If you’re an average social media user like me, you can probably attest to receiving regular requests to like a new page, join a group, or follow a new business. In fact, I receive far more business related requests then I do friend requests (imagine a sad emoji here).
It seems the fear for businesses to enter the world of social media is dissipating and instead of being out of the ordinary for having a social media presence, businesses that don’t have these networking tools in place are starting to be the minority. For companies just starting out in the last few years, this is a huge advantage. New companies need not worry about the headaches of converting old methods of advertising, collaboration and supply chain management. Instead, new companies are able to jump right into social media and utilize it to their full advantage.
Melissa Laking, owner/operator of A la King Culinary Creations in Beamsville, Ontario did just that and has not only grown a loyal fan base that saw her recently nominated for the Hamilton Spectator Reader’s Choice Awards for catering, but has also used Facebook and Instagram to develop and source out suppliers.
Prior to officially launching her catering business in January 2015, Ms. Laking met with a social media marketing professional who helped her focus her intentions for social media. As a result she was able to launch with social media tools that were going to work for her to find trustworthy, high quality local food suppliers as well as connect with her customers – her chosen methods being Facebook and Instagram.
“I use Instagram to target my suppliers and to involve them in what I’m doing using hashtags,” says Ms. Laking. And the response from her prospective suppliers has been very positive. She says quite often she will receive responses from tagged posts thereby featuring A la King Culinary Creations on the suppliers own page and opening up a whole new prospective client base that already share a vested interest in food and the items Ms. Laking uses to prepare her dishes.
In preparation for her social media launch, Ms. Laking thoroughly explored her target audience and looked at the needs of her prospective clients. Based on her findings, she decided that they didn’t need to have an up-to-the-moment fix. Instead she decided to utilize Facebook primarily for her consumers and marketing and Instagram to connect to and develop relationships with distributors, as well as those who may support her business’s credibility.
“I use Instagram to research companies, products and trends,” she says. “Actually I use it a lot with food trends.”
That in turn trickles down to her consumers who want to be part of the current trends.
Of course, as a company that lists its first ingredient of any recipe as ‘love’, Ms. Laking doesn’t choose to align herself with suppliers on a whim.
If there is a local company that has come onto Ms. Laking’s radar, she researches them following hashtags, googling, looking at photos, reviewing comments. Whatever is out there, she finds it because her end result will only be as good as the raw edibles she starts with. This online monitoring is critical to ensuring that she partners with the right suppliers.
For example, Organics Live, an organic food share program, is one of Ms. Laking’s main suppliers but that relationship didn’t develop through business meetings or formal consultations. Instead, Ms. Laking started utilizing the products while researching the company and then proactively used her business’s Instagram and Facebook accounts to start reaching out with hashtags on photos of culinary creations she created.
“She liked my pictures, I liked her service,”
she says and the partnership organically blossomed. They now support each other by featuring each other’s products and services in regular posts. A la King has even become a pick-up location in the rural Beamsville area for other Organics Live customers.
Of course there is often overlap but having the distinct purpose for each platform has been very successful to date.
Facebook provides Ms. Laking with the opportunity to really interact with her clientele through her public Facebook page @alakingculinary where she has 364 page likes (far surpassing her targeted goal of 200), 54 people who have ‘checked in’, 12 people talking about A la King and a 5 star review from customers. In addition to giving her great targeted advertising tools through Facebook’s paid advertising opportunities, she is able to get interact with customers and will often post delivery updates during especially busy times like Bacon Rose Days.
She says, “For a small business starting up, it (social media) really is the fastest way to share information or get the word out there.” With the built in tools Facebook provides, Ms. Laking says she is able to minimize her time and effort in data mining because Facebook does it for you which is ideal for entrepreneurs, especially for marketing purposes.
Lessons for Others
As Adrian Gonzalex, founder and president of Adelante SCM wrote in his article “The Social Side of Supply Chain Management” he noted that social media can and should play a central role in supply chain management. “After all, social networking is not really about socializing, but about facilitating people-to-people communication and collaboration.”
It’s clear that with the right mindset and goals, social media can be integrated into all aspects of a business including portions of managing a supply chain but it does require effort.
Even though Ms. Laking had the benefit of starting her business with social media in full swing she still knows that there is much more that can be done and has plans to further her social media usage in all avenues of her business in the future.
A la King Culinary Creations
Industry: Food Service
Name of Organization Contact: Melissa Laking, Owner/Operator
Authored by: SBirett
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.
A la King Culinary Creations (2016, October 20). http://www.alakingculinary.com/
A la King Culinary Creations, Facebook (2016, October 20). https://www.facebook.com/alakingculinary/
Gonzalex, Adrian, Adelante SCM, Supply Chain 247 as at 2016, October 20. http://www.supplychain247.com/article/the_social_side_of_supply_chain_management_all_pages
Hamilton Spectator (2016, October 20). https://readerschoice.thespec.com/2016/01/peopleprofessionals
Organics Live, Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/stoneycreekgrimsby/photos/a.1084673328225236.1073741830.1027002593992310/1546980438661187/?type=3&theater