Don’t call them a yogurt company.
With nearly 600,000 Facebook fans, over 45,000 Twitter followers, a super active Pinterest and Instagram audience, and a lively blog, there’s no doubting that Chobani, the number one Greek yogurt maker in America, has positioned itself as a lifestyle brand.
In fact, until very recently, Chobani didn’t even use traditional advertising as it climbed to the top of its category. Instead, it cultivated a community of passionate fans using content marketing and social media smarts.
That’s been the plan since the beginning, said Emily Schildt, director of consumer engagement for Chobani.
“We’re a small company with a start-up culture, so as we grew, our community grew,” she said.
Schildt and her small team (which has grown to several staffers over the past year) began by sharing behind-the-scenes snippets on the Chobani blog.
That included photos taken from the CHOmobile’s travels (thus taking the company’s field marketing efforts to the online community).
“We’ve always had a lot to share about our business story,” she said. ”Our founder set out to make a natural delicious product. That dream and passion and dedication inspires people so we want to make sure we share that, too.”
The Chobani lifestyle
Over time, Chobani has learned a lot about its consumers.
“They are active and healthy, and they trust us,” Schildt said. ”They see us as being honest and real and human.”
Schildt said: ”We’re educating users about cooking with yogurt, as an additive, as a substitute, as a grocery staple. We talk about living an active healthy lifestyle. And of course, having fun.”
Despite an array of content topics and a presence on many different platforms, Chobani’s content strategy is strategic, and rarely misses an opportunity to connect with people who love the product.
“The team is dedicated to acknowledging every Chobani mention online, and building relationships with those people,” Schildt said. “Once you get a response back, you create an instant connection. When you put up a great piece of content that people find useful or entertaining, you can create an emotional connection.”
Thinking like the consumer
As with many companies that harness the power of content marketing, Schildt said it’s tough to quantify success in terms of dollars and sense.
“People feel an emotional connection to us, but how do you turn that into an ROI?” she asked. What she can quantify, though, is the continued growth and quality of the engagement that happens within its community. Schildt said, ”We hold a lot of value to that.”
So what type of content works for Chobani? While Schildt says it depends on the platform, in general, simplicity is key: ”Any way we can simplify our content and make it easier to consume has been successful. If visuals also have text on them, that limits the work that users have to do [to share the content].”
In addition, Chobani regularly rewards brand loyalty with weekly contests on both Instagram and Twitter to win a free case of yogurt, among other campaigns.
Photo content brings the deepest engagement on Pinterest and Instagram.
“We posted a photo of strawberry frozen yogurt drops, and literally, soon after we saw people with photos of themselves in their kitchen making them,” Schildt said. “They’re joining in with us.”
“Chobaniacs” apparently consider themselves part of something, and are eager to share how and why they love Chobani.
For instance, Chobani’s Twitter hashtag for the Olympics — #chobanipowered — is still going strong, as people continue to share how Chobani powers them throughout the day.