Forget about FroYo, Chobani makes yogurt social

Anyone who works in a social media role for a company would be lying if they said they didn’t keep tabs on their counterparts at other companies and what Chobanithey are doing. To me, some brands make more sense to be in the social space than others. I really get inspired when I see brands that would not seem like a fit do really cool things and just get it and I love to get an insight into their heads and see what makes them tick.

The latest case came from Chobani Greek Yogurt. My first insight into their work came reading an article on Fast Company on their work with Pinterest. I Tweeted out the article. Not even five minutes passed when boom, I got a Tweet thanking me for sharing their post. A few follow ups and I was in contact with Chobani’s Communications Manager, Emily Schildt, who granted me the interview below:

One of the things I always find interesting is why companies got into the social space. Chobani is not something that I would immediately associate with social. What was the deciding factor to get into the space?

Social media and food are very closely connected. When you eat at a delicious restaurant, what’s the first thing you do? Tell your friends! Now, that’s amplified by posting on Facebook or checking in on Foursquare. So naturally, as a packaged good, social media became the very heart of our company. It’s where our fans go to share their love for our products, and first and foremost, we go to listen. Our CEO reads each of our Facebook walls every day, likely before he checks the morning news or grabs a cup of tea.

It looks like your company has a lot of super fans. What has been the most interesting conversation that you have had with a customer?

Oh! There are so many, I don’t think I can choose just one. But, I think what’s interesting is just that. We haven’t let these conversations become one-off; rather, we’ve built real relationships. Yes, we tweet about yogurt. But, we also tweet about other things that matter to our community: food, technology, philanthropy, pop culture. We use all of these things combined as the foundation for relevant, ongoing communications.

What was the first network that your team started on and what is your strategy for adding new networks to the mix?

We began on Facebook, followed closely by Twitter. We simply joined the conversation our fans had jumpstarted for us. That’s pretty simply how we choose what networks we’ll add to the mix. Instagram, for example, was an obvious choice for us because we saw that people were sharing photos of their Chobani cups. We thought, hey, there’s value here in hosting the conversation ourselves. On Pinterest, we took it a bit deeper. On average, we see 7 recipes a day online using Chobani as an ingredient. Pinterest is a great way to visually display this creative talent our fans have.

My wife and I are looking to try one of the recipes on your Pinterest out any suggestions?


Have you seen the 3 ingredient Peanut Butter Pie?! Or the Baked Potato Bread Bowl? We can’t pretend to be the geniuses here- our fans are our inspiration.

What is next for Chobani in the social space?

The world of social is an unknown. I would never even attempt to be an expert! How can you in an ever-changing space? But, we know we’ll be a part of whatever space our fans live in, or we see value in asking them to join us in.

Last question – how do you manage/balance your work/personal time on social networks?

Ha! I literally laughed out loud at this one. I’m not sure you can have a balance in this field. I think you have to adjust to the fact that we don’t live in a 9-5 world and we have to find a way to make work and personal life one in the same. I’m fortunate that I’m crazy passionate about what I do, and same goes for my colleagues. We all work together in figuring it all out… and consoling each other. 😉

7 Responses to Forget about FroYo, Chobani makes yogurt social
  1. iamreff
    February 7, 2012 | 8:45 am

    Jeff, Emily and the @Chobani team are great. Not only is their outreach good, as you point out, but their social customer service is pretty good too! I had a few bad cups of yogurt. In frustration I tweeted about it. If you’re interested, here is my post/storify recap.

  2. jeffespo
    February 7, 2012 | 10:43 am

    @iamreff@chobani Checking it out now. I really love their work and love the social aspect of a brand I wouldn’t assume would be “social”

  3. HowieSPM
    February 7, 2012 | 10:15 pm

    Love your post Jeff. I am a Chobani super fan been friends with them and have known Emily for over a year now. I have had many discussions with them on strategy wondering such as why their big Facebook push lately. Emily said they want to come out tops in search results. Fact is they became number 1 in yogurt in the US without TV without Facebook without Twitter, Basically they had a super blog strategy with many fitness, foodie and health blogs given free yogurt to be given away. What made them number one is the top ingredients and a superior product and then they got their price point down to be closer to the mass brands Dannon and Yoplait so now it is reasonable to have one cup a day like I do.

    The one thing I use Chobani as an example of is the rare brand many are passionate about and will engage with. Considering we each maybe engage with 4 to 5 brands out of hundreds in our life to make that four or five is quite a feat. They are the only brand I engage with on social media. I used to post lots of photos on Facebook until I left that network. But still post a lot to twitter (I R&D flavor combos for them…still waiting to be paid for this though lol)

    as for pinterest while they have action remember they sell about 1mil cups of chobani a day. So none of the social media activity is driving the sales enough to move the needle. Super fans like me who convert people in the supermarket (I have converted many!) and by telling everyone off line is where the action is really happening,

  4. HowieSPM
    February 7, 2012 | 10:27 pm

    @iamreff hey new twitter friend lol

    Last summer chobani had a double whammy. first was they couldnt keep up with surging demand so shelves were empty. Second was the heat waves which I am pretty sure caused so many bad cups. Either in transit or at the store. I saw how many people posted on their FB wall. They honored every cup even if not their fault.

  5. iamreff
    February 7, 2012 | 10:35 pm

    @HowieSPM funny how we keep bumping into each other. Small interwebs, eh?

  6. jeffespo
    February 8, 2012 | 9:49 am

    @HowieSPM I always forget that you quit the book. Super fans are awesome and its always cool to hear stories like that (eating the pineapple as I type this response). I just love the passion from both ends of the conversation that they have and dude that is a boat ton of yogurt.

  7. A no bullshit approach to social media
    February 9, 2012 | 1:25 am

    […] cannot view. This post also includes the words shit and bullshit, so if this offends you, please click here for a cuss-free […]

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