Tyson Using Social Media to Build Community around Hunger

Most people probably associate Tyson Foods with chicken. Tyson wants you to think of hunger relief, and they’re using social media to help them do so. Tyson Foods Director of Corporate Community and Public Relations Ed Nicholson discussed how it works in his presentation “Tyson: Study: Tyson: Tweeting & Feeding With Social Media” at BDI’s Social Communications: The Case Studies.

Here are notes from his talk:

Hunger Relief Strategy


  • Humanize brand
  • Establish company as thought leader about hunger
  • Grow community recognizing them as credible and will defend them if needed
  • Leverage in-kind donations to more than just PR


  • Engage employees: 104K people there
    • Makes them feel good about the company, creates people dedicated to the cause, another step to be authentic and humanize the brand
  • Utilize communications resource to create awareness, build community.
    • More than just a campaign
  • Leverage donations to create more awareness around hunger

Began formally working in hunger relief in 2000 in earnest. Early focus very brand focused, expectations changed. Became more collaborative, more outwardly-focused.

Set up hungerrelief.tyson.com in 2007 – tell stories of people working in hunger relief, archive those stories, expand awareness of the issue. Also on Flickr, YouTube

Summer 2008, created official brand presence on Twitter – 3500 followers. “I think its’ very important to have that two-way communication.” http://twitter.com/tysonfoods

Started working with Social Media Club in Austin. Offered 35,000 lbs of food, one truckload – 100 lbs per comment on an SMC blog post. Got the 350 comments in 4 hours.

Parting thoughts of his:

  • Relationships and reputations survive technology changes.
  • There’s a reason they call it social media. People with mass marketing skills understand the media part – they just don’t get the social part.

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