How Can Social Commerce Help Build Community? Insights from Campbell Snacks Head of Social Media, Anna Ritchie



“As brands, we have a big responsibility to our community,” Annie Ritchie, Head of Social Media, Campbell Snacks


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What does the evolving trend of social commerce mean for community engagement? What kinds of content can drive (or hinder) real conversion? Anna Ritchie Head of Social Media, Campbell Snacks — the group behind fan-favorites like Goldfish, Milano Cookies, and Pepperidge Farm — unpacks what all this means for brands in her afternoon session, The Social Commerce Debate: Community Builder or Destroyer?.

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“As brands, we have a big responsibility to our community,” Ritchie shared. “When social commerce came on the scene, we had to think about what this means, and whether social commerce is destroying all of that.”

Creating social community

From 2010-2013, the social media world “exploded” in marketing. With platforms like Facebook and Instagram business pages, companies could quickly develop an online “persona” and build a community, create strategic content that brings both the brand and its fans together.

It was a communal, reciprocal relationship where fans could directly reach out (with comments, suggestions, and concerns) to the brand, and vice versa.

“Then social commerce came around, and it felt like it was disrupting the whole system.”

Social commerce was first introduced by Yahoo! in November 2005, and is a “subset of electronic commerce that involves using social media, online media that supports social interaction and user contributions to assist online selling of products and services.”

In other words, social commerce involves using online collaborative tools from ratings, user-generated content (UGC), and sharing of online products and info.

But all that has changed, as social media has evolved. It’s not just about numbers, KPIs, and brand engagement.

In 2019, a brand’s visual social presence is more important than ever.

According to Campbell Snack’s research, 42 percent of “Gen Z” and millennial shoppers are likely to use Instagram and aesthetic, “shoppable” photos to make a purchase. There’s been a 110% increase in social referrals to retail sites, compared to three years ago. In just one month, 130 million users “tap” products in shoppable posts they find on Instagram.

Show and tell

“As CPG (consumer packaged goods) brands, this is important info because we should seek out our fans to inspire real content,” says Ritchie. In other words, go out to the community and see how customers are using products and the ways they get creative.

By looking into their own snacking community, Campbell found that Milano cookie customers are making delicious, snackable, and shareable art. The company started sharing these creations on an Instagram account, inspiring people to get creative with Milano cookies.

Considering the fanbase demographic, amplifying the content, and understanding the way people are sharing (Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) are all things to consider when mapping out a robust social commerce plan.

It’s crucial to “prioritize customer experience over sales–do something that excites your people, both online or in-store, and set your objectives first,” Ritchie finished. “This will inspire future purchase and provide consumers the best, easiest experience.”

Ritchie also noted that “learned” content (like when an influencer naturally endorses something his/herself) also feels more authentic to customers, and tends to be more successful, than branded content.

Brand communities (online and IRL) are constantly evolving because the consumers’ expectations of brands are. Social commerce is the next evolution of that.

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