From farm to Facebook with Chicken Farmers of Canada

Organization amps up digital strategy to promote

Chicken Farmers of Canada has come a long way since introducing its “Raised by a Canadian Farmer” logo last year.

Sobeys and Federated Co-op are now carrying the logo on its private-label chicken. Vince’s Market in Ontario has it as well, and a deal was recently inked with Swiss Chalet to put the logo on menus. Negotiations are underway with other retailers, says Lisa Bishop-Spencer, manager of communications for Ottawa-based Chicken Farmers.

“We thought we would have folks on label sooner,” admits Bishop-Spencer of the logo, which was unveiled in June 2014 after surveys found most shoppers want to buy Canadian chicken that’s labeled as coming from farmers’ groups. “So what we needed to do was to change our strategy on the marketing plan to build awareness for the brand, to create demand for it.”

Chicken Farmers ran waves of traditional and digital advertising in 2014, based around barbecue season, back-to-school and the holiday season. The campaigns are continuing this year.

It also enlisted brand ambassadors to speak about chicken during quarterly Twitter parties. To Bishop-Spencer’s surprise, “we’ve had Twitter parties where there’ve been over 20 million impressions in the space of an hour.”

When Bishop-Spencer first heard about Twitter parties, she thought, “You can’t possibly tell me that people will sit down after tucking their kids in and talk about chicken for an hour on Twitter. But that’s what they do. And they love it.”

Along with evening Twitter parties, there are monthly lunch-time Twitter chats where experts are brought in to speak about health-related issues surrounding chicken, like sodium content.

The ad campaigns and Twitter events have also boosted the organization’s Facebook presence: Membership in its Canadian Chicken group has quadrupled to more than 12,000 likes in the last year.

As well, web traffic increased by 65% in 2014 compared with 2013, while mobile usage increased by 64% and now surpasses desktop usage.

The organization runs the consumer website and industry website Bishop-Spencer says, which was revamped about six months ago, is slowly being converted to “more of a public relations exercise where we talk to consumers about our farmers and what they do.”

After noticing significant traffic was coming from inside groceries – from people trying to figure out what to have for dinner – Chicken Farmers created an app for Android and Apple devices.

The aim is not to have huge campaigns but to grow brand awareness gradually, says Bishop-Spencer. “We want people to come see us and not just see us because we’re doing something unique and different for one month and then drop us.”

The logo program is being made available to retailers free of charge, Bishop-Spencer says. The goal is to get Canadians, who currently consume chicken two or three times weekly, to eat chicken one more time every two months.

“That’ll make this campaign a success overall. It would mean the world to the industry.”

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