The first panel session from the Like Minds Social Media Week sessions saw a number of food experts join together to discuss how food can be promoted and shared through social channels. Included on the panel was Jamie Oliver Group’s social media manager, Subi Gnanaseharam who disclosed how the company uses social media channels to promote Oliver’s recipes as well as his ambition to educate people about food globally and engage with them on such matters.
The first panel session run by Like Minds during this year's Social Media Week focused on the use of social media by food companies, and included contribution from Subi Gnanaseharam, social media manager for Jamie Oliver Group, who was open about how the company operated to maximise online engagement.
Gnanaseharam begins by responding emphatically when asked about the power of social media to Jamie Oliver Group. She states that social media has made the company “smarter” and shows it what the chef’s fans really want when it comes to its content strategy.
“We’ve just finished a whole series on gluten free and dairy free and focused on people’s special diets and we know through people’s reactions that they are loving it. That’s only come about from the need that we’ve seen from our social channels and across our products as well. Social media is really helping us and making us smarter as well in terms of what we’re producing, where we’re going and where we want to go as a brand,” she explains.
“We try and listen. It’s not just Jamie’s channels, we have a YouTube food channel and a drinks channel as well and they are all about finding out what the audience wants to see next. They don’t just produce videos. They will ask the audience what they want us to feature and that’s what you see the outcomes of. It’s the same with our editorial as well.”
Gnanaseharam reveals that Oliver was is hands-on when it came to his social platforms.
“Because they are his channels they need to have that personal feel, and he’s really on top of it. If you look at his Instagram account, it’s not just the business, it’s his family and his life. He shares everything and that’s what makes it impactful and engaging.”
She continues to explain her own role in running those social channels: “What I do is make sure everything is being maintained and when he is on TV, we have a solid strategy to maximise that coverage. My job is to also let him know what is happening in the social media world, what his community is talking about. He is the busiest person I have ever met in my life so it’s impossible for him to maintain these.
“I am his second set of eyes but he is on there commenting when he can and I comment too. I work quite closely with him to make sure that his social media accounts have integrity,” she elaborates.
Conversation turns to the power of photography, something that Jamie Oliver’s company has plenty of and uses as content, engagement triggers and educational tools.
“From what I’ve seen people always try and obtain, as closely as possible, the image that we put out there. During a recent episode of Comfort Food, Jamie produced a cheese crown on top of a cheese toastie and the cheese crowns I have seen in various shapes and forms have been amazing. People are chuffed even just to attempt the recipe and when our community manager and our team engage with that as well, they just love it.
"So for us, photography is key, as well as taste. That is why our recipes are tried out seven or eight times before they are even published in a book.”
She later discusses how powerful imagery through social media can be in delivering health and sustainability messages to consumers.
“For Jamie, beautiful food is just as important as driving that health, sustainability and food education message. He’s obviously really passionate about food education, and for him, telling those important and nutritional messages about food education through photography is also important," she says.
Gnanaseharam adds that the company does not put out any messages one social that aren't accompanied by photography, a value that is the same for nutritional messaging and food education as much as for a book photoshoot.
“Pictures are our strongest tool and we make sure that is accountable for all of our programmes. That’s where user generated content comes across as well. We get thousands of pictures shared with us every day – and that’s not just people cooking the recipes. It’s from people who are empowering themselves by learning to cook from scratch, educating them about the food globally,” she reveals.
Gnanaseharam was speaking on the panel alongside Dan Doherty, executive chef, Duck & Waffle. Karen Fewell, director of social media & digital marketing @digitalblonde and Justin Kirby, VP, strategic content marketing at Tenthwave Digital.
Each panel sessions will be live streamed online for free during Social Media Week.