Healthy snack brand Vega is turning to Instagram not just for marketing, but also for customer service.

While the brand fields queries on Twitter and Facebook as well, more than 65 percent of its conversations with customers occur on Instagram. Fans, for example, frequently tag the brand in posts mentioning hashtags associated with the brand, such as #myvega or #poweredbyvega.

“Our products — such as protein powders that people add to smoothies or health bars that they take with them on hikes — lend themselves to a visual platform like Instagram,” said Bridgette Clare, the brand’s education and engagement team lead. “So it’s not surprising that people choose to interact with us the most there and that it is our most important channel for online customer service.”

Vega uses customer-service software Conversocial to manage its monitoring and response workflow. The brand has also reorganized its internal structure. While the social team was previously responsible for both posting social content and monitoring feeds for customer service queries, there are now two teams: the digital marketing team that focuses on content and a separate “education and engagement” team of five, which handles social engagement and customer service.

“We were formerly known as the customer experience team, but educating our fans and providing them access to resources on a plant-based lifestyle is core to our marketing success,” said Clare. “So it made sense to restructure ourselves accordingly.”

Last year, for example, the team came across a superfan named Carl and cultivated a relationship with him. Apart from engaging with him, the brand sent him Vega samples as well as a T-shirt. On the other end of the spectrum, when dancer Christina H. complained about the taste of one of Vega’s vegan protein powders, the brand contacted her online and sent her samples of products catered to her tastes.

The approach seems to be working. The personalized outreach, according to the company, has helped it boost its positive brand sentiment on Instagram to 98.5 percent. Vega has also gained more than 48,000 followers over the past year, totaling 148,000, according to Socialbakers. Vega has been mentioned on Instagram and Facebook more than 6,600 times since Jan. 1, according to data crunched by Brandwatch. The nature of these mentions is overwhelmingly positive, with over 96 percent of mentions being positive. While Vega’s online promotions and deals drive these mentions, said Brandwatch senior data analyst Kellan Terry, the growing number of mentions is also a clear indicator of an engaged follower base.

“Ultimately, we’re about empowerment,” said Clare. “And that empowerment comes from knowledge. Without the right tools, that is not possible.”

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