Food Business Almanac: Social Media

by | Mar 7, 2012

NCDA&CS food business specialist Annette Dunlap offers resources that small-business owners and food entrepreneurs can use to grow and manage their business. Annette is available for free one-on-one consultations and can assist small-business owners with financial and market planning through the agribusiness development section. She can be reached at


There are many choices in the realm of social media, so the first step is for you to identify what you want your promotional outreach program to be, and then decide which social media work best for you.

Facebook and Twitter are generally viewed as the primary ways to attract customers and interact with them, but like all other marketing outreach media, you still have to find a way to successfully get your prospect’s or customer’s attention and engage them with the media. This means thinking about a marketing message you can use to “hook” customers to your Facebook page or Twitter feed.

LinkedIn is generally considered the medium for professional networking. If you are interested in interacting with other food entrepreneurs to talk about business opportunities and marketing strategies, LinkedIn and the groups it offers may provide you with a great way to interact. Various chat groups, such as Yahoo groups, also offer opportunities to network with other like-minded food entrepreneurs.

Ideally, a combination of outreach to customers through Facebook and Twitter, along with a companion website, as well as outreach to other food professionals can create great opportunities to get your message out to your target audience and your colleagues at low cost.

Here at the department, we have begun an email group for our food entrepreneurs called “NCFoodBiz.” If you’d like to have your name added to the list, send me a request at

To sum up, here are the top tips for using social media:

  1. Decide what your promotional message is and create a branding strategy.
  2. Define your hook to grab prospect’s and customer’s attention.
  3. Keep your content fresh, vital and alive.
  4. Try different approaches until you find one that works best for your business.