USA Rice Capitalizes on Jump in Social Media Use in International Markets

Instragram screen shows cooking video with Ricky Rice logo
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Jun 18, 2020
ARLINGTON, VA -- The COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures in many countries in Europe and the Middle East region have resulted in increased usage of digital media for consumers.  For example, in Turkey, time spent on social media before the pandemic was 3 hours and 28 minutes, on average -- that jumped to 5 hours and 38 minutes in April and May this year.

In response, USA Rice has intensified promotional activities on recently launched social media platforms in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and on our well-established platforms in Turkey.

“Consumers are using Instagram, Facebook, and other social media for cooking inspiration and to learn basic recipes while they are spending more time at home caring for their families without the opportunity to eat out as often as before,” said Eszter Somogyi, USA Rice director for Europe, Middle East, and Africa.  “Following that lead, USA Rice also is devoting more time to social media, increasing the number of posts citing all the positive features of U.S.-grown rice including versatility, easy storage, ready use as leftovers, and the fact that rice is loved by both children and adults.”

In March, USA Rice developed 20 new cooking videos in Turkey in cooperation with Jordan and Saudi to create content relevant to consumers in all three countries.  The most popular recipe video on the USA Rice Turkish Instagram, “Pirincli Gunler,” featured a biryani recipe made by local celebrity chef Emrah Fandakli that garnered more than 28,000 clicks.  Posting new content helped push the number of followers on the USA Rice Turkish Facebook account to more than 52,000 by May.

Also, in March, USA Rice launched country-specific Facebook and Instagram accounts tailored to the needs of the Jordanian market, and by May, had created 19 new posts, and gotten nearly 4,000 followers on Facebook.  

The social media audience in Saudi Arabia saw five new USA Rice recipe videos, including fan favorite saleeg, a white rice dish, cooked with broth and milk much like Italian risotto, that was viewed more than 11,000 times.  Saleeg originated in the Hijaz region of Saudi but is now popular all over the Arab-speaking world.

The USA Rice UK Instagram account launched in late 2019, and posts recipes, health benefits, and fun facts about U.S.-grown rice.  The top post for May was a vegetarian dish made with avocados and brown rice that resonated with young, health conscious consumers.  A trial promotion that same month generated more than 300,000 impressions on Instagram and attracted more than 400 new visitors to the USA Rice UK website.

"Digital media offers immediate, creative ways for USA Rice to tell the U.S.-grown rice story, and even after restrictions in many countries loosen, we expect this connection will be sustained and be a strong complement to our traditional media promotions,” said Somogyi.