Social media bootcamp a big hit

Rainforest regeneration on macadamia farm

Mention the word ‘bootcamp’ and most people picture push-ups and pain. But when the aim is more to do with Facebook than fitness, it’s a very different program indeed. In early September, Australian Macadamias hosted its inaugural Social Media Bootcamp, bringing together marketing agency delegates from six countries for an intensive three-day ‘paddock-to-plate’ macadamia immersion.

Led by the Australian marketing team, the program was action-packed and showed our counterparts in Japan, Taiwan, Korea, China and Germany every aspect of the macadamia industry in the beautiful Byron Bay growing region.

The event was created to significantly improve the quality and consistency of our messaging across all core markets, and its ultimate success will be measured against our KPI of a 25% increase in total social media engagement by the end of the 2016/17 campaign period.

The knowledge shared will also form the basis of the upcoming Australian Macadamias Social Media Playbook. This is being created to guide all current and future agency staff in the ongoing creation and curation of social media content to promote Australian grown macadamias to consumers globally.

Diving deep into our content pillars

The Australian Macadamias social media campaign already speaks to a global audience of around 10 million consumers. Core to the success achieved to date has been the adherence to our five key content pillars of Taste, Authenticity, Sustainability, Health and Occasion.

These pillars have created a solid framework for content creation in all markets, ensuring our messaging is consistent and that we showcase our product’s multi-layered narrative.

Our domestic social media strategist Holly Galbraith spearheaded a half-day intensive workshop early in the bootcamp, dissecting and exploring the content pillars in depth with the global team. In this all-in, hands-on session, new ideas were tabled, questions were answered and the nuances of each market were discussed. The result was a vivid and creative vision for every pillar to build on as we create and curate even more engaging content to grow our global audience.

Armed with this enhanced understanding of the story we need to tell, our guests were ready to experience the best of Macadamia Country, focused on viewing those experiences through the lens of our social media content pillars.

Establishing a sense of place

One of the greatest benefits of bringing guests to a growing region is the opportunity to bring the home of macadamias to life. Ironically, one of the best places to see the earth on which we grow our native nut is from the air. Establishing this important connection was a priority for the bootcamp, and in what proved to be a true highlight, we had everyone up early for a spectacular dawn hot air balloon flight.

As the first rays of daylight broke through the clouds, the team was lifted gently upward to observe the lush, green landscape of Macadamia Country from 1,800 feet.

Macadamia country from the air

Mesmerised by the beauty of the macadamia orchards from the air, our guests could see the first macadamia flowers of the season breaking up the rich greenery of the ordered rows of trees. The patterns, textures and colours from this unique aerial perspective were incredible and plenty of spectacular new imagery was captured and shared on social media.

Hot air balloon over macadamia country

In-depth orchard experiences

After the heights of the ballooning experience, it was time to bring the team back to earth to see first-hand what happens on a working macadamia orchard.

Clean and green in action
In the first of several orchard experiences, we travelled to the Harris family’s farm. Rex Harris and his sons Daniel and Carl graciously showed the team around their impressive macadamia orchard, including the pockets of rainforest the family has lovingly planted and nurtured. In a fantastic demonstration of our growers’ commitment to the use of biological on-farm controls, Rex demonstrated the measures they have in place to nurture owls, moths and bees that play such a vital role in natural pest control and pollination.

He also explained that one of the farm’s greatest assets is its soil, because “healthy soil creates healthy trees, healthy nuts and healthy humans.” The family devotes enormous effort to nurturing good soil health through natural composting and the use of Smothergrass to prevent erosion.

Macadamia orchard tour

High tea picnic
As we learned during the Korean celebrity chef tour hosted a few months earlier, there is something unique about high tea served in a macadamia orchard, and we were keen to recreate this experience in conjunction with the team at Duck Creek Macadamias. Once again, the orchard worked her magic.

Macadamia processing facility

Duck Creek’s Operations Manager Thomas Lombardo greeted our guests with a brief lesson on macadamia flowering, average tree yield, tree varieties and kernel quality and grading. He also led the group on a tour of the Duck Creek processing plant, explaining the equipment and process used to produce flavoured and chocolate-coated macadamias. Fortunately this involved sampling the finished product.

The team was then bundled into 4WDs and chauffeured down to the orchard, where a spectacular macadamia high tea and picnic awaited. It was a breath-taking scene and our guests wasted no time in taking photographs of the orchard and food, with the menu including such delicacies as chicken and macadamia coriander pesto sandwiches, macadamia and mango trifle, and chocolate macadamia slice. 

High tea in macadamia orchard

A taste of indigenous culture

An early morning trip to the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse had our guests captivated by the spectacular natural beauty of Australia’s most easterly point. Delta Kay, CEO of the Arakwal Corporation, greeted us on arrival and provided fascinating insights on the Aboriginal history of the land on which the lighthouse stands, as well as the traditional storylines and significance of the surrounding sea and landscape. She explained to our guests that macadamias were a treasured food source for the local inland and coastal Aboriginal tribes.

Cape Byron Lighthouse

Right on cue, dolphins – a totem of the Arakwal people – frolicked below us as Delta spoke, and again as we made our way along the scenic Cape Byron coastal track to Clarke’s beach. The scene was completed as whales joined in the display!

Macadamia farmer speed dating

Despite its name, this component of the tour was not a matchmaking exercise, but an opportunity for our team to meet six real-life macadamia farmers from the Northern Rivers growing region.

Set beneath the macadamia trees of Letaba Macadamia Estate, our guests had five minutes to quiz each of the growers on any aspect of macadamia farming. The questions were many and varied, including how they got into the industry, the number of trees in their orchards, their favourite time of year on the farm and what they do on their days off. The insights gathered enabled our guests to obtain a clearer picture of what life as a macadamia grower is like, and these will translate into fabulous growing and human interest stories for our social media channels in the months to come.

We sincerely thank Anne and David Anderson, Garth Templeton, Graeme Wessling, Greg James and Henri Bader for their involvement in this fabulous afternoon.

Content creation skills

Photography workshop

Premium quality imagery is one of the keys to the success we’ve achieved with our social media programs to date. Professional photography is frequently shared between markets, however there are times when individual markets need to create their own to tell the macadamia taste story in a culturally relevant way.

To help our teams with this task, we created a half-day food styling and photography workshop, with an experienced food stylist and photographer on hand to offer tips on how to make food look great on camera.

A series of macadamia recipes and shots were set up, each styled and photographed by our professionals and our guests. This resulted in a fabulous suite of new professional imagery and recipes and new skills for each of our guests to apply to future content creation.

Wildlife and shopping experience

Part of marketing our product internationally involves telling the story of Australia as a destination. This content resonates strongly, particularly when it features Australian native wildlife, and it was fabulous for our guests to experience some of our native fauna during a visit to the iconic Macadamia Castle.

Macadamia Castle’s retail store was the ideal location to showcase the vast range of macadamia food and beauty products available, and provided the perfect opportunity to stock up on souvenirs and gifts for colleagues at home.

Macadamias in the local food industry

Macadamias are embraced by local businesses in the Northern Rivers district, and it was important to demonstrate how they are featured in the food industry of their native home.

Farmers’ markets
There’s no better way to introduce visitors to the rich assortment of produce grown in the region than with coffee and shopping like a local at the Byron Bay Farmers’ Markets.

Byron Bay Farmers Markets

To take this experience to new heights, we enlisted the help of the fabulous Gavin Hughes, Head Chef at The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa. Gavin led the group around the markets, introducing our guests to local providores as he shopped for ingredients for the Market Menu dinner we would enjoy that evening.

Thanks to Gavin’s knowledge and generous spirit, our guests gained a much clearer sense of the quality and depth of the local food offering. They particularly loved exploring the range of Rainforest Foods macadamia products on offer, purchasing so much that home delivery was required!

Macadamia café culture
A visit to the popular Three Blue Ducks café at The Farm provided a fabulous example of macadamias on a breakfast menu, with their coconut rice pudding with pineapple, passionfruit and macadamias proving popular. This was followed by a look at The Farm’s non-commercial macadamia orchard, providing plenty of photo opportunities.

Market Menu dinner
It was a delight to treat our guests to an incredible Market Menu dinner at The Byron at Byron Resort, prepared by Gavin Hughes, using produce purchased at the farmers’ markets that morning. Gavin’s standout menu included a dessert of coconut and lime parfait, pineapple two ways, ginger beer and finger lime sorbet served with crushed macadamias and Wilsons Creek flowers. A fabulous way to finish the bootcamp!

Key deliverables

Messaging and engagement
The bootcamp armed our global teams with the knowledge and tools they need to deliver a significant improvement in the quality and consistency of Australian Macadamias messaging in all core markets.

A high-reaching KPI has been set to measure the success of the bootcamp, with a 25% increase in total social media engagement by July 2017 being the ultimate outcome our teams are striving for.

The Australian Macadamias Social Media Playbook will be released to international agency staff in the coming months, ensuring the bootcamp’s content and learnings are captured for use by all staff involved in the implementation of our social media and content marketing programs. This will be a critical tool in the pursuit of our 25% KPI.

Initial results

Media coverage
The event attracted impressive media coverage, with national TV coverage on the ABC’s Landline,ABC radio and multiple online news pieces (see here and here).

Product knowledge
The bootcamp cultivated a significantly deeper understanding of our product and industry among those who are representing our brand in core markets. This will ultimately deliver a more compelling story to consumers to drive awareness and demand for Australian grown macadamias.

Global collaboration
International team relations grew stronger through the event, fostering a spirit of collaboration and learning that will help to deliver optimum performance in every market and ensure the global program as a whole continues to thrive.

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