The Tale of the Humble Artichoke
For many smaller food businesses, the challenge in marketing – and especially social media marketing – is in not knowing what to say. What can I share, they think, that could be interesting about what I do? First, I encourage you to remember that for people who are “food-connected,” there’s no real limit to their thirst for facts—they want to know it all! Second, remember that the knowledge that you have is not shared by everyone. Don’t write off an idea because you think “everyone knows that.”
So here’s an example of how to take something simple – an artichoke, for example – and find the stories that you can turn into something shareable.
I chose an artichoke because it’s a quirky kind of vegetable. Not everyone is familiar with artichokes; many people only know them as artichoke hearts thrown into a dip. But the artichoke is so much more! Here’s an example of some questions that you could answer and share with your audience.
- What’s the best way to cook an artichoke – boil or steam?
- Can you eat them raw?
- What is that “choke” stuff?
- Is there a good wine pairing for artichokes?
- How are artichokes processed? How does it get to your plate from where it’s grown?
- What’s the best cheese to stuff an artichoke with?
- If you’re a chef, how did you first discover artichokes?
- Does someone on your staff LOVE artichokes? Ask them why.
- What is the actual heart of the artichoke?
- Where is the artichoke capital of the world? (There is one, you know – it’s Castroville, California, complete with an artichoke festival, the world’s largest artificial artichoke, and the producer of 75% of the US artichoke supply.)
- Do you have a funny story about learning how to take an artichoke apart for eating?
- Do artichokes grow on a tree?
- Did you know there’s a company in the UK called Artichoke, whose stated aim is to “work with artists to create extraordinary, large-scale events that appeal to the widest possible audience?”
Or my personal favorite: Did you know that the spiral of artichoke leaves can be described by the Fibonoacci Sequence?
Any of these answers is easily shared as a Facebook post, a tweet, or on a Pinterest board.
These are all great questions for businesses who work directly with artichokes –producers, packers, grocers, chefs. But maybe your business surrounds food, but doesn’t involve it directly. Maybe what you’re going to share is how a prepared artichoke looks on 10 different plate styles—or with various colors of table linens. Is there a blockchain application in artichokes’ future?
The point is, every food has tell multiple stories to tell, so even if you think you have nothing to write about, you probably do. It may be a matter of shifting your viewpoint and thinking outside the proverbial box. What you’re doing is putting yourself out there a bit, letting people get to know your personality and feel a connection with you. This is a real goal of social media for business –building a know, like, and trust relationship with a potential customer, client, or partner.
How to pick which story to tell? Think of who you’re trying to reach – your ideal customer. Sometimes your goal is to entertain, other times to provide valuable information. So choose the story that you think will touch your ideal client. You may not get it right every time, and that’s okay. Over time, you can use metrics to find out what your audience thinks is valuable, and then find more stories in alignment with that type of content.