As food allergy awareness week is coming to a close it’s a good reminder of how far we’ve come, and how much social media has helped the food allergy community grow and share with each other. It’s helped bring awareness to both the increase in food allergy diagnoses, brands that make allergy friendly foods, and shown just how big the food allergy and natural foods market is. This increase in social media usage has also shown us the best channels to use to spread awareness and communicate with each other, some of the bigger brands have shown us what to do and what not to do, and it has given us an idea of the future and how we can do more with the technology available.
Brands like General Mills that have had their fair share of social media missteps have purchased several natural and allergy friendly brands. General Mills is the perfect example for why every site needs to have a crisis management plan in place. They’ve made several announcements or had to issue recalls that really upset people and drove them to share their feelings on social media as a result. Having a plan in place to help direct teas on how to respond and any other actions that could help calm the storm would be be important to include. While many were not happy to see trusted brands purchased by a large company that might drastically change things General Mills has surprised some. Perhaps buying up all of these organic and health related brands is having an impact on them. They are making an attempt to make their more popular brands healthier and better for you by removing artificial flavors and colors. While some are still skeptical this is a brand to watch to see how they go about keeping their promises and how it changes their approach as a whole. You can’t help but notice how the feedback they’ve received from social media has influence this behavior. We need to let them know we appreciate what they’re doing in trying to make their products healthier and that we’d love to see them do more.
Another big brand that has bought up some of our most loved allergy friendly brands is Mondelez. They actually have some of the best examples of how to use social media to grow your audience and how to share content that gets people talking. Their Oreo images on Instagram are bright, colorful, and fun while the Triscuit Pinterest account is full of all the amazing recipes and toppings people have come up with. It’s not only beautiful to look at but also mouth watering. We’d also love to see the make allergy friendly cookies and crackers (hint, hint). They really listen to their customers and it shows in their social media efforts and in their products (limited edition Oreo’s). Hopefully they’ll pass on their expertise on social media to some of their newly acquired brands to help them create content that reflects what customers are talking about and help grow a stronger community.
While General Mills and Mondelez are large well known brands getting into the health and food allergy markets there are still a lot of little guys that could use some help when it
comes to social media to help them grow and to help spread the word about who they are what they do. I always think of Tinkyada pasta when I think of the little guy that could be so much more. They are a smaller gluten free noodle brand out of Canada with an easily recognizable bunny on all of their packaging. While I find their product everywhere up here in the western mountains I don’t think they are as well known on the East coast or further South. They also don’t have a social media presence. I can only imagine what they could be if not only were using social media, but also had a strategy in place.
As I wrap up my final projects this week as graduation nears for my masters degree I’m reminded of how far I’ve come with not only social media, but also the Allergy Friendly site as a whole. I think about future plans for the site, expanding into other social media channels, and having the time to put more effort towards new content and how best to share it with you. I’m excited about the future of the site and how social media has allowed the food allergy community to grow, but also not blind to how access to social media has almost made it harder for this community to be taken seriously. My biggest hope for the future is that we all continue to raise awareness of food allergies and the risks associated with them, that people would be more understanding, and that we continue to show the world just how amazing this community is.
Don’t forget to visit the Allergy Friendly site for more blogs, information, and recipes.