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Facebook resurgence: The new (old) way of reaching shoppers

viewA year ago, nobody could have imagined we’d be where we are right now. While it’s a time of uncertainty, it’s also a time to re-examine what might have been looked at as a fading business strategy prior to 2020 and take chances in new areas and platforms.  

Prior to the pandemic Facebook was slowly sliding down the priority list in the social planning for many companies. As Facebook’s organic reach declined and the platform became pay-to-play, it became hard to invest time and effort into a platform where an impact wasn’t being made.

On March 11, 2020, it all changed.

The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Stay-at-home orders came into effect. With everyone stuck at home, there was more time for screens. In-person human interaction ceased to exist so many went online to interact and chat with each other.

Facebook was reborn. Suddenly a struggling social media platform saw a huge spike in daily active users looking to connect with the world around them.

Facebook saw a surge in user growth, with an average of more than 1.7 billion daily active users in March, Facebook reported in its first quarterly earnings for 2020. That was up from 1.7 billion in the previous quarter. Across its family of apps, which includes Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp, daily active users climbed to 2.4 billion, while monthly active users hit 3 billion for the first time.

At Produce for Kids, we instantly took notice that our audience, which we thought had left Facebook for other platforms, had reappeared in full force. Families were looking for advice, tips, recipe inspiration, mental health resources and more. We reworked our content strategy and pulled together podcast and blog topics that answered a lot of the questions being asked.

We knew families were now, by force, eating at home every day and needed help. We also knew they needed some positivity. With that, our weekly Facebook Live series was born.   

My daughters have been part of the Produce for Kids family for nine years and enjoy being in front of the camera. With 500 recipes on our website, we felt confident we could do authentic, weekly Facebook Live videos that would do a few different things for the families tuning in. Viewers could laugh with us, learn about ways to “do good” during such a hard time and create a healthy meal with their family. We’ve been able to promote the sale of our Fruits & Veggies & Giving Back t-shirts, which give 100 percent of proceeds to Feeding America’s COVID Response Fund.

It would have been a little harder to start a weekly series during “normal” times, with kids in school and after-school activities changing weekly. But it suddenly became something that was regular and normal every week. It helped our family personally have a constant in our schedule. It gave us something to do together. With viewership peeking at more than 10,000 per episode soon after we started broadcasting, we knew this was working. Fast forward to September and we are still going strong.

With the changing retail environment, we also knew we needed to create a digital shift for our retail campaigns. We’ve implemented Facebook Live cooking classes in place of in-store events with our retail partners to feature our produce brand partners in creative ways and engage the local shopper.

We’re now living in a world where what was working a year ago, might not be working now. We can’t host in-store demos or showcase our new products at a trade show. If there was ever a time to explore new ways of doing business or revisiting what previously was thought of as dead, it’s now.

(Amanda Keefer is the managing director for Produce for Kids | Healthy Family Project)

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