Being Social

New FPA Social Media Campaign Expands Reach

Being Social

At the start of Earth Day/Month in April, the social media marketing partner for the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) began a concerted effort to reach broader audiences, expanding upon an online community that has been increasing steadily over the past few years. 

The new campaign—“Pro Planet: We Believe Every Day is Earth Day”—is a six-part series that will run into early 2025, with the final theme in January and February being “Flexible Packaging is a Necessity.” 

“Our key messaging will be to reframe the conversation around flexible packaging and to position it as an essential part of the solution—versus the problem—to environmental challenges, driving awareness and inspiring behavior change,” says Danielle Reigle, senior account executive at The Cyphers Agency based in Crofton, Maryland. The campaign will include social media efforts and influencers as well as public relations outreach. “Pro Planet is like a rebirth. We’re taking a fresh approach to it all,” she adds. 

Building upon Foundations

The Cyphers Agency has been building an online community for flexible packaging through Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and X (formerly known as Twitter) since 2017 when it began leading the social media strategy for FPA, says Reigle and Bridget Meyers, the agency’s digital marketing director. The Pro Planet campaign builds upon a previous endeavor—Perfect Packaging—that raised awareness about flexible packaging and its benefits to consumers. The Perfect Packaging effort included videos created with the help and guidance of FPA’s Emerging Leadership Council (ELC), which also participates in Pro Planet. (See a related column by the ELC on its education efforts, page 6).

“A lot of people do not know what flexible packaging is, and they just automatically loop it into the plastics category,” Reigle says. “Our primary goal has been to leverage the environmental benefits but also speak to the convenience aspect of flexible packaging and that’s really where we hit the ground running. Why it’s convenient, how it helps reduce food waste, the resealability, and how it takes up less space in the cabinet and refrigerator. You can hand your kid an applesauce pouch and reseal it, so it has hit on the on-the-go notion, too.”

As the previous initiatives matured, the agency began looking for new ways to tout those benefits, which led to the Pro Planet campaign.

“We realized that we needed to dive more into the environmental side because consumers—even more so nowadays—are looking for sustainable options and what they can do to help the planet,” Reigle says. Earth Day/Month in April made for the perfect timing to start Pro Planet. “We’ve progressed over the years. We lean more heavily into talking about greenhouse gas emissions and how flexible packaging uses less raw materials than other packaging.”

Through the interactive nature of social media, the agency has shown some consumers that their preconceived notions are not based on facts. Pro Planet will dig even deeper into the life cycle assessments that FPA has commissioned through the years that compare flexibles with other packaging such as glass and cardboard.

Assessing Success

Like previous efforts, Pro Planet also will rely on videos, particularly with Instagram and LinkedIn, where most of the success so far has been with reaching wide audiences, Reigle says. 

The agency has seen strong interaction on LinkedIn, the social media platform for professionals. Since 2019, LinkedIn followers have gone from just a few to over 25,000, according to statistics from The Cyphers Agency. 

“We have joked that LinkedIn is our golden child of all the platforms because we don’t typically run any type of paid advertising on LinkedIn and the audience still grows at a very nice rate month over month,” Meyers says. “We are seeing a lot of comments and a lot of conversations happening.”

Information about FPA member companies will be shared on LinkedIn, prompting others to offer support and comments, she explains. “We see people chiming in when it is their company or when people are just celebrating the work that they’ve done,” Meyers adds.

Instagram also sparks conversations, particularly among younger consumers. At times, some of the comments are negative. Still, Meyers says, Alison Keane, FPA president and CEO, and Dani Diehlmann, vice president of communications, have encouraged her to interact with everyone, including those who are hardcore antiplastic.

“Alison and Dani don’t want us to shy away from the conversations,” says Meyers, who joined The Cyphers Agency in 2016, which was early in the agency’s tenure with FPA. “So, we will engage and provide information.”

Although some people will never be swayed to change their minds, she adds, others acknowledge that they have learned through the interactions.

The Cyphers Agency also uses social media influencers who discuss the benefits of flexible packaging through their various platforms. For example, Chelsee Hood, a home decor and lifestyle blogger with a strong presence on Instagram, has approached packaging from the angle of convenience and how to get children involved with recycling, Meyers says. She adds that she seeks out influencers who have a focus on sustainability and eco-conscious living and then determines how much reach and engagement they have with audiences before setting up a working relationship with them. 

“We see from the influencer side where they can change perceptions and change minds or give someone a new way to look at things,” Meyers says. For example, influencers will share with their audiences the basics of plastic film recycling and the sustainability benefits, or they might share recycling infographics that give people information about recycling plastic films.

The influencers might also use other platforms such as TikTok.

“When we talk with the creators about the deliverables for the campaign, we ask what they recommend,” Meyers says. “Where are they seeing the most engagement? We want to leverage their knowledge and their authority with their audience.”

Instagram reels, which are short videos used on that platform, have been particularly successful, Meyers says. 

One goal in 2024 is to work with influencers who can speak on some of the larger topics like the recycling infrastructure and the sustainability benefits of flexible packaging, Meyers says.

Source: The Cyphers Agency

Keeping up With Changes

It’s important to keep reassessing what works because consumer habits evolve quickly in the digital age. Facebook has become weighed down by spam advertising, which makes it difficult to reach audiences, Meyers says. “We just don’t see a lot of conversation happening there,” she adds. Facebook also requires payment for placement, which makes it even less attractive, she and Reigle point out. 

X doesn’t gain much traction, either. “There isn’t a lot of conversation happening on X, and I think it’s just because no one knows what to do with it,” Meyers says. “X is kind of all over the place right now.”

When compared with LinkedIn, Facebook and X don’t stack up, especially considering that Facebook requires payment for advertising. “LinkedIn is 100% organic growth, without any kind of paid support behind it,” Reigle says. 

“The bottom line is, it’s just difficult to get the attention of a consumer nowadays,” she says, adding that she advises clients to keep videos to 30 seconds or less. “Everybody’s attention span is limited. The content must be short and catchy.”

The other key is to stay on top of shifting consumer demands. “What are the trends? What are consumers looking for? Do they care about sustainability? What kind of sustainability do they care about?” she says. “I work with a lot of different companies and associations, and FPA is ahead of the curve when it comes to all of that. It’s a matter of putting forward what the industry is doing, such as the innovations, and passing that along to people.”

“It’s important to know who your audience is and what they believe in and so on,” she continues. “Once we know that, we can translate it into messaging.” 

Thomas A. Barstow is senior editor of FlexPack VOICE®. 

Sidebar: A Closer Look At ‘Pro Planet: We Believe Every Day Is Earth Day’

April 2024: Earth Day/Month—Back to Basics/101 Flexible Packaging

In conjunction with ongoing social posts, the Emerging Leadership Council developed videos titled:

  • “Flexible Packaging is Environmentally Preferable,”
  • “Flexible Packaging is Sustainable,”
  • “Flexible Packaging is Recyclable,” and
  • “Flexible Packaging is Perfect Packaging.”

May/June: Flexible Packaging is Environmentally Preferable

This segment will expand on facts surrounding how flexible packaging reduces the carbon footprint in manufacturing and transportation:

  • Consumes fewer raw materials,
  • Uses six times less water,
  • Uses two times less energy,
  • Emits two times fewer greenhouse gases,
  • Requires less space resulting in lower shipping costs, and
  • Extends product life equaling five times less solid waste going to landfills.

July/August: Flexible Packaging is Sustainable

This period focuses on how flexible packaging protects products with the least amount of packaging necessary:

  • Reduces the amount of packaging needed,
  • Extends shelf life,
  • Reduces food waste, and
  • Packaging second only to nature’s original.

September/October: Flexible Packaging—Full Circularity

This segment outlines solutions for circularity that needs to be scaled:

  • Curbside collection,
  • Increased recycling and industrial composting infrastructure,
  • Post-consumer recycled content acceptance, and
  • Additional end markets for recycled content.

November/December: Flexible Packaging is Recyclable

This period highlights solutions to collect, sort, and recycle flexible packaging:

  • Store drop-off for films and flexibles,
  • Mechanical recycling,
  • Advanced recycling, and
  • Policy to promote more infrastructure investment.

January/February 2025: Flexible Packaging is a Necessity

Next year’s focus showcases how no alternatives can protect medical supplies and food the way flexible packaging can:

  • Medical benefits,
  • Health benefits, and
  • Food waste.

SOURCE: The Cyphers Agency