Build to Adapt: Brand Strategy Essentials

Published about 1 month ago • 5 min read

The Salty Shell

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Four years ago today, the world was shut down. On my birthday, Monday, March 16, 2020, I woke up to multiple canceled client contracts because of the UnpReCeDeNtEd shutdown. Happy birthday to me. 🫠

While some businesses came to a halt, others were sent into overdrive. I still had multiple CPG/FMCG clients whose products were sold in grocery stores. I don’t have to remind you about the state of grocery stores in 2020, do I?

Everyone had to, unwillingly, start cooking – some three meals a day for themselves, some three meals a day for themselves, their partner, children, family, and whoever else. That shook up a lot of worlds.

Understandably, overall engagement was down in March (vs. February) as our community was figuring out their new normal (if I never hear or say that again, I will be so happy 😂), learning to work AND teach from home, as well as take care of their homes and health. We expected a natural decline in engagement and knew we didn’t need to ramp up content but continue to be a consistent presence in our fans’ lives.

Instead of going quiet on social media or moving forward as if nothing had changed, we immediately adjusted our strategy, content, tone, and messaging in a way sensitive to each client's situation.

For Hatfield Meats, delicious pork products, and the official hot dog of the Phillies, sensitivity, relevance, and community support became paramount in my approach. The immediate adjustment of strategy, content, and messaging showcased the importance of agility in today’s environment.

It was important for me to stay relevant without looking like Hatfield was capitalizing on a time when people were stocking up and spending more time in the kitchen.

Wanting to remain a part of our community’s daily life, we:

• Lifted our community by engaging with them, commenting on their posts being funny or punny where it made sense, and taking natural opportunities to create conversations. This wasn’t much different than what we had been doing, but we were being mindful of the pandemic without bringing it up all the time.

• Adapted recipe posts to be simple and not overwhelming for any day part or number of servings.

• Started a Kids in the Kitchen cooking series to show families how easy (haha) it can be to involve kids or have them completely make a meal on their own if they’re old enough.

• Shared non-influencer (at-home cooks and user-generated content) in our feeds and stories. Throw the beautiful food guidelines (well, most of them) out the window – everyone was an at-home cook now.

• Added interactive Instagram Story and Twitter content to entertain our audience – not to boost our own numbers. Read that again.

• Increased engagement on Twitter with our fans, who are typically highly engaged during baseball season, by giving recipes and tips, asking questions, posting polls, and being an additional friend/shoulder to lean on and have fun with. They even started their own at home dollar dog nights!

• Created an IGTV (RIP) series with our Corporate Chef, Chef Jen, who was engaging and more fun to watch than just another feed post. From cooking tips to snack and recipe ideas, it was a welcomed hit!

RESULTS AFTER 4 WEEKS

While I preach that metrics aren’t everything, they speak for themselves here:

Facebook: +50% Page Views • +11% Post Reach • +324% Engagement

Twitter: +260% Impressions • +89% Profile Visits • +154% Mentions • +128% Followers

Instagram: +6% Reach • +12% Impressions • +80% Engagement

Yes, the increases in engagement were positive. I talk about how engagement rates mean nothing without sentiment and context on this week’s episode of 🎙️Marketing Chat with my Co-host, Kevin Berry.

Our content priorities changed as we continued reporting and analyzing throughout the pandemic. We were often asked about cooking methods (hello, air fryer), ribs preparation, and storage and shelf life – three things we weren’t really talking about before. As a result, we introduced new content themes to our strategy; a few were:

Cooking Methods: Instant Pot, skillet, grill, oven, air fryer and slow cooker

The Glow Up: Think back to the 10-year challenge of early 2020 and trending TikToks. Picture a flat lay of ingredients, becoming a second beauty shot or video of the final dish. We committed to no more than six ingredients in each recipe.

Back to (virtual) School: Kids were returning to school in one format or another. We infused content with bright, playful, kid-friendly content in August and September. In addition to capturing what can go into a lunchbox, we showed how families juggle the challenging reality of virtual learning.

3 ESSENTIAL FACTORS THAT ENABLED SWIFT ADAPTATION

TRUST

My clients’ trust in me played the most crucial role in the ability for the strategy to shift. I had already proven I knew their brand goals, was executing the strategy and could be trusted to think and post on the fly, especially on Twitter. They didn’t hesitate; admittingly, they didn’t know what to do or even realize we needed to adjust. (Like, what? Everyone’s world was just flipped upside down)

Understanding

I knew what their community and potential customers desired and required because I spent every day talking with, listening to, and observing their community. It wasn’t me onboarding a new client and developing a new strategy – all of the data and knowledge was there.

Integrity

Hatfield remained relevant and resonated with their audience and community during a challenging period by pivoting to reflect on quarantine life and staying true to their brand voice and values.

Our proactive and adaptable approach prioritizes relevance, empathy, and value-driven content, increases engagement across social media, strengthens their bond with consumers, and drives sales.

By creating content that reflected quarantine life and encouraging one-to-one communication with followers, Hatfield emerged as a beacon of support during uncertain times, becoming our audience’s go-to resource for simple and affordable cooking inspiration.

Pandemic or not, it’s crucial for brands to embrace change and see it as an opportunity for innovation and growth, and that cannot happen without trusting the subject matter expert. Whether the SME is on the brand side, an agency, or a freelancer, remember why you outsource what you don’t know. Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t always see eye to eye, but when it really mattered, we knew who was best to lead what.

Thank you for being here; I'd love it if you headed over to 🎙️Marketing Chat - my new podcast! Today's episode is about paid vs. organic social and why it's crucial they speak to each other.

Chelsea

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Your weekly practical advice, insights and strategic guide to social media, community management, marketing and freelancing. Created from 16 years of social media strategizing and community building. My approach is simple: lead authentically, solve problems, connect, and make a difference.

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