How to Use Social Media Allergy Friendly Style

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If you haven’t noticed, several of my recent blogs have been focused on social media. I’ve been working on my masters degree and thought a social media class would be great to not only help me with the Allergy Friendly site and blog, but also as a marketing professional. After several weeks of reading, discussion, and research I wanted to share what’s stood out the most for me in my social media class and what’s helped the Allergy Friendly site the most:

SCULPTURE & ART

Blogging

  • Voice –  It’s really important to use a consistent voice throughout your blog. When I decided I wanted to blog I looked at a lot of my favorites blogs and the style they wrote in. Most were easy to read because of the writers laid back, friendly style. This was the voice I wanted to use in my blog so I try to treat it like I’m talking to my friends, but still have a serious tone at times when subject requires it.
  • Focus – Pick a topic you’re passionate about and have a lot to share. My husband’s allergies have changed our life in many ways. I keep a list of all the little allergy related issues that come up in our life or that might make a good blog post and scroll through the list when I’m struggling on what to talk about in a new blog post. Other times there is something that has affected our life in that particular week that has really stood out in my mind, like when his coworkers moved their lunch meeting to an allergy friendly restaurant so he could join them.
  • Frequency – I’ve already failed on this one, but am trying to make amends to my loyal followers. Consistency is key or you’ll start losing followers and relevancy on whatever topic you’re focused on. I was pretty consistent with posts on my blog until my husband got sick during the holidays in 2013. Honestly I should have been blogging about this experience and the many tests that were run to rule out more allergies and other possibilities, but I was so worried about what they would or wouldn’t find I couldn’t even think about anything else and I didn’t blog for months as a result. He’s fine now by the way. No new allergies, but more changes in his diet.

Twitter

  • Choose your followers wisely – Follow other experts and bloggers talking about the same or similar subjects, or even your competitors. The more active they are the better; more relevant information to share with your followers.
  • Sharing on Social Media – Being active on social media doesn’t take much. Share, like, Tweet, Retweet, and favorite anything that you find interesting or relevant to your blogs focus. Those you follow like to see their links Retweeted and shared and will return the favor, and your followers will enjoy seeing different perspectives as well. If you need some help getting up and running on Twitter, pick up Mark Schaefer’s Tao of Twitter.

Google+

  • Opportunity awaits on Google+ – There are more people using Google+ than you think and the positives of sharing your blog posts on Google+ are plenty. More discussion happens here and Google+ posts show up in Google searches higher than any other social media. If you want your blog to be found by more new followers you must, at a minimum, be sharing your blog posts on Google+. If you need some direction on Google+ get your hands on a copy of Chris Brogan’s Google+ for Business or Guy Kawasaki’s What the Plus.

Managing Social Media

  • 20 minute management – Don’t be afraid of management tools like HootSuite, TweetDeck, or Seesmic. These tools can save you so much time getting your blogs and other content out there consistently and across all of your social media platforms. Twenty minutes and you can schedule tweets and posts of your current blog posts, past posts, and other valuable content for an entire week like these amazing allergy friendly sugar cookies, perfect for Halloween treats. This frees up the rest of your week to share other content you’re reading, or thoughts on your blogs focus in general.

As I share more about my husbands food allergies and our challenges as a family I get more feedback from followers that makes it all feel worthwhile. I know at least someone is getting value out of what I’m sharing, which was the whole point of starting Allergy Friendly. If I’ve shared something you loved, please let me know. If there’s something specific you’d like me to talk about, please share that as well. Any other advice you’d give for someone new to blogging or social media?

 

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Does Social Media Help or Hurt Allergy Friendly Brands?

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This past week the Gluten-Free buyers guide was promoting their survey for the 5th annual Gluten-Free awards. Anyone could vote on their favorite brands in multiple categories and the results would be shared in their annual list later this year. I was curious to see what brands were mentioned so clicked through the link to vote for my favorites.

There were several categories with brands listed that I had never heard of before. There were also several where I was aware of the brand, but don’t use it because while they may be free of wheat and gluten they contain other allergens that my family must avoid. Several of my favorite brands weren’t even on the list.

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This is concerning. How do I not know about some of these brands? They could be safe for my family, but they clearly aren’t available in my area or they don’t promote themselves in our little corner of the Rocky Mountains. I know we live in a somewhat remote area, but Denver is just a few hours away. What about my favorite brands? Are they too regional to be included in the list, or too small that people aren’t aware of them? Or is there another brand out there that is more popular and tastes, dare I say, better than my favorite? So I decided to do a little digging on a few brands in the list.

Unknown brands on the list:

Bumbalooza – They are on twitter, but I’ve never seen a mention or tweet from those I follow or follow me. They have a Facebook page and are an east coast brand. Interesting mixes that all look yummy, but nothing I would buy since I have recipes for most everything they list.
Simple Mills – Has a Twitter page, but immediately saw from the photo they use almond flour – no good for my family. Also promoted as dairy, soy, GMO and weird product free. Cute, but you use nuts, a very common allergen.
Better Batter – Here’s a confusing one, 19 people I follow or follow me also follow Better Batter, but still I’ve never heard of them. Somethings not adding up here. Maybe not promoting their brand the right way on Twitter?

My favorites not on the list:

Tinkyada pasta – Best gluten-free pasta hands down, but their website is extremely outdated and no social media presence at all. This really hurts them, but you can still find the #tinkyada hashtag all over Twitter.
Bella Gluten Free flour mix – Easily my favorite gluten-free flour mix. They have a Facebook page but not a Twitter page. They have a link on their homepage to share a twitter link to their site to your followers. Very odd, why no physical presence on Twitter when you have a Facebook page? They are also a local brand, made in Colorado.
Simply Organic sauces and spices – I follow them on twitter along with three other mutual followers. Do they not promote that many of their packaged sauces and seasoning mixes are also gluten, wheat, egg, nut, and soy free? Missing a big market here!

It should have been a bit more obvious on my favorite brands when I realized I hadn’t followed a few of them on twitter. There’s just no twitter presence there and in this case it hurts the majority of them. This tells me that you can have a great product that sells well, but if you’re not promoting yourself properly on social media you’re missing potential new markets and growth opportunities. It also tells me that you can be on social media, but if you’re not using it properly why are you even there? It doesn’t take much time to be successful on Twitter or Facebook, don’t be afraid of it! There are so many articles and books out there that offer advice and support to get you started. *Take heed above mentioned brands, you could be doing so much more on social media with very little effort!*

Have you voted on the Gluten Free Buyers Guide annual list? There’s still time, vote here.
Any other brands you think should have made the list or were you like me wondering why you’d never heard of certain brands before?

The Many Types of Food Allergy Apps

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Smart phones and mobile apps have opened up a whole new world for people to access information anywhere at anytime. For the food allergy community this means a variety of apps to help us navigate a world where food of all things can ruin your day or even take your life. Looking at the endless number of apps available to the food allergy community they can be categorized into 4 groups; restaurant apps, scanning apps, journaling apps, and then there’s the non-food allergy apps.

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Restaurant apps

AllergyEats – This mobile app and website lets you list your location and search for the best allergy friendly restaurants for your specific needs. The ratings and reviews are provided from other users, and you can leave your own reviews as well. I feel more comfortable knowing that the information provided is from other food allergy sufferers and not just a scan of their menu ingredients like many other food allergy apps out there.

Hold the Allergen – Select your allergies from a list of the nine most common food allergies and this app will scan the menus of forty fast food and chain restaurants. Select your restaurant and menu item and the app will list any allergens in the item if present.

Scanning Apps

Nxtnutrio – Let’s you add your own allergies so can look for those not in the top eight like other scanning allergy apps. Great for families with unusual food allergies, like ours that has a tomato allergy. Nxtnutrio also lists alternatives and a section for comments.

SafeEats – SafeEats is a scanning app that lists the most common food allergies. You select your allergies from the list and then use their barcode scanner on ulc labels at stores. The app then highlights any of the possible allergens selected.

Journaling Apps

Food Allergy Detective – This journaling app lets you list your meals, symptoms, and any notes about the meal you want to add. Having a journal in app form is easier than carrying around a notepad and pen.

Allergy Journal – A journaling app that remembers your entries with a date and time stamp so you can return to edit them. This app also lets you name foods and dishes whatever you like instead of selecting from a set list.

Outdoor Allergy Apps

Pollen.com (Allergy Alert) – Pollen.com provides the five day allergy forecast for your location. It also lists an asthma index and a symptom chart that lets you track your symptoms.

WebMD Allergy – Takes it a step further and lists the levels of different allergens in the air in your location; dander, mold, grass, trees, ragweed, etc. There are also settings to display indoor allergies, drug allergies, and general allergies.

Did I miss your favorite? Are there other food allergy apps out there that you love or that haven’t worked well for you? Tell me all about them in the comments.

Social Media Applications and Food Allergies

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For many of us whose lives are affected by food allergies it can feel like a lonely, deserted, road at times. We turn to social media to vent, ask questions, or search for answers. So many of us are experiencing the same things that you can always find someone who can offer advice or suggestions, support with a food allergy issue, or just someone to listen while you vent. Research is shared and discussed, photos of new recipes are posted and tagged, concerns and fears slowly fade.

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  • We share our restaurant experiences any time we eat out with the Allergy Eats group so others will know what restaurants to visit or avoid. Their reminders every Monday morning on both Facebook and Twitter are always appreciated. Their app is then updated with the latest ratings making it easier for the food allergy community to enjoy the occasional meal out.
  • We watch for the latest development on food allergies to be shared by FARE via a twitter post. Twitter is the quickest way to share the latest research or article on food allergies and gets the conversation going. The research is often contradictory, which just makes the discussion more interesting. With no definitive cause for food allergies yet we all have our theories and support different areas of research while still supporting the same goal.
  • We wait for new recipes to be shared on Pinterest, because a photo with a recipe makes it look ten times more appealing. Pinterest even has a special grouping now to highlight specific dietary needs. It won’t be long before there are groups dedicated to specific food allergies.
  • We read the latest blog posts on food allergy related issues. If a new research paper or article has come out or news about a favorite brand is released someone is already blogging about it. Whether it’s the recent news of Annie’s being sold to General Mills or the increase of gluten free and food allergy posers hurting our cause you’ll find more than one person voicing their concerns.
  • We rant and support each other on Facebook. Facebook is the quickest way to share a bad experience or an urgent need for support. Whether you’ve had a bad scare with a food allergy reaction and just need to share or you’ve been excluded yet again because of food allergies you can quickly share and get a response from your support group.


While this list seems to cover a lot there’s always more we want to do or could do to improve the presence of food allergies not only on social media and the internet, but also in our communities, schools, and homes. More support groups, more information, more tolerance, the list goes on. What would you like to see from the food allergy community that could help? How can we as a group do better, specifically on social media?