Interacting with your consumers is easier than ever via social media, and for most consumers that conversation begins at the point of sale. Whether it's a dietary supplement, a natural or organic food or even wine, these natural products companies are taking advantage of social media right on their packages. Here are four ideas to try that have big payoffs in consumer engagement.

  1. Make it easy for consumers to connect socially.
    By now, it's old hat to have a Facebook or Twitter account. But many natural products still don't take advantage of putting these accounts on product packaging. Close the digital loop by ensuring your product's package tells its consumer how to interact with the brand online. Yellow + Blue, a certified organic wine packaged in environmentally-friendly containers has printed its Twitter link right on the "bottle."
     
  2. Use QR codes.
    A QR code, or Quick Response code, is a two dimensional code that has recently taken up residence in everything from business cards to billboards. Now, you can find these codes on natural products packaging, such as Sambazon's açaí juice and smoothies.

    Sambazon launched a promotion in April to win a trip to the Amazon and is advertising it with the QR code on its açaí products' packaging. Consumers scan the code with a smartphone's QR reader and are taken to a video on the Sambazon website that depicts where açaí comes from and how it makes its way to the U.S. "If you have 3D glasses you can even watch it in 3D," said Sambazon co-founder Jeremy Black. At the end of the video you can enter to win the trip.
     
  3. Ask consumers for packaging opinions.
    You ask your consumers for feedback on the product itself via social media – why not its packaging?

    When Stonyfield Farm decided to change its look a couple years ago, it asked its virtual community, MyStonyfield, to do just that. Nearly 40,000 consumers opined with CEO Gary Hirshberg and the Stonyfield marketing team on cup designs, colors and all manner of packaging plans. And they even saved Stonyfield's signature cow mascot, Gurt, from package extinction. The company is widely known for its use of social media—here are four of Stonyfield's core social media strategies.
     
  4. Create a smartphone app.
    Consumers are using mobile apps for everything from checking produce pesticide levels to comparing prices—all while standing in a store. Follow Gaia Herb's example and join the app race to promote your product's traceability.

    On each Gaia Herb's product there's a Meet Your Herbs ID number. Consumers can type this number into an iPhone app or on GaiaHerbs.com and instantly see how the product they're holding was cultivated, harvested, extracted and tested. Since its June 2010 launch the program has had 16,000 unique users.

For more on social media see the social media guide for natural/organic industry professionals.