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How this food brand’s social media strategy is making its website a winner

Bypassing expensive advertising mediums, Cauli Rice co-founder Gem Misa has used social media to increase online sales. finds out how

This article is sponsored by Verisign

Low carb food alternatives have become big business. The paleo diet – based on a time when cave men and women relied on a more basic diet – has been popular for a while. And the number of gluten-free and vegan options has swelled on the shelves of every major supermarket.

So, it was no surprise when Cauli Rice secured just over £1.4m from almost a thousand backers on a crowdfunding platform.

The long-life, microwavable cauliflower rice product has become a popular alternative to carb staples since launching in 2015. But in order to draw more of a crowd to its website, it had to create a following – and that’s where founders Gem Misa and her husband Jamie Harris, have been particularly clever.

They turned to social media to engage with customers dedicated to their brand, and found that it had the desired effect: more visitors and their online sales increased too.

Now with over 19,000 fans across social media platforms, coupled with burgeoning e-commerce sales, we caught up with co-founder Misa to uncover how she and Harris have leveraged social media to drive growth…

What social media channels do you use to market Cauli Rice and what channels have the most engagement?

“Using social media channels is definitely a commitment of time and energy when you’re getting a business off the ground, but we’ve seen it as an essential part of our marketing strategy. We chose to build our profile on the three biggest platforms, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.”

Cauli Rice

“We actually had a Twitter account before we started trading and since then we’ve posted over 2,000 times, becoming part of the healthy eating, low carb and paleo diet movement. What we’ve seen is that we have some dedicated followers and fans of the product, many of whom are food bloggers who regularly share their pictures and are proud of their healthy living lifestyle.”

“We started around two years ago on Instagram and, from our very first post, we saw how we could engage with real customers by sharing our desire to empower people to live healthier, more active lives. There’s been a healthy food revolution in recent years and one of the great things Instagram allows us to do is to share other people’s food stories and the amazing meals they’re cooking using our product.”

How do these social media channels compliment your business and what role do they play in your marketing strategy?

“We’ve found that social media has been most effective as a tool to boost brand awareness and PR about Cauli Rice.”

“Social media has the power to cut through channels to enable us to engage directly with our consumers. We don’t have to rely on a press release or launch story; instead we can create a conversation on social media that everyone can be part of.”

What content do you share on social media and why?

“As a B2C brand, recipe and meal posts have proved the most popular among our followers and fans.”

“We repost and ‘regram’ meals prepared by people using our product and showcase those recipes on our social media pages. Using customer testimonials in this way is far more genuine – and authentic – than the traditional self-promotional posts brands use.”

Cauli Rice

What tangible impact has social media had on your business?

“We see an increase [in] sales via our website when we promote our business on social media; click-throughs and engagement with our brand.”

“This social selling can be achieved in two ways. We can connect with, and identify, new customers through social media techniques such as relevant hashtags, reposting customer testimonials and running competitions on social media to encourage users to ‘follow us’.”

“We can also connect with, and build a relationship with existing customers and encourage them to stay loyal to our brand through direct messages, replies, and sharing feedback and posts that they share with us.”

How does social media help businesses on a limited marketing budget?

“Social media has allowed us to demonstrate the values and personality behind our brand, and spread the word about Cauli Rice, without having to spend out on expensive advertising such as television and radio.”

“The healthy eating movement behind our business is not confined to the UK, so owning a .com site from the start has helped us reach the target customer wherever they are, including the enormous US market. It gives us the ability to maximise our limited marketing budget.”

Cauli Rice

“Unlike television advertising, with social media we can directly track who likes and views our posts and we can create posts that specifically target a certain demographic.”

“We’ve seen our Cauli Rice follower base grow from a couple of hundred to close to 20,000 and we’ve witnessed so many people using social media to take photos of meals prepared using Cauli Rice or to share product feedback. This unsolicited endorsement is the best kind of marketing for any brand.”

How successful have you found paid advertising on social media to be?

“We use paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram with promoted posts and incorporating this into our marketing strategy has generated a return on investment.”

“For us, paid social media advertising has really helped us increase sales via the online shop and to attract more visitors to our website. This is because we link our social media adverts to our website and can then lead people directly to our website to browse and buy our products.”

What is your advice for new businesses that aren’t yet using social media?

“Social media is a great opportunity for you to get your brand message to the right people through targeted posts and promotions.”

“It’s also a great way to gather customer feedback and allow people to interact before, during and after they transact on the website.”