Facebook’s top banana is Dole

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The banana king in the Facebook realm is Dole, hands down.

Chuck Robinson, Media Watch
Chuck Robinson
Media Watch

More than 400,000 people have clicked the “like” button on the Dole Bananas Facebook page.

Compared to Facebook behemoths like Coca-Cola (22 million adherents) and Starbucks (19 million), this achievement pales, but check out other banana marketers.

The Chiquita Banana Facebook page has about 25,000 people who like it.

Del Monte Fresh Produce has barely 2,000 Facebook adherents. Compared to other produce industry companies, Dole looks like a pretty hot Facebook achiever.

Besides its banana Facebook page, the Dole Salad Guide page has about 170,000 people liking it and the page labeled “Dole” has nearly 225,000.

Michael Contreras, digital marketing manager for Dole Food Co., Westlake Village, Calif., said that in the early Facebook days for Dole, the aim was to drive traffic to Dole websites.

That changed during the process of redesigning and aggregating its various websites into one for the Dole brand.

The company had studied ways to create a community area on it, but those plans were scrapped for the more cost-effective Facebook presence.

Bil Goldfield, communications manager for Dole Food Co., throws out a few reasons for his company’s Facebook success.

Dole got on the social media bandwagon early and also figured out that it wasn’t just 20-somethings and 30-somethings who were drawn to Facebook, he said. Dole also has been committed to keeping up its side of the continuous conversation, he said.

“With so many eyes watching, it is important that our Facebook pages be constantly monitored. Facebook fans demand timely responses,” Goldfield said.

Dole also has come up with ways to be interactive with consumers, including the Monday Funday quizzes on the Dole Bananas Facebook site and the Trivia Tuesday tab on the Dole site.

In the first, every Monday people take part in a quiz and five of them win six months’ worth of free bananas, one wins a $50 Visa gift card and one wins an iPod Nano.

“You have to keep refreshed content on there, and contests are a great way to do that,” Contreras said.

Dole’s strategy is to have separate dedicated pages for bananas and its salads.

Chiquita goes the other route. Chiquita’s Fresh Express salads are featured on a tab of the Chiquita Banana Facebook page, so while there is a sort of cool Fresh Express Salad Spinner game, it’s hidden.

Dole uses Facebook’s advertising to promote Dole’s presence in the Facebook realm, Contreras said. He said it is an easy-to-use model that can target gender and other very general demographics. Dole’s Facebook audience is mostly female, he said.