Internet Initiatives

Engaging consumers and building cachet

Published in the April 2013 Issue Published online: Apr 16, 2013 Frank Muir, IPC President and CEO
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During the past six months, the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) initiated several new social programs, which have significantly increased the brand's presence on the Internet. All these initiatives are designed to engage consumers and build the brand's cachet. The four sites where the IPC has a strong and active presence are:

 Facebook: 20,364 page "likes"

 Twitter: 4,021 followers

 Pinterest: 1,197 followers

 Instagram: 102 followers

Blogger Harvest Tour

In September 2012, the IPC invited 11 food bloggers from across the country to Eastern Idaho to experience the potato harvest firsthand. These writers met growers, learned about the famous Idaho russet and other varieties, visited packing and shipping facilities, toured a dehy plant and even dug up their own potatoes!

This tour generated immediate and significant social media buzz on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. In a span of only three days we generated:

 334 tweets and re-tweets on Twitter

 225 photos on Instagram

 100-plus photos and posts on Facebook

PMA Challenge

The IPC invited 30 Los Angeles-based food bloggers to PMA Fresh Summit in October to learn about the fresh produce industry and specifically Idaho potatoes. To help engage the bloggers, we created a "Potato Passport" challenge that encouraged them to visit six Idaho potato grower/shipper booths as well as the Big Idaho Potato Truck. A total of 21 bloggers completed the challenge and received a copy of Potato Country magazine, a medium-sized Spuddy Buddy, an Idaho potatoes T-shirt and a $50 grocery gift card.

Twitter Party

In December, we partnered with popular blogger Resourceful Mommy to throw the first-ever Idaho Potato Twitter Party. Don Odiorne, the IPC's VP of foodservice served as the expert resource to help answer questions about preparing, cooking and storing potatoes, and we offered prize incentives for "party-goers" to drive high participation and excitement. Key discussion points included:

 Tricks and tips for making perfect mashed potatoes and leftover ideas;

 Idaho potato nutritional points and ideas for making potato dishes healthy;

 Idaho's most famous variety, the Russet Burbank, and the 25+ other varieties Idaho also grows;

 Always look for the "Grown in Idaho" seal.

The most re-tweeted statement was: "Did you know that Idaho potatoes contain more solids and less water, yielding light and fluffy mashed potatoes every time?"

Overall, we generated a great deal of positive buzz for Idaho potatoes on Twitter and even made the "Top Trending Topic" while competing against other brands, including Staples and a popular beauty product website. The results:

 200 participants

 2,038 average number of followers per participant

 Total Twitter impressions: 8.3 million

Pinterest & Tater Talk

Our popular Recipe Photo Contest was moved to Pinterest to take full advantage of the site's ability to showcase pin-worthy food photography and recipe ideas.

Tater Talk, the IPC's consumer newsletter, has a new look! It's more recipe-driven, focuses on appetizing photography and promotes our many social media initiatives. The newsletter reaches more than 70,000 subscribers and consistently performs well, with an open rate of 12-15 percent, and a read rate of 9-11 percent.

Facebook Promotions

We held several Facebook promotions to help us achieve more than 20,000 Page Likes:

1) 2012 Harvest Potato Giveaway. Three lucky fans each won a 20-lb gift box of fresh Idaho russet potatoes. Potato giveaways continue to be the most popular among our fans. This giveaway collected 6,085 entries.

2) Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Cross Promotion. We worked in partnership with the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl's social media team to drum up excitement for the Bowl on Facebook with various promotions and giveaways. We helped FIPB more than double their number of Facebook Page Likes in just a few weeks through potato giveaways and by promoting their content. We also sponsored a tailgating prize to promote the event. This promotion generated 3,413 entries.

3) Engaging Social Media Content. Every week we create a variety of posts to encourage interaction among the IPC's Facebook fans. The most popular post in December-and of all time!-generated 1,408 likes, 301 shares and 39 comments, and helped catapult the page past 20,000 Page Likes. This post also helped us to achieve 2,870 page interactions and 25,006 impressions in one week.