Instagram eclipsing Facebook in pet food social media

Pet care brands’ total interactions on Facebook dropped by 79 percent over the past five quarters.

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(LiaKoltyrina, BigStock.com)
(LiaKoltyrina, BigStock.com)

Pet food companies’ use of Facebook to interact publicly with pet owners on social media declined between April 2017 and June 2018, while Instagram grew in popularity, according to Gartner L2 analysts in the report “Digital IQ Index: Pet Care U.S. 2018.”  

Facebook and pet food companies

The pet food industry’s trend away from public Facebook posts mirrors that of the wider consumer packaged goods world, wrote Gartner analysts. Each quarter has seen a reduction in social media posts by pet food companies, particularly in public Facebook posts. Pet care brands’ total interactions on Facebook dropped by 79 percent over the past five quarters.

Those brands that still focus on Facebook now use promoted posts for the majority of their public posting. Of the brands evaluated by Gartner, the top five in total interactions on Facebook achieved that status using promoted posts for at least 70 percent of their exchanges. Halo was the only pet food brand to reach 50,000 Facebook interactions through public posts. They achieved this by posting more than many other brands, although they had a below average number of interactions per post.

Instagram and pet food companies

As pet food brands’ public Facebook use declined, those brands’ usage of Instagram increased. Pet food company’s interactions on Instagram nearly tripled between April 2017 and June 2018. Likewise, more pet food brands have created Instagram accounts. Now, 83 percent of all pet food brands have Instagram accounts compared to 76 percent a year ago.

Pet food communication tools: Social media management
Especially during a recall or other crisis, managing multiple social media platforms can challenge pet food companies. Pet food and treat companies often have various public social media accounts, such as Twitter or Facebook, that may reach distinct groups of digitally connected pet owners. Yet messaging across all these social media networks needs to be consistent.

Marketing communications firm Woodruff offered advice on how pet food companies can juggle all their social media accounts while maintaining a uniform message.

Social media management tools for pet food companies

Social media management tools allow a pet food company to oversee all their accounts in one place. Woodruff recommends Sprout SocialHootsuite or Sendible as tools for handling social media content and messaging.

“One of the biggest advantages of social media management tools is that they streamline all of your messages into one area where you can evaluate and prioritize,” said Brittany VanMaele, Woodruff’s social media manager, “Rather than trying to go natively into each platform, these tools pull it all into one feed. You can triage your responses.”

Having social media organized into one place allows pet food companies to note when one person is retweeting a company’s announcement of a recall, while viewing another pet owners’ related responses to a photo of the recalled product posted on Instagram, for example.

“From a public relations perspective, after Brittany [VanMaele] assesses a social media message, we can sit down and decide is this an isolated issue or if this is something that is more widespread and then watch if these messages increase,” said Janine Smiley, senior public relations strategist for Woodruff. "For a pet food company we may be working for, that means deciding if this is something that is going to be a systemic issue, or just a one-off.”

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