Twitterpated?  Yes, Twitterpated. twitter163

In the Disney movie “Bambi“, the friend Owl explains “Nearly everybody gets twitterpated…you’re walking along, minding your own business. You’re looking neither to the left, nor to the right, when all of a sudden you run smack into a pretty face. Woo-woo! You begin to get weak in the knees. Your head’s in a whirl. And then you feel light as a feather, and before you know it, you’re walking on air.”

Yup, I was minding my own (personal chef) business and I was abruptly Twitterpated by the “pretty face” of food and social media!   For the past few months, I’ve been immersed in all things Twitter, following food bloggers, chefs, restaurants, food companies, critics – you name it.  I’m completely Twitterpated with the incredible possibilities for food-related companies and I want to help.

You may wonder, why should food companies use Twitter?  And my response is, why shouldn’t they? 

As Scott Ginsberg, of “Name Tag Scott” fame says, “Be out in the marketplace with your ideas or be OUT OF the marketplace completely.”  If you are a food-related company and you are not on Twitter now, you are invisible, to a degree, and here’s why.

It’s an incredible opportunity to turn what has been a monologue for restaurants et al into a dialogue with their community, current customers, future customers, media, etc.  Food-related companies can now interact in an even more personal way and open up avenues for new business, along with increasing trust and loyalty.

For example, here are three key “wins” in using Twitter:

Visibility: Twitter is a great way to meet new customers who don’t know you yet, especially if you can do business outside your local area.  You can also create stronger bonds with current customers, and offer special deals to drive traffic to your website or storefront. And, if your competitors are on Twitter, shouldn’t you be there too?

Opportunity: Twitter allows you to stay on top of industry trends and observe your competition (see above!). It also provides quick and inexpensive market research, giving you insight on what your customers think and want. Forget the expensive and time-intensive focus groups – ask your Tweeple (Twitter followers) and get answers now!

ROI: Twitter allows you to create considerable “buzz” for your company and positive, rapid word-of-mouth credibility, virtually for free.  This is a hot topic of debate, since while the Twitter technology itself is free, there is the cost in time and effort for someone to manage it.  However, many would point out that most companies already have marketing staff and expense, and this is just a reallocation of their focus.  And the ROI on a free tool is pretty much “sky’s the limit”!

As my friend and business coach Sara Yao, recently pointed out, the relationship in this type of marketing effort is best seen as “correlation not causation”.  At the end of the month, if your sales are up 50%, aren’t you happy – wherever that came from? Of course you’d like to know the exact source so you can replicate it, but you can’t accurately track advertising now (billboards, ad, tv) as it is.  At least with Twitter you can use code words to track traffic and sales through special offers and the like.  While you might not be able to finger Twitter as the “causation” of all these sales, it’s certainly “correlated!”

In my Twitterpated state, I could go on and on about this topic, but I think you get the point!  And I’d like to close with a brilliant excerpt from a recent Wired article by Joshua Davis.  While the content had to do with “whether to friend your boss on Facebook”, I think it’s a perfect analogy to why you – the food company- should even be on Twitter (and other social media for that matter) яндекс

“If the rules of the jungle are any guide, you should definitely follow the Twitter feeds of all your superiors. Dominant monkeys occasionally send out troopwide alerts (i.e., yelps and screams) about the state of the jungle. Sometimes it’s information about predators; other times it’s about the direction the troop will move that day. The expectation is that all of these pronouncements will be duly noted, and we all know that leaders can get extremely angry if they are not heeded. Our closest animal ancestors laid down the law—we have no choice but to follow.”

Now, you know I’m not calling us all monkeys (!), but you get the drift – you need to know what’s going on in your jungle!  So tell me now, why aren’t you on Twitter??  And if you are, please share a success story from your efforts below.