I wrote this for the Retail Dietitians Business Alliance Newsletter.
Retail Dietitians and Social Media: What You Need to Know to Get Started
Kim Kirchherr, MS, RD, LDN, CDE RDBA Executive Committee
Did You Know:
- Since May 2001, 71% of online adults are using video-sharing sites (YouTube)
- In 2010, 2.1+ trillion short text messages (SMS) were sent (CTIA, 2010)
- 35% of Americans have smartphones
- In 2010, 9% of cell phone users used a health app for tracking and managing health
- Twitter has over 200 million registered users
- There are 151.8 million Facebook users in the US, 55% of which are female, 78% Caucasian, 9% African Americans, and 9% Hispanic
1 http://www.cdc.gov/socialmedia/tools/guidelines/pdf/socialmediatoolkit_bm.pdf Accessed 1.23.2012
Social media provides a huge platform for education, interaction, brand awareness, and more. If you are a retail dietitian, social media needs to be on your radar. Even if your retailer and/or private brands have Twitter handles and a presence in the variety of social media sites, it’s important that you as a professional have your own handle to build your brand, help your target audience know who you are and what you stand for, and to interact with fellow professionals both in and out of the retail space. Here is some food for thought to consider if you haven’t already joined the conversation.
- Follow all company social media guidelines. Whether for work or on your own personal accounts, it’s essential to follow the rules set forth by your employer. If social media guidelines have not yet been developed, champion for them. It’s important to establish these before engaging with the public. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) toolkit1 provides excellent information to get you started. But be sure to reach out to your marketing, communications, and in some cases, human resources departments, to ensure all internal requirements are covered.
- Follow social media etiquette for all platforms. Pinterest and Linkedin, as a basic example, are not used for the same reasons. Think through which social media outlets you are using, the target audience intended, and the content to provide before signing up and/or linking the different platforms together. Perhaps Pinterest and Facebook make sense to link, or Twitter and Pinterest. Just because you can link multiple platforms doesn’t mean you have to.
- Consider why you are using the various vehicles. Educating, socializing, sharing ideas, networking, or a combination of all of these can be done in many spaces. Determine your goals in social media before signing up for accounts. Think through what email will be used too – personal or professional – and be sure to refer to company guidelines as well as the platform’s guidelines before signing up. Remember to separate personal and professional pages.
- Remember to be yourself. Although it seems obvious, it is critical from a brand-building perspective. Be true to your personality in all your communication while following established guidelines. This will make it effortless to build your brand, whether personal or for business.
- Be social. Join Twitter chats, follow fellow retail dietitians, and remember to only put out what you want to be remembered for.
- Compile metrics and use them. Metrics from all social media outreach can be used as part of your Return on Investment (ROI) reporting. And don’t forget to use them to gauge topics to build programs! Hot topics can translate into bigger events and deeper conversation with your customers in store or on your website/blog, too.
- Have fun, educate, and inform!