Chobani Builds Loyalty with Social Media (Interview)

During a recent Twitter discussion on brands using social media effectively, someone mentioned Chobani greek yogurt. I chimed in noting that I could really use one as I’d just finished a run. Moments later Chobani popped into our conversation offering to send a treat if you emailed them. I had to do it. After a friendly exchange about what yogurt flavors my house full of kids liked, they shipped me off a special package. Once ambivalent about which yogurt I buy, a simple Twitter exchange made me brand loyal. Chobani Digital Communications Manager Emily Schildt shared with me how her team uses social media to whip up little moments of ‘awesome’ online and off.

Okay, my first question is a little dorky, but from a fan perspective what happened to me (getting a case of yogurt randomly via a mention in a non-yogurt related chat) was pretty awesome. How did you arrive at this brand-driven strategy?
Not dorky at all! We’re incredibly generous with our product because we believe that once people taste it, they’ll be fans. And as a result of having a good experience with the people behind our brand, they’ll feel good about it. It’s our strategy to acknowledge in some fashion every mention of Chobani online, be it a response, a retweet, or a favorite. Twitter allows us to easily identify those that have never tried Chobani and provides us the opportunity to put our cups in their households. We take full advantage!

What tools are you using to execute this?
Currently, we use a combination of tools: Radian6, TweetDeck, and Buffer. Our team encourages each other to use whatever tool they feel most comfortable with.

What can you tell us about your social team?
We’re a yogurt-loving group, with a passion for social. It’s exciting to wake up every morning knowing that you have the ability to communicate directly with Chobaniacs just like ourselves, and to provoke that love for Chobani among those that may have yet to try it.

Why is social media important to the Chobani brand?
First and foremost, social gives us the opportunity to connect with our consumers on a deeper level. And as a result, we also gain imperative insights that influence new products, new flavors, and new ventures. We heard requests for Chobani in Canada … to Toronto we went! Our consumers suggested Black Cherry … it’s one of our bestsellers! It’s not a science over here. We just love what we do, and we listen so we can always improve.

At a glance, how does the Chobani brand engage across social platforms? Do you have a specific goal for each?
We venture into social platforms where our consumers live. Facebook is obviously a big one for us, as is Twitter. Other platforms where we see high engagement are Pinterest and Instagram. If we give effort to a platform and don’t see high engagement resulting, it’s not something we’ll give focus.

What’s next in 2012 for Chobani as a social business? Are there challenges you face or new platforms you want to conquer?
Of course, as more and more platforms continue to pop up, it’s a challenge to know from the onset where your fans will be active. Given the popularity of food sharing and nature of our consumers, we knew for example, that Instagram would be a good one for us this year. But, not all platforms are as easy to predict. We challenge 2012 to bring us an active community that we can be a part of! If our consumers are there, we will be too.

Thanks, Emily and to everyone on the Chobani social media team! How are you using social media to create remarkable brand moments for your fans and followers? Are you daring to try something bold and unexpected? Please share in the comments below.