its spotlight and you communicate as many important info as possible about it. This way online users will get to know all your products available. They will also be made aware of products that they probably didn’t even know you had in stock, even if they had followed your brand for a long time.
16- SHOW THE FACES BEHIND THE CHOCOLATE
To build trust, it’s important to establish a human connection between a brand and its consumers. Especially when we talk about small companies, it’s crucial to show the faces of who is working behind the scenes.
Make it a point to show the face of the owner, the chocolate maker or the employees at least once every two weeks in your Social Media accounts. These can be head shots taken professionally while the person holds a product, or even better they can be pictures that capture the person while he/she is working. In the caption, include details on how special that person is and how crucial his/her job is for the success of the company.
17- LOOK AT WHAT SUCCESSFUL COMPANIES ARE DOING
If you are looking for ideas or inspiration for your Social Media accounts, write down a list of 4/5 successful chocolate companies in your niche and look at what they are doing. Focus on the kind of content they are posting, but also how often they post, the language they use, how they interact with their audience, the hashtags they use and so on. You can write down on a piece of paper all the interesting ideas that you gather from your research, and decide which one you can implement in your own Social Media accounts.
If you are a craft chocolate maker, check out Raaka Chocolate, Dandelion Chocolate and Dick Taylor Chocolate accounts. If you are a chocolatier, don’t miss The Chocolate Lab, Kate Weiser Chocolate and David H Chow accounts.
18- BE CONSISTENT
There is nothing more annoying than hearing from a company only when it has to sell you something. Some chocolate brands underestimate the power of Social Media, and use it only during high-peak seasons. That’s why you hear from them only a couple of days before Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter and Christmas. After the festivities are gone together with their discounts, they disappear from the online world until the next holiday sales. This way online users feel like you care to communicate with them only when you want to sell. Not cool.
If you decide to post on Social Media at all, put some effort and be consistent. This doesn’t mean posting every day, but at least stick to a minimum amount of posts per week to show your followers that you care about them all year round.
19- REMIND ONLINE USERS WHERE THEY CAN BUY YOUR PRODUCTS
Even if Social Media is meant to create trust and community around your brand, your end goal is to sell your products. Therefore, make the distance between your customers and your products as short as possible. Once in a while, remind your followers where they can find your products.
Can they buy them online? Can you provide them with a list of retail stores? Are they available in stores outside your country? Can you ship them internationally?
Instead of waiting for them to look around for information on your website, tell them directly where and how they can purchase your products. You will save them a lot of energies and will make it easier for them to buy your products.
20- CONSIDER HIRING A SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER (LIKE ME 😜)
If you care to have a strong and professional online presence but don’t have the energy or the time to do so, seek out help from professionals. Social Media managers that work freelance will create a strategy tailored to your needs and goals. Budget will usually vary based on the number of posts per week and extra services like community engagement, advertising campaigns and others. You can ask for a preliminary consultation to know how you can strengthen your online presence with your current available budget.
The goal is to hire a Social Media manager that can manage your Social Media accounts in total autonomy (based on the agreed-upon strategies), so you don’t have to worry about your online presence but can focus 100% on production, distribution and customer care.
Creating a strong online presence doesn’t have to be hard or expensive, but chocolate companies need to give enough reasons to online users to follow their accounts. What value can you bring to online chocolate lovers other than promoting your own products? Once you figure this out, it’s time to go all-in!
Have you enjoyed these Social Media tips? Will you implement any of them for your chocolate business?
I did NOT get paid and did NOT receive any kind of favor for writing this article. These are my honest opinions at your service.