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curious, which is important, and she is a good person, so her authenticity comes through. We spent a lot of time with her to ensure a good match for our brand. My role is to be sure the identity and brand of our company comes through. It took some time to articulate that identity - it’s not the easiest thing to do for me. At first I was the only supporter of a social media initiative. Others in the company thought there weren’t enough time, money, and personnel for it. It took a lot of time to get everyone to buy in – but now the team is eager to participate. Everyone sees the importance and benefits now. Now it’s fun, largely because there’s immediate feedback. And I like the discipline it brings to the business. What’s your approach with your posts? Our goal is to engage, build loyalty, strengthen the brand, integrate social media to our other PR and marketing efforts – and of course to grow sales! We do that by working as a team to be sure the voice remains authentic. Social media is like “being naked” - you can’t fake authenticity.

Any to-dos or helpful hints you would recommend to small businesses starting a social media program? Be yourself. Talk to your fans rather than hard-selling. Ask lots of questions. Get a college intern. College students are good social media experts – they were raised on computers and it’s natural to them. Take it slow – it can be a process of getting up to speed. Technology companies are developing roadmaps to make it easier, but those are more about nuts and bolts. Focus on developing your voice, and knowing your customers. Define what your message should be. Don’t look to “normal” channels to help – marketing and PR departments might not know how to be supportive or helpful. What are the challenges of social media at Chukar Cherries? The “real-time” quality of social media is both a benefit and challenge. You have to constantly evaluate what you’re doing.

The voice should be consistent even though the person behind it may change – our voice is conversational, warm, with enthusiasm and passion for the business. And it must be honest – if we don’t know the answer, we say so and find out. We also must follow-through with questions that come in to us.

What are the benefits of being active on social media? It lets us hang out with our customers in our blue jeans--we get to be ourselves with them. Social media gives us a bead on who our customers are, what they enjoy and allows us to interact with them in something close to real-time. It also gives our customers a chance to give us valuable feedback.

Do you have an editorial calendar for social media posts? Yes. We have a plan created a year out, and then review and revise at three months out and again at one month out. We have a calendar with integrated marketing activities for B2B and B2C, including other PR and marketing items like our regular newsletter.

I’ve noticed that fans are particularly receptive to posts that reflect their values. We had a very good response to a post honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. and to one talking about “Stand with Japan,” a ceremony put on by the National Cherry Blossom Festival showing solidarity with Japan in the wake of the tsunami.

Which social media platform outlet do you find most useful? Facebook. Least useful? Twitter.

You can (and should!) find Chukar Cherries online at:

How often do you try to post? On the blog, once a week. For Facebook and Twitter, at least daily. Did you model yourselves after anyone else online? I choose not to look at competitors’ social media. It makes it easier for us to be authentic that way, if we aren’t influenced by others. The point is to be yourself and tell YOUR story.

www.chukar.com http://blog.chukar.com/ www.facebook.com/ChukarCherries http://twitter.com/ChukarCherries

I do look at other successful bloggers – people who I would want to know, or who I feel like I do know. Some of the blogs that have inspired us are: 101cookbooks.com, heavytable. com, and smittenkitchen.com. Some companies that we see doing an excellent job with Facebook are Food & Wine, Food Network, Pike Place Market and the Tri-Cities, Washington page.

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

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Bellwether - A Blytheco Magazine - Get Social  

When talking to leaders of small to medium-sized businesses, there seems to be a growing fear of becoming involved in social media in one wa...

Bellwether - A Blytheco Magazine - Get Social  

When talking to leaders of small to medium-sized businesses, there seems to be a growing fear of becoming involved in social media in one wa...