General Mills has world-renowned brands including Betty Crocker, Cheerios, Gold Medal, Haagen-Dazs, Pillsbury, Totino’s, Yoplait, and much more. Their brands include ready-to-eat cereal, refrigerated yogurt, frozen vegetables, Mexican aisle products, grain snacks, ready-to-serve soup, dry packaged dinners, refrigerated dough, dessert mixes, frozen hot snacks, and fruit snacks. Each of those ranking number one or two in the US Retail market (General Mills Inc., 2011). With world-renowned brands however, General Mills must live up to the standards of quality all consumers expect of the brands. That now includes communicating to consumers through social media. It was difficult to find an exact list of what type of social media sites General Mills uses, but from my research, I found they use Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr, and a General Mills blog.
- Twitter included thanking people involved in events and for support, as well as post on food trends and staying healthy.
- YouTube includes interviews and videos promoting products such as Wheaties.
- LinkedIn is used for networking with business professionals at General Mills.
- Flickr includes pictures of new designs for their products, events and promotions where General Mills was a sponsor.
- General Mills blog includes nutrition and health trends, events, company innovations, information about the company, and much more.
As with any company, switching to social media and having to think about marketing on there is always a struggle, but the important thing is to have a presence online where consumers can communicate easily and efficiently with a company. Last year, Mark Addicks, Chief Marketing Officer for General Mills, sat down for an interview with Minnesota Public Radio and spoke about social media marketing. Here is what he had to say: “And so one of the things that you really need to do is let go and really encourage your marketers and your teams to go out, it’s a social atmosphere, and experiment. Learn quickly. The great thing is, they can now raise their hand. They can give you really instant feedback. They can volunteer and help you, which they couldn’t before” (Hobson, 2011). “One way General Mills gets the conversation going is by saying to consumers, here’s why we created this product, here’s how we think it works, tell us what you think. Feedback can be in different forms, including video, and the ensuing dialogue provides rich insights for the product developers and food experts” (The Social Media Soapbox, 2009).
“To help track what consumers say about its products on social media websites and blogs”, General Mills hired an Atlanta, Georgia based company, Sentiment360 (Beasley, 2010). They look at what the trend is, how they’re doing against the broader competitions, and even how they’re doing with the category. They try to find answers by looking through social media sites. They even introduced a product, Fiber One Bars, specifically through social media without any advertising in traditional media and it was a success. The success of which was measured through sales. “And what was beautiful about this was that there really wasn’t anything else and we could actually track the daily sales to some of the postings that people had done” (Hobson, 2011). There was in fact, a nearly exact correlation between online postings and sales of Fiber One Bars. The chart below shows this. “It’s the kind of chart you can take to management to prove the value of consumer participation in the development and launch of products through social media tools” (The Social Media Soapbox, 2009).
In today’s world, it seems that you must have a presence online, but also use social media tools appropriately by communicating with consumers. And in turn, you must be able to measure and track social media sites in able to measure the success of social media marketing. It seems as if General Mills has a pretty good thing going for them when it comes to social media. They not only have world-renowned products, but they’re also gaining success by being online.
What kind of social media presence have you noticed from General Mills? Do their presence online make a difference for you when choosing brands?
Beasley, D. (2010, June 14). General Mills hires Atlanta company for social media research. Retrieved from http://www.globalatlanta.com/article/23997/.
General Mills Inc. (2011). Annual report 2011. Retrieved from http://generalmills.com/~/media/Files/2011_annual_report.
Hobson, J. (2011). General Mills Chief Marketing Officer Mark Addicks on how marketing can make a better world [Radio series episode]. In Bright ideas: Fresh thoughts on big issues. Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved from http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2011/01/20/bright-ideas-with-mark-addicks–.
The Social Media Soapbox. (2009, October 25). General Mills goes social [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://socialmediasoapbox.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/general-mills-goes-social/.