• Lis Harvey

Pivot! Specialty Social Media & Online Marketing

The latest in our specialty foods industry survival guide a-la-webinar series. Plug in your headset and listen to Kendall Antonelli of Antonelli's Cheese Shop, Madison Trapkin of Culture Magazine, Vero Kherian (Miss Cheesemonger) and Rynn Caputo of Caputo Brothers Creamery talk with the monger’s Will Fertman about social media, online marketing, and the power of vulnerability to help sell specialty food in this upended market.

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Social Media and Online Marketing, May 7 2020


Madison Trapkin — Editor-in-Chief of Culture Magazine, Boston, MA

Kendall Antonelli — Antonelli's Cheese Shop, Austin, TX

Veronique Kherian — Miss Cheesemonger,

Rynn Caputo — Caputo Brothers Creamery, PA


Will Fertman – Lis Harvey (producer) –

Notes and key takeaways:

Just do it.

Platforms recommended by the panelists:

Rynn Facebook Instagram Shopify Kendall Newsletter (25% readership each week on their 17000 person mailing list) YouTube channel GoToMeeting Zoom Cheesemonger Live (domain) (like a FaceTime app, and people can look through the case in real time and purchase) Vero Instragram is huge for them Newsletter (email) ChowNow Madison Recommends getting in touch with Culture Mag over Instagram direct-message --- Welcome, folks! We'll be starting shortly. Please mute yourself unless you're a panelist. We'll make time for Q&A later on, but you're also encourage to type into this comments space with questions/ thoughts! Here we go! Intros first! (Bonus game: drink coffee anytime anyone says "pivot") The monger is about to launch YourMaker.Direct, a direct sales platform for specialty food industry. Stay tuned there... and if you want more info, email me at

First question: what has SHIFTED the past few weeks (since COVID), in the social/online realm? Madison Trapkin of culture magazine: Genuine content is key. "Coming to you live from my tiny-assed kitchen." or "this is how we're making your cheese order happen..." REAL and stripped down stuff is getting the most traction right now. Kendall of Antonelli's Cheese Shop: update your website and put a TAB that says "operating during COVID19, here's how you can support our business" She is staying glued to social media. Has made more changes in the past 10 days than in the past 10 years! Just moving fast and not sweating the small stuff. People need "events" to attend, and ways to celebrate milestones. (Will) how do you make sure everyone at a pairing or tasting has the same stuff in front of them? Contactless curbside delivery of sample packages, available at a certain time... and then the consumer tunes in at a certain time. "Cheese 101 in a Box" Vero: There has been a shift in content, plating things at home... people are reacting with great interest to behind-the-scenes video and content of folks working in the cheese shop, filling orders, etc.

Theresa Liberman12:18 PM I would love to hear more about what content has been working well for others (like VEro's example of team members in action) Thanks, Theresa, great question.

(TAKE HEED: your social media efforts could get picked up by national outlets! Caputo got grabbed by Good Morning America!)

After the Good Morning America segment, Caputo Bros Creamery sold 13000 Virtual Mozzerella classes in about 16 hours. They saw 800% growth on their website.

Caputo ships frozen curd, and it arrives at the customer thawed. Then they follow along with a virtual mozz making class (Rynn teaches)... Social shares happen as a result of folks taking the virtual class and then posting their success to their Friend circles.

New ways to sell cheese. Connecting folks to the craft, connecting people directly (in a new way) to the makers or the process. Person to person interaction is impossible, but there are suddenly so many opportunities for education and vulnerability. Storytelling has become so personal, intimate, and... that can be scary. But just do it! Create content. Get it out there. ("Goat for it," as the monger would say.) Madison mentioned Lively Run Dairy in NY— they are making cheese from excess milk and donating that protein-rich product to food banks and shelters. Put stuff out into the universe! Don't worry about perfection. Be imperfect. In fact, people are super interested in imperfection right now. (Will) Would you share something that made you felt super exposed? For example, Will broadcasting from his bedroom with the kids possibly bursting in on him at any time. (Kendall) Part of her story is overcoming mental health issues, and she has been able to open up and really share of late. Good point: this is not a time for social distancing. PHYSICAL distancing, yes, but in a way we are becoming socially closer than ever. (Rynn) Most vulnerable moment was when Caputo felt the shame of having to allow their dairy farmers to dump 4000 gallons of milk. Putting that feeling out into the world via social media... allowed for a level of accountability and transparency that elevated the situation. On the flip side, Caputo was able to pay their employees. AND immediately their website sales went up, because customer response was to want to help.

(Kendall) Society is becoming a bit polarized. Plitics in play... Enforcing physical distancing rules and COVID-19 safety rules... tough, but necessary. Education for customers via Social Media really helps. Another way of being vulnerable is taking people's health seriously.

(Rynn) YouTube video reading mean emails/ mean tweets would be funny!

Elizabeth Feinberg 12:46pm

I'd love to know about customer aquisition costs, ie, how much is your Ad spend on each of these platforms (IG & FB)?

Super interesting question: Are people still paying to advetise on IG/FB/TW?

Essentially, no. None of the panelists are paying for social media ads anymore. It's not necessary. Customers are creating the content and they're trying to share it every day.

(Will) How are you "staffing" your social media "operations"?

Fernando 12:49pm

Are you recording and sharing the presentation? Unfortunately, arrived late... but seems super interesting!

Hi Fernando, glad to have you at any point. Yes, we're recording. Email me at if you'd like to make sure you get the link. Otherwise check for a post in the coming day.

Sharing posts in your IG or FB "Story" has a multiplier effect. Such a heart-warming part of social media. Your clients might post about you, you might share it back to your page, and they might share that back to their networks... it's a feel-good thing.

The repost is everything.

(Madison) I love sharing favorites from the week every Friday. Build those social networks!

Friends, don't forget to email me at the if you'd like help getting your own monger account up and running. It's free for retailers and producers. And you can email me if you'd like information about our b2c company YourMaker.Direct. A simple direct-sales platform to help connect makers with consumers.

(Rynn) Be a bright spot in people's lives. Tag your customers, share their stories, be generous.

(Will) Does anyone have set policies around social media posting or content?

(Madison) Quite particular about IG feed. Editor-in-Chief for Culture... curates their platform content. Generally, Culture is quite strict.

(Kendall) We have brand guidelines and core principles, but these days we play it a bit loose.

Jacqueline B 12:49pm

What advice would you give to small businesses struggling to adapt to an online store model? Any resources for learning how to navigate these social media platforms? The best methods? Which platforms do you think are the easiest to use for inexperienced business owners while having the best payoff [see list at top]?

(Kendall) Break things into tasks. Make a list. Which parts are sticky, and which are doable?

(Will) The monger will be offering an online platform for direct sales, called YourMaker.Direct. This effort will put cheese and specialty food makers first. With a strong local search component and multiple fulfillment options, you'll be able to coordinate drop-ship, delivery to homes or retailers, expanded curbside pickup, etc. We'll also have a shipping and costing guide for direct-to-consumer orders, plus one-on-one human onboarding, storefront set-up assistance and self-serve social media promotion. Stay up to date on the launch of YMD by emailing


<slurps coffee>

Jacqueline B 12:59pm

I appreciate the insight! Thank you!

Rynn welcomes folks to email her at for a bit of pay-it-forward help in the shipping department. Everything from what type of materials and how to come by those materials. She's happy to pass along the info.

Kendall is also happy to help with specific questions. The more specific the better!

Vero is available for hire as a social media service person, and a photographer in non-COVID times.

Upcoming webinar topic: Direct Sales!

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