How King Arthur Flour is Using Social Media as a Customer Acquisition Source
It's ironic that one of the oldest brands in America, King Arthur Flour, is reliant upon one of the newer digital marketing channels — social media — to help it find and acquire new customers. In a keynote presentation yesterday at the NEMOA directXchange Fall Conference in Groton, Conn., Bill Tine, King Arthur Flour's vice president/general manager, detailed how the 225-year-old flour company is using social media to find customers.
King Arthur Flour follows three rules when it comes to social media: engage users (King Arthur Flour does this through relevant content); be customer obsessed; and focus efforts on customers’ needs and inspirations, not its brand. The retailer's primary goal for its social media strategy is to grow an audience source to complement its catalog prospecting efforts.
With that in mind, Tine offered five tips on how retailers can leverage social media as a customer acquisition tool:
1. Think like a publisher, particularly magazine publishers. King Arthur Flour has editorial staff dedicated to creating content much like a magazine does. The retailer gets up to 100 million page views on its website per year; more than half of those views are on content-related pages (e.g., blog posts, recipe pages, baking education pages), noted Tine. "We've become a publisher," he added. "We want to be the premier baking resource — the first place people look for recipes, education and inspiration."
2. Hire a content expert. Social media users don't want to hear from marketers, Tine said. The types of content this hire could be responsible for creating include blog posts, videos, photo galleries, infographics, and more. King Arthur Flour's social efforts benefit from the fact that bakers, by their nature, want to share with others, whether it be baked goods, recipes, interesting articles, etc.
3. Know the various social platforms and the audience each platform attracts. The multitude of social media platforms can and likely do attract different segments of your customer file, Tine said. Be aware of those differences when creating messaging and content for each network. You can't have a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to your brand's social strategy.
4. Have a figure-things-out attitude. Social media may be a new marketing channel, but the principles behind it aren't new, Tine said. Use the functional expertise you have as a direct and digital marketer (e.g., analytical rigor) to treat social like any other marketing channel. Focus on the right metrics and build a system that can measure performance, Tine advised the audience. Understand your return on investment target.
5. Be real. People want to talk to people, not robots. Furthermore, they want the brands with which they engage with on social media to be interested and focused on their wants, needs and desires, not the other way around. Be obsessed with your customers, Tine said. Follow Apple's approach: be so in-tune with your customers that you can identify what their problems are before they even know they have them.
While this all sounds easy enough, Tine cautioned the audience that they're going to need to spend money on Facebook if they hope to make it an acquisition source. Another sobering thought: Creating content isn't easy and it's not cheap, Tine said. It's going to take a real commitment from your brand as well as persistence (mostly through email marketing) to turn a Facebook fan into a paying customer.