Keeping It Real

July 01,2013
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The advent of social media is both a blessing and curse for companies and organizations that seek to have an ongoing relationship with the public.  On the plus side, social media sites allow brands and associations to interact directly with individuals.  They remove the usual filters that come with more traditional media.

On the flip side, however, social media platforms create new demands for quick and regular interaction.  Consumer expectations are higher, because the internet has turned into a digital bazaar where every idea is instantly available, ready to be scrutinized and shared with others.

This new shared media dynamic matters greatly to the dairy sector, because at least some consumers are much more attuned to learning about where their milk, cheese, and other products come from.  Thankfully, social media gives us a better opportunity to engage those consumers about the advantages of dairy’s attributes, including nutrition, flavor, texture and value.  Enter the new online presence of the REAL® Seal.

I previously wrote that NMPF is now managing the venerable REAL Seal.  As one of the first changes in the program, we’re leveraging social media, and in particular, Facebook, to remind older consumers that the Seal still matters, and to introduce a younger generation of consumers why it matters to them.

At www.Facebook.com/RealSealDairy, we’re creating a new voice and visual feel for the Seal that will engage and cultivate target audiences, particularly moms and heads-of-households consuming dairy products and foods made with dairy.  The Facebook page includes interactive updates, multimedia presentations, contests, polls and quizzes.  Since the launch of this page a month ago, we’ve garnered more than 25,000 likes.  That’s a huge surge in a short period of time, and with all of the content we will continue to generate, that figure is certain to grow. 

We have also revamped the homepage for www.realseal.com, which is now much more consumer-focused.  It will soon feature a buyer’s guide where consumers will be able to find dairy products and foods displaying the REAL® Seal, while REAL Seal users will have the opportunity to provide links to their company’s website as well.

Right now, that website is featuring a campaign to name the new animated logo character, which is another new means we have to make the seal real to shoppers.  By going to this page, those with creative ideas can – before the contest ends on Aug. 31st – suggest a name for the dancing figure featured on the homepage.  The best three names will be put to a vote on the Facebook page at the end of the summer.

Another part of our social media plan includes outreach to bloggers with active followings in the subject areas of moms and families, cooking and recipes, and health and wellness.  By connecting with writers who are connected online with others, we can generate engagement, conversation and awareness surrounding the REAL® Seal campaign by directing consumers to official REAL Seal online platforms.

In today’s digital world, the brands and industries that can use social media have a great opportunity to increase their visibility, in a way that the originators of the REAL Seal never could have dreamed of 35 years ago.  More than 350 companies already recognize the value of using the REAL® Seal in their product marketing. Just as there was a pressing need for authenticity in the dairy case decades ago, there is a new expectation for it today. We need to keep up with consumers about how best to deliver it.