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How social media is pushing the nutrition agenda

As a means to stay in touch with friends, old and new, or to stay abreast of the latest developments in the world, social media is opening up new opportunities for people to interact with the (virtual) world around them. Popular platforms such Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook are taking up an increasingly pervasive place in the average consumer’s life. Nutrition Insight looks at how social media is influencing consumers when it comes to nutrition, and how the industry can benefit.

“Instagrammable” food is becoming increasingly vital to Millennials, so the time for visually appealing foods has arrived, notes Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights. “People do fantastic Pinterest pages, for example, all color-coded or highlighting really interesting things like this.”

But when it comes to food and beverages, social media’s reach stretches beyond sharing attractive pictures of well curat

So, how can the food and beverage industry best benefit from social media? 

Social media offers an unprecedented amount of interaction with consumers, both Bell and Quinn note. Applications such as Instagram are a great platform for reaching potential health-conscious fans, especially if a brand is able to capitalize on trending diets and ingredients.

“A quick search on Instagram shows just how popular diet hashtags are on the platform: #Whole30 (>3.4 million), #Paleo (>11.9 million), #Vegan (>55 million), and #Protein (>19 million) all have significant usage. If you have a brand that’s relevant to these and other trending diet and health hashtags, it’s definitely something to keep in mind when developing content,” Quinn notes.

But using the right hashtags isn’t enough alone, you also need strong content (visually appealing, informative, etc.)

A great example of a success story amid this new social media era is Halo Top Ice Cream. In the five years since the introduction of the low calorie ice cream in the US, Halo Top Creamery has spent almost nothing on advertising. Instead the company has relied on a social media strategy that has attracted over one million followers. 

An important part of that strategy is Instagram, where the company had 557,000 followers as of the end of August 2017, up from 325,000 in March. Halo Top’s Instagram account features image after image of its carton pints swimming in melted swirls of vibrant oranges, purples and browns. 

This is where social media shows its potential to become a double-edged sword: while these platforms can rapidly spread opinions and news – be it positive or negative – about certain ingredients, products or diets, they are also a razor-sharp tool for companies to directly communicate with consumers.

In fact, according to Sproutsocial, an impressive 71 percent of US businesses use Instagram, while 81 percent of Instagram users “follow” a business on the social media platform. 

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