USA, Brookings Assistant professor Kuo-Liang "Matt" Chang and a team of South Dakota State University researchers tried to determine the best way to use social media to encourage beef consumption. The study was funded through a $9,100 grant from the South Dakota Beef Industry Council.
Social media platforms provide a wealth of quantitative analytics, including the number of people who visited the site, what they viewed and their demographics, according to Briana Burgers, nutrition assistant and director of online communications for the South Dakota Beef Industry Council.
"We want to know what information our consumers want to see from us," said Burgers. "This study gives us that qualitative data we need."
Websites as information sources
Based an online survey filled out by 126 South Dakotans, websites are their No. 1 source of nutrition information and recipes, followed by family and friends, according to Chang. Most respondents were in the 24 to 45 age range.
The third-most popular place the respondents find recipes is magazines, followed by social media, the consumer economist explained. However, for nutrition information, social media takes a back seat to health professionals, magazines and television—in that order.
In looking at consumers' nutritional knowledge, Chang found that more than half the respondents identified beef as containing more iron than other meats, but only 25% knew that a chicken thigh has more fat than a steak.
Nearly 45% of respondents had shopped groceries based on information posted on social media, according to Chang. Though only 27% of the respondents had done meat shopping on-line, about 77% said they are willing to try new products based on their friends' suggestions on social media.Great opportunities on social media
More than 80% of the respondents used Facebook, while just over 50% visited Pinterest, with Twitter coming in third, Chang explained, noting that the beef council maintains a presence on all three. "This suggests that the beef council can take increasing advantage of the great marketing opportunities on these platforms."
Consumers viewed nutrition and health as top priorities when purchasing both beef and poultry, but when considering price, 55% felt it was important when purchasing beef and 58% when buying chicken. This difference, though, is not statistically significant, Chang pointed out.
Approximately 37% of the respondents buy their beef at a chain store, such as Hy-Vee or Walmart, while 33% purchase a half or quarter of beef from a friend or family member, according to Chang. When faced with higher beef prices, South Dakota consumers purchase less meat in general, rather than selecting less expensive alternatives, such as chicken, explained Chang. However, Midwesterners consume 10% more beef than the rest of nation.
"One type of meat does not necessarily compete with the other," said Chang. Consumers purchase a variety of meats which complement, rather than substitute for one another.
To complete the study, Chang will interview 25 respondents to find out how the beef council can draw visitors to its website and adapt its social media messages to their needs.
Source: South Dakota State University