MINNEAPOLIS: General Mills is expanding its online presence, and developing its social media strategy to drive growth.

The US cereals company is enjoying considerable success, reports the New York Times, with a Facebook group "Hello, Cereal Lovers" collecting over 313,000 followers.

General Mills has developed a new website and has launched accounts on social networking sites such as Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, where although it primarily posts about its own products, the company has also taken to highlighting rival cereals.

Carla Vernon, marketing director at General Mills, said that this "brand agnostic" approach was crucial to success on social media.

"It is important for us to be authentic and recognise what [consumers] want to share and hear about," she said.

With cold cereal being consumed by around 92% of US households, according to market research group Mintel, prospects for growth are strictly limited.

General Mills and rivals such as Kellogg's have adopted a variety of strategies to deal with this, including featuring recipes that make use of their cereals, and promoting their products as healthy options.

Kellogg's, for example, suggests replacing two meals daily with its Special K brand, while General Mills has reduced sugar and increased whole grain content in its children's cereals.

Cereal blogger Lloyd Moritz has praised General Mills for its "Hello, Cereal Lovers" initiative, claiming it is "the most comprehensive approach to social media" to have been adopted by any cereal company.

The first Facebook post came in January and first Twitter message in December, and Vernon said the "piloting and learning" phase is now over, adding: "It's really truly in launch phase right now."

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by Warc staff